How To Shrink Polyester In Different Ways

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Even though the new trend has brought baggy clothes back, not everyone wants to don such outfits. Especially for those of you who have worked hard on a diet to achieve your dream figure, it would be a shame to lose all that new curve behind some ill-fitted clothing.

Polyester is one such fabric which makes it very hard for you to properly fit an outfit. Unlike most of its contemporaries, it is almost immune to shrinking.

But what if you have found the perfect polyester shirt for an event and it is too big for you? Let us walk you through some handy solutions and tips on how to shrink polyester!

Can You Shrink Polyester?

You might have a polyester garment that is larger than the required size. In that case, shrinking the polyester will do the trick. But does polyester shrink? Or more importantly, can you do that by yourself?

Good news is, you can! Many people think they need some kind of fabric softener or detergent to shrink these garments. That’s not exactly true.

You need heat to shrink polyester. You can get that necessary heat through several sources. While hot boiling water is the most popular source, people also use hot dryer and hot iron to shrink polyester garments. 

Why Do You Need To Shrink Polyester Clothes?

Proper Fitting

It may strike you odd that someone would even look for ways to deliberately shrink their clothing! But sometimes polyester garments need such modification so that they can fit the wearer better. Most of us love flaunting our curves which cannot be done under those roomy spaces. Hence we need to bring its size down!

Recycling Old Clothes

Polyester is one of those rare fabrics which stand the test of time very well. You can invest in a polyester outfit today and you can rely on it even after decades! However, we also need to recycle old clothes from time to time. Shrinking polyester clothing will make this recycling process easier to get through.

3 Ways to Shrink Polyester: Definitive Guide 

1. Shrinking Polyester Using Dryer

Shrinking Polyester Using Dryer

If your polyester clothing has pockets, make sure they are all empty. Especially, look for metal objects like coins and clips which tend to get stuck in the dryer. Keep the cash and equally valuable items out of the pockets as well.

Now turn your polyester clothing inside out so that any of its prints or colors on the outside don’t get affected. Put it in the washing machine for a decent amount of shrinkage.

Keep the temperature in check so that too much heat doesn’t mess up its color condition. This is a common error that fades away a polyester item’s original charm since its color starts bleeding.

To prevent this issue, remember to not put multiple polyester items of different colors in the dryer at the same time.

Another trick to make this method more effective is to choose the longest washing cycle. This heat is the main force behind shrinking the polyester fabric. Simultaneously, limit the temperature to 81°C or 178°F so that overheating does not mess up its texture.

Wait a little after the wash cycle ends. When the fabric seems fine to use by hand, put it in the dryer. Go for the highest temperature and the longest cycle available in its setting. Combine the two to get the perfect setup for shrinking your washed polyester item.

When it’s out of the dryer, let it cool down and then check for any shrunk parts. If you are not satisfied with the shrinking, you can repeat the whole process again.


We recommend not going for this process frequently. Doing so on a regular basis can dim the color of your polyester garment which will then fade its charm over time. Besides, dryer methods can cause wear and tear in the clothing reducing its overall durability.

2. Shrinking Polyester Using Iron

Shrinking Polyester Using Iron

Before placing the garment under iron, wash it well with hot water in the washing machine. But make sure the temperature is not beyond the optimum range so that its texture is not hampered. Longer washing cycles and hotter rinsing options are recommended.

Now you are all set for some good old ironing!

Prepare the ironing board by spreading out a cloth on it. Lay out the washed and rinsed polyester item here by turning it inside out to protect the designs on outer layer.

Add a cotton cloth on this item where the iron will be pressed. Doing so will prevent the polyester’s texture from getting damaged by the heat. Make sure that this cloth covers the entire area of your polyester garment.

Before beginning to iron, set its temperature to medium or low and avoid using steam. A hotter iron can make the polyester stiff. Press it against the layer of clothing until most of the moisture has escaped the main garment. Apply adequate pressure so that the item begins shrinking under it.


The iron must be set at lower temperatures. Otherwise, the resulting damages on polyester will be beyond repair. Additionally, remember to not put the garment in a dryer before ironing. It should be slightly wet when you place it on the ironing board.

Besides, don’t repeat this process even if you don’t get the desired amount of shrinking. Doing so can also lead to its colors fading away and other long-term damages.

3. Shrinking Polyester Using Boiling Water

Shrinking Polyester Using Boiling Water

If your polyester garment is already wet, this method can shrink it effectively. The steps are pretty simple and straightforward. First of all, turn the dress inside out and get the boiling water ready in the meantime.
There is no specific boiling point that will work on all kinds of polyesters. You have to take the garment’s thickness and size into account.

Now put the dress in boiling water so that the hot molecules can break down its polyester fibers.

This can lead to a noticeable shrink in its overall structure. If your garment is made out of a blend of fibers instead of just polyester, this method will bring more success.

The standard time for this method to work is an hour. So keep the dress dipped in the boiling water for this time period if you don’t know where to start.


Make sure that you are putting the garment inside hot water using a heatproof utensil. The best option would be a spoon made out of wood which you can use without any worry to submerge the polyester item. The water pot should not be filled all the way up. Just cover half of its entire volume with boiling water.

Shrinking Different Polyester Garments


Polyester Shirt and Pant Shrinking Tips

You can shrink your new favorite set of polyester shirts using either dryer or iron. We would recommend going for the dryer first and then proceed to iron if not shrunk enough.

Turn your polyester shirts and pans inside out before putting them inside the washing machine. Set its temperature to the highest number and choose the longest cycle. Choose hot rinsing options so that the heat effects can shrink it even more.


Once the washing is done, take it right away into the dryer. Choose the hottest and longest settings here as well. Then let the pants and shirts cool down to room temperature so that you can test if they have shrunk enough. If you are not satisfied with it, repeat the process once more.


Alternatively, you can iron the items after washing while they are still inside out. However, this time the temperature needs to be between low and medium to prevent the fabric from getting stiff. Iron the entire shirt or pant until it is dried.

Polyester Cotton Blend Shrinking Tips

T-shirts made out of polyester-cotton blend is pretty popular among the youth. That is because you get both the durability of polyester and the comfort of cotton with these items.

Besides, cotton is known to shrink significantly over time. Blending it with polyester enhances its longevity in your wardrobe.

To shrink a t-shirt or any other garment made of this fabric, first put it in the washing machine and pick the hottest setting available. Once it is washed, move on to the dryer and again settle for the highest temperature. Now iron the garment at high heat and boil it in water.

In the end, iron it again to dry the garment which must have shrunk significantly at this point. You can skip the boiling part if you are already satisfied with the shrinking amount.

>> Know the difference about silk and satin fabric.

Shrink a Polyester Hat

As we have discussed in the first segment, heat is one of the most effective ways to shrink polyester. This theory proves its worth again for polyester hats. Just wash it with some hot water and then use the hot settings of dryer to shrink it.

Alternatively, you can use detergent and warm water to wash it under the sink instead of waiting for the washing machine.

Let it sit for five minutes to soak in the moisture. Then rinse off any excess water and transfer it to boiling water. Make sure the entire hat stays submerged in the water.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the hat well again and then place it inside the preheated oven for 5 minutes. When it cools down, check if the amount of shrinking is satisfactory for you.

To shrink it even further, place the hat in the dishwasher’s top rack. Let it sundry to complete the process.

These methods will help you fit a polyester hat or cap better if you have got rid of a significant amount of hair recently.

Tips And Cautions When Shrinking Polyester Items

Laundry Bag Before Dryer

If you are going for the dryer, it is a good idea to put the washed polyester item within a laundry bag. You can also make such a bag yourself by tying up a pillowcase and then inserting the item inside it. Now use this in the dryer for about 10 minutes to see impressive results.

100% Polyester Struggles

It is extremely difficult to shrink any garment made of 100% polyester. These clothes hardly react to temperature differences, bleaches and similar common household solutions.

Even if you do manage some amount of shrinking here, it will be almost inconspicuous to the naked eye. The microscopic contraction will hardly make a difference.

This is why you must be extra careful while making a purchase decision for a polyester garment. On one hand, it will last you forever. On the other hand, you cannot modify its structure or shade in any way. All you can do is give it to someone else or throw it away.


Shrinking polyester clothes will help recycling and refitting old clothes. However, this is a delicate process that needs to be done carefully and properly. Otherwise, the quality and color of the fabric will be compromised.

Now that you know the secrets of how to shrink polyester effectively, we hope you find success in your attempts. Once the cloth is modified to your size, wear it with panache to show off the curves!

While the process is quite arduous and tricky, keeping at it sincerely will surely lead to productive results.


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