Does Cotton And Polyester Shrink? [FAQs]

Have you ever had a favorite shirt or pair of pants shrink in the wash? It can be frustrating to find that your clothes no longer fit as they once did.

But what about materials like cotton and polyester? Do they shrink too? The answer is yes, they can!

The Truth About Cotton and Polyester Shrinking

Short answer: Yes, both cotton and polyester can shrink in the wash. However, the degree to which they shrink can vary depending on a variety of factors such as the temperature of the water, the detergent used, and the method of drying.

Reasons why:

  • Cotton fibers are naturally prone to shrinkage when exposed to heat and water.
  • Polyester, while more resistant to shrinking than cotton, can still shrink if exposed to high heat.
  • Both materials can also shrink if they are not pre-shrunk before being made into clothing.

How to Prevent Shrinking in Your Clothes


  • Always read the care label on your clothes before washing them.
  • Wash clothes in cold water and use a gentle detergent.
  • Avoid using high heat when drying clothes. Opt for air-drying or a low-heat setting instead.
  • Consider line-drying or drying clothes flat to prevent shrinking.

How to:

  • Pre-shrink clothes made of cotton by soaking them in cold water for 30 minutes before washing.
  • Use a fabric softener or conditioner to help prevent shrinkage.
  • Avoid over-stuffing your washing machine or dryer, which can cause clothes to become misshapen and shrink.

Keeping Your Wardrobe Fresh and Fitted

Frequently asked questions:

  • Can you unshrink clothes that have already shrunk? It’s possible, but not guaranteed. Try soaking the clothes in a mixture of water and hair conditioner, then stretching them back into shape.
  • How often should you wash clothes to prevent shrinking? It’s best to wash clothes only when necessary, as frequent washing can cause wear and tear and increase the likelihood of shrinking.
  • Are there any materials that don’t shrink? Some synthetic materials like nylon and spandex are less prone to shrinking than natural fibers like cotton and wool.

Related topics:

  • How to properly care for different types of fabrics
  • Tips for organizing your wardrobe to keep clothes in good condition
  • The benefits of using a clothes steamer instead of an iron
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