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How to Shrink Polyester Shirt – Best Way

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Do you have polyester shirt that is too big and needs to be shrunk down a size? Polyester is one of the outstanding options for making clothing, hence why it is used for many types of clothing. 

It is a synthetic polymer and unlike cotton, silk, and wool, polyester is a human-made fiber that is strong and usually resists shrinking. This doesn’t mean that all polyester shirts are impossible to shrink, so let’s learn how.

How do you shrink a polyester shirt? To protect the fiber and color of a polyester shirt, turn it inside out, set the washing machine on high heat setting with a long wash cycle to extend the shrinking process. 

After the cycle, immediately place the wet shirt into the dryer with high heat to completely dry and shrink for best results. 

There are many applications for polyester fabric including bedding, footwear, clothing, upholstery, and textiles. Besides, the fabric is easy to wash, fast to dry, effortless to dye, and lightweight, which makes it one of the most versatile fabrics in everyday use.

To shrink a polyester shirt, it requires dedicate timing and effort due to the characteristics of polyester. If you need clothes to shrink a tiny bit, either use the washing machine or dryer, but not both methods. 

In this article, you will learn the best way to shrink a polyester shirt without sewing. Answered below are frequently asked questions about how to shrink polyester shirts, and shrink tips to achieve the best results.

Does 100% polyester shrink?

Maybe or maybe not, polyester does shrink but under specific conditions. It really depends whether the material has been stretched out from wear and tear, or it is brand new.

Remember that polyester is resistant to shrinkage; however if washed with strong detergent and hot water, or if ironed with high heat, then shrinkage can occur if the garment was previously stretched out from wearing. This means that you should never consider drying polyester fabric in a relatively hot dryer or soak in hot water for too long unless shrinkage is intended.

In case you need to avoid shrinking 100% polyester fabric, consider to use gentle detergent and warm water at 140°F temperature which leads to shrinkage. However, never soak the fabric in hot water for a long time because it will eventually degrade the material. 

Is it hard to shrink polyester? 

Yes, polyester is challenging to shrink and demands special treatment to have it shrunk in size. Despite being hard to shrink polyester, the fabric can downsize slightly, but it require a temperature ranging between 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The notion of polyester being hard to shrink is that it is consist of a resilient synthetic fibers. This property makes it strong unlike other fabrics as wool or cotton do. 

If you need to reuse polyester or upcycle clothes, the perception of shrinking can be a wise thing to try. It is actually a nicer idea than visiting a local tailor who can worsen the whole fitting and shape of the garment. 

The minute shrinking that polyester can tolerate is done via a dryer machine, electric iron, or hot water. Remember, using these approaches to shrink your garment comes with downsides. 

For the dryer, avoid repeating too often because the garment can lose its newness, color, and durability. Always turn the garment inside out to help secure prints and coloration. 

Using electric iron also comes with a downside. One of the downsides is that you risk irreparably destroying the garment with scorching marks. 

In addition, you need to avoid ironing damp polyester clothes for safety reasons. For this approach to work, the polyester garment should not be dried using a dryer. 

Place the wet fabric on the board and use a protective cotton cloth or pressing clothe to avoid the fabric from hardening or melting to the iron. 

Furthermore, using hot water can leads to shrinking. However, you need to avoid it because high heat makes polyester garments stiff, rough, and lose their design and shape. 

Can you boil polyester to shrink?

Yes, it is possible to shrink polyester fabric using boiling hot water. What happens is that high heat breaks down the garment fibers, making them shrink. 

Prepare water, colander, stockpot, and tongs to shrink the garment using boiling water.

Fill a clean stockpot with water, boil it rapidly and remove it from the heat source. Utilize tongs to place the garment into the hot water carefully. 

Just leave the polyester garment in the hot water for up to 5 minutes before transferring the clothing and water into the colander. Give it time to cool to room temperature because it will be scalding hot. 

Place the garment in a high heat dryer to encourage further shrinkage. Repeat the process if there is shrinkage but just not enough. 

Tips to shrink a polyester shirt 

When shrinking a polyester shirt, it is all about high heat. But due to resistance of heat, polyester garments require special care and instruction to shrink.

Use these clothing shrinking tips to properly downsize a polyester shirt:

  • When using a dryer to shrink a polyester shirt, it is important to place the polyester garment within the laundry bag. The delicate clothing bags can also be substituted with a pillowcase and insert the garment. This should be utilized in the dryer for no longer than 10 minutes to reduce damage to the shirt. 
  • Note that ironing is not an appropriate method of shrinking a polyester shirt when it is damp. Polyester requires an ideal temperature that can help shrink the fabric without melting it. For this reason, you need to avoid ironing after washing and always use a pressing cloth to maintain separation between the iron plate and the polyester fabric.
  • Turn the garment inside out to reduce from fading when shrinking and also prevent the colors from bleeding out. 
  • Ensure the water temperature is at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degree Celsius otherwise the polyester won’t shrink.
  • No need to add detergent while shrinking. However, you can add a small amount of homemade laundry detergent if you’re looking to wash and shrink at the same time. 

Best way to shrink a polyester shirt

Washing and drying is the best way to shrink polyester shirts. To help you handle this effectively, consider the following steps;

  • Turn polyester shirt inside out. This ensures the quality and color of the garment are protected. Isolate the shirts to ensure you are washing the same colors to reduce fading. 
  • Wash the shirt using hot water only. Just set the highest washing machine temperature and employ a long wash cycle. Both the washing and rinsing water should be hot to foster shrinking, otherwise it won’t downsize at all. 
  • Immediately transfer the polyester shirt to the dryer. Consider the hottest settings and longest drying cycle. Shrinking will occur faster because of the high heat emanating from the drying machine combined with the moisture that releases a large amount of steam.
  • Confirm the levels of shrinkage by removing the shirt from the drying machine and allow it to cool. Then try it on to check the fit.

If you need to reduce the polyester shirt size even more, then simply place it back in the dryer to repeat the process. Polyester cannot shrink unless the heat conditions are in the ranges of 68 to 81 degrees Celsius or 155 to 178 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How to shrink polyester shirt

Shrinking Polyester Shirts: Conclusion

Shrinking polyester fabrics is critical, especially when refitting and recycling old clothes. Despite that, it is a delicate approach that requires to be done properly and carefully, even so the color and the quality of the polyester shirt can be compromised.

In order to shrink polyester shirt, flip the garment inside out to protect the quality and color. Also, make sure to wash the same color to avoid from discoloring and fading during the high heat wash.

Select the high temperature setting on the washing machine for a long wash cycle, this will help to trigger faster shrinking. If you are considering to clean the shirt at the same time, add a small amount of mild detergent.

After the cycle, take the damp shirt and throw in the dryer, set it on the hottest setting with longest drying time. Double check at the end of cycle to see the shrinkage and if needed more, repeat the process.

However, shrinking polyester may not always work. Therefore, if you notice zero shrinkage then don’t waste your time running the shirt through the shrinking process anymore.

Polyester is perceived to be the popular commercial fabric as it rarely demands ironing and exhibits minimal signs of fading over time. One great thing about this fabric is that it is affordable and easy to care for. 

Notwithstanding, it requires to follow care instructions to enjoy it for a long time. Trying to shrink polyester shirts too many times may cause damage to the garment, so be cautious and only try these shrinking methods if you are really sure.

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