All You Need To Know About Spandex Shrinking

  • By: Tiffany Peris
  • Time to read: 12 min.

Spandex was at first used in bras, workout clothes, and jockstraps. Then, its use extended to making stockings, jumpsuits, pregnancy wear, and even leg warmers.

Later on, it became a “wonder” fabric due to its ability to stretch more than 100% times its original size and retract back to its shape without damage. It is approximated that over the 20 billion pieces of clothes sold in the USA every year, at least 80% of those clothes have spandex. So there is a high chance you have a few garments in your closet made of this fabric.  

Spandex is a synthetic fabric that is loved for its elasticity aspect. Even though the material is resistant to heat, it has an elasticity similar to that of rubber. This elasticity makes spandex fibers shrink when they come into contact with heat.

The heat, in this case, could be in the form of hot water, hot air, or steam. As such, when spandex is washed in a washing machine whose water temperature setting is set to the highest setting or is put in a dryer with the highest temperature setting, the fabric will shrink.

If you have a garment made with spandex and it’s loose or maybe stretchy, you can shrink it to the desired fit. This article delves into spandex fabric and discusses how it shrinks.  

By reading the article, you will understand spandex and how to take good care of the spandex.

How Is Spandex Made?

Spandex is a light, artificial fiber used to make stretchy clothing such as leggings, sportswear, bras, and many more. Spandex has better features than rubber since it is more rigid, lighter, and more adaptable than rubber.

Some scholars have argued that a 100% spandex fabric can stretch between 5 – 8 times its original size and then return to its original size without being damaged.

Spandex is a synthetic polymer made from recurring chains of monomers joined together by an acid. Since spandex is a synthetic fabric, producers of the material can tailor-make the fabric to ensure that it meets specific needs as desired by different manufacturers using it to make various clothes.

Spandex is commonly blended with other natural fabrics to address some known weaknesses. For example, spandex is known to have no ability to permit moisture to go through it. Indeed, if used on its own, spandex would trap damp sweat and make the garment smell terrible.

If nothing is done and one continues wearing a 100% spandex cloth, the poor breathability aspect of spandex can result in skin infections. Therefore, spandex is blended with cotton, which has high breathability properties, to fix its weaknesses.

Likewise, to produce a garment that will last a long time will be comfortable to wear, and is easy to clean, fabric manufacturers are known to blend spandex with nylon and spandex. Indeed, when nylon and spandex are blended, the blend is a fabric that is tight and, at the same time, comfortable to the skin.

It is important to note that on its own, spandex can stretch between 5 – 8 times its original size and retract back without damage. However, as spandex is blended with natural fabrics to address its weaknesses, it loses some of its elasticity.

For that reason, a garment made with spandex and another fabric cannot stretch beyond 100% of its original size. If the garment is stretched more than 100% of its original size, it will be ruined.

Advantages and disadvantages of spandex

Does Spandex Shrink?

Yes, spandex shrinks. Specifically, when spandex comes into contact with heat, the tension of the fabric’s threads is reduced, and as the threats attempt to get back to their initial dimensions, the material shrinks.

However, it is essential to note that for spandex to shrink, the fabric has to come into contact with heat at least 1800 F (830C). Thus, if spandex comes into contact with heat below 1800 F, it will be difficult for the fabric to shrink.

If you have a spandex garment that is oversized or has some sections that look stretchy, you can stretch the garment either by using your washing machine or by using your cloth dryer.

Can Spandex Shrink In A Dryer?  

As already pointed out, one of the easiest ways for you to shrink a spandex garment is by using your cloth dryer. However, before putting spandex into the dryer, it is essential to read the spandex garment’s tag.

A garment that is 100% spandex will not have a good reaction with heat since, on its own, spandex fibers are broken down by the heat. However, most spandex fabrics are a blend, and as such, spandex blends can shrink in a dryer.

When you put your spandex garment in the dryer and set the dryer to the highest temperature setting, the high temperature during the drying cycle will heat the garment’s fibers and reduce the tension between the fibers. With the tension between the fibers reduced, the fibers will return to their initial size, resulting in shrinking the spandex garment.

If you have just washed your spandex garment and don’t want it to shrink, it is recommended that you hang dry your garment rather than use a dryer. Specifically, some garments like specific leggings, which are 100% spandex, should never be put in a dryer as the heat resistance value of spandex will make the fibers weak and eventually break by the end of the drying cycle.

However, if your garment is a blend of spandex and cotton or other fabrics, like is the case for stretchy jeans, you can dry the garments with the dryer.

Can Spandex Shrink If Washed With A Washing Machine?

As long as you wash your spandex garment with water that is at least 1800 F, your spandex garment will shrink.

The shrinking process of spandex garments will be activated the moment temperature of water in the washing machine gets to 1800 F. Thus, a regular hot water cycle with your washing machine will be enough to get your spandex garment to shrink.

You should be careful not to set your washing machine to the highest temperature setting since if the temperature of the water in the washing machine were to go above 3500 F, you would end up ruining your spandex garment. However, if you don’t want to shrink your spandex garment, a cold or warm water cycle setting in your washing machine will be enough to get your spandex garments cleaned without any damage.

A delicate cycle and cool water setting are the perfect washing machine to wash your spandex garments.

Does Cotton Spandex Blend Shrink?

In a blend of spandex and cotton, spandex complements cotton’s elasticity weakness. In contrast, cotton, on the other hand, addresses spandex’s weaknesses in absorbing the dye and cotton’s poor elasticity values.

When spandex is blended with cotton, the ensuing fabric will be soft, comfortable, and stretchy. One of the most popular garments made from this blend entails stretchy jeans, stretchy jerseys, and other cotton spandex garments.

In most cotton-spandex blends, cotton content is always higher than the spandex content. Thus, the cotton-spandex blend can quickly shrink by; washing it in the washing machine, using a steam iron, using a cloth dryer, and boiling the blend in hot water.

If the spandex content in the blend is 60% and that of cotton is 40%, you will find it challenging to shrink that garment as spandex on its own will be hard to shrink. However, if the cotton content in the blend is over 95%, it will be easy for you to shrink the garment.

Does 92 Cotton 8 Spandex Shrink?

92 cotton and 8 spandex on the tag mean that you have a blend whose content is 92% cotton and 8% spandex. This blend will shrink since cotton fibers will be relaxed during the shrinking process. The 8% spandex in the fabric mainly makes the fabric stretchy as cotton is known to have poor elastic properties. The blend can be shrunk with a washing machine, dryer, or even boiling water.

Does 98 Cotton 2 Spandex Shrink?

98 cotton 2 spandex tag implies the garment you have is made of 98% cotton and 2% spandex. This garment will shrink as the highest percentage of the blend is cotton, and cotton is known to shrink under heat. However, the spandex content in the blend is only 2%, which cannot make the blend not shrink. To shrink the garment with 98% cotton and 2% spandex, you can use a washing machine, dryer, or hot boiling water.  

Does Rayon Spandex Blend Shrink?

100% Rayon shrinks irrespective of how it’s washed. Indeed, even when washed in cold water, the fabric shrinks even though the shrink is not as much as would be the case with if the material was to be washed with hot water.

For that reason, rayon is usually blended with spandex to ensure that even if it’s washed in hot or warm water, it does not shrink a lot. Specifically, spandex on its own will never shrink, while rayon will shrink. Thus, the ensuing fabric can shrink when the two materials are combined.

If the rayon content in the garment is higher than that of spandex, you will be able to shrink your garment at warm temperatures. On the other hand, if the spandex content in the garment is higher than that of rayon, then the temperature has to be at least 1800 F for you to shrink the rayon spandex blend.

A rayon spandex blend will shrink.  

Does Spandex Polyester Blend Shrink?

A blend of spandex and polyester complements the weaknesses of each fabric in the blend. It is also important to highlight that both materials are synthetic in this blend.

By combining polyester and spandex, the ensuing garment is soft and stretchy. That is because spandex properties make the polyester fabric soft and elastic -values that polyester lacks on its own.

However, since the two fabrics are synthetic and are known to have heat-resistant values, the blend would be challenging to shrink. Nevertheless, if you have high percentages of spandex in the blend, for example, 95%, you will need temperatures of at least 3500 F to shrink the blend.

The shrink, in this case, will be uneven since while the spandex fibers will change, polyester fibers will not change since polyester is resistant to shrink.

Does 90 Polyester 10 Spandex Shrink?

90 polyester 10 spandex indicates that the fabric is made up of a blend with a polyester content of 90% and a spandex content of 10%. Here we have two synthetic materials which are both resistant to heat. You will need very high temperatures to shrink this blend.

The temperature needs to be set to the highest temperature setting when using a dryer. Leaving the garment in hot boiling water will shrink the blend.

Does Spandex Nylon Blend Shrink?

Nylon is a synthetic fiber. As with other synthetic fibers, nylon has high heat resistance values making it hard to shrink. However, the heat-resistant properties of nylon imply that the fabric can be washed in high-temperature settings.

When nylon is blended with spandex, the blend will achieve some shrink even though the shrink will not be even since while spandex fibers will shrink, nylon fibers will remain intact.

To take good care of your garment made of spandex and nylon blend, you should always wash the garments at low-temperature settings and when drying the garment, hang dry it instead of using a dryer.

How To Wash Rayon Nylon Spandex Blend

To know how you are supposed to wash the rayon, nylon, and spandex blend, you first need to determine the content or percentage of each fabric in the blend.

For rayon, handwashing has always been the best method to wash the fabric as it guarantees that the material will not be ruined. However, even if rayon can also be washed with the washing machine, one needs to be cautious since if rayon fabric stays in the water for long periods, it gets ruined.

For Nylon, you can wash it in the washing machine. However, you need to make sure that the water temperature setting is set at warm even though cold water wetting is always the best for the best result.

For spandex, handwashing is always the best and safest option. Lukewarm water that is not more than 850 F is recommended for spandex.

For the blend of rayon, spandex, and nylon, it is best that you handwash the garment. If you have to use a washing machine, the water temperature setting should be cool, while the wash cycle should be gentle.

How Can You Shrink Spandex?

When you wear your spandex cloth for some time, you will notice that your garment is becoming loose. Luckily, you can fix the issue by shrinking the spandex garment.

If you want to restore the spandex garment to its original size, then you need to shrink the spandex purposely.

The first thing to do here is to make sure that you read the tag on your spandex garment. In most cases, spandex garments are made of a blend of at least two fabrics. Therefore, you need to understand the blend of fabrics in your spandex garment to have good shrink results.

Once you have checked the tag and identified the blend, you will consider the shrinking values of the two blends to determine how to shrink the garment. For example, if you find that the blend is of two synthetic fibers, such as nylon and spandex, or polyester and spandex, you might consider not shrinking the blend.

That is because synthetic fibers are heat resistant, and the shrinking process will be challenging while the shrink results will not be impressive.

You can first set the dryer’s temperature to medium for blends with cotton and other natural fibers. Then, put the garment in the dryer and regularly check the spandex garment at intervals of 10 minutes till you get desired size.

The percentage of spandex will determine the extent to which spandex will shrink in the fabric. In most cases, I have found that spandex can shrink anything from 5% to 10%.

Washing Spandex Without Shrinking

As spandex is known to be highly shrinkable under high water temperatures, you need to make sure that you use the correct washing machine setting. If you don’t set the washing machine correctly, you could ruin your spandex garment.

To ensure that you do not shrink your spandex garment when washing it, a gentle washing cycle that uses either a cold or warm water setting should be used. After washing the spandex, do not hang it to dry. Instead, look for a flat surface and lay your spandex there. Spandex is known to be highly elastic.

Thus, if you were to hang it to dry when it is wet, water will be dripping downwards, and as such, you will end up ruining the elasticity of the spandex fabric by the time your spandex garment dries up.

When drying the spandex, you should make sure that there is no heat around the flat surface that you will dry your fabric. This is because heat can ruin the elasticity of spandex. You, therefore, need to make sure that you do not dry the spandex in direct sunlight or a heater.

Since it is most likely that your spandex garment is a combination of two fabrics, make sure that you use an appropriate detergent.  A mild detergent with no chlorine detergent is the perfect detergent for cleaning spandex. Moreover, any detergent that has a softener in it should be avoided.

If you are not sure how to wash the spandex garment with a washing machine, it is advisable that you handwash the garment. When handwashing, use lukewarm water to wash the fabric and rinse it. Add the mild detergent once you have put water in the washbasin. Place the spandex garment in the water and softly work it.

If there are visible stains in the garment, you must remove them by rubbing. Once done with washing, use lukewarm water to rinse the garment. After rinsing the garment, place it on a flat surface that is away from direct sunlight or any other source of heat for it to dry.

Concluding Thoughts

Spandex has become a popular garment to the extent that you are most likely wearing a garment with some spandex fibers as you read this article. Spandex can shrink when put in certain conditions. To avoid shrinking spandex, always wash the fabric with cool water. In addition, dry the spandex fabric on a flat surface direct from any heat.


Chafin (n.d.). Levis Stretch Jeans : Our Thoughts On The Stretch Denim Trend.

Islam, S. Et al. (2019). Identifying the Shrinkage Properties of Cotton Polyester Spandex Denim Fabrics of Different Fiber Content

Penaloza, M. (2011). Spandex Stretches To Meet U.S. Waistlines

Sewport Support Team (2021). What is Spandex Fabric: Properties, How its Made and Where.