Does Polyester Shrink?

Yes, Polyester can shrink but it’s quite resistant to it. Polyester is made of synthetic fabrics that normally don’t shrink due to its resistance properties. Shrinkage in Polyester usually occurs when misused or washed extensively against the recommended washing instructions. For example, when washed at a high temperature in the washing machine, it can cause shrinkage.

What Causes Polyester To Shrink?

Polyester can shrink because of 3 reasons:

Polyester Blends

It is quite common to see clothes made out of blended Polyesters, such as Cotton-Polyester, Linen-Polyester, Rayon-Polyester. Polyester is added to natural and handmade fibers such as wool to make them more resistant to shrinkage. Depending on the polyester blend, shrinkage of the fabric can be anywhere from 20% to 30% and more.


When exposed to moisture, it can slightly shrink polyester. This is commonly known as relaxation shrinkage and is most apparent during the manufacturing process when the polyester fibers are stretched. When these fibers are exposed to moisture, the fibers return to their original size as tension is released. But don’t be too worried, as it shrinks the fabric by less than 1 percentage of the original size.


Whilst Polyester is exposed to moisture and heat inside a washer, dryer or steamer, it can lead to shrinking polyester due to the fabric’s fibers being relaxed and returning to their original state which in most cases is smaller. The first wash cycle usually has the biggest impact on the polyester shrinking.

Does Polyester Shrink In The Washer?

When combined with hot water in the washer, it can cause the Polyester to shrink. The most shrinkage occurs between 155 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit but can occur as low as 140 degrees. Most modern washing machines these days can reach temperatures of up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit on the high setting.

Will Polyester Shrink In The Dryer

Yes, a dryer can cause polyester to shrink. Modern Dryers can generally reach temperatures between 155 to 165 degrees. Older generations of Dryers typically reach between 125 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. As shrinkage occurs around 140 degrees, you’ll need to double-check with your dryer model.

How Much Does Polyester Shrink?

The amount of shrinkage in the garment depends on the fabric production. If it is 100% Polyester then there’ll be less than 5% shrinkage, whereas a blended Polyester garment will shrink significantly more. The fabric then gets blended with Polyester also affects how much shrinkage will occur, fabrics such as wool are more prone to shrinkage.

Does Polyester Shrink More Than Cotton?

Cotton is generally less durable compared to Polyester, thus will be more prone to shrinkage, fading, and wrinkling. A polyester and cotton blend is a popular option that combines the best of both worlds, resulting in less shrinkage compared to 100% cotton.

How To Prevent Shrinking

It’s important that the care labels on the clothes are read carefully before chucking them into the washing machine as the instructions there are designed to help! It will give recommendations on how to properly wash the clothes without damaging them.

If you want to test the waters and see how your garment reacts to washing, then opt for a cold rinse or air dry. These are less damaging to the fabrics and can give you an estimate on how they’d react when using hot water or warm water. Washing with cold water can also ease your garment into washing with hot water.