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How to shrink polyester clothing

Updated April 17, 2017

You have a super-comfortable polyester shirt that you dearly love, but you also think the garment is a bit too large. You want to shrink it, but you are not sure how to go about this process without harming the shirt. Although polyester is very hard to shrink because of its fibre content, these five simple steps will allow you to obtain a little shrinkage for a better shirt fit.

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  1. Prepare all polyester garments for washing by checking any and all clothing pockets for loose change, wrappers and other unwanted items. Forgetting to remove these items from pockets can affect the wash cycle.

  2. Turn the clothing that you wish to shrink inside out. This helps clothing colour stay vibrant when washing.

  3. Place your inside-out clothing items inside your washing machine. Set the wash cycle to the highest water temperature possible. The hotter the water, the best chance you have to shrink polyester. Let the clothes run through the entire hot wash cycle. Using washing powder is optional.

  4. Place the clothes in your dryer after they have run through the wash cycle. Use the highest heat setting possible on your dryer. Allow time for your clothes to go through the entire dry cycle.

  5. Repeat the entire wash-and-dry cycle (Steps 3 and 4) to attain better shrinkage. You may even need to run the items through a third wash-dry cycle for those hard-to-shrink polyester clothes.

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Things You'll Need

  • Washing powder (optional)
  • Washing machine
  • Clothes dryer

About the Author

Mary Beth Lentner has more than 10 years of writing and editing experience. Lentner's publications include dozens of articles for Record Publishing Company newspapers and magazines, as well as curriculum for the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Lentner holds a Master of Arts in teaching and Bachelor of Arts in English from Kent State University.

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