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Does Satin Shrink?

Satin is a soft, smooth, elegant fabric made from natural or synthetic fibers, like cotton, silk, wool, polyester, or rayon. It’s one of those luxurious fabrics that, if maintained properly, will remain crisp, fit well, and serve you for many years. But does satin shrink?

Yes, satin does shrink. If you wash it in warm or hot water, the fabric can shrink up to 20%. The shrinkage intensity will depend on the type of material the satin is made from. The type of fiber notwithstanding, satin inadvertently shrinks when washed or dried at high temperatures.

In this article, we’ll explain what causes shrinkage in satin and how this delicate fabric behaves in hot and low temperatures. We’ll also address how to unshrink satin and, most importantly, how to handle it so that it retains its original color and size for a long time.

Does Satin Shrink

Does Satin Shrink?

Satin is an ever-fashionable and distinguished fabric. For you to maintain its elegance, you must take care of it. Improper washing conditions are one of the areas where people go wrong when handling this material. Satin can shrink between 10% and 20% when exposed to hot water or to hot air in a dryer. Special care, in this case, doesn’t mean following some complex formula but simply adhering to fabric instructions when doing the laundry.

Satin is a very delicate fabric made of natural, synthetic, or blends of fibers.  During manufacturing, the material runs through hot cylinders, a process responsible for its shimmering look. Most people get confused when one type of satin gets distorted after washing or drying while another seems unaffected. Remember when we mentioned that satin is made from different fibers? Polyester satin, for instance, can survive temperatures that silk satin cannot.

Unlike other fabrics, when the care label in satin indicates that you only dry clean it, you must do exactly that or handwash it. Dry cleaning uses a special chemical solvent in place of water. If a cloth is labeled “dry clean only,” it should already tell you that you’re dealing with a very delicate material.  

Does Satin Shrink in Wash?

Satin can shrink in the wash depending on its fiber content, but it’ll maintain its luster, shape, and size when washed correctly. Use cold or lukewarm water for it to retain shape and size. Low temperature does not alter the condition of your satin fabric. If you want the satin to serve you through time, never expose it to high temperatures.  

If you have a favorite satin piece or two, you might prefer to take it for dry cleaning which is the safest way to guarantee fabric care. If you have to clean it at home, please follow the cleaning instructions on the care tag. They commonly recommend that for handwashing, use cool or cold water.

To shrink satin fabric for a project or a blouse that is too large,, especially polyester or silk satin, put them in a washing machine and set them on hot water. Alternatively, you can put them in hot boiling water. Heat generally shrinks clothing, some fabrics more than others. This happens because, at high temperatures, the weave on the material gets denser and tighter.

Does Satin Shrink in the Dryer?

Satin can shrink in the drier. High temperatures are not satin friendly. Always proceed with caution and have your satin garments air-dried. Exposing satin to heat will, in the long run, reduce its sheen, which is one of the qualities that makes it a revered fabric. Also, putting satin in the drier with other clothes can be costly because it will likely cause a snag or pull..

After laundering, put your satin out to dry. However, do not leave them in direct sunlight as that will cause them to fade. Sunlight and UV rays also damage most delicate fabrics. 

It’s imperative to note that different satin fabrics behave differently in the dryer. When handling polyester satin, setting the dryer on tumble dry high or medium will cause significant shrinkage, while a low dryer setting won’t. As for silk satin, it will shrink in the dryer at even a low heat setting. Silk satin should never be put in a dryer. If you’re wondering how to dry satin clothing without shrinking it, avoid the dryer completely and hang them to dry.   

How to Shrink Satin

How to Shrink Satin

To shrink a satin fabric, do the exact opposite of what you would do to prevent shrinkage. Put it in the washing machine and use hot water, or put it in hot boiling water. Then throw it in the dryer at a  tumble dry high or medium heat setting. Expose the fabric to the highest degree of heat possible, and you’ll achieve the desired shrinkage or more!

Now, if you want to purposefully shrink a satin garment, say a dress or a blouse, that’s different. Maybe you need it to fit better or hand it down to a smaller size wearer. Whatever the reason is, you need to know that the end result may not be what you had envisioned. The sizing may not be exact, and the shape or hang may be altered too.

Here are four ways to shrink satin fabric; keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best.

1. Use heat. You can experiment by machine-washing or soaking in hot/warm water and hope that the shrinkage doesn’t go beyond what you wanted unless you needed a remarkably big reduction.

If you’re soaking the fabric for shrinkage, leave it for a minimum of six hours. It’s better than the washing machine option because you’ll have a more even shrinkage. There’s a caveat, though, your fabric will likely fade. 

2. Ironing. Still using heat, ironing, or more specifically steaming, may actually give a better result. However, if you’re dealing with satin silk, avoid this method because you’ll likely end up with water spots. 

3. Take it to a tailor or seamstress. This is, by far, the most reasonable approach to shrink your satin garment. 

4. Use a wet sheet and iron. Lay the garment or fabric between a wet sheet, then use an iron to press them both. The wet sheet should be on top of the satin. Keep pressing using the iron until the satin shrinks. 

Shrinking satin clothing is a game of chance, as it may or may not work. Why go through all that trouble? You could argue that the cloth was loose, which is a fair point but consider the futility of the entire thing and that you’re highly likely to get it wrong. Worse still, you can’t control the degree, or consistency of the shrinkage, should it occur. Sometimes buying new clothing may not be on your priority list, but if it is cheaper than having alterations done, it could be the only logical solution.

Fun fact: You can also use the above methods to shrink satin shoes. The outcome will still swing either way. 

How to Unshrink Satin

Accidents happen!. If you’ve accidentally put a satin garment in the dryer with other clothes and they come out looking like they belong to a 5-year-old, don’t dispair! Remember, satin fabric’s natural or synthetic fibers are woven together and then stretched during manufacturing. When exposed to hot water or heat, the fibers naturally shrink to their original state. Before you give up on your favorite satin attire, how about trying these steps to unshrink it? 

  1. Soak it in lukewarm water and gentle baby shampoo.  If you don’t have baby shampoo, a hair conditioner will suffice. Soak for at least 30 minutes and check if the fibers have started loosening up.
  2. Squeeze out the water gently, but don’t rinse it.
  3. Put the cloth on a towel. Roll the towel with the fabric inside. Squeeze it gently to remove water from the cloth until it is just damp.
  4. Place the cloth on another dry towel and stretch it out gently.
  5. Let it air dry

Hopefully, it’ll have unshrunk by this point. If not, you can give it up, or repeat the process.

If you’re careful enough with your clothes, you’ll never get to this point. Here are a few preventive measures that go a long way to help you maintain your satin clothes’ texture, appearance, size, and color consistency.

  • Follow the laundry guidelines on the care label
  • Use cold water when washing
  • Take it to the dry cleaners
  • Air dry them


Even though you may prefer using hot water for your laundry to get rid of all the germs and bacteria in the fabric, when it comes to satin, trust that the soap will do that job just fine. Satin is a prestigious fabric, and you need to treat it like the royalty it is. The best part though is if you handle it with care, it reciprocates your kind gesture by serving you for age.