How to Shrink a Polyester Shirt

Do you have a polyester shirt that is too big? Do you want it to fit better and look more flattering on your body? Whether it’s brand new or an old shirt that you need to recycle, there are many ways in which you can shrink the material. Also, it’s essential to consider the type of print design and ink used on the shirt before embarking on your shrinking process. So, how can you shrink your polyester shirt?

Well, you can shrink this type of fabric using these three methods;

1.  Shrink using a dryer

2. Shrink Using hot water

3. Shrink by ironing

How to Shrink a Polyester Shirt- 3 Methods

1. Shrinking with a Dryer

clothes Shrinking with a Dryer

This first method involves placing the t-shirts into the dryer for about 30 minutes at a medium heat setting. This will cause the fibers within the polyester blend to contract and tighten up. The result should be a tighter-fitting garment. However, if you use high temperatures, the shrinkage may not occur evenly throughout the entire piece of clothing. Follow these steps for the best results;

  • Turn the shirt inside out to prevent damage to the external printed designs.
  • Lay the shirt flat onto a clean surface to avoid wrinkles.
  • Make sure all buttons and zippers are closed.
  • Fold over any loose edges.
  • Place the fabric into the dryer.
  • Check after 15 minutes and again every 5 minutes until the desired size has been achieved.
  • Remove from the dryer when finished.
  • Allow cooling completely before wearing.

Important to Note 

  • Make sure the temperature settings do not exceed 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If they do, the polyester fiber can be damaged.
  • Be careful not to place the items directly against each other while drying. It would take longer than usual to dry them because of their proximity.
  • When removing the shirts from the dryer, make sure they are still folded properly. Otherwise, some parts might get wrinkled during the cooling down period.

2. Shrinking With Hot Water

clothes Shrinking in Hot Water

This method works well if you don’t have access to a dryer. It requires less time than drying but does require some patience. You must ensure that the water temperature remains constant during the procedure; otherwise, the shrinkage won’t happen properly. Here’s what you’ll need;

  • A large pot filled with enough warm tap water
  • Oven mitts
  • Two bowls – one bowl containing cold water and another bowl containing ice cubes
  • One pair of scissors
  • Your polyester Shirt


  • Fill the pot with enough warm tap water to cover the bottom half of the shirt. Make sure the fabrics do not touch the sides of the pot because they might get damaged.
  • Put your oven mitt on top of the pot and place it in the middle rack of your oven. Leave the door open slightly while cooking.
  • Add two ice cubes into the cold bowl. These will help keep the water level steady.
  • Cut off excess fabric from the bottom half of the shirt. Be cautious not to cut through the stitching.
  • Carefully lower the top half of the shirt down into the pot. Don’t worry if the fabric gets wrinkled. Just make sure that no part of the shirt touches the side of the pot.
  • Cover the pot with either aluminum foil or plastic wrap—set the timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check whether the desired size has been reached. If yes, remove the lid and allow it to cool completely. Otherwise, continue cooking for ten additional minutes.
  • Repeat steps 4 to 6 until the desired size is reached. Once done, remove the lid and let sit overnight. In the morning, carefully take the t-shirt out of the hot water and lay it flat to air dry. When dried, iron using low settings to straighten any wrinkled areas.

Important to Note

  • Note the following when shrinking polyester shirt with hot water;
  • The heat should be medium. This ensures that the fibers remain intact without being damaged.
  • Do not use an electric stove as this may cause damage to the material. Use only gas stoves.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient space between the pots so that steam can escape easily.
  • Keep the room at least 75% humidity.
  • Avoid placing any metal objects inside the pot, such as pans, knives, etc. They could melt due to high temperatures.
  • Never put anything directly onto the surface of the pot. Instead, always use oven mitts.
  • Always wear gloves when handling the pot.
  • Allow the shirts to dry before washing them thoroughly.
  • Completely rinse the shrunken shirt after every wash cycle.

3. Shrinking with an Iron

shirt Shrinking by an Iron

Another way to shrink your polyester shirt is by ironing. Before undertaking the process, wash the shirt well with hot water and detergent. Ensure you iron at medium heat setting for about 30 seconds per inch lengthwise to achieve good results without damaging garment parts. Also, be careful with the printed areas to avoid bleaching of ink. Follow the steps below.

  • Set the ironing board ready and lay the washed and dried shirt over the ironing board so that the print area faces up.
  • Place the iron over the print area and press firmly for approximately 15 seconds. The more pressure applied, the better results you can expect.
  • Remove the iron immediately after pressing. Let the shirt rest for several hours before washing again. This helps prevent further shrinking.
  • Wash as usual.
  • Dry thoroughly. Iron when necessary.

Important to Note

  • Make sure the iron is not too hot to avoid burning the fabric.
  • Be very gentle while applying pressure on the iron. Press lightly in small sections.
  • You can apply a thin layer of oil to help keep the iron from sticking to the fabric.
  • Check regularly during the process to ensure that the fabric shrinks evenly.
  • If the fabric starts to curl, do not worry. Straighten it back into shape.
  • Do not leave the iron unattended. Turn off the power switch if possible.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding care and maintenance of the iron.

Polyester Shirt Care Tips:

  • Wash all colors separately. If they are mixed, the ink might run or bleed through.
  • Use cold water and mild soap since most dyes used in printers contain chemicals that react harshly with warm water.
  • Rinse gently but thoroughly under running tap water.
  • Hang clothes outside to air dry.
  • Store clothing in plastic bags to protect against moth infestation.
  • To remove stains, rub with a soft cloth dipped in a vinegar solution. Do this only once since vinegar may discolor fabrics.
  • For stubborn spots, apply a paste made of baking soda and water. Leave overnight, then rinse clean.
  • For best results, allow the item to cool completely before storing.
  • Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight.
  • Be aware that some colors fade faster than others.


Shrinking polyester can be tricky but not entirely impossible. With the proper method and patience, you should have no problem achieving outstanding results. Remember to be cautious in all ways because it could damage the material. Always read the manual first before getting to work on your shirt. I hope our guide on shrinking polyester shirts helps you set the ball rolling and helps get oversize shirts looking better and fitting.

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