How To Shrink Recycled Polyester

Do you know how to shrink recycled polyester? Maybe you have a comfortable old polyester shirt that is somewhat stretched out. Or you found a great shirt at a thrift store, but it is too big. Polyester is hard to shrink, but it is not impossible. And it certainly won’t hurt to try. Follow these five easy steps for shrinking polyester, and see if you can’t recycle your old polyester shirt into something new. 

Items needed to shrink recycled polyester:


  • Washing machine
  • Clothes dryer
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer sheet
  1. Inspect your polyester shirt. Empty the pockets of loose change, gum wrappers, and other items that may be stuffed inside. Leaving items in your shirt pocket can affect the wash cycle or require another wash.
  2. Turn your polyester shirt inside out. Turning your clothes inside out is always a good idea. It keeps garments from fading and the colors vibrant.
  3. Wash your polyester shirt. Select the highest possible temperature setting for the wash cycle. You need hot water to shrink a recycled polyester shirt. The hotter, the better. Add laundry detergent to the water. Place your shirt in the washing machine, and allow it to run the entire wash cycle.
  4. Dry your polyester shirt. Remove your laundered shirt from the washing machine, and place it in the clothes dryer. Select the highest possible heat setting. Toss a dryer sheet in with the shirt. Allow the shirt to go through the entire dryer cycle.
  5. Repeat the wash-and-dry cycle. For better shrinkage of your polyester shirt, repeat the wash-and-dry cycle. It is not necessary to use laundry detergent for the second wash. A third wash-and-dry cycle may be necessary if the recycled polyester is hard to shrink.
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