Spandex is most people’s go-to fabric when they are looking for something that’s form-fitting and tight without being uncomfortable.
Mostly used in sports and athletics, spandex has also been making a comeback in the world of fashion.
But ask anyone if spandex shrinks and they will not be able to give you a straight answer. I wanted to buy some compression pants for my workout, and upon Googling the phrase “Does spandex shrink?“, I wasn’t impressed by the results.
Therefore, I decided to create this guide in order to get to the bottom of this question once and for all. The information down below was gathered after conducting a bunch of tests on my compression pants.
Here’s the quick answer.
Spandex can shrink if it is subjected to high heat for an extended period of time. Being washed in hot water and being tumble-dried often lead to shrinkage in spandex.
Now, let’s dive a bit deeper.
Does Spandex Shrink In The Wash?
Spandex can shrink if it is machine-washed in hot water. Both machine-washing in cold water and hand-washing are completely safe and do not lead to shrinkage.
To get to know about the shrinkage of spandex in washing machines, I decided to conduct a test. I took three of my compression tights (all containing hefty amounts of spandex) and used them for an experiment.
The first pair was machine-washed in cold water. The second was machine-washed in hot water. And the third was hand-washed in warm water.
The results were not shocking at all:
- The first pair was absolutely fine and had no observable shrinkage.
- The second pair, which was machine-washed in hot water, had shrunk about 20% of its original size.
- The third pair also had no observable shrinkage to report.
This means that we have arrived at a definite conclusion – Your spandex items will shrink if machine-washed using hot water.
Does Spandex Shrink In The Dryer?
Spandex clothing does tend to shrink in the dryer, especially if it’s subjected to high heat.
While a lot depends on the individual garment at hand, generally speaking, it is not a good idea to throw your spandex tights in the dryer.
The high heat and abrasion that it receives in the dryer breaks down spandex molecules and makes them attach more closely, which leads to shrinkage.
I put two of my spandex compression tees in the dryer – one at the high heat setting and one at the low heat setting. The high heat one shrunk by around 15%, while the low heat one had no observable shrinkage.
A much safer way to dry spandex items is to simply hang them up on a clothesline and let evaporation do its job.
How To Shrink Spandex?
Shrinking spandex is not that difficult, as you have seen by now. I have covered this topic extensively in this guide, but here’s the short version.
There are four basic ways to shrink your spandex clothing:
- Soaking them in boiling water.
- Machine-washing them in hot water immediately followed by ironing.
- Getting them tailored (yes, you can even tailor your spandex).
- Machine-washing them in hot water immediately followed by tumble-drying them on the highest heat setting.
In order to see the workings of all these methods in detail, check out the post that I have linked to above.
How To Prevent Spandex From Shrinking?
To prevent spandex from shrinking, try to keep your garments away from high temperatures and direct application of heat.
Both of my experiments revealed that spandex can shrink a lot if it is subjected to hot water when being washed. Thus, to avoid your spandex from shrinking when washing it, keep the temperature setting on “low” and the cycle “gentle” or “delicate”.
Similarly, I also observed that tumble-drying spandex led to a noticeable reduction in size. This shrinkage was mainly caused by the high heat wet spandex is subjected to in a dryer.
To avoid your spandex from shrinking in the dryer, go for alternative options from drying such as hanging your clothes on a clothesline.
If you follow both these protocols, you can be assured that your spandex garments are not going to shrink.
Frequently Asked Questions
Polyester spandex can shrink when subjected to high temperatures during the washing and drying process.
Rayon-spandex blends don’t shrink that much naturally. But if tumble-dried, these garments can shrink up to 50% of their original size.
Cotton spandex shrinks heavily if washed in boiling hot water. To prevent unwanted shrinkage, wash these garments in cold or lukewarm water.
Since both nylon and spandex are man-made fabrics, their blends can shrink if they are soaked in hot water for extended periods of time.
Spandex shrinks if subjected to higher temperatures for an extended duration. This includes being washed in hot water and being tumble-dried. Both these things can lead to shrinkage of spandex clothing.
The truth is that spandex only shrinks if you do not do your homework properly. If you simply wash it in cold water followed by hang-drying, your spandex is not going to shrink ever.
But if you do not do your duties as a consumer, such as reading the care label given on the inside of most garments, that can lead to disaster.
Always double-check the label before you start cleaning any piece of clothing. This is going to make your life much easier, and it is also going to keep your clothing its normal size.
My name is Alex Higson and I am the founder of Magic Of Clothes. I have worked in the fashion industry for many years, and clothes and style are a huge part of my life.