Does Nylon Shrink? The Definitive Answer

Nylon is one of the most popular synthetic fabrics out there. It is used to make a wide variety of things ranging from workout gear to formal shirts and everything in between.

Due to its wide use-case, you would expect that there would be sufficient information available online about nylon, but sadly, this is not the case.

Therefore, I decided to create this guide where I would talk about nylon and shrinkage. Based on a bunch of experiments on my nylon clothing, this article is going to definitively answer the question “Does nylon shrink“.

Here’s the short answer.

Nylon does not shrink in the wash. However, both nylon and nylon blends tend to shrink in the dryer. Therefore, tumble-drying nylon should be avoided in order to prevent shrinkage.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the subject.

Does Nylon Shrink In The Wash?

No, nylon is a tough synthetic fabric that does not shrink in the wash. It can be hand-washed and machine-washed without any reason to worry.

While most synthetic fabrics would absolutely break down if they are subjected to a hot water cycle inside a washing machine, this is not the case with nylon.

Nylon is the anomaly in synthetic fabrics because it does not shrink even when it is machine-washed with extremely hot water. This durability is the reason people prefer nylon to be used for making tents and outdoor gear.

I put a couple of my 100% nylon basketball shorts and a linen-nylon blend Cuban-collared shirt into the washing machine, and they came out perfectly fine without any shrinkage.

However, I would still recommend you to machine-wash nylon in cold or lukewarm water only. Higher temperatures may not be that detrimental to nylon, but you should always be safe rather than sorry.

Does Nylon Shrink In The Dryer?

Nylon garments shrink by 5-10% in the dryer, especially when the dryer is on a high heat setting.

While much depends on the specific garment, it is typically not a good idea to put your nylon shorts, shirts, or dresses in the dryer.

The dryer’s intense heat and abrasion breaks down nylon molecules and causes them to stick together more tightly, which in turn causes shrinking.

I threw two of my nylon shirts in the dryer, one on high heat and the other on low heat. The one that was exposed to high heat shrank by about 5%, whereas the one that was exposed to low heat did not shrink at all.

Hanging nylon clothes on a clothesline to dry them.

Do nylon blends shrink in the dryer?

Nylon blends shrink much more than 100% pure nylon. When subjected to the high heat of a dryer, they can shrink up to 20-30% of the garment’s original size.

This is because nylon is usually blended with natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, and merino wool. Natural fabrics, generally speaking, are much more likely to shrink in the dryer than synthetic fabrics.

The higher the percentage of a natural fabric in the blend, and the higher your nylon garment is going to shrink.

This is what I observed when I decided to tumble-dry one of my merino wool shirts that has 30% nylon in it. Because a natural fabric was in the majority ratio, the garment ended up shrinking a lot.

3 Different Ways To Shrink Nylon

Nylon can be a pretty difficult material to shrink. However, there are still three ways that you can go with that are going to ease up this process.

1. Get it tailored

Tailoring is the method that is probably the best for shrinking your nylon clothing. While tailoring may not exactly fall under the category of “shrinking,” it does provide you complete control over the appearance and dimensions of your clothes.

Both nylon and nylon blends can be tailored easily. The majority of professionals in this field would have no trouble dealing with this stuff.

And the tailoring charges aren’t going to be that high either. If you only want a small part hemmed, your costs can be as low as $15.

2. Soak in warm water

This method is great if you have some time on your hand, and the shrinking process doesn’t have to be extremely quick.

Fill a bucket halfway with boiling hot water. Soak your nylon garments in this tub. When the water gets lukewarm to the touch, repeat the process.

If you repeat this technique three or four times, your nylon clothes will shrink dramatically.

However, I urge that you double-check the size of your clothes every time you change the water. There’s no need to repeat the process once the garment fits you precisely.

3. Throw it in the dryer

This is the strategy to use if you don’t want to bear tailoring costs and soaking your clothes in hot water didn’t work. What we are trying to do here is expose nylon to a lot of heat in a short amount of time.

First, run the clothing through the washing machine. Make sure the washing machine’s “hot” setting is selected instead of “lukewarm” or “cold.”

Put the item in the dryer as soon as you pull it out of the washer. Once again, use the maximum heat setting available on your dryer. When the garment is completely dry, it will have shrunk by at least 5%.

If required, repeat the procedure.

Final Remarks

Nylon is a strong fabric that does not shrink easily. It won’t shrink at all in the washing machine, but slight shrinkage can be observed if it’s put in the dryer. Nylon-blend garments tend to shrink much more easily.

This resistance to shrinkage and stretching is a result of nylon’s inherent toughness. This is the reason that many outdoor items such as running shoes, backpacks, and sleeping bags are made from nylon.