Does Acrylic Shrink? Understanding the Shrinkage of Acrylic Fabric

Does Acrylic Shrink


Acrylic is a Xpopular synthetic fabric known for its softness, durability, and ability to mimic natural fibers like wool. If you own garments or household items made from acrylic, you might wonder about their susceptibility to shrinkage. In this article, we will explore the factors affecting acrylic shrinkage, discuss whether acrylic shrinks when washed or dried in the dryer, and delve into related questions about its shrinkage tendencies. So let’s dive in and understand the nuances of acrylic shrinkage.

Understanding Acrylic Fabric

Before we explore the shrinkage aspect, it’s essential to understand what acrylic fabric is. Acrylic is a synthetic polymer made from a combination of chemicals. It is widely used in the textile industry due to its lightweight nature, softness, and resistance to wrinkling. Acrylic fabrics are often used to create sweaters, blankets, hats, and various other garments and home décor items.

Factors Affecting Acrylic Shrinkage

Acrylic fabric can shrink under certain conditions, primarily influenced by moisture, heat, agitation, and the quality of the fabric itself. Let’s take a closer look at these factors:

Moisture and Heat

Moisture and heat play a significant role in the shrinkage of acrylic fabric. The fibers can contract when exposed to high temperatures, causing the fabric to shrink. Additionally, the presence of moisture during the heating process enhances this shrinkage effect. It’s important to note that acrylic has a lower melting point compared to natural fibers like wool, making it more susceptible to heat-related shrinkage.


Agitation, such as rigorous washing or drying cycles with heavy mechanical action, can also contribute to acrylic shrinkage. When subjected to intense movement and friction, the fibers within the fabric can interlock and cause the material to contract.

Quality of the Fabric

The quality of the acrylic fabric itself can impact its tendency to shrink. Higher-quality acrylic fabrics often have better heat resistance and dimensional stability, reducing the risk of significant shrinkage. Lower-quality acrylic fabrics may not withstand heat and moisture as effectively, making them more prone to shrinkage.

Does Acrylic Shrink in the Dryer?

The dryer is a common concern when it comes to fabric shrinkage. In the case of acrylic, the impact of heat must be considered. Acrylic fabric can indeed shrink in the dryer when exposed to high temperatures. To minimize the risk of shrinkage, it is advisable to dry acrylic items on a low heat setting or air dry them instead. This gentler drying method helps preserve the fabric’s original shape and size.

Does Acrylic Shrink When Washed?

Washing acrylic fabric can also lead to shrinkage, especially if not done correctly. The combination of water, detergent, and the mechanical action of washing machines can cause the fabric to contract. However, by following proper washing techniques, you can minimize the risk of shrinkage.

Does Acrylic Shrink When Dried?

Drying acrylic fabric after washing can contribute to shrinkage. Similar to the dryer scenario, the application of heat during the drying process can cause the fabric to contract. To prevent shrinkage, it is advisable to air dry acrylic items or use the lowest heat setting on your dryer.

Does Acrylic Shrink or Stretch?

The acrylic fabric possesses inherent elasticity, which allows it to stretch to some extent. However, while it may stretch, it also has the potential to shrink under certain conditions. This characteristic depends on the specific composition of the fabric and the treatment it receives during the manufacturing process. Consequently, it is essential to consider appropriate care methods to maintain the integrity of acrylic garments.

Does Acrylic Shrink in Cold Water?

Cold water washing is often preferred for delicate fabrics, but does it affect the shrinkage of acrylic? Cold water itself is unlikely to cause significant shrinkage in acrylic fabric. However, cold water washing may not remove stains or dirt as effectively, potentially requiring longer washing times or additional cycles that could subject the fabric to more agitation. It’s important to strike a balance between cleanliness and minimizing the risk of shrinkage.

Does Acrylic Shrink in the Washer?

Mechanical agitation in washing machines can cause the acrylic fabric to shrink. The movement and friction involved in the washing process can lead to fiber interlocking and subsequent shrinkage. To mitigate this, it is recommended to use the delicate or gentle cycle when washing acrylic garments and avoid excessive spinning.

Will Acrylic Shrink in Hot Water?

Hot water can accelerate the shrinkage process of acrylic fabric due to the combination of heat and moisture. It is best to avoid washing acrylic in hot water unless specifically instructed by the care label. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the appropriate water temperature to minimize the risk of shrinkage.


In conclusion, the acrylic fabric can shrink under certain conditions, primarily influenced by heat, moisture, agitation, and the quality of the fabric. When exposed to high temperatures, the acrylic fabric may shrink in the dryer or when dried after washing. Proper care and following manufacturer instructions can help minimize shrinkage. Remember to always check the care label of your acrylic items and use appropriate washing and drying methods to ensure their longevity.


Can I stretch the acrylic fabric after it shrinks?

While the acrylic fabric has some stretchability, it may not be possible to restore it to its original size once it has significantly shrunk. Prevention is the best approach to maintaining the size and shape of acrylic garments.

Is it safe to wash acrylic with other fabrics?

It is generally safe to wash acrylic with other fabrics, but it’s essential to consider the care requirements of each fabric. Follow the care label instructions and separate items based on color, fabric type, and washing temperature to ensure optimal results.

Does using fabric softener prevent acrylic shrinkage?

Fabric softeners are not known to prevent acrylic shrinkage. In fact, excessive use of fabric softeners can build up residue on the fabric, affecting its softness and breathability. Stick to the recommended care instructions for acrylic items.

Can professional dry cleaning prevent acrylic shrinkage?

Professional dry cleaning can help prevent shrinkage in acrylic garments as it avoids exposure to water and high heat. Dry cleaning is a gentle method that removes dirt and stains while maintaining the fabric’s integrity.

Are there any specific detergents recommended for washing acrylic?

Using a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics is recommended for washing acrylic. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as they can damage the fabric and contribute to shrinkage. Follow the detergent manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results.

Scroll to Top