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Does Rayon Shrink In the Dryer or When Washed?

Rayon is a soft and lightweight fabric that is very comfortable to wear. The fabric itself looks luxurious, making it a popular choice for many different types of clothing. Before any fabric is used, it’s important to know what will happen to the fabric when it is washed and dried. Many people wonder if rayon will shrink in the washer or dryer.

Rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric, meaning that it is made of natural fibers but modified through manufacturing to have certain characteristics. Due to the natural fibers, rayon is susceptible to shrinking under certain conditions.

Before you launder rayon, it’s important to know the conditions that cause rayon to shrink so that you can avoid them if necessary. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes rayon to shrink, how to wash rayon to avoid shrinking, and what to do if your rayon fabric does shrink.

Does Rayon Shrink In The Dryer?

Does Rayon Shrink In the Dryer

Rayon will shrink in the dryer. If you find that your rayon fabric did shrink, this is most likely the cause. The dryer not only causes rayon to shrink, but it could also cause it to tear as well. Tearing is most likely to happen when rayon is dried, along with items that are much heavier than rayon.

The reason that rayon shrinks in the dryer is that the fibers are very sensitive to heat. Even drying the fabric on a lower temperature setting could still cause some amount of shrinking. The best way to dry rayon is to lay it flat on top of a drying rack to air dry.

Rayon can lose its shape while it dries because of the delicate nature of the fibers. Even if you air-dry it, there are certain steps you should follow:

  1. Lay the fabric on the drying rack.
  2. Spread it out so that it is completely flat, shaping it into how it should look when it is dry.
  3. If you don’t have a drying rack, you can hang it.

If you hang rayon to dry, be sure to use a hanger that isn’t made of wire. Wire hangers are too thin on the shoulders and can leave marks when the fabric dries. Plastic or wood hangers are a better choice because they have a thicker shoulder.

Does Rayon Shrink When Washed?

Does cotton shrink in the wash

Just like rayon can shrink in the dryer, it can also shrink when it is washed. In addition to shrinking, rayon can also lose its shape, especially when washed in the washing machine. This is partly due to the agitation that the washing machine uses during the rinse and spin cycle. But the main reason is that rayon fabric is even more delicate when it gets wet.

The best way to wash rayon to prevent it from losing its shape is through dry cleaning or hand-washing. Hand-washing will also prevent rayon from shrinking as much since hand-washing is usually done using cooler water temperatures so that you don’t burn your skin in the process.

Does Rayon Shrink In Hot Water?

Since rayon is even more delicate when it is wet, it is important to pay attention to the temperature of the water that you use to wash it. Rayon will shrink in hot water because it causes the fibers to condense, shrinking the fabric as a result.

Rayon is most likely to shrink when the water temperature is hotter than 85 degrees, but even warm water can cause the fabric to shrink a little. Hot water temperatures are easily avoided when hand-washing rayon. But if you choose to wash it in the washing machine, cool or cold water is best.

How To Wash Rayon So It Doesn’t Shrink?

The recommended way to wash rayon is to hand wash it. However, sometimes hand-washing is inconvenient or you have a lot of fabric to wash. If either of those is the case, you can wash rayon in the washing machine as long as you take certain precautions to prevent shrinking.

When washing rayon in the washing machine, follow these steps:

  • Wash it by itself or with other items made of rayon
  • Use gentle detergent
  • Turn the machine to the delicate setting
  • Wash with cool or cold water

How to Hand Wash Rayon

Hand-washing rayon is preferable due to the delicate nature of the fabric. Even when you hand wash rayon, you still need to be careful with handling the fabric to prevent damage and shrinking. Here are the recommended steps for hand-washing rayon:

  1. Fill your sink with cool water.
  2. Add a detergent made for delicate items to the water. A couple of capfuls is plenty.
  3. Place the fabric in the water but be careful not to bunch it up in the process.
  4. Distribute the soap evenly by using your hands to gently mix it into the water.
  5. Leave the fabric submerged to soak for about 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, rinse the soap out of the fabric by allowing water to run through it. Do not try to wring the soap out or you could damage the fabric.
  7. After rinsing, lay the fabric flat on a clean, dry towel and press as much water as you can out of it. Again, do not try to wring out the excess water.
  8. Lay the item flat or hang it up to let it air dry.

Does 100% Rayon Shrink?

How to shrink rayon

Fabric that is made of 100% rayon is the most susceptible to shrinking. Rayon fibers come from wood pulp and are mostly made of cellulose. When the whole fabric is made of one type of fiber, especially cellulose, the changes of it shrinking significantly are greater.

Not all rayon fabric is made of 100% rayon, and usually the care label will tell you the percent of rayon that your clothing or fabric is made up of. But if for some reason it doesn’t, or the care label is missing, treat the fabric as if it were made of 100% rayon to prevent shrinking from happening.

The care label will also tell you the best way to care for your fabric to get the most use out of it. For 100% rayon, usually dry cleaning is suggested since the fabric becomes even more delicate when it gets wet. The care label will also recommend avoiding both hot water and the dryer to prevent shrinking. Even if the label doesn’t recommend dry cleaning, it is the best way to avoid heat and prevent shrinking.

How Much Does Rayon Shrink?

Unlike other cellulose fibers such as cotton and linen that can shrink as much as 5%, there is no certain amount of how much rayon can shrink. The amount of shrinking depends on how you wash it. Following the proper steps as best as you can is the only guaranteed way to prevent shrinking.

When you wash rayon, it is extremely important to pay attention to the care label. Unlike cotton and linen, which can be purchased pre-shrunk to reduce the amount of shrinking that happens, rayon usually can’t be bought pre-shrunk. This is because pre-shrinking does very little to reduce the amount of shrinking due to the nature of the fibers.

Does Rayon Shrink More Than Once?

Because there’s not a certain percentage that rayon can shrink, it can shrink more than once. Rayon tends to shrink every time it is washed if you don’t wash it very carefully, following the proper steps.

If you repeatedly wash rayon in hot water, it will shrink more and more each time. But even if you do wash it properly, putting it in the dryer after each wash will cause the most shrinkage. If you are in a hurry, rayon should never be dried in the dryer because it will shrink every time. Consistently hand-washing and air-drying rayon is the key to prevent shrinking.

Can You Shrink Rayon?

Now that we know what causes rayon to shrink, is it possible to shrink rayon on purpose? The answer is yes. While you generally don’t want rayon to shrink, there are some instances where it might be necessary.

Many people purposefully shrink rayon to change its size. Let’s say that you were working on a sewing project using rayon, but for whatever reason, the finished project doesn’t fit right. Or, you have an item of clothing that you love, but you want it to be a size smaller. In both of these instances, shrinking rayon is the best way to go.

Another reason why you might want to shrink rayon is that you have a large piece of fabric that you want to use some of, but you are unsure what type of fabric it is. The fabric might have been unlabeled, especially if you got it for free. You suspect it might be rayon, and since you know that rayon shrinks easily, you want to test it to make sure.

What Is The Best Way To Shrink Rayon?

The most effective method for shrinking rayon is washing it in the washing machine or drying it in the dryer using heat. The method that will work best depends on the percentage of rayon that the fabric is made of. For example, an item made of 100% rayon may require less work to shrink it than an item made of a smaller percentage.

However, shrinking rayon on purpose is still risky because you don’t want to end up shrinking it too much when you were only trying to shrink it a little. You still need to be very careful so that you don’t permanently damage the fabric. If you only want to shrink rayon a little, you can try hand-washing it using warm water. But if you need to shrink it more, try one of these methods.

How to Shrink Rayon in the Washing Machine

If hand-washing in warm water didn’t give you quite the amount of shrinkage that you wanted, the next step is to try to wash it in the washing machine. If the item made of rayon is the only one that you’re trying to shrink, wash it by itself. Turn the water temperature setting to warm or hot depending on the amount of shrinkage that you want. You can use a regular or mild detergent.

When you take the item out of the washing machine, check to make sure that it shrinks the amount you wanted it to. If it did, lay the fabric flat on a towel and gently roll the towel up to soak up any excess water. Then, lay the fabric flat to air dry.

How to Shrink Rayon in the Dryer

If the item didn’t shrink as much as you wanted it to and you need to shrink it more, your next option is to put it in the dryer. Although if you do put it in the dryer, you still don’t want to use the hottest temperature setting as this could cause the fabric to shrink more than you intended.

Instead, dry it on the low heat setting using the gentle cycle. You may want to check the item periodically so that you only dry it long enough to shrink it to the desired amount. Once it has shrunk enough, take it out of the dryer and either lay it flat or hang it to finish air-drying.

Does Rayon/Spandex Blend Shrink?

How much does rayon shrink

When choosing fabric, some people prefer a rayon and spandex blend over 100% rayon. A rayon/spandex blend is a great fabric for making shirts, dresses, and even pajamas because spandex allows the clothing to stretch a little more. Spandex also helps to strengthen the fabric, making it more durable and helping it to retain its shape better.

However, even when rayon is blended with spandex, usually the percentages are 95% rayon and 5% spandex. Spandex by itself doesn’t tend to shrink. But when blended with rayon, the fabric will still shrink since the percentage of rayon is significantly higher than the percentage of spandex. It won’t shrink as much as 100% rayon, but you should take the same precautions even with 5% spandex blended in.

How To Unshrink Rayon

Many people feel that clothing can’t be fixed if it shrinks, but this is not always the case. If your rayon fabric did shrink unintentionally, you might be able to unshrink it depending on how much it shrunk. The best way to return rayon to its original size is by soaking it and then stretching it by hand. We will explain how to do it.

You will need:

  • A bucket or wash basin
  • Gentle detergent (baby shampoo also works)
  • A towel

Follow these steps to unshrink rayon:

1. Fill the bucket or wash basin with lukewarm water and pour in a capful of gentle detergent or baby shampoo.

2. Put the rayon fabric in the water, making sure that it is completely submerged.

3. Gently massage the fabric to mix the soap and water in with the fibers.

4. Continue to massage different areas of the fabric until the soap and water have penetrated the entire fabric. This will cause the fibers to relax, making them easier to stretch.

5. Once the entire fabric has been massaged, remove the fabric from the bucket. Use cold water to rinse the soap out.

6. Gently press on the fabric to remove the excess water, but remember not to wring it out to avoid breaking the fibers.

7. When excess water has been removed, lay the item flat on a dry, clean towel.

8. Roll up the towel so that the fabric is rolled up inside it.

9. Press the towel to squeeze out any remaining water so that the fabric feels damp but not soaking wet.

10. Unroll the towel, adjust the fabric so that it is spread out again, and use your hands to gently stretch the fabric until it has returned to its original size.

11. Lay the fabric flat on a drying rack or dry towel to finish air-drying.

Now that your fabric has returned to its normal size, you can prevent future shrinking by having it dry cleaned. Dry cleaning rayon after each wear is the recommended cleaning method and the best way to prevent consistent shrinking.


If you want to keep your rayon fabrics from shrinking, avoid washing them in the washing machine and drying them in the dryer (unless you’re trying to shrink it on purpose). Heat is the most common cause of shrinking, and water can damage the fabric as well.

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