Does Polyester Shrink?

Polyester. We have all heard of it. We probably all have fashion items made from it. But what else do we know about it?

Polyester is an impressive material for many reasons, and in this article we are aiming to look at just one aspect of polyester, answering one of the most commonly asked questions and queries about it.


Before we do that, though, it would be helpful to gain a better understanding of what polyester actually is. Keep on reading to find out more. 

What is polyester?

Polyester is one of the most popular clothing fabrics in the world. It is a versatile material that is used for a variety of different garments and accessories.

It is a manmade fiber, invented by a researcher at DuPont, a chemical company. DuPont obtained the patents for polyester in 1931 but did not actually begin manufacturing it until much later.

In 1953 the production of polyester for commercial purposes began, and since then it has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the most popular fibers for fashion in the world. 

It is a manmade, synthetic fiber made from polymer. The first formation of polyester was made using a type of polymer called polyethylene terephthalate - also known as PET - blended with ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid.

Nowadays there are many different types of polyester, and it is used for a variety of different reasons. Of course, the use of polyester for fashion garments is widely known.

However, its properties mean that polyester also lends itself well to items such as tents, sleeping bags, thread, umbrellas, fishing nets, and ropes. 

Why is polyester so popular?

There are many properties that polyester holds that have made it so popular. It is a super versatile material that can be used for many different thongs, as we explored in the previous section.

As a material, it is very strong and durable, able to keep its shape easily whether in hot or cold temperatures. It is also water resistant, drying very quickly and keeping its shape when it does so.

It is resistant to stretching, as well as being relatively unaffected by chemicals, mold, and mildew. The perfect fabric, right? Well, it seems so, but what about shrinkage? 

The archnemesis of fabrics has long been the act of shrinking. Shrinking of fabrics usually happens when the fabric gets wet and then dries, or when it is exposed to extreme temperatures, usually high temperatures from a dryer or washing machine.

As we already know, polyester keeps its shape well and dries fairly quickly. However, is that enough? It’s all well and good to have a fabric that dries quickly and keeps its shape, but does it stay the same size?

Luckily for you, you do not need to ponder this question any longer, because we are going to be answering it right here. This article aims to answer the burning question on everyone’s mind: “does polyester shrink?”.

If you have ever found yourself wondering this very question, we highly suggest you keep on reading to find out. 

Polyester - Does it shrink? 

We want to start this section by making it clear that under typical circumstances, polyester does not shrink. The reason for this lies in the fact that polyester is man made.

It has been designed to purposely resist shrinkage. That does not mean to say that it can never be shrunk. Under the right conditions, polyester can indeed shrink. Let’s explore this in a little more detail. 

Polyester, when washed on a typical wash cycle, will keep its shape and size well. There is no need to wash it at a super low temperature in order to keep its shape. You can also easily put your polyester garment in the dryer, provided it is at a suitable temperature (more on temperatures later…)

If it gets wet from the rain and then dries, it will not shrink in any noticeable way. This means you can rest assured that wearing your new polyester garment in a downpour will not affect it and you will not see your T-shirt turn into a crop top!

In fact, because polyester does not hold moisture well, acting as a moisture wicking material, you can easily use polyester in sports and outdoor pursuit clothing. 

As we mentioned, whilst polyester is resistant to shrinkage under most circumstances, there are some conditions that can make polyester shrink. If you have a polyester garment that is too big and you are looking to shrink it a little, it can be done. It is all about the temperature when it comes to shrinking polyester.

The higher the temperature the better - high heat is key for shrinking your polyester garment. In fact, polyester needs a minimum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit in order for it to shrink.

In many cases, you may even find that you need even higher temperatures. This means that it will be possible to shrink it on a very high temperature wash in your machine. Even then, you may find that it does not actually shrink that much! 

It is far easier to shrink polyester blends, for example, those garments that are 50% polyester with 50% cotton. This means that polyester blend garments are a little more sensitive to heat and water, and you should treat them with a little more care than you would a 100% polyester garment. 

Final verdict 

To conclude, it is clear that polyester is a super versatile and durable man made fabric that, in typical conditions, is resistant to shrinking along with being resistant to water, heat, chemicals, mold, and more.

Of course, this does not mean that you cannot shrink your too-big polyester garment if you need to, you just need to subject it to super high temperatures to get the desired size.

As with any garment, we recommend checking the label before you wash or dry it, just to make doubly sure that you use suitable temperatures and methods.

We hope that you have found our article on polyester helpful and that we have adequately answered your question of “does polyester shrink?”. Remember, typically polyester does not shrink, but if high temperatures are reached, shrinkage becomes more of a possibility.