Does Polyester Shrink In The Dryer?

If you own polyester clothes, you probably have a lot of horror laundry stories to tell because polyester shrinks in the dryer. 

This little magic trick that your dryer performs on your fabrics, especially polyester, and they shrink during the drying cycle is called the shrinking effect, and as interesting and fun as this little trick might seem, returning your shrunken fabric to its original size involves a whole new set of processes. 

Why Polyester Shrinks In The Dryer?

Boston Celtics polyester jacket

Clothes shrink in the dryer because of the heat produced, and since various fabrics react differently to heat, fabrics like cotton, linen, and rayon shrink the fastest. In the case of polyester, it is a more sturdy and durable fabric; it will take an effort from the dryer to perform its little magic trick on this fabric.

However, polyester is not completely resistant to heat. The fabric is heat sensitive and is prepared by using synthetic or polyester fibers. The pure polyester garment is likely to have static build-up, and it is highly flammable. 

So, when in the dryer, setting your dryer at maximum heat or leaving it in the dryer for long can defeat the basic resistance property of the fabric and shrink it.

If you don’t want the dryer to shrink your polyester fabric, then there’s an upper-temperature limit that shouldn’t be crossed. The highest drying temperature should be about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Tips To Avoid Shrinkage In Polyester 

Polyester tends to be more durable than cotton while remaining lightweight. This quality is what makes it a go-to fabric for brands creating sporting wear. It is resistant to chemicals which makes it color safe. Non-chlorine bleach and other detergents can be used on the fabric except for chlorine bleach. Colors on polyester fabric tend to last long. Advancement in polyester technology has made them more comfortable than ever before.

To prevent shrinkage in polyester when using a dryer, be mindful to keep the temperature below 100°F. Anything above this temperature could lead to shrinkage. Here are a few things to have in mind to prevent shrinkage.

1. Read the instructions on clothes: Most times we fail to understand how important reading instructions on our clothing labels are; these labels are there to help better manage the clothes. For instance, if your cloth is a poly blend, from the label, you can know the percentage of polyester your cloth has for better care.

Note: Poly blends are mixtures of polyester fibers with other fibers, like cotton, rayon, or spandex. Poly blends are more likely to shrink faster during drying and washing cycles when compared to 100% polyester. The idea is to give polyester sturdy quality to this fabric while retaining its unique qualities.

2. The best way to wash and dry your polyester fabric is inside out.

3. Avoid hot water: Avoid hot water or heat when washing your polyester, as it can cause the fabric to shrink easily. On the other hand, cold water can not properly clean the fabric, so it is advisable to wash the fabric by hand with lukewarm water. However, if you’re going to wash in the machine, set it to the normal cycle and use lukewarm water.

4. When you need to iron your polyester fabric, minimum heat is required. Some iron comes with a polyester setting. If it doesn’t, use the nylon setting.

5. Avoid soaking the polyester fabric for too long. It can shrink the fabric and make it age faster, therefore damaging it.

6. Do not leave it in the dryer for long: It is advisable to make polyester fabric out of the dryer as soon as possible as it can shrink if left in the dryer for too long. If you don’t want to use a dryer, you can hang the fabric in the shower after washing.

How to Dry Polyester Fabric

Floral Design Polyester Fabric

Polyester is a quick-drying fabric so ensure not to over-dry as it can cause damage and possible shrinkage. Here are a few tips on drying polyester fabrics below: 

Method 1: Machine Dry

You can dry your wet polyester fabrics in a machine in the dryer. However, do not overload the dryer while at it or the fabric will be exposed to heat longer and can shrink. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to machine dry polyester below: 

Step 1: Load your dryer with your polyester fabrics and add a dryer sheet to the load to prevent static clinging and shrinking. You can leave out the dryer sheet if you used a fabric softener in the wash.

Step 2: Close the door on the dryer and turn the knob on the control panel to the low or air-dry setting. The low setting will prevent the dryer from heating up and melting or shrinking the fibers.

Method 2: Air Drying 

Air drying your polyester fabric is the safest method of drying to prevent shrinkage. Here is a step-by-step guide to follow below:

Step 1: After washing, take the wet garment and hold it over a sink. Then squeeze the fabric to let beads of water drip down the polyester and go into the drain. This will make air-drying faster. 

Do not twist or wring the polyester, or you will stretch and damage the fibers in the garment.

Step 2: Unfold the garment and hang it on a clothesline or drape it over a drying rack and put it in a shady area, away from direct sunlight.

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