Will Nylon Shrink In Dryer Or When Washed With Machine?

  • By: Tiffany Peris
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Different fabrics are used in various garments. For example, nylon is used to make socks and sportswear, while the cotton makes shirts, denim, and dresses. Since various fabrics have different properties, it’s good to know the properties of common materials to take good care of the fabrics.

The question, ‘does nylon shrink?’ has been asked by many people as they wonder whether their special nylon outfits will shrink. Since nylon is a synthetic fabric, it is resistant to shrinking as synthetic fibers are known to have high heat-resistant values. Nevertheless, when nylon is blended with another fiber, for instance, cotton, the nylon cotton blend can shrink.

As is the case with other synthetic fibers, a fabric that is 100% nylon or is made of fibers that are 100% synthetic will hardly shrink. However, in rare cases where synthetic fibers shrink, they shrink in length while expanding in diameter, making them shapeless. This article discusses how nylon can shrink, how to unshrink nylon, and whether the various blend of nylon will shrink.

What is Nylon?

Nylon can be explained as a man-made (synthetic) fiber that is made from petrochemicals and has, over the years, been widely used in the fashion sector.

Advantages of nylon are; that it is soft, lightweight, can be easily washed and dried, resistant to abrasions and tears, and resists water and heat. In addition, nylon is highly elastic and stretchy, and when it comes into contact with fire, it usually melts rather than catches fire.

Nylon’s weaknesses are; that it absorbs a lot of moisture from the air or water when put in water, cannot retain its length for long times due to poor dimension stability, can spark because of static charge, and melts quickly.

To capitalize on nylon’s strengths and at the same time address the weaknesses of nylon fiber, garment manufacturers blend nylon with other fabrics. For example, when nylon is blended with cotton, the ensuing fabric is strong, resistant to scratches, dries faster, and resistant to wrinkles.

Cotton offers high fabric absorbency and a soft feel in nylon and cotton blends. As a result, the fabric is comfortable. Other standard blends of nylon include nylon and wool and nylon and acetate.

Does Nylon Shrink?

As synthetic fiber, nylon fabrics are preferred due to their ability to last long and wind and water-resistant properties. However, as synthetic fiber, any fabric that is 100% nylon will not shrink easily. Thus, when materials made of 100% nylon are stretched, it could be hard to shrink them to restore them to their initial size.

Before you try to shrink any nylon fabric, it is ideal that you first read the tag on the fabric and find out whether the fabric is a blend of nylon and another fabric. If the fabric is 100% nylon, you have very low chances of shrinking your garment. However, it would be best to consider hemming as an alternative to shrinking your 100% nylon fabric in such a situation.

If your fabric is a blend of nylon and another fabric, you will be able to shrink the fabric with a dryer. Specifically, suppose your nylon blend comprises natural fibers such as wool or cotton. In that case, it will be easy to shrink nylon as the natural fibers are known to be more susceptible to shrinkage.

Can Nylon Shrink In The Dryer?

When you put nylon in a dryer, you need to be careful not to damage the fabric since when synthetic fibers such as nylon come into contact with high-temperature heat, the fibers are damaged instead of shrinking.

Specifically, in the case of nylon, when it comes into contact with high temperatures, it will melt rather than catch fire.

If your nylon fabric is a blend with another fabric and not 100% nylon, you will be able to shrink the fabric with a dryer. However, you need to make sure that you have checked the tag of your garment and that it is a blend before you shrink it with a dryer.

To shrink nylon blend fabric in a dryer, you first need to clean the material with a washing machine using the hot water setting and the wash cycle that lasts a long time. After that, put the nylon garment on the dryer. Set the dryer on medium heat and set it to run for about 13 minutes. Take the fabric out of the dryer and try it on to see if you have the shrinking size.

If the shrink size is not as you wanted it to be, you should repeat the process until you get the size that fits you as you wish. Be careful not to set the dryer to a high temperature since you will ruin the garment.

Can You Shrink Nylon?

To know whether you can shrink your nylon garment, the first thing to do is check the garment’s tag and find out the fabrics making up the garment.

If your nylon garment is 100% nylon, then you might consider stopping to shrink the garment. However, if the fabric is a blend of nylon and another material, you will be able to shrink the garment.  

If it is a must for you to shrink a 100% pure nylon garment, you can try shrinking the garment with a dryer. To shrink nylon fabric, you will have to use the highest temperature setting in your dryer. However, you need to be cautious since when nylon is subjected to high temperatures, it will melt instead of shrink.

I always recommend that for fabrics that are 100% nylon, consider hemming them instead of shrinking them. If you hem the garment, you will be able to get the size required and avoid any risk of ruining the nylon fabric, as would be the case if the material was forced to shrink.

Will Nylon Shrink When Washed?

The only way nylon will shrink when washed is only if it is blended with another fabric. If your garment is made of pure nylon and is not blended with another fabric, you will have little chances of success shrinking nylon in the washing machine.

Nylon is a synthetic fiber, and these types of fibers do not shrink in a washing machine. The reason for that is that the water temperature and heat in the washing machine is never hot enough to trigger any changes to the molecular structure of the synthetic fibers.

For a nylon blend, for example, nylon and wool, or nylon and cotton, the nylon fabric will shrink when washed with a washing machine. The shrink, in this case, will be facilitated by the fibers of the fabric that nylon is blended.

Specifically, when these fabrics come into contact with heat, the tension in the fibers will be reduced, and as the fibers make an effort to get back to the original tension, shrinking will happen. In addition, when the absorption property of the nylon comes into play, the nylon blend garment will get smaller (shrink).

The key to shrinking nylon in the washing machine is that the nylon fabric is blended with another material that can shrink. Otherwise, if the nylon garment you have is a blend of nylon and another fabric resistant to shrinking, you won’t shrink the nylon, whether in the washing machine or the dryer.

If the tag reads that the content of nylon is higher than that of other fabric, you might not be able to achieve the shrink you want. For example, a garment with 98% Nylon and 2% cotton will be almost impossible to shrink. However, if we have a garment that is 40% nylon and 60% cotton, it will be possible to shrink this garment on a washing machine or a dryer.

How To Shrink Nylon

As with other synthetic fibers, nylon will not shrink easily. Indeed, for a 100% pure nylon fabric, you might find that the material might not even shrink at all.

Trying to shrink a 100% pure nylon fabric will leave your material unbalanced and stretched. Mainly, your cloth will be shapeless, baggy, and loose. Thus, you should always consider hemming pure nylon fabrics instead of shrinking them.

If your nylon fabric is a blend with a fabric with good shrinking properties, you will be able to shrink the fabric easily. However, you need first to check the tag and make sure that you understand the fabrics in the blend, so that correct temperatures are used to shrink the nylon blend fabric with a washing machine and a dryer.

Let’s now look at the process of shrinking nylon.

Read The Tag

Make sure that you read the tag of the fabric to get a clear picture of the fibers blended with your nylon fabric. If the label shows that the material is made of pure nylon, this fabric will not be easy to shrink, and you might even ruin it.

I recommend that you only proceed to shrink your nylon fabric if it has a blend of another fiber that has good shrinking values. For example, if the blend has wool or cotton, this nylon fabric will shrink.

Use The Washing Machine To Wash The Nylon Fabric

After you have confirmed that your nylon fabric is a blend with another fiber that can shrink, you can wash the fabric. When washing the fabric, it is paramount that the washing machine is set to the highest temperature. The high temperatures will be crucial in shrinking the nylon garment.

You do not need to put any detergent in the washing machine unless the nylon fabric is dirty.

After the wash, you can check whether the fabric has shrunk a little bit. However, you should not be worried if the fabric has not shrunk a lot since you now have to put the fabric in the dyer where it will shrink further.

Dry The Nylon Fabric And Shrink It With The Dryer

Now that the nylon fabric has gone through the complete wash cycle, it is time to dry it with a dryer. Set the dryer to the medium heat setting and put the nylon garment in the dryer. Even if nylon is resistant to heat, the highest settings cannot be used since if you do that, the nylon fabric will be ruined.

Leave the nylon fabric in the dryer for 15 – 20 minutes. Once the minutes have elapsed, take your material and determine whether you have achieved the shrinking size you wanted. If the shrink is ok, you can air-dry the fabric before using it or keeping it.

If the shrinking size is not okay, you will need to repeat the wash and dry process until you get the shrinking size you want. It is ok to repeat those processes as many times as required until you are happy with the shrink.

Once you have obtained the shrink you wanted, you need to take good care of the nylon fabric to ensure that it will not become loose soon. To ensure that your nylon fabric maintains its size for a long time, it is always advisable to wash the fabric in cold water.

Do Nylon Blends Shrink

To have a fabric blend, different types of fibers are combined. The main reason for having fabric blends is to enhance the fabric’s feel, robustness, and performance. For example, different blends of nylon are used to manufacture various products.

Let’s now see whether these nylon blends shrink.

Do Nylon and Cotton Shrink?

A nylon and cotton blend comprises both natural and synthetic fibers since nylon is a synthetic fiber while cotton is a natural fiber. Thus, in this blend, the fabric will shrink since even if nylon does not shrink, it will shrink when cotton fibers come into contact with heat.

However, it is essential to note that the percentage of each fiber in the blend will also determine the extent to which the fabric will shrink. For example, if the blend is 95% nylon and 5% cotton (highly unlikely), the blend will not shrink.

On the other hand, If the blend has a higher percentage of cotton (usually the case), the nylon and cotton blend will shrink by using a washing machine and a dryer.

Does Nylon And Polyester Shrink?

If a fabric has both nylon and polyester fabrics, then the fibers making the fabric are all man-made. As these fibers are synthetic, it implies that it will be almost impossible to mix the material that is a blend of nylon and polyester.

Synthetic fibers are resistant to heat and water. Thus, neither nylon nor polyester can absorb heat or water, and the blend cannot shrink. Indeed, if you try to shrink the two by putting them under a lot of heat, they will melt instead of shrinking.

How To Shrink Nylon And Elastane

Nylon and elastane are two natural fibers. In that view, when the two fibers are combined to make a fabric, the fabric is made of threads that have the same properties. As such, the two fibers cannot complement the weaknesses of either fiber.

If you have a blend of nylon and elastane only, shrinking this blend will be almost impossible. If you try to shrink the fabric by putting it in the washing machine or dryer, you will most likely ruin it. The best way to reduce the size of the material with this blend is by hemming.

How Shrink Nylon And Spandex

Nylon and spandex are two synthetic fibers that have many similar characteristics. These two fibers have high heat resistance values and as such, shrinking them would be a challenge.

You need to be careful since you could ruin the fabric with nylon and spandex if you try to shrink it. If you plan to shrink this blend to reduce the size, consider hemming the fabric as you will not ruin the fabric.

Final Thoughts

In this article, I have discussed how to shrink nylon in great detail and factors to consider when shrinking nylon.

Hemming has also been explained as a great alternative to shrinking nylon since, by hemming, the chances of ruining the garment are very low.

Whenever you want to shrink nylon, make sure that you read the tag and only proceed to shrink the fabric if it is a blend of nylon and another natural fiber. If the blend is made up of nylon and another synthetic fiber, I suggest that you consider hemming instead of shrinking.