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How To Shrink Cotton Polyester Blend: Pants, Shirts, Jeans

December 21, 2022
How To Shrink Cotton Polyester Blend: Pants, Shirts, Jeans

Unlike 100% cotton and other natural fibers, cotton-polyester blends can be significantly more difficult to shrink – whether it be pants or shirts. With this in mind, can you shrink a cotton and polyester blend?

It’s entirely possible to shrink a cotton and polyester blend. You should first put the garment in the washing machine on a high heat setting, followed by a short, high-heat cycle in the dryer. Repeat the washing steps; use ironing to dry it instead. 

Although that’s just the start – there’s much more to cover on the topic.

Disclaimer: Be wary that exposure to high heat could damage your clothes or shrink them too much. 

With that said, let’s get to it.

How To Shrink Cotton And Polyester Blend In 5 Steps

This post will give you several no-nonsense steps to shrinking cotton-polyester blends successfully.

1. Research Your Garment

Whether you’re going to be shrinking a shirt, pants, or jeans, researching it is key. 

One of the most important aspects of researching your garment is finding out its materials.

It may seem simple: a polyester-cotton blend. However, there are many different blends to consider.

Some have a polyester-favoring ratio, while others favor cotton. Additionally, there are different percentages of each.

For example, a 50-50 blend of cotton and polyester may be more difficult to shrink than a 90% cotton, 10% polyester blended garment.

You can usually find this information on the label of the garment; however, if it isn’t there, or your garment has no label, you should be able to find these details on the website of the shop from which you bought it.

Typically, the details are listed under “Product Information” or “Product Details.”

It can also be helpful to know the size of your garment as well as the desired measurements after shrinking.

This will enable you to shrink your garment(s) to exactly the right size.

As well as finding out the blend ratio of your item of clothing, you should also find out its washing and drying requirements. 

Because the shrinking process involves putting your clothes in the washing machine and the dryer, it’s important to know what its limits are.

This will help you avoid damaging your clothes. However, keep in mind that there’s always a chance of damaging your clothes or shrinking them too much when attempting to home-shrink garments.

2. Use The Washing Machine

The next step to shrinking a cotton-polyester blend garment is putting it in the washing machine.

washing machine close up
Image From Deposit Photos

This is where the first stage of shrinking will occur. Having said that, the primary function of putting it in the washing machine is to further prepare it for the dryer.

Using the highest heat setting on the washing machine will usually give you the best results. Leave it in there for the duration of the cycle. A gentle laundry detergent can be beneficial too.

Furthermore, if your washing machine has an “agitation” setting, as some washing machines do, you should enable it.

Because cotton is more vulnerable to movement and agitation than heat, this will weaken the fibers even more, making them more susceptible to shrinking.

On top of this, it will act as extra preparation for the next step to shrinking a cotton-polyester blend garment: the dryer.

3. Put It In The Dryer

Like a washing machine, a dryer is a place of extreme heat and agitation. 

This means that using the dryer is the next step in shrinking your cotton-polyester blend garment.

Image From Deposit Photos

The dryer is where most of the shrinking will happen but also where there’s the greatest risk of damaging your garment. 

Putting your garment into the dryer immediately after washing it will give the best results because the high heat, agitation, and moisture will have already weakened the fibers. 

Using the maximum heat setting in a short, 10-minute cycle will create the optimal shrinking environment.

It’s crucial to check on your garment regularly to ensure there’s no damage or too much shrinkage: every 3 minutes is recommended.

Remember that there’s always the possibility of damaging your garment when exposing it to high heat.

4. Consider Using An Iron

There’s always a risk of injury with heat and steam, so definitely proceed with caution. 

While it isn’t essential, using an iron can be a great way to finish off the shrinking procedure.

A steam iron is the best option for helping to shrink your cotton-polyester garments.

Because of the small size of an iron, steaming your garment can enable you to shrink specific areas of it.

This can be beneficial if, for example, you have shrunk a shirt to the right size, but the neck is still slightly too large.

Additionally, using a steam iron to assist the shrinkage of your cotton-polyester garment is very simple and a great way to finish off the process.

Lay your garment down flat on an ironing board or similar. Then, release steam onto it, maintaining a distance of around half an inch to an inch from the fabric.

You then have the option to either go over your garment entirely or focus on a particular area that needs shrinking.

When aiming to shrink specific areas of your garment, steaming that area several times is recommended.

5. Try It On

It’s crucial to try your garments on after the shrinking process has taken place.

Putting your garments on will allow you to assess how much they have shrunk and whether or not they need further shrinking.

In the instance that they need to be shrunk further, you can simply re-follow the steps starting at step 2.

Step 1 is negligible as you’ll have already researched the garment, and there’s no merit to re-researching it.

While it can be difficult to know if your item of clothing fits well, there’s a good rule of thumb that applies to pretty much any garment: If it’s snug but not uncomfortable or restrictive, it’s likely a good fit.

It’s important to remember that the best way to get clothes to fit is to take them to a tailor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finally, to really round things off, here are some frequently asked questions on the topic.

Will 60 Cotton And 40 Polyester Shrink?

It is possible for 60% cotton and 40% polyester to shrink. You should first put the garment in the washing machine, followed by a short cycle in the dryer – checking the garment regularly throughout. Both of these cycles should be at the maximum heat setting.

The 60-40 cotton-polyester ratio is very common in garments because of its comfortable feel and good durability.

Shrinking 60-40 cotton-polyester garments can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable.

Will 50 Cotton And 50 Polyester Shrink?

A 50-50 cotton-polyester blend will shrink when done correctly. Putting the garment in the washing machine is the first step. Next, you should put it in the dryer. Using the highest heat settings for both is optimal due to the high polyester content.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber known for its durability and resistance to heat. Therefore, it can be challenging to shrink a 50-50 cotton-polyester blend.

If your garment hasn’t shrunk enough after following the steps, don’t worry. You can simply redo them, and your garment will likely shrink further.

Will 80 Cotton And 20 Polyester Shrink?

Shrinking 80% cotton and 20% polyester is doable. Using the washing machine is the first step to success, followed by a short, high-heat cycle in the dryer. Checking on your garment regularly while it’s in the dryer is a necessity.

Because of the high cotton content of an 80-20 cotton-polyester blend garment, using a steam iron can also be very effective.

Will 55 Cotton And 45 Polyester Shrink?

A 55-45 cotton-polyester blend can shrink under the right conditions. You should start by putting the garment in the washing machine and further aid the shrinking by putting it into the dryer immediately after the wash. 

Shrinking a 55-45 cotton-polyester blend is very similar to shrinking a 60-40 or 50-50 blend. 


To conclude, shrinking a cotton-polyester blend garment is entirely possible. However, you should always be wary of the potential damage to the garment when attempting to home-shrink it.