Does Elastane Shrink Or Stretch?

Yes, Elastane is a synthetic fabric commonly added to natural fabrics to enhance their stretchiness. When exposed to heat, the fibers are relaxed which cause it to shrink. The best way to prevent shrinkage is to avoid washing elastane in hot water and don’t dry in high heat.

What Is Elastane?

Elastane or commonly known as ‘spandex’ or ‘lycra’ is a synthetic fabric made from polyurethane. Known for it’s elastic properties, it is commonly blended with other fabrics such as cotton, polyester, cotton, to give it a more ‘stretchy’ feel. Nowadays, it can be found in all kinds of clothing, ranging from leggings, pants, t-shirts, linen, socks, etc.

How Much Does Elastane Shrink?

When exposed to high heat in the washing machine or dryer, it can shrink up to 10% of it’s original shape. It’s important that the clothing be washed in low to medium temperatures and dry clean to avoid it from shrinking. Prolonged washing in high temperatures can also permanently damage the fabric, if not careful.

Does Elastane Shrink In The Wash?

First check the clothing’s care label for instructions on how to wash it in the washer. In most cases, washing using a cold or warm water cycle shouldn’t cause shrinkage. Washing on high heat will cause the fibers to relax which will result in the elastane shrinking.

Does Elastane Shrink In The Dryer?

It is best to check the clothing’s care label to see if it can be dried in the dryer. In most cases, as long as you don’t use a high heat cycle, then the elastane shouldn’t shrink. It is recommended that elastane fabrics be air-dried instead for the best result or use a dryer mesh to protect the clothing. Hang the fabric on a drying rack and leave it to dry, it should dry pretty fast with minimal sunlight.

How To Shrink Elastane?

If you’re looking to downsize your elastane garment, then it’s best to wash it in a washing machine using the highest heat. Put the garment inside the wash, and run for one full cycle using high heat and low water. Check if the size is to your liking, if not, then just repeat this process until your desired size.

Does Polyester And Elastane Shrink In The Dryer?

Yes, but not as much as other fabrics as polyester is known to be quite sturdy and not contain stretchiness. The more elastane in the blend, the more shrinkage there will be.

Does Elastane Stretch?

Yes, as polyurethane is known to be stretchy, elastane can grow up to 8 times its length but will easily return to its original shape. By blending elastane with fabrics that aren’t usually stretchy, such as polyester, it can make the blended clothing much more stretchable and comfortable to wear.

Does Elastane Stretch Over Time?

Over time it will start to lose its elasticity, which is what causes it to stretch and bounce back to its original shape. Depending on how much elastane is in the garment, the amount of elasticity loss would greatly vary.

In worst cases, you may find that the garment no longer fits you comfortably, in which case, you’ll have to buy a new one as there isn’t much that can be done to save the garment at that point.

How To Take Care Of Elastane

Avoid Ironing

It is best to avoid ironing elastane as the high heat can cause it to shrink if done incorrectly. Some elastane garments might be fine to iron, but it’s best to confirm this by checking the care label. If it’s allowed, then be sure to use the lowest heat setting on your iron.

Avoid Hangers

When storing your elastane clothing, be sure to fold it up instead of hanging it on a hanger to prevent bulging in the shoulder areas.


The best way to properly wash elastane is to manually hand wash. Whilst it may be extra effort, it can greatly increase the longevity of the fabric.

Washing it is relatively simple:

  • Simply fill a tub full of warm or cold water, and add a mild laundry soap.
  • Gently squeeze and rub the fabric using your hands, avoiding excessive pulling and twisting as it can stretch out the fabric.
  • Rinse the fabric in cold water and let it air dry.

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