Does Spandex Shrink? (All You Need to Know)

Elanor E. Gary
Learn about spandex and how to care for it in this article. Find out whether or not spandex shrinks and how to prevent it from doing so by avoiding high heat, agitation, and long drying times.

Spandex, also known as lycra or elastane, is a synthetic fiber popular for its stretchy and elastic properties. However, one common concern among wearers is whether spandex shrinks when washed or dried. The answer is yes; spandex can shrink if not cared for properly. This article will discuss why spandex shrinks, how to care for spandex garments, and tips to prevent shrinkage. Following these guidelines ensures that your favorite spandex clothing items last long without losing shape or elasticity.

Table Of Contents

Does Spandex Shrink?

The answer is yes. Spandex, like other fabrics, is sensitive to high temperatures. Exposing spandex to heat from hot water or a dryer will cause it to contract. Spandex is manufactured under a lot of pressure, and the fibers are stretched during spinning and weaving. Heat relaxes the tension, causing the fabric to shrink as the fibers return to their original length.

The Origin  Behind Spandex And Its Stretchability

Spandex is a flexible fabric developed by Dupont in the 1950s using polyurethane. The fibers undergo a lot of pressure and twisting during manufacturing, resulting in a highly stretchable material that can expand between 5 and 8 times its original size.

Typically, spandex is blended with other fibers such as natural, organic, synthetic, or semi-synthetic fibers like rayon, with spandex making up only a small percentage, usually not exceeding 20%.

Spandex And Temperature Resistance

Spandex is a synthetic fiber that can withstand high temperatures but has limits. Here are some points to consider regarding spandex and temperature resistance:

Types of Spandex Fibers

  1. Nylon-based Spandex: Nylon-type spandex is breathable, soft, stretchy, and durable.
  2. Polyester-based Spandex: Polyester spandex is more affordable but may not perform as well as nylon in clothing.
  3. Modacrylic-based Spandex: A hybrid type of spandex fiber.

Causes Of Spandex Shrinkage

Spandex is a popular material known for its elasticity but can shrink if not properly cared for. Here are the main causes of spandex shrinkage and how to prevent it:

  1. Usage of Dryer: Heat generated by the dryer can also cause spandex to shrink. Instead, air-dry spandex garments flat over towels to prevent the fibers from pulling together.
  2. Water Temperature: Using hot water to wash spandex can cause it to shrink. It is best to hand wash in cool water and avoid soaking it for too long.
  3. Washing: Spandex can be washed by hand or in a washing machine, but it should always be washed in cool water and on a gentle cycle to prevent shrinkage.
  4. Hang Dry or Flat Dry: When drying spandex, avoid overcrowding and instead hang or lay flat to dry to prevent loss of stretch and wrinkles.
  5. Detergent: Certain detergents with high alkaline levels can also rob spandex of its elasticity over time. Check clothing care labels and material composition before washing.

Tips For Preventing Shrinkage Of Spandex Clothing

To prevent the shrinkage of spandex clothing, it's important to understand the three main causes and how to prevent each one individually. These causes are heat, agitation, and drying.




Preparing Your Spandex for Washing

If you want your spandex garments to last longer and maintain their elasticity, it is essential to take proper care of them. Follow these tips to prevent spandex from shrinking:

1. Check For Dirt Or Stains:

Before washing your spandex garment, check for any dirt or stains, and remove any excess material with scissors or a seam ripper. Loose threads can create pilling in the fabric over time.

2. Use The Correct Water Temperature:

Use cool water instead of hot water, which can damage spandex fibers and make them more susceptible to shrinking. Cool water also helps prevent wrinkles.

3. Soak In Cool Water:

Allow the fabric to soak in cool water with a small amount of mild detergent. Soaking keeps the spandex fibers from being agitated, reducing shrinkage.

4. Wash Spandex Garments Separately:

Wash your spandex garments separately from other clothes in the washer. If you have items that contain spandex, use a separate cycle on your washing machine or wash them by hand in a sink of water with mild detergent and no bleach.

5. Air Dry Spandex:

Take your spandex out of the dryer before it's completely dry to prevent over-drying and stiffness. Hang it over a chair for about 10 minutes to air out, preventing wrinkles and pilling from forming.

6. Avoid Using Vinegar:

Some people use vinegar to preserve their spandex, but it can cause lint or other debris to stick to your clothes. Ensure that your spandex garment is in good enough condition that you wouldn’t mind someone wearing it.

How To Care For Spandex Clothing

To prevent shrinking and damage to your spandex clothing, follow these tips:

Step 1: Use a cold or cool water wash cycle and a mild detergent.

Step 2: Lay flat to dry instead of hanging wet spandex.

Step 3: Avoid heat sources like direct sunlight, radiators, or home heating elements.

Step 4: Check the fabric content carefully before washing, as spandex blends may not do well in the washing machine.

Final Thought

Spandex is a popular synthetic fiber known for its stretchy and elastic properties. However, it can shrink if not properly cared for, especially when exposed to high heat, agitation, and long drying times. Spandex is blended with other fibers and manufactured under pressure, making it sensitive to temperature changes. It is important to wash spandex garments in cool water, avoid high heat, and use gentle cycles when washing and drying. By following these guidelines, spandex clothing items can last long without losing their shape or elasticity.

Featured Reviews

89,506 Reviews Analyzed
22,481 Reviews Analyzed
441,162 Reviews Analyzed
19,020 Reviews Analyzed
94,687 Reviews Analyzed
87,883 Reviews Analyzed
15,926 Reviews Analyzed
67,745 Reviews Analyzed
164,851 Reviews Analyzed

Related Posts

12 Best Scrub Brands for Nurses and Doctors

Have you been trying to find the best scrub brands? With several brands in the market, it can be confusing which can suit your preference and one that has cl...