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Does Fleece Shrink? Your Guide to Preventing Shrinkage (2024)

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does fleece shrinkAre you wondering if fleece shrinks? It is an understandable worry. Fleece is such a popular fabric for making clothes – from jackets to socks and blankets – and you want to make sure that the items last as long as possible.

So does fleece shrink or not? The answer is not so simple. While some types of fleece are less prone to shrinking than others, heat can cause any kind of fabric – including polyester-based fleeces – to shrink when washed or dried in high temperatures.

To help understand how different fibers affect the amount your clothing will shrink over time, let’s look at all aspects of this topic: understanding what causes fabrics like cotton and rayon fleeces to contract in size; learning tips on how best to sew with these materials; discovering methods for both preventing and intentionally causing garments made with this material type (like hoodies) from shrinking too much.

Key Takeaways

  • Fleece can shrink due to heat exposure during washing or drying. Polyester-based fleeces are less prone to shrinking but can still shrink if exposed to high temperatures.
  • Natural fibers like cotton and wool increase shrinkage in fleece garments.
  • Purposeful fleece shrinking can be achieved with hot water washes and high heat drying cycles.

Understanding Fleece Shrinkage

Understanding Fleece Shrinkage
You’d do well to pre-shrink that polyester fleece before sewing it into a jacket, lest high heat from the dryer causes the fabric to contract against your expectations. Though pre-treating synthetic materials seems unnecessary, exceptions occur when blending or extreme conditions are involved.

Fleece shrinkage depends on the textile blend and exposure to high heat. Polyester fleece doesn’t shrink naturally but can if exposed to very hot water or drying. To prevent shrinkage, use lukewarm water for washing, low heat for drying, and avoid excessive heat from ironing.

Some myths are that all fleece shrinks or stretching prevents shrinkage, but following proper care instructions for your fabric type is key. With the right precautions, you can enjoy your fleece creation without any unwanted changes in size or shape.

Factors Affecting Fleece Shrinkage

Factors Affecting Fleece Shrinkage
When it comes to fleece shrinkage, you should know that exposure to hot water temperatures causes the most fleece shrinkage. Fleeces blended with natural fibers like cotton and wool are more prone to shrinkage, which can be prevented by washing in lukewarm water temperatures and avoiding drying on high heat settings.

Hot water’s effect?

The extent to which fleece shrinks largely depends on the temperature of the water when washing it. The hotter the water, the more it can cause fleece to shrink. So use lukewarm water when washing fleece to minimize shrinkage.

High heat from steamers can also damage and cause fleece to shrink, so it’s best to air dry it. If shrinkage does occur, soaking in lukewarm water and air drying may help undo it.

Natural fibers’ impact?

Combining fleece with natural fibers like cotton or wool increases shrinkage significantly, with some fabrics shrinking over 20% after repeated washes.

  • Cotton fleece shrinks more than polyester fleece when washed in hot water.
  • Wool blended fleece also shrinks more than synthetic fleece alone.
  • Natural fiber fleece requires extra care like washing in cold water to limit shrinkage.

The natural fibers in blended fleece make it more prone to shrinkage than synthetic fleece by itself. Taking precautions such as washing in cold water can assist in minimizing shrinkage in natural fiber blended fleece materials.

Shrinkage prevention methods?

There goes your favorite fleece – prevent shrinkage by always washing in cold water. Limit heat exposure when caring for fleece. Wash in cool water, not hot, and line dry instead of machine drying on high heat.

Consider pre-shrinking new fleece by soaking it in lukewarm water, then air drying. Undoing shrinkage takes the same steps, just more time soaking. Follow the care instructions to control temperature and maintain your fleece.

Tips for Sewing and Maintaining Fleece

Tips for Sewing and Maintaining Fleece

  1. Pre-wash your fleece fabric before cutting and sewing to help it keep its shape. This step’s crucial to prevent unexpected shrinkage and maintain the integrity of your fleece projects.
  2. Choose the right fleece for your project. Polyester fleece is less prone to shrinking, while cotton fleece may require extra precautions.
  3. Use a ballpoint or stretch needle when sewing fleece to prevent damage. Opt for a longer stitch length to avoid puckering.
  4. When washing your fleece creations, follow the care instructions meticulously. Washing on a delicate cycle, turning the fabric inside out, and avoiding bleach and fabric softeners are essential steps to maintain size, color, and finish.

By following these sewing techniques and maintenance tips, you can ensure your fleece projects stay cozy and keep their shape without unwanted shrinkage.

How Fleece Shrinks

How Fleece Shrinks
Your fleece snugs up in hot water. Heat triggers the fibers inside fleece to contract and causes shrinkage.

  • Hot water temperature
  • High heat drying
  • Improper washing
  • Exposure to steam
  • Ironing on high heat

To reverse shrinkage, soak in lukewarm water and hair conditioner. Reshape and air dry flat. Going forward, wash in cold or warm water inside-out. Skip the fabric softener. Tumble dry on low and avoid direct heat.

Preventing Fleece Shrinkage

Preventing Fleece Shrinkage
Suspend fleece high above boiling water, lest its fibers wither into nothingness! To prevent fleece shrinkage, use lukewarm water when washing and rinse with cool water. Avoid high heat drying by line drying instead; fleece dries quickly! If using a dryer, opt for low or no heat.

Skip the steamer – it can damage fleece. When ironing, choose a low setting and place a pressing cloth between the iron and fleece. Fabrics like blizzard, Nike, Patagonia, Polartec and Columbia fleeces vary in shrinkage risk.

How to Wash Fleece

How to Wash Fleece
The best way to care for fleece is to follow the fabric care instructions. In general, wash fleece in cool or lukewarm water on a gentle cycle. Avoid using hot water, as this can cause fleece to shrink. When drying fleece, use a low heat setting or air dry.

High heat from dryers can also lead to shrinkage. Taking some simple precautions when washing and drying helps maintain the size and shape of your fleece.

To keep your fleece looking its best, you’ll also want to:

  • Wash fleece garments inside out to protect the fabric
  • Use a mild detergent or specialty product for synthetics
  • Avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets

Following these care instructions helps fleece retain its shape and softness wash after wash. With a little extra attention when laundering, you can enjoy your fleece for seasons to come.

Does Fleece Shrink in the Dryer?

Does Fleece Shrink in the Dryer
You’ll wanna watch the temp while drying fleece so it doesn’t shrink up too much. Fleece can definitely shrink in the dryer if you aren’t careful. The heat exposure causes the fibers to tighten and contract.

To prevent dryer shrinkage with fleece, use a low or delicate setting. Medium and high heat will likely cause noticeable shrinkage over time.

Air drying fleece is ideal to eliminate any risk of shrinkage. If you must use the dryer, remove the fleece right away and avoid over-drying. The type of fleece matters too – blends with natural fibers like cotton shrink more than pure polyester fleece.

Either way, handling fleece garments with care when laundering and drying will help maintain their original size and shape.

Does Polyester Fleece Shrink?

Does Polyester Fleece Shrink
You’re right that polyester fleece won’t shrink on you. Over 90% of polyester fleece keeps its original size even after repeated washing. Unlike natural fibers, polyester fleece is a synthetic material with excellent heat tolerance and durability.

Types like microfiber fleece and anti-pill fleece maintain their shape and size even after machine washing and drying. However, any fleece can shrink slightly if exposed to excess heat like very hot water or high dryer settings.

To keep polyester fleece from shrinking, wash in warm or cooler water and line dry or dry on a low setting. With proper care, polyester berber and french terry fleece will resist shrinking far better than cotton fleeces.

Following fabric care instructions is key to getting the most out of polyester fleece.

Different Types of Fleece

Different Types of Fleece
Fleece comes in several varieties, each with its own unique properties. Cotton fleece shrinks more than polyester, rayon, hemp, and bamboo fleeces when washed in hot water or dried at high heat.

Cotton Fleece

You’d best pre-shrink cotton fleece before sewing ’cause it can shrink quite a bit. Cotton fleece is prone to significant shrinkage when washed in hot water or dried at high heat. Pre-treating cotton fleece fabric before sewing can help prevent disappointment later.

Here are some tips for working with cotton fleece:

  • Pre-wash in cold water and air dry.
  • Add fabric softener to reduce static.
  • Use a stretch stitch or zigzag when sewing.
  • Follow garment care instructions.

To maintain cotton fleece’s softness and shape, avoid high heat when washing and drying.

Rayon Fleece

Although rayon fleece feels soft and cozy, it suffers from shrinkage woes if washed improperly. Be wary – rayon fleece shrinks significantly when washed in hot water or dried on high heat. Handle it gently, washing in cool water and line drying to preserve its shape and feel.

Compared to polyester fleece, rayon lacks durability yet excels in absorbency. Choose rayon when you crave its softness, but take care to prevent shrinkage through proper laundering.

Polyester Fleece

Having not heard that polyester fleece is the cockroach of fabrics, being pretty much indestructible, you’d never guess it doesn’t really shrink like other natural fabrics. Unlike cotton fleece, polyester fleece is resistant to shrinkage. Its synthetic fibers maintain their shape and size even after washing and drying.

Polyester fleece is durable, wrinkle-resistant, and retains its shape over time. Proper care will maximize its longevity and prevent shrinkage.

Hemp Fleece

Take care when washing that hemp fleece blanket, friend, for too much heat risks irreversible shrinkage of the soft fibers against your skin. Hemp fleece has some unique properties compared to other fabrics. More breathable yet warmer than cotton and wool, it requires gentler washing and drying to avoid shrinking.

Choosing sustainable hemp fleece supports eco-friendly textiles. Ideal for blankets, activewear, and winter apparel, with proper care, hemp fleece maintains its comfort and durability.

Bamboo Fleece

Y’all’d see bamboo fleece has its own shrinkage quirks. Remember, haste makes waste. Compared to other types, bamboo fleece is more prone to shrinkage if wash temperatures exceed 30°C. Take care to wash on gentle cycles and line dry to prevent excessive shrinkage. Its natural origins make bamboo fleece eco-friendly, but it requires more maintenance than synthetics.

Bamboo’s moisture-wicking, thermal regulating, and antibacterial properties provide advantages, yet extra care is needed with it.

How to Shrink Fleece on Purpose?

How to Shrink Fleece on Purpose
You can purposefully shrink fleece by washing it in hot water and drying it on a high heat setting.

  1. Check the care label first – some fleeces may have specific instructions.
  2. Wash fleece in hot water, around 140°F if possible. This allows the fibers to relax and tighten.
  3. Use a hot dryer setting like high heat or permanent press. The heat causes the fibers to contract.
  4. Repeat washing and drying if needed to achieve the desired amount of shrinkage.
  5. If fleece has decals or prints, turn it inside out before washing to avoid damage.

DIY fleece shrinkage allows you to modify the size and fit of fleece items as needed. With some simple hot water washes, you can carefully control how much your fleece shrinks. Just remember to check care instructions first and wash inside out if needed. Shrink fleece gradually for the best results.


Have you ever wondered if fleece can shrink? It’s a reasonable question since many fabrics do shrink under certain conditions. Yes, fleece can shrink depending on the blend and exposure to heat. To prevent shrinkage, use lukewarm water, turn the item inside out, hang dry, and avoid high heat settings in the dryer.

If you need to shrink it on purpose, wash it in hot water and air dry it. Knowing how different types of fleece react to heat and washing helps keep your clothing and blankets in the right shape.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.