Does Nylon Shrink In The Wash? A Detailed Look At Caring For Your Nylon Clothing

If you’ve ever tossed a nylon jacket or workout gear in the washing machine only to find it’s shrunk to doll-size after drying, you’re not alone. Nylon’s tendency to shrink when washed and dried is a common problem many of us have experienced with this popular synthetic fabric.

Here’s the quick answer: Yes, nylon often shrinks when machine washed and dried using high heat. But there are steps you can take to wash nylon without shrinkage, including washing in cold water, air drying, and using a laundry bag.

What Makes Nylon Shrink?

Nylon is a popular synthetic fabric known for its durability and versatility. However, it is important to properly care for your nylon clothing to ensure its longevity. One common concern when it comes to nylon is whether it will shrink in the wash. Let’s take a closer look at what causes nylon to shrink.

Heat and Agitation Are the Culprits

One of the main reasons why nylon can shrink in the wash is due to heat and agitation. When exposed to high temperatures, such as hot water or a high heat setting in the dryer, the nylon fibers can contract and become smaller in size.

Additionally, the agitation caused by the washing machine or dryer can further exacerbate this shrinkage.

It is important to note that different types of nylon may have varying shrinkage rates. For example, nylon blends or fabrics with a higher percentage of nylon may be more prone to shrinking. Therefore, it is always recommended to check the care label on your nylon clothing for specific washing instructions.

Nylon Fibers Lack Elasticity

Another factor that contributes to nylon shrinking is the lack of elasticity in its fibers. Unlike natural fibers like cotton or wool, nylon does not have the same stretchability. This means that when exposed to heat and agitation, the nylon fibers cannot easily bounce back to their original shape and size.

Therefore, it is important to take extra care when washing and drying nylon clothing. Avoid using high heat settings and opt for gentle cycles or handwashing whenever possible. By minimizing the exposure to heat and agitation, you can help prevent or reduce the shrinkage of your nylon garments.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to caring for your nylon clothing. By following the proper washing instructions and being mindful of heat and agitation, you can keep your nylon garments looking great and avoid any unwanted shrinkage.

Tips to Wash Nylon Without Shrinking

Wash in Cold Water

When it comes to washing nylon clothing, using cold water is key. Hot water can cause the fabric to shrink, so it’s best to avoid it. Cold water not only helps preserve the size and shape of your nylon garments, but it also prevents colors from fading.

So, next time you’re doing the laundry, make sure to set the water temperature to cold for your nylon items.

Skip the Dryer and Air Dry

Drying nylon clothing in a dryer can lead to shrinkage and damage. The high heat and tumbling motion can cause the fabric to contract, resulting in a smaller size. Instead, opt for air drying your nylon garments. You can hang them up on a clothesline or use a drying rack.

Not only will this help maintain the original size of your clothing, but it will also extend its lifespan by preventing unnecessary wear and tear.

Use a Laundry Bag

To further protect your nylon clothing during the washing process, consider using a laundry bag. This simple tool can prevent tangling, snagging, and stretching. Place your nylon items inside the bag before tossing them in the washing machine.

This way, they will be shielded from any potential damage caused by other clothes or the machine itself.

Wash Less Frequently

While it’s important to keep your clothes clean, washing nylon items too frequently can contribute to shrinkage. Nylon is a durable and quick-drying fabric, so it doesn’t require frequent washing. If your nylon clothing isn’t visibly dirty or doesn’t have any odors, consider airing it out or spot-cleaning instead of washing it.

This will help maintain the original size and shape of the garment for longer.

Inspect Labels and Follow Care Instructions

Each garment comes with a care label that provides specific instructions on how to wash and care for it. Take a moment to read and understand these instructions before tossing your nylon items into the washing machine.

Following the care instructions will help prevent shrinkage and keep your clothing looking great. If you’re unsure about the best way to care for your nylon garments, you can also check the manufacturer’s website or other reputable sources for more information.

Can You Unshrink Nylon?

Accidents happen, and sometimes our favorite nylon clothing items end up shrinking in the wash. But fear not! There are methods you can try to unshrink nylon and restore your garment to its original size. Here, we will explore some techniques that have been known to work effectively.

Fill a Sink or Bucket With Cool Water

The first step in the process of unshrinking nylon is to fill a sink or bucket with cool water. It’s important to use cool water instead of hot water, as hot water can cause further damage to the fabric.

Make sure the sink or bucket is large enough to accommodate the garment without it getting too cramped.

Add Hair Conditioner

Once the sink or bucket is filled with cool water, add a small amount of hair conditioner to the water. Hair conditioner helps to relax the fibers in the nylon fabric, making it easier to stretch back to its original shape.

Be sure to use a conditioner that is suitable for use on fabrics, as some conditioners may leave a residue.

Soak and Gently Stretch

Next, place the shrunken nylon garment into the water and allow it to soak for about 30 minutes. This will give the conditioner enough time to penetrate the fabric and work its magic. After the soaking period, gently stretch the garment in all directions, being careful not to apply too much force and cause any damage.

Take your time with this step, as nylon can be delicate.

Lay Flat to Dry

After you have gently stretched the garment, lay it flat to dry. Avoid hanging the garment, as this can cause it to stretch unevenly. Instead, find a clean, flat surface such as a towel or drying rack, and place the garment on it. Allow it to air dry completely before wearing or storing it.

This will ensure that the fabric retains its shape and elasticity.

While these techniques have been known to work for some individuals, it’s important to note that not all nylon garments may respond the same way. Some fabrics may be more resilient to stretching, while others may be more prone to damage.

It’s always a good idea to test these methods on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment before attempting to unshrink the entire piece.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so be sure to carefully read and follow the care instructions on your nylon garments. Taking proper care of your clothing from the start can help prevent shrinkage and prolong their lifespan.

Alternatives If Nylon Remains Shrunk

While it’s always best to prevent shrinking in the first place, sometimes accidents happen and your nylon clothing may end up smaller than before. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t fret! There are a few alternatives you can consider to make the most out of your shrunken nylon garments.

Embrace the Smaller Fit

If the shrinkage is minimal and the garment still fits relatively well, you can choose to embrace the smaller fit. Sometimes, a slightly tighter fit can even enhance the appearance of certain clothing items, giving them a more tailored and stylish look.

Consider pairing your shrunken nylon top with high-waisted jeans or a skirt to create a trendy and flattering outfit. Remember, fashion is all about embracing your unique style and making the most of what you have!

Tailor or Alter the Garment

If the shrinkage is more significant and the garment no longer fits comfortably, you can explore the option of tailoring or altering the garment. This can be done by a professional tailor who can make adjustments to the garment to restore its original size and shape.

They can also make other alterations, such as adjusting the length or adding darts to improve the fit. While this may require an additional cost, it can be worthwhile if you really love the garment and want to continue wearing it.

Repurpose Into New Items

If all else fails and the garment is beyond repair, you can get creative and repurpose it into something new. Nylon fabric is versatile and can be transformed into various items. For example, you can turn a shrunken nylon dress into a stylish crop top or a skirt into a cute bag.

By repurposing your shrunken nylon clothing, you not only give them a new lease on life but also unleash your creativity and contribute to sustainable fashion practices.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to shrinking nylon clothing. So, be sure to read the care instructions on your garments and follow them carefully to avoid any mishaps in the future.


Nylon may shrink when washed, but you’re not powerless against this frustrating laundry snafu. With smart washing techniques and fabric care, you can keep your nylon clothing looking and fitting like new. Test cold water washes first and skip the dryer to prevent shrinkage.

If your nylon does shrink, you can often stretch it back to size by careful soaking and reshaping. With the right care, your favorite nylon jacket or activewear can stay shapely and stylish for many wears to come.

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