Can You Unshrink Polyester and Spandex? Here’s What You Need to Know

Polyester and spandex, two popular materials known for their stretchability and durability, can sometimes encounter a pesky problem: shrinking. Whether due to an accidental wash with hot water or mishandling, finding your favorite clothes or fabrics in a shrunken state can be disheartening. However, there’s hope. Restoring these materials to their original size can indeed be possible, and it doesn't require a magic spell or the skills of a textile expert. By following a relatively simple process, involving the use of conditioner and warm water, you can bid farewell to the shrunken state and welcome back the comfort and fit of these fabrics. So, if you find yourself wondering, "Can you unshrink polyester and spandex?" fear not, for there’s a solution within your grasp. Grab a tablespoon of conditioner and prepare to plunge into a basin filled with warm water, allowing the magical properties of these products to work their wonders. With a delicate touch and a little patience, you can gently pull and stretch the fabric, gradually returning it to it’s original shape and size. Say goodbye to that shrunken nightmare and hello to restored polyester and spandex garments that fit you like a glove once more.

How Does Polyester and Spandex Fit?

When it comes to the perfect fit, polyester and spandex make a winning combination. Spandex, known for it’s stretchy nature, contributes to garments that fit snugly and move seamlessly with the body. It’s resilience allows it to bounce back to it’s original shape after stretching, ensuring a comfortable and form-fitting silhouette.

On the other hand, polyester is celebrated for it’s moisture-wicking properties. This synthetic fiber efficiently wicks away moisture from the body, keeping us dry and comfortable even during intense physical activities. Whether it’s sweat or water, polyester pulls the dampness away from the skin, allowing it to evaporate faster. This quick-drying aspect of polyester is especially beneficial for workout gear and swimwear, as it ensures that moisture doesn’t linger on the skin, reducing the risk of discomfort or chafing.

The Benefits of Polyester and Spandex in Workout Gear

  • Improved flexibility and range of motion
  • Enhanced comfort and fit
  • Moisture-wicking properties to keep you dry
  • Quick-drying material for convenient wash and wear
  • Durability for long-lasting performance
  • Resistant to shrinking and fading
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Easy care and low maintenance
  • Retains shape even after repeated washing
  • Offers excellent stretch and recovery

Once you’ve successfully soaked and stretched your spandex material, you’ll notice a remarkable difference in it’s elasticity and fit. However, if you find that it’s still too tight or uncomfortable, there are a few additional measures you can take to make spandex looser.

How Do You Make Spandex Looser?

One way to make spandex looser is by soaking the material in a warm water bath. Find a container large enough to submerge the spandex completely. Fill it with warm water, ideally between 120–140 °F (49–60 °C). After allowing the water to reach the desired temperature, place the spandex in the bath and let it soak for about 30 minutes. The warm water helps relax the spandex fibers, making them more malleable and easier to stretch.

Alternatively, if you’ve access to a machine, you can use it to stretch the spandex. Look for a machine with low-speed settings to avoid damaging the fabric. Begin by placing the spandex in the machine, ensuring it’s secure and won’t get tangled. Turn on the machine at a low speed and allow it to gently stretch the fabric. Monitor the process closely, pausing or adjusting the speed as needed to achieve the desired loosening effect. Remember not to overstretch the spandex, as it may risk losing it’s elasticity or shape.

Avoid using excessive heat or direct sunlight, as these can damage the fibers. Once it’s completely dry, you can assess if the fabric has achieved the desired level of looseness. If necessary, you can repeat the soaking and stretching process until the spandex reaches the desired fit. However, always exercise caution and prevent excessive stretching to avoid permanently damaging the fabric.

Polyester and spandex, two common fabrics found in clothing, have the potential to shrink in the dryer. Polyester can shrink by 1 to 3 percent depending on it’s knit and finish, while spandex is especially prone to shrinking when exposed to high heat. However, it’s important to note that excessive heat may also lead to static and permanent wrinkles, so it’s advisable to keep the dry time short to minimize these effects.

Do Polyester and Spandex Shrink in the Dryer?

Polyester and spandex, two commonly used materials in clothing, can both experience shrinkage when exposed to certain conditions. While polyester is known for it’s ability to retain it’s shape and resist shrinking, it can still undergo slight shrinkage, typically ranging from 1 to 3 percent. This shrinkage depends on factors such as the knit and finish of the fabric.

Spandex, on the other hand, is more prone to shrinking when subjected to high heat. When washed or tumble dried at high temperatures, spandex fibers can contract, resulting in a decrease in overall size and fit. However, it’s crucial to be cautious when using high heat in the dryer, as it can also lead to static build-up and the formation of permanent wrinkles on both polyester and spandex garments.

Additionally, following the care instructions provided by the garment manufacturer is essential to maintain the integrity of the fabric. Some polyester and spandex blends may require specific laundering techniques, which could involve using a gentle cycle, cold water, or hand washing. By adhering to these guidelines, it’s possible to preserve the original size and fit of polyester and spandex garments for longer periods of time.

Following care instructions provided by the manufacturer can also help maintain the original size and fit of these fabrics.

Recommended Laundering Techniques for Polyester and Spandex Blends.

  • Wash the garment in cold water.
  • Use a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics.
  • Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals.
  • Hand wash or use the delicate cycle on your washing machine.
  • Avoid using fabric softener as it can damage the elasticity of the fabric.
  • Hang the garment to air dry or lay it flat on a clean towel.
  • Avoid using a dryer as the high heat can shrink or distort the fabric.
  • If necessary, iron the garment on a low heat setting or use a steamer to remove wrinkles.
  • Store the garment in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

Source: How to Shrink Spandex Leggings – Fashion Wanderer

Polyester and spandex are two widely used materials in the textile industry, often blended together to create flexible and stretchy fabrics. While polyester itself has no natural stretch, it can be manipulated through various techniques to enhance it’s elasticity. By combining it with elastic fibers like spandex, the resulting blend offers both comfort and excellent stretchability, making it ideal for manufacturing soft and flexible clothing.

Is There a Way to Stretch Polyester and Spandex?

Polyester fibers have long been known for their lack of elasticity. Unlike natural fibers such as cotton or wool, which can stretch and bounce back to their original shape, polyester remains rigid and doesn’t have the ability to stretch on it’s own. This can be quite frustrating for those who love the look and feel of polyester fabrics but desire a bit more flexibility.

However, there are certain techniques and tricks that can help to stretch polyester and make it more accommodating. One method is by crimping the fabric. This involves the use of heat and pressure to create a wavy pattern in the fabric, giving it a slight stretch and increasing it’s overall flexibility. This technique is often used in the production of polyester-based upholstery or drapery fabrics.

By using a specific knitting pattern, fabric manufacturers can create a polyester fabric with a bit more give and stretch than traditional polyester. This can be especially useful for creating clothing items such as leggings or activewear, where a higher level of stretch is desired.

Polyester-spandex blends, also known as poly-spandex or simply spandex, are incredibly popular for creating comfortable, soft, and super stretchy clothing. The addition of spandex gives the fabric a high level of elasticity, allowing it to stretch and conform to the body without losing it’s shape or structure.

How to Care for Polyester and Spandex Fabrics to Prevent Stretching

To care for your polyester and spandex fabrics and avoid stretching, follow these practical tips. Firstly, always check the care instructions on the clothing tag. Handwashing or using the delicate cycle on your washing machine is best to prevent excessive stretching. Turn the garment inside out before washing to minimize friction. Use a gentle detergent and cold water to preserve the fabric’s elasticity. Avoid using fabric softeners as they can weaken the fibers, leading to stretching. After washing, reshape the garment and lay it flat to dry, avoiding direct sunlight or heat sources. Avoid hanging your polyester and spandex clothes as their weight can cause stretching. Additionally, avoid wringing or twisting the fabric, as it can stretch the fibers out of shape. By following these simple care instructions, you can ensure your polyester and spandex garments maintain their shape and elasticity for a longer period.

However, there are certain types of polyester blends and treatments that can add a stretch factor to the fabric. These modifications make the material more flexible and comfortable to wear. So, while 100% polyester may not stretch, it’s important to consider variations and blends that can provide some elasticity.

Does 100% Polyester Stretch?

There are certain polyester blends that incorporate a small amount of spandex or elastane to add stretchiness. These blends are commonly used for activewear, sportswear, and other garments that require flexibility and movement. The addition of spandex allows the fabric to stretch and then return to it’s original shape once released.

The lack of stretch in 100% polyester fabrics can be both an advantage and a drawback. On one hand, it ensures that the fabric maintains it’s shape and doesn’t become baggy or loose over time. This makes it ideal for structured garments like suits or formal dresses that require a tailored fit. Additionally, the durability of polyester means that it can withstand repeated washes and wear without losing it’s shape or stretching out.

On the other hand, the limited stretch in 100% polyester fabrics can be restrictive for certain types of clothing or activities. For example, if youre looking for a fabric that will move and stretch with you during yoga or exercise, 100% polyester may not be the best choice. In these cases, it’s better to opt for a polyester blend that incorporates spandex or elastane to provide the necessary stretch and comfort.

This is achieved by using different weaving techniques or by manipulating the fibers during the fabric production process. However, the stretch obtained through these methods is usually minimal and less pronounced compared to fabrics that contain elastane.


By immersing the fabric in warm water with a tablespoon of conditioner and allowing it to soak for a significant period, the fibers can regain their original shape and elasticity. By carefully pulling and stretching the material, it can be restored to it’s initial size, allowing for a comfortable and wearable fit once again. So fear not, for the accidental shrinkage of polyester and spandex can be combated with patience, care, and a bit of conditioner.