Does Fleece Shrink in the Washer or Dryer?


The question of whether fleece fabric shrinks has been debated by many. Some say it shrinks, while others say that the fabric is durable and doesn’t shrink at all. This debate can be attributed to many things, the differing quality of fleece or materials used, washing instructions and type of machine used, or even the process in which the product is made.

Fleece fabric is a popular choice for comfy, warm clothes these days. However, some people are uncertain about how to care for it. Here’s what you need to know about washing your fleece so that you can continue wearing it for years to come.

This is a question that many people ask but few know the answer for. The truth is that most fabrics will shrink if you dry them in a dryer, but this does not apply to all fabrics. Many different factors affect how much fabric will shrink such as the weight of the fabric and what chemicals it was treated with. For example, some fleece fabrics may shrink up to 10% after drying while others only shrink by 1%.

Does Fleece Shrink?

Yes, fleece fabrics do shrink. However, since a lot of people are afraid that it shrinks in the wash, they prefer to wash it by hand instead of using the washing machine. While this might be all right for some fabrics, washing your fleece clothes by hand can wear out the fabric faster than normal and result in premature destruction. It is best to wash them using the washing machine at low temperatures and avoid using hot water as much as you can. Use a gentle detergent to clean them too.

It depends!

Some fabrics, like fleece and sheepskin, will shrink considerably during the drying process. This can make the garment fit differently after washing or when worn.

Whether or not you’ll experience shrinkage will depend on the type of fleece you are using, how it was made, and how it was washed. The amount of shrinkage that you’ll experience will also depend on the specific care instructions for the fleece in question.

For example, some fabrics may be pre-shrunk, which means that they have been treated in some way to reduce the amount of shrinkage that you’ll experience when washing. No pre-shrinking is often used on fleece because it has a tendency to shrink when being washed anyway.

Other fabrics, like most cotton and wool, resist shrinking as much as possible. These are often referred to as elastic fibers because they are capable of expanding and shrinking in many different ways depending on the type of fabric they are made from.

How Does Fleece Naturally Shrink?

Fleece naturally shrinks during the washing process and drying process, but this amount of shrinkage is usually not drastic. This can still cause your clothes or blankets to fit differently than what you’re expecting though.

Even if you use cold water for the washing cycle and air dries your fleece instead of using a dryer, you still may experience some shrinkage. It’s not enough to make the garment fit differently until you try it on, but it can be enough to make you feel as though the item has shrunk even if it hasn’t.

What Causes Fleece Fabric to Shrink?

Shrinkage is caused by several factors, including:


These are raised fibers that can easily be felt or seen on the surface of fleece. When this texture is created through manufacturing or when the fleece is brushed into its design, it makes it easier for the fabric to pick up moisture. This moisture can cause it to shrink, especially when it’s being washed.

Water-Based Detergents 

Many detergents contain enzymes designed to break down proteins in fabrics like fleece in order to improve their cleanliness and remove stains. These enzymes are also what make it easier for the fabric to shrink when washed.

Polyester and Other Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic fibers do not absorb as much water as natural fibers, which is why they usually do not shrink as much when being washed. 

Water Temperature

Warm water causes more fabrics, including fleece, to absorb more moisture than cold water does. Colder water, however, can make fabrics shrink less.


If your home experiences higher temperatures and humidity levels in the winter or if there’s been a lot of rain for a long time, it will make most fabrics (including fleece) heavier than normal. This can result in more shrinkage as well.

Does Fleece Shrink In The Dryer?

Unlike some other materials, Fleece material does not shrink in the dryer. Instead, it will almost always get bigger. Lower heat settings are best for drying items made from fleece in order to prevent them from getting damaged or shrinking on their own. 

Fleece material is most commonly made with a synthetic fabric that is designed to dry very quickly. Despite this, it is still best to allow it to air dry. Drying it in the dryer can cause the fabric to shrink and lose its shape.

Does Fleece Shrink In Wash?

Fleece usually doesn’t shrink in the wash. Fabric does, however, absorb more of the water that is used to wash it, which means that it may take less time for the garment to dry after washing. This can make it look like the garment has shrunk.

The amount of shrinkage that you see depends on a number of factors: how the fleece was made, what kind of fabric it is made from (natural fiber or synthetic), and how you wash and dry it. If you have any doubt about whether or not your fleece will shrink in a particular situation, always run test-sized garments through a normal cycle before washing an entire outfit that uses that fabric to see what happens.

Fleece material should be washed properly in warm water with colors. This will help to keep the fleece in good condition and prevent it from shrinking. Most types of fleece are machine washable, but it isn’t recommended to use a high-heat dryer setting or a hot cycle for washing. This is because doing so can cause the material to shrink over time.

Does Fleece Shrink After Washing?

The answer to this question is yes, fleece shrinks a lot after being washed. It can shrink anywhere from two to eight percent, depending on the washing material used and the type of fleece fabric worn. It also depends on how much water was used for washing it as well as the amount of specific shrinkage that occurs when the fabric is washed.

Should you worry about the amount that it shrinks though? Not usually, since most fleece garments are made from fairly durable materials that can withstand a little shrinkage without any problems or changes in quality or appearance. How it shrinks depends on what kind of wash cycle you use for the garments, and which type of material or weave it has been made from.

How Much Does Fleece Shrink When Washed?

Fleece material tends to shrink anywhere from two to eight percent when washed. The exact amount that it shrinks depends on what kind of fleece it is and how you wash it, as well as any other factors that might influence the outcome. This means that one item of fleece clothing could shrink more than another once washed.

Just like how a T-shirt may shrink by three percent less than a sweatshirt, a lightweight fleece may be able to resist more of the water used for washing than one that is made from thicker or denser fabric, making it less likely to shrink at all. The amount of specific shrinkage when the garment is washed depends on a number of different factors, such as the fabric type, dyeing process, and post-processing that occurs before sewing.

If you want your fleece garment to maintain its shape over time, then you should wash it only when it is dirty or needs to be cleaned. The amount that it shrinks doesn’t matter too much though, since the natural fit may end up changing or fading slightly once the garment is worn or if it gets wet while wearing it.

How to Avoid Fleece Shrinkage?

The easiest way to avoid fleece shrinkage is to simply not wash the garment. This may seem silly and wasteful, but when you consider the fact that fleece itself is a synthetic fabric, it’s not a bad idea. Washing fleece may be necessary when it gets dirty or if you want to create a clean new look for the garment, but often it can avoid shrinkage if you let the item be.

If you do wash your fleece garment though, there are several steps that you can take in order to prevent as much shrinkage as possible: Use cold water whenever possible for washing and drying your fleece garments. Use hot water only when needed. Use cool water in the washing machine, and use warm-to-hot water in the dryer. Use regular detergent that doesn’t contain enzymes.

How to Wash Fleece

Air Dry

This is the best way to avoid shrinkage as long as you can avoid a hot dryer. It also works well if you just don’t have access to a dryer, like if you live in a dorm or are on an RV camping trip. Hang it outside if possible, then brush it after it’s dry so that any raised fibers are pressed back into shape.

Warm Water

Do not use hot water for the washing cycle and air dry if possible. Hot water can cause the fleece to shrink, and this also makes it more difficult for the fabric to dry because warm or room-temperature air does not evaporate moisture as quickly as hot air.

Use For Damp Clothings

You can place your fleece in a mesh bag along with other damp clothings and wash them together in cold water. This is likely to be more effective than washing the fleece by itself because you are combining several items that are capable of absorbing more moisture. This means that less absorbency is left for the fleece itself, which will help it stay fluffy and free from shrinkage.

Cold Water Washing

Cold water is the best way to wash fleece. If you have access to a washing machine that can use cold water, then use cold water for the washing cycle. If it’s not possible to do this, then you can use cool water, which does not become as hot as warm or hot water does. Add one teaspoon of liquid detergent or enzyme-free detergent for every two gallons of water in the wash cycle and use a gentle or delicate cycle for the garment if it’s wool or fine inlon fleece.

Laundry Balls

Using wash balls can help to prevent shrinkage on fleece clothing. They are small balls that are typically made to look like toys or animals. They contain a special substance that is able to hold the fleece fibers together and keep them from laying flat and stretching out when they’re being washed.

These generally come in packs of several dozen and are usually found in the dryer section of any store where laundry is sold, such as Target or Walmart. They’re also not very expensive and can be used more than once, so if you want to use one then it’s worth investing in an extra pack or two.

Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners are commonly used in homes and often contain enzymes that will make the garment more vulnerable to shrinkage when washed. They can be used as long as they are enzyme-free and you follow the directions on the package. They can also be used in addition to detergent if you’re already planning to use one, but only use a “ringer” or half packet if you do this.

Follow these tips and your fleece should be free of any shrinkage that could cause it to become smaller than what you want it to be. It may still shrink a bit, but it shouldn’t shrink by much.

Does Cotton Fleece Shrink?

Yes, cotton fleece can shrink just as much as any other kind of material will. It will become smaller when washed and may shrink even more if it is put into a hot dryer afterward. The amount of shrinkage depends on what type of cotton fleece it is, and some types may actually shrink less than others.

Just like with other types of fleece, the amount it shrinks after washing depends on which wash cycle you use for the garment. If you use cold water then it will probably not shrink a lot, but if you use warm or hot water then it might become very small indeed.

Cotton requires some special care when washed though because of its delicate nature. It’s best to use gentle care materials and a gentle cycle. Conventional detergents can damage cotton fibers, which may cause them to shrink as much as 10% in size after washing.

Another possibility is that the dye used can alter the color fastness of cotton fabric. Cotton that is dyed with conventional dyes is less likely to shrink even if washed, but some organic and eco-friendly dyes can be more reactive than conventional ones and cause the fabric to shrink so much that it will no longer remain wearable or usable.

Does Polyester Fleece Shrink?

Polyester fleece is a popular fabric among knitters because it’s easy to make and machine-washable, but it’s prone to shrinkage. If you want to avoid shrinkage with polyester fleece, use cold water and no detergent. This will slow down the process of shrinkage, allowing the garment time to drip dry without getting too wet. If you need to use hot water or a strong detergent, make sure to cut the garment a few inches bigger than your body in case it shrinks. The more that you wash it, the more it will shrink.

Fleece fabrics are made from synthetic fibers that don’t require much care and are generally fairly easy to clean so long as you know a few tricks. You won’t need expensive or special cleaning materials for most of your fleece clothing except for very large items like sleeping bags and mattresses, which should be dry-cleaned on request.

Does Microfleece Shrink?

Microfleece has a high thread count and is extremely soft to the touch, especially if it’s one of the fine synthetic fabrics. Microfleece can be used as a sleeping bag, blanket, or pillow case, which means it’s super lightweight in comparison to many other fabrics. It’s also resistant to shrinking and water-repellent so you won’t have to worry about it getting wet if you use it on a camping trip.

Even though microfleece is often more expensive than regular fleece and acrylic clothing, they are generally easier to machine wash and dry because they are far less susceptible to shrinkage. If you want to avoid shrinkage then wash your microfleece items in cold water and no detergent. The fabric is also not as prone to pilling, fraying, or getting damaged as it is with synthetic fabrics like polyester.

Can I Shrink a Fleece Sweater, Jacket, or Pants?

Yes, you can shrink fleece sweaters, jackets or pants in the washing machine if you use the right settings. You can also throw it into a hot dryer to get it to shrink faster. The amount of shrinkage depends on which type of fleece it is made from, and also how much water is used.

You should be aware that many out there selling cheap fleece jackets online get them from sweatshops and then sell them for a profit. The higher quality ones can be quite expensive but worth every penny for their extra durability and style. Fleece pullovers are popular among outdoor enthusiasts too, since they’re lightweight, warm, and easy to care for even in damp weather.

How to Shrink a Fleece Blanket?

Shrinking fabric is a fun experiment, especially with fleece blankets since they are so cozy. Here’s how:

  1. Find a blanket that you don’t mind getting shrunken and put it into the washer with no detergent. Make sure to use the least amount of water possible.
  2. Wash your blanket on a “cold” cycle in your washing machine. This should help to reduce shrinkage as much as possible, but even if you use warm or hot water instead you will still get some shrinkage due to the water being too hot for most fleece fabrics.
  3. Dry your blanket in a hot dryer. Use medium or low heat and no dryer sheets or fabric softeners. 

Should I Wash Fleece Before Sewing?

If you’re going to be washing your fleece before sewing it, then it’s best to rinse it first. This helps to remove any detergent or other products that may have been used prior and will help you to save time in the long run.

Over time, fleece can get very dusty and dirty. You should clean this with a water-based soap if possible, then allow it to air dry. After it is completely dry, wash the garment again using a dishwashing liquid that doesn’t contain enzymes and allow this section of the garment to drip-dry completely before continuing on with your sewing project.

FAQ About Fleece Fabric Shrink

Do Outdoor Fleece Jackets Shrink?

Outdoor fleece jackets are made from synthetic fabrics that can be washed in a machine and dried in a dryer. The amount that it shrinks depends on which brands you buy from, as well as whether or not you use the proper settings for washing. If the garments are wet, you should always let them drip dry to avoid ruining them because too much heat can cause the material to become sticky and unusable.

How Do You Make Fleece Smaller?

If you find that your fleece is getting closer to being the size you’d like it to be, there are several things that you can do. You can hang it up and allow it to air dry longer while not using any heat, such as in a dorm room. You can also air-dry the garment without washing it and leaving it in the sun for several days. This will cause the fabric to open up and become thinner, which will make it a simple matter to get the item into a smaller size. The best way to shrink fleece is to cut off any unwanted portion of fleece and then use both sides of this new piece in order to create a smaller size.

Can You Machine Wash Fleece?

The short answer to this question is yes, but the longer answer is no. It’s been reported on numerous occasions that you can wash fleece in a machine, but not with the regular spin cycle. Instead, you can use a delicate cycle and then hang it up to dry after it’s done. This way, it will be ready to sew without ever having been washed. Most fleece items – especially ones that are smaller in size such as jackets – are made of lighter weight and thinner fabric than some other textiles. As such, they can be washed without difficulty at home using the techniques discussed above.

Does Fleece Shrink In The Sun?

Like most other fabrics, fleece material will shrink if left in the sun for too long. This means that it should not be left out for extended periods of time when it is on a line or drying rack. While this may seem like common sense, some people avoid removing their clothing from these places even when they are aware that the item may be getting ruined by prolonged exposure to sunlight and wind.

Can You Put Polyester Fleece In The Dryer?

You can put polyester fleece in the dryer. Polyester is a synthetic fabric made from plastic, but it still requires the same care as natural fibers for washing and drying. Use cold water when washing, and run it through the dryer in a low-heat setting. Air drying is also an option if you don’t have access to a dryer.

Final Thoughts

After reading this article, you should have a good idea of how to care for your fleece clothing properly. Fleece is a great material because it’s warm and soft, it’s available in many different kinds of styles and colors, and it’s easy to wash with the right instructions.

Keeping your fleece in good condition is important so that you can wear it for a long time without any problems. To make sure that your fleece doesn’t become damaged or fade due to improper cleaning, follow these tips and tricks every time you wash it.


  1. MISSOURI STAR – Does fleece shrink?
  2. Quora – What is the best way to revive a polyester fleece garment that gets clumpy and lint-covered?
  3. Reddit – Any tips on how to un-shrink a fleece jacket?
  5. Threadmagzine – shrinking fleece
  6. QuiltingBoard – Wash Fleece Before Use?
  7. T-shirtforums – Fleece
  8. Reddit – Does cozy fleece shrink?


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