does acrylic shrink in the dryer

Does Acrylic Shrink in the Dryer?

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is key, and when it comes to doing laundry, using a dryer can save us valuable time. However, it’s crucial to know while drying clothes how different fabrics react to the heat of the dryer. Acrylic is a popular synthetic fabric known for its durability and versatility, but does acrylic shrink in the dryer? In this article, we will explore the characteristics of acrylic, how it behaves in the dryer, and provide tips on how to care for acrylic garments.

What is Acrylic Fabric?

Acrylic is a synthetic fiber made from polymers derived from petroleum. It was developed as an alternative to wool, offering similar warmth and softness without the maintenance requirements of natural fibers. Acrylic is commonly used in sweaters, blankets, and various types of clothing due to its affordability and resistance to wrinkles.

Acrylic’s unique structure involves long chains of molecules, making it resilient against shrinkage. These long chains are less susceptible to the forces of heat and moisture that typically cause fabrics to contract. As a result, acrylic garments tend to maintain their shape and size even after multiple washes.

what is The Science Behind Shrinking?

Before we dive into the specifics of acrylic, let’s understand why some fabrics shrink in the dryer. Most fabrics consist of fibers that are held together by various forces. When exposed to heat, these forces can weaken, causing the fibers to contract and, in turn, causing the fabric to shrink.

When it comes to natural fibers like cotton or wool, their ability to absorb moisture plays a significant role in their propensity to shrink. Heat and moisture can disrupt the hydrogen bonds in these fibers, causing them to swell and contract when drying, which results in shrinkage. However, acrylic is different.

Does Acrylic Shrink?

The good news for acrylic lovers is that this synthetic fabric is highly resistant to shrinking. Acrylic fibers have a low moisture absorption rate, which means they are less likely to react to the heat and moisture in the dryer. Unlike natural fibers like cotton or wool, acrylic does not have the same propensity to contract under heat. Read does nylon shrink in the dryer guide.

Does Acrylic Shrink in the Dryer?

Yes, acrylic can shrink in the dryer if exposed to high heat settings. While acrylic is generally more resistant to shrinking than natural fibers like cotton or wool, it is not entirely immune to the effects of heat. To prevent shrinkage, it’s recommended to use the lowest heat setting or opt for air drying for your acrylic garments.

does acrylic shrink in the dryer

How Much Will Acrylic Shrink?

The amount by which acrylic shrinks can vary, but it typically experiences minimal shrinkage when compared to natural fibers like cotton or wool. When exposed to heat, such as in a dryer, acrylic may shrink by approximately one size or less. However, the degree of shrinkage can be unpredictable, and it’s influenced by factors like the quality of the acrylic, the specific blend of fibers (if any), and the intensity of the heat used. It’s important to follow care instructions and use lower heat settings to minimize the risk of excessive shrinkage when dealing with acrylic garments.

what are the Factors That Influence Shrinkage?

While acrylic is generally resistant to shrinking, there are factors that can influence its behavior in the dryer:

  1. Temperature: Lower heat settings are less likely to affect acrylic garments. Opt for a gentle, low-heat cycle to be safe.
  2. Blending: Acrylic is often blended with other fibers like wool or nylon. In such cases, the fabric’s reaction to heat may depend on the blend.
  3. Quality: The quality of acrylic yarn or fabric can vary. Higher-quality acrylic is less likely to shrink.
  4. Garment Construction: The way a garment is knitted or woven can impact its susceptibility to shrinkage.

does acrylic yarn shrink?

No, acrylic yarn does not shrink. Acrylic is a synthetic fiber, and synthetic fibers are not as sensitive to heat and moisture as natural fibers like wool and cotton. In fact, acrylic can actually stretch when exposed to high temperatures.

how to shrink acrylic sweater?

Shrinking an acrylic sweater can be a bit challenging due to acrylic’s resistance to shrinkage, but if you want to attempt it, here’s a general method you can follow:

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Acrylic sweater you want to shrink
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer
  • Warm water
  • Fabric softener (optional)


  1. Check the Label: Before attempting to shrink your acrylic sweater, check the care label. Some acrylic sweaters may have specific care instructions that advise against shrinking.
  2. Set the Washing Machine: Fill your washing machine with warm water. Avoid using hot water, as excessive heat can damage acrylic fibers. You can add a small amount of fabric softener to the water if you prefer.
  3. Wash the Sweater: Place the acrylic sweater in the washing machine and let it go through a normal wash cycle. The warm water will help relax the fibers.
  4. Dryer Time: Transfer the sweater to the dryer after washing. Use a low heat setting. The low heat will gently heat the acrylic fibers without causing excessive shrinkage or damage.
  5. Check Progress: Keep a close eye on the sweater as it dries. After a short cycle in the dryer, check the fit to see if it has shrunk to your desired size. If not, you can repeat the process, but avoid using high heat, as it may damage the acrylic.
  6. Air Dry (If Necessary): If you achieve the desired level of shrinkage, remove the sweater from the dryer and allow it to air dry the rest of the way. This will help set the size and prevent any further shrinkage in subsequent washes.

Remember that shrinking acrylic is not always predictable, and there is a limit to how much you can shrink it without causing damage. Be cautious and patient throughout the process to avoid over-shrinking or damaging your sweater.

does 100 acrylic shrink?

No, 100% acrylic fabric does not typically shrink significantly when exposed to heat or moisture.

Caring for Acrylic Garments

To ensure your acrylic garments maintain their shape and size, follow these care tips:

  • Machine Wash with Care: Use a gentle cycle and cold water to wash acrylic items. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners.
  • Low-Heat Drying: If you choose to use a dryer, select the lowest heat setting. Consider using a garment bag to protect the fabric from friction.
  • Air Drying: The safest way to dry acrylic garments is to air dry them flat. This method minimizes the risk of any heat-induced changes.
  • Storage: Store acrylic clothing in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, to maintain their quality.


In conclusion, acrylic is a synthetic fabric that is generally resistant to shrinking in the dryer. Its unique molecular structure, with long chains of molecules, makes it less susceptible to the forces of heat and moisture that cause shrinkage in other fabrics. However, it’s essential to take precautions to preserve the quality of your acrylic garments. By following the care tips mentioned above, you can enjoy the benefits of this versatile and durable fabric without worrying about shrinkage.

FAQ does acrylic shrink in the dryer

Does acrylic fabric shrink in the dryer?

Acrylic fabric is generally resistant to significant shrinking in the dryer. However, it’s best to use the lowest heat setting to minimize any potential shrinkage and preserve the garment’s size and shape.

What happens if you put acrylic in the dryer?

When you put acrylic in the dryer, it may undergo slight shrinkage if exposed to high heat settings. Acrylic fibers have a low moisture absorption rate, which means they are less likely to react to heat and moisture, but caution is advised to avoid excessive heat.

Does acrylic shrink when heated?

Acrylic can experience some shrinkage when exposed to heat, but this is typically minimal compared to natural fibers like cotton or wool. Its resistance to significant shrinkage is one of the advantages of acrylic fabric.

Does acrylic stretch or shrink?

While acrylic fabric can experience slight shrinkage under specific conditions, it is generally known for its ability to maintain its shape and resist stretching, making it a durable choice for various garments and items.

Can I use a regular dryer setting for acrylic garments?

For acrylic garments, it’s advisable to use the lowest heat setting in the dryer to minimize any potential shrinkage.

Should I avoid washing acrylic with other fabrics?

To prevent friction and potential damage, it’s recommended to wash acrylic separately or with similar synthetic fabrics.

Is acrylic suitable for people with wool allergies?

Yes, acrylic is an excellent hypoallergenic alternative for individuals with wool allergies.

Can I iron acrylic garments?

It’s best to avoid direct ironing of acrylic garments due to their low melting point. Instead, use a cloth as a buffer if necessary.

Are there any specific detergents recommended for acrylic?

For washing acrylic garments, it’s recommended to use a mild detergent without bleach or fabric softeners.

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