Does Nylon Shrink In The Dryer Or When Washed?

Before buying or using any type of fabric, it’s super important to understand all its characteristics. This is certainly the case when using Nylon.

Most of us will know that nylon is one of the most versatile and durable fabrics on the market, but before buying any nylon clothing we need to know how to take care of it and understand what can go wrong. 

One thing many of us may wonder is whether nylon shrinks or not. Like a lot of synthetic fabrics, nylon is quite resistant to any shrinking, even when thoroughly washed. However, things can start to change when other fibers are blended with the nylon, potentially making it shrink. 

While the chances of 100% nylon shrinking are pretty low, you still need to know what could happen to your fabric. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about whether nylon shrinks and when it could most likely occur.

If this is something you’re keen to learn about, be sure to keep reading!

Does Nylon Shrink In The Dryer Or When Washed

Can Nylon Shrink?

A lot of us love synthetic fabrics like nylon due to their impressive characteristics and durability. Two of these impressive characteristics are its wrinkle and shrink-resistant properties.

In fact, 100% nylon fabric shouldn’t shrink at all. As long as you look after the fabric correctly, you can expect nylon to stay its size and never shrink.

However, having said that, if you want to shrink 100% nylon fabrics, it can be done. If you change the way in which you care for the material it is possible to cause the fibers to shrink.

While you may have a reason for doing this, getting it wrong could potentially ruin the fabric altogether. We talk about this further down the article.

While 100% nylon fabric won’t shrink very much, if at all when cared for properly, nylon fabrics blended with other materials tell a different story.

Blended fabrics, especially those blended with natural fibers like cotton are much more prone to shrinking. Even when cared for properly, some blended fabrics will shrink, so you can imagine how bad things can get if you haven’t looked after your fabrics. 

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Can Nylon Shrink In The Dryer?

One of the main causes of most fabrics shrinking has something to do with using a washing machine or dryer. When it comes to nylon and drying it in the dryer, our biggest concern is how the dryer could damage the fabric, not shrink it. 

Using a hot drying cycle can actually cause some nylon fibers to melt. This is because most synthetic fabrics aren’t capable of tolerating high heat. This is down to the materials they are made out of. 

Although damaging your nylon fabrics is a bigger concern, when it comes to washing and drying nylon, there is a much higher chance of it shrinking in the dryer rather than the washing machine. 

100% nylon might not shrink at all but nylon blended with other fabrics will almost definitely cause your clothes to shrink if the cycle is on high heat. Fabrics like wool and cotton tend to relax and shrink so when mixed with nylon, your nylon clothes, unfortunately, suffer too.

It is possible to shrink 100% nylon fabric, but you could ruin the fabric. Your nylon clothing could lose its shape or the heat from the dryer could melt the fibers. If either of these things happens, your fabric will be irreparable. 

Can Nylon Shrink In The Washing Machine?

In terms of washing our nylon fabrics, we don’t have as much to worry about. It is very uncommon for 100% nylon to shrink in the washing machine. As nylon is a very sturdy and durable material it can handle a lot of water with relative ease. 

One of the most common causes of shrinking in a washing machine is when fibers absorb water and swell. This swelling causes fibers to get bigger as the overall fabric gets a lot smaller.

The synthetic fibers’ nylon is made out of water that doesn’t absorb water as well as the fibers are actually made out of plastic. 

Another common cause of shrinking is due to hot water causing the fabric fibers to relax. You shouldn’t have to worry about this either because if you wash your nylon clothes correctly, they should only ever be in the washing machine on a cooler wash anyway. 

While pure 100% nylon won’t shrink in your washer, blended nylon fabrics containing rayon or cotton fibers can. This is because these fibers absorb water better than nylon causing the fibers to expand as the fabric shrinks.

Having said this, just because the fabrics contain rayon and cotton doesn’t necessarily mean they will shrink. The percentage of rayon, cotton, and nylon a fabric contains will determine whether the fabric shrinks.

For example, a piece of fabric containing more nylon and less cotton probably won’t shrink too much due to the nylon’s shrink-resistant properties. On the other hand, a fabric containing more cotton than nylon is more likely to shrink because it has more of the cotton’s properties.

How Much Can Nylon Shrink?

How much your nylon fabrics may shrink depends on what percentage of fibers it contains. As we have already mentioned, your 100% nylon fabrics are very unlikely to shrink but if the nylon fibers are blended with other materials there is a greater chance of some shrinking taking place. 

To give you a good idea of how much your blended nylon can shrink, let’s take a look at how cotton shrinks. Unless the cotton fibers are pre-shrunk cotton fabrics can shrink by up to 20%.

Even pre-shrunk cotton can shrink more when exposed to high heat.

When blended with nylon, cotton doesn’t typically shrink as much because of the nylon’s anti-shrink properties, but a lot of shrinking can still be expected, with the cotton fibers in the fabric still shrinking, causing the whole fabric to be negatively affected.

We also discussed rayon fabrics above and how they can shrink too when exposed to heat. Rayon fabrics don’t usually shrink as much as cotton fabrics, but they can gradually shrink during every wash.

When blended with nylon, it is possible for the rayon fabrics to cause the fabrics to shrink, but luckily, thanks to nylon’s properties it shouldn’t shrink much at all.

Is It Possible To Deliberately Shrink Nylon?

We can’t think of too many reasons why anybody would want to shrink nylon, but it is possible if you so desire. You might not have too much luck if the fabric is made out of 100% nylon, but if you have a blended fabric with a lower percentage of nylon, shrinking isn’t actually too difficult.

To try and shrink pure nylon fabrics, your best bet is to place it in the dryer on a hot cycle. This could make the fabric shrink a little but also potentially melt the fabrics if they are left in the dryer too long on a heat cycle set too high.

If the fabric you want to shrink is a nylon blend, things couldn’t be any easier. Simply throwing the fabric in the washer or dryer should get the job done. 

We’ll explain how to shrink nylon in more detail in the next section of this article.

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How To Shrink Your Nylon

If you have a piece of nylon clothing that is too big and needs shrinking, you can attempt to shrink it in the dryer.

To do this without damaging the fabric you should follow the steps we have set out below. You need to follow these steps very carefully if you want to avoid completely ruining your nylon clothes.

Check The Fabrics Tag

The first thing to do when attempting to shrink your nylon fabrics is to check the tag. You need to do this to find out if the fabric is a nylon blend of 100% pure nylon.

If your fabric is 100% pure nylon, feel free to still try and shrink the fabric but bear in mind that you might have little to no success. If your nylon contains rayon, cotton, or another type of natural fabric, you have a much better chance of being successful.

Wash Your Fabric

If the nylon fabric you plan on shrinking contains cotton or rayon, before doing anything else, you should put it through your washing machine. This might help shrink the fabric enough without you running the risk of destroying it in the dryer.

You’ll want to set your washing machine to its highest setting. 

Unless you need to clean the fabric, you don’t need to add any detergent. Detergents don’t impact whether your nylon fabric will shrink. If your fabric is 100% nylon, skip this part as the washing machine will not cause the fabric to shrink.

Put The Fabric In The Dryer

After you’ve washed the fabric, you can put it in your dryer. Do this how you normally would but ensure the temperature settings aren’t too high as this will destroy 100% and blended nylon fabrics. 

Turn the dryer on and let it run for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The dryer shouldn’t be run for too long as it could cause the fabric to shrink too much.

After 15 to 20 minutes, take your clothes out of the dryer and try them on. If the size is good, simply let the fabrics air dry. Don’t place them back in the dryer as this will shrink them more. 

If the size doesn’t suit your requirements, you can put it back in the dryer for a little longer. You should continue to check the fabric regularly to ensure they aren’t getting damaged. 

One of the most important things to remember when shrinking nylon fabrics is that they will shrink all over not just one area. Both the length and width of the fabric will be affected. 

Now you know how to shrink nylon, let’s take a look at how it shrinks when blended with other fabrics. 

Will Nylon And Spandex Shrink?

Spandex, like nylon, is a synthetic fiber. Therefore, a blend of nylon and spandex will not shrink. In fact, as they both have anti-shrink properties, this blend probably prevents the fabrics from shrinking even more.

Made of 85% plastic fibers, spandex is also made of elastic fibers. This along with nylon’s elastic properties makes it more likely for the fabric to stretch than shrink.

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Will Nylon And Polyester Shrink?

A fabric made up of a blend of polyester and nylon is unlikely to shrink much if at all. This is a result of both fabrics also being synthetic fibers.

Synthetic fibers don’t shrink easily because they are made of plastic. This means their overall structure can’t be changed easily when exposed to water and heat. If you attempt to shrink this blend in the dryer, you are more likely to melt the fabrics, damaging them permanently.

Will Cotton And Nylon Shrink?

We’ve already touched on this in the article, but we want to mention it here because it is important to understand that nylon has the greatest chance of shrinking when blended with cotton. While other natural fibers also cause the nylon to shrink, none are as effective as cotton. 

The amount your fabrics will shrink depends on the percentage of cotton fibers found within, but no result is ideal. If a fabric contains more cotton fibers than nylon, your clothes could quite easily be ruined and shrink by up to 10%.

The only saving grace we have is that thanks to nylon’s anti-shrink properties, the fabric can’t shrink up to 20% as cotton can on its own.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should You Wash And Dry Nylon?

To ensure you don’t ruin your nylon fabrics, you should always take a careful approach to washing and drying. Usually, it is a good idea to wash nylon fabrics on a cooler wash separately from your other washing.

You should then let the fabrics air dry or dry in a dryer at a very low temperature, for a short amount of time. This will ensure your fabrics don’t melt or become ruined.

What Is Nylon?

Nylon is essentially a piece of fabric made out of plastic derived from crude oil. This plastic is then put through an extremely intensive chemical process to ensure it is safe to wear, strong, durable, and stretchy. 

What Kind Of Plastic Is Nylon?

Nylon is made of a type of plastic known as polyamide. Interestingly enough, the word nylons actually refer to this group of plastics, otherwise known as polyamides.

Nylons encompass a variety of materials, providing a huge range of different properties.

Final Thoughts    

We hope this guide has helped you better understand whether nylon can shrink and what factors play a part in the process. While it is very difficult to shrink nylon on its own as it is a durable synthetic fiber, shrinking or damaging is possible. 

When blended with natural fibers, particularly cotton, nylon has an increased chance of shrinking. While shrinking can take place in the washing machine or dryer, the dryer is the riskier option. Drying nylon at too high a temperature can cause the fibers to melt, damaging your fabrics for good.

Now you know the answer to the question you came here needing the answer to, you can start taking better care of your nylon fabrics. You could even now attempt to shrink the fabrics you find too big. Just make sure you don’t ruin your clothes or over-shrink the fabrics.

Amanda Brown
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