Does 65% Polyester 35% Cotton Shrink? Everything You Need To Know

If you’ve ever wondered whether that cute 65/35 polyester/cotton shirt or dress will shrink in the wash, you’re not alone. With so many clothing items now made from polyester/cotton blends, it’s an important question for consumers.

The short answer is: 65% polyester 35% cotton fabric can shrink a little, but not as much as 100% cotton. The polyester fibers are resistant to heat and detergents, minimizing shrinkage. But the cotton content means it’s still possible to see some reduction in size.

How Much Can 65/35 Poly/Cotton Shrink?

When it comes to the shrinkage of 65% polyester and 35% cotton fabric, it is important to understand that shrinkage can occur to some extent. However, compared to 100% cotton fabric, the shrinkage is relatively minimal.

Around 2-5% shrinkage

On average, a 65/35 poly/cotton blend fabric can shrink by around 2-5% when washed and dried using normal household methods. This shrinkage is generally considered to be within an acceptable range for most clothing items and household textiles.

It is worth noting that the shrinkage percentage can vary depending on various factors such as the specific brand or manufacturer, the quality of the fabric, and the washing and drying conditions. However, a shrinkage of 2-5% is a common range for this type of fabric.

Less than 100% cotton

Compared to 100% cotton fabric, a 65/35 poly/cotton blend typically shrinks less. This is because polyester fibers have a lower tendency to shrink compared to natural fibers like cotton. Polyester fibers are more resistant to heat, which contributes to the lower shrinkage rate.

However, it is important to note that the exact shrinkage percentage can still vary depending on the blend ratio and fabric quality. Some poly/cotton blends may have a higher cotton content, which can result in slightly more shrinkage compared to a blend with a higher polyester content.

Depends on wash temperature

The shrinkage of a 65/35 poly/cotton fabric can also be influenced by the wash temperature. Higher wash temperatures can lead to more significant shrinkage, while lower temperatures can help minimize shrinkage.

It is generally recommended to follow the care instructions provided by the garment or textile manufacturer.

If you are concerned about shrinkage, it is advisable to wash the fabric in cold water and avoid high heat drying. Air drying or using a low heat setting in the dryer can help maintain the fabric’s shape and minimize shrinkage.

For more detailed information on fabric shrinkage and care instructions, you can visit reliable sources such as the Cotton Incorporated website, which provides valuable insights into fabric care and maintenance.

Why Does Poly/Cotton Shrink?

Polyester and cotton are two widely used fabrics in the textile industry due to their durability and comfort. However, when they are blended together to create a poly/cotton fabric, there is a possibility of shrinkage.

Understanding why this happens can help you take proper care of your poly/cotton garments to minimize shrinkage.

Cotton fibers shrink

Cotton is a natural fiber that has the tendency to shrink when exposed to certain conditions. This is because cotton fibers have a unique structure that allows them to absorb moisture. When heated, these moisture-absorbing fibers contract, causing the fabric to shrink.

While this characteristic is one of the reasons cotton is breathable and comfortable, it also makes it prone to shrinkage.

Heat, agitation, and detergent loosen cotton weave

Heat, agitation, and detergent can contribute to the shrinking of poly/cotton fabrics. When exposed to high temperatures, such as in hot water or a hot dryer, the cotton fibers in the fabric can contract and cause the fabric to shrink.

Agitation, such as vigorous washing or drying cycles, can also cause the cotton weave to loosen, making it more prone to shrinkage. Additionally, certain detergents can further weaken the cotton fibers, making them more susceptible to shrinking.

Polyester resists shrinking

Unlike cotton, polyester is a synthetic fiber that is known for its resistance to shrinkage. Polyester fibers are made from polymers that are not as absorbent as cotton, making them less prone to contracting when exposed to heat and moisture.

This is why poly/cotton blends, which contain a combination of polyester and cotton fibers, are less likely to shrink compared to fabrics made solely from cotton.

It’s important to note that while polyester resists shrinking, it can still be affected by high temperatures. Extreme heat can cause the polyester fibers to melt or warp, which may result in permanent damage to the fabric.

Therefore, it is recommended to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer to prevent any potential shrinkage or damage to your poly/cotton garments.

Tips To Minimize Shrinking

Wash in cold water

One of the best ways to minimize shrinking in 65% polyester 35% cotton fabrics is to wash them in cold water. Hot water can cause the fabric to shrink, so opting for cold water will help preserve the original size and shape of the garment.

Cold water is also gentler on the fabric, reducing the risk of damage or fading. Additionally, using a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine can further protect the fabric from excessive shrinkage.

Hang dry or low heat tumble dry

Drying methods can also play a role in minimizing shrinking. To avoid excessive shrinkage, it is recommended to either hang dry your 65% polyester 35% cotton garments or use a low heat setting on your tumble dryer.

High heat can cause the fabric to shrink, so opting for a gentler drying method can help maintain the garment’s original size. Hanging the garment to dry allows it to air dry naturally, while using a low heat setting in the dryer helps reduce the risk of shrinkage.

Buy pre-shrunk fabrics

If you want to ensure minimal shrinkage, consider purchasing pre-shrunk fabrics. Pre-shrunk fabrics have undergone a shrinking process before being cut and sewn into garments, reducing the risk of further shrinkage when you wash and dry them.

Look for garments labeled as “pre-shrunk” or check with the retailer or manufacturer to confirm if the fabric has been pre-shrunk. This will give you peace of mind knowing that the garment will maintain its size and shape even after multiple washes.

By following these tips, you can minimize the shrinkage of your 65% polyester 35% cotton garments and prolong their lifespan. Remember to always check the care label on your clothing for specific washing and drying instructions, as different fabrics may require different care methods to prevent shrinkage.

Can You Stretch Out Shrunken Poly/Cotton?

It can be quite frustrating when a favorite poly/cotton garment accidentally shrinks in the wash. However, there are a few techniques you can try to stretch it back to its original size. Here are two methods you can attempt to salvage your shrunken poly/cotton clothing:

1. Soak in conditioner and gently pull

One method to try is soaking the shrunken garment in lukewarm water mixed with hair conditioner. The conditioner helps to soften the fibers, making them more pliable and easier to stretch. After soaking for about 30 minutes, gently pull the fabric in all directions, focusing on the areas that have shrunk the most.

Be careful not to pull too forcefully, as this may cause the fabric to tear. Slow and steady stretching is key.

Remember, this method may not work for all types of poly/cotton blends, so it’s important to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first. Additionally, some fabrics may have a limit to how much they can be stretched, so results may vary.

2. Iron while damp

Another technique to try is ironing the shrunken poly/cotton garment while it is still damp. Start by misting the fabric with water to dampen it slightly. Then, using a warm iron, gently press and stretch the fabric in the desired direction.

The heat from the iron combined with the moisture helps relax the fibers and allows them to stretch. Be cautious not to use too high of a heat setting or leave the iron in one spot for too long, as this can damage the fabric.

It’s important to note that while these methods may help stretch out a shrunken poly/cotton garment, they are not guaranteed to work in every case. The success of these techniques depends on factors such as the fabric blend, the extent of the shrinkage, and the overall condition of the garment.

If all else fails, it may be best to embrace the shrunken size and find creative ways to repurpose the garment, or consider donating it to someone who can make use of it.


While 100% cotton items are notorious shrinkers, polyester/cotton blends have much more shrink resistance thanks to the polyester content. Still, some reduction in size is possible with 65/35 poly/cotton fabrics depending on washing and drying methods.

Following some care instructions like washing in cold water, hang drying, and buying pre-shrunk fabric can help minimize unwanted shrinkage. With some effort, even slightly shrunken items may be stretched back to shape.

So you can confidently wear your favorite poly/cotton pieces without fearing they’ll soon become too small!

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