Polyester and spandex are both synthetic fibers with unique properties. Both have excellent stretch qualities, making them ideal for clothing that needs to be comfortable and adjustable. Polyester is one of the most common types of synthetic fabrics used in clothing because it’s relatively affordable and has several desirable properties. However, both polyester and spandex can shrink when washed, so it’s important to avoid putting these fabrics into the same load of laundry unless you want your clothing to shrink. Both polyester and spandex will shrink when exposed to heat from hot water or a dryer. Heat causes natural oils in the fibers to contract, which creates tension on the outer layer of each fiber. This tension pulls the fibers closer together, causing them to shrink and feel tighter around the body. Spandex can also experience pilling when stretched repeatedly over time.
Does polyester and spandex shrink?
Yes, spandex and polyester will shrink when placed in hot water and put in the dryer. You should hang dry these materials if possible, or at least put them on last. This will help prevent any shrinkage. The amount they’ll shrink depends on the specific material and brand. Be sure to check the care instructions first and follow them carefully.
How Can Avoid Shrinking Polyester And Spandex?
Wash Polyester and Spandex Separately
Because both of these fabrics are sensitive to heat, it’s important to always wash them separately. If you don’t, the spandex will transfer the heat to the polyester, causing it to shrink. This will also cause spandex to fade over time as it transfers heat to the polyester which is the source of color. The best way to wash your garments is on a cool or warm water cycle. If you want to be extra safe, you can also tumble dry on low, but make sure you don’t overload it. Polyester is sensitive to heat, so it’s important to not put it in a hot dryer.
Dry Polyester Outdoors
If you’re drying your polyester garment indoors, you run the risk of creating static electricity. This is because polyester’s synthetic fibers are very static-y and cling to each other. If you have static cling indoors, you may want to try drying your polyester garments outdoors. You should also make sure that your garment is completely dry before you wear it. This will help to prevent pilling and wrinkling. If your garment is still a little damp when you try to wear it, it will be too stretchy and you’ll have a difficult time getting it on.
Let Spandex Air Dry
Spandex naturally dries quickly and is less prone to static cling than polyester. For this reason, you can dry it indoors without any issues. Make sure that you check your garment periodically and rotate it to make sure it dries evenly. Although spandex dries quickly, it’s best to dry it on a flat surface so that it doesn’t wrinkle.
Adding Shrinking Agents to Polyester
If you are planning to use your polyester garment frequently, it may be a good idea to add a shrinking agent. All you need to do is add a few spoonsful of vinegar to the wash cycle. Vinegar is a natural fabric softener that also helps fabrics to shrink, so it’s the perfect choice. To minimize the amount of shrinking that occurs, wash your garment in cold water and tumble dry on low. If you want to minimize pilling as well, use a fabric shaver or a lint roller to remove loose fibers before washing.
Shrinking Spandex with Heat
If your spandex garment has too much stretch and you want it to be a little more firm, try using an iron to shrink it. Simply place the garment on a flat surface and use a hot iron to press it. You’ll want to test the fabric to see how much pressing it can take. To do this, place a small section of the garment between two pieces of paper and iron it with a hot iron. If the paper starts to stick, you’ve gone too far. If the fabric shrinks, you’ve gone too little.
Shrinking Polyester with Heat
If your polyester garment has too much stretch and you want it to be a little more firm, the best way to do this is to put it in the dryer with a clean tennis ball. You’ll want to put the tennis ball in a lingerie bag to protect it from the polyester. Once the tennis ball is inside the bag, put the polyester garment in the dryer and set the machine to the highest heat setting. After a few minutes, open the bag and check the tennis ball. If it’s wrinkled, keep adding time until it’s smooth again.
Drying Polyester and Spand
Thankfully, there’s an easy way to dry both polyester and spandex at the same time without any risk of shrinking. You can use a mesh lingerie bag or mesh garment bag. If you choose to use a mesh bag, make sure that it has a drawstring and is large enough to fit both garments. You’ll want to give them plenty of room to tumble. Since both fabrics are sensitive to heat, it’s important to always dry them on low or no heat. If you want to be extra safe, you can also air dry them outdoors.
Why Does Polyester Shrink?
- Polyester is a synthetic fiber. It’s made from petroleum, which means that it can be made from a variety of different materials. This is why polyester can be formed in so many different textures and weights.
- Polyester is highly absorbent. Because of this, it can hold large amounts of water before it actually becomes wet. Because polyester holds so much water, it can shrink in the dryer if left to its own devices.
- Polyester is an extremely smooth fiber, even when being washed and dried at high temperatures, which makes it prone to pilling and creasing when you try to iron or tumble dry your garment with no heat setting or use of a fabric shaver or lint roller to remove loose fibers before washing.
- The more polyester you use in your garment, the more likely it is to shrink during drying or washing without any heat setting at all!
Why Does Spandex Shrink?
- Spandex reacts with the heat from a dryer and changes shape slightly when subjected to high temperatures and then being pulled into a tight shape by stretching forces in the dryer, such as when you pull on your spandex leggings or yoga pants while they are drying on high heat settings inside the dryer (check out my book: How To Wash And Dry Your Clothes Without Breaking Them). This may cause some spandex garments to shrink since they aren’t able to return to their original shape.
- Spandex is a material that has a memory, which means that it will retain its shape after being stretched or compressed. If you try to dry your spandex leggings on a high heat setting, they will shrink because they are being compressed and then heated in the dryer again, which causes the spandex fabric to become more rigid when it returns to its normal size after stretching. This can also cause some spandex garments to be harder to re-shape and get back into their original form after having been washed and dried on high heat settings (check out my book: How To Wash And Dry Your Clothes Without Breaking Them).
- Spandex is also very absorbent, which means that it can hold large amounts of water before it actually becomes wet. When you put your leggings on after washing them in hot water, you may notice that your legs feel wetter than usual before the garment dries completely, even though you haven’t worn them for very long or at all! This is because the spandex fabric retains so much water during washing and drying.
- The more spandex you use in your clothing design, the more likely it is to shrink during drying or washing without any heat setting at all!
Polyester and spandex fabrics are popular for their elastic fabrics that can stretch. Both of these fabrics will shrink when exposed to heat from hot water or a dryer. You can reduce the amount of shrinkage by washing fabrics in cold water and line-drying them to reduce the amount of time they are exposed to heat.
Question: Do you still use spandex in your designs?
Answer: Yes, I do! Spandex has a lot of advantages over other fabrics. In fact, I use spandex almost exclusively for my leggings designs.
Question: How do you avoid the shrinking effect without using spandex?
Answer: To avoid shrinkage problems, I always look for a fabric that is not only stretchy and durable, but also moisture-wicking – i.e. it keeps you dryer and drier than other fabrics. If I am designing a piece of clothing that is meant to be worn during exercise or outdoor activities, I often choose nylon or polyester instead of spandex because they are much more breathable than spandex and they retain their shape better when they are stretched. But if the garment is something like a legging or yoga pant that needs to be worn under tight-fitting clothes like skirts or dresses, I will often choose to use spandex because it is stretchy and durable enough for this type of garment without being too large or bulky (check out my book: How To Wash And Dry Your Clothes Without Breaking Them).