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How to Shrink Polyester Fitted Hat

Fitted hats are hats without size adjusters that are fitted to the size of your head. Most of them are made from polyester. They’re great because they fit better than hats with adjustable sizing and can be more comfortable as well. But what if you find a fitted hat that you love, but it’s too big for your head? This article will teach you how to shrink a polyester hat.

There are many methods you can use to shrink a polyester fitted hat. Some of these methods include using:

  • The washing machine
  • The dryer 
  • Steam
  • A hairdryer
  • Boiling water 

Shrinking a polyester fitted hat can be done, but it must be done carefully to keep from shrinking it too much or damaging it. The steps must be followed exactly if you want your hat to shrink correctly. Keep reading to learn about each of the methods in more detail.

How to Shrink Polyester Fitted Hat

Can You Shrink a Polyester Hat?

Before we get into how to shrink a polyester hat, it’s important to know how a hat should fit to see if you even need to shrink it and, if so, how much?

When you wear a hat, it should fit snugly but not tight. A hat that fits snugly will not fall off easily with increased activity or when you bend over. It will sit comfortably on your head. A hat should not fit so tightly that it feels like it is squeezing your head or leaves marks. Wearing a hat that is too tight can cause headaches.

A well-fitting hat will sit above your eyebrows. You should be able to slide a finger in the space between the hat and your head. If you can’t fit a finger in the space, the hat is too tight. If you can fit more than one finger, the hat might be too loose.

You should also think about the proportions and size of your head because those two factors have the biggest effect on how well a hat will fit. For a properly fitting hat, you will need to measure the circumference of your head. Refer to a hat size chart to see what size hat you’ll need. Once you know your hat size, you’ll know if a hat is too big and how much you need to shrink it.

Hat size chart 2

Does 100% Polyester Shrink?

Polyester is a synthetic material. This means that it is man-made to have certain characteristics, including being incredibly resistant to shrinking. This doesn’t mean that it won’t shrink at all.

Using hot water and high heat when you launder polyester items could cause them to shrink some, but they won’t shrink significantly. You may notice that the care label on polyester doesn’t recommend using hot water. This is because care labels have instructions on how not to shrink the fabric. Hot water can also damage polyester, which is why it should be used carefully.

Can You Shrink a Fitted Hat?

If your fitted hat doesn’t fit right, the good news is that it can be shrunk to fit better. There are several ways this can be done, and most of them involve using some form of heat and moisture.

You should always be careful when shrinking anything, though. It is hard to judge just how much certain fabrics will shrink and easy to shrink them too much. Not following recommendations carefully could leave you with a fitted hat that is now too small.

What are the Ways to Shrink a Hat?

How to shrink a baseball cap

There are multiple ways to shrink a hat. Each of these ways is proven to be effective if they are followed closely and carefully. But, they each have their pros and cons. Let’s look at each of the methods to decide which one will be the best option for you.

Washing Machine/Dryer


  • Very effective
  • Doesn’t require a lot of work on your part.


  • Be careful with the settings you use.
  • Polyester can get damaged with high heat.



  • Can be done with or without an actual steamer.
  • Works great for polyester or materials that can’t tolerate high heat.


  • You can burn yourself if you aren’t careful.
  • Works best for reshaping a hat rather than shrinking it.

The Sink


  • Can be used for shrinking just the elastic band.


  • Hot water can damage the hat and burn you. Be sure to submerge only the elastic band.

Hair Dryer


  • You don’t have to waste water running a full laundry cycle.
  • Can be used to limit direct contact with heat.


  • Time-consuming
  • May have to repeat several times for polyester

Hat Size Reducer


  • Can be used without heat or water.
  • Won’t damage or over-shrink the hat.


  • Requires accurate head measurements, have a friend take them if necessary.

How to Shrink a Polyester Fitted Hat

How to shrink a hat

Now that you know what all the options are and have weighed the pros and cons, it is time to look at each one in more detail. For each method, we’ll give you the specifics you need to know to avoid damaging or over-shrinking the hat.

Using a Washing Machine

Since polyester is pretty resistant to shrinking under most circumstances, one of the most successful ways to shrink it involves washing it in the washing machine using hot water.

However, since polyester is a type of plastic, temperatures 230 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter can cause it to melt. Hot water from the washing machine should be safe to use, as long as it doesn’t exceed that temperature. Follow these steps to shrink a hat in the washing machine.

  1. Place your hat in the washing machine.
  2. Since you are just trying to shrink one hat, set the load size to “small” to avoid wasting water.
  3. Set the water temperature to the hottest setting that the polyester can handle.
  4. Wash the hat on the gentle cycle, especially if it has a brim. Too much agitation can cause the hat to become misshapen.
  5. Let the washing machine run through the whole cycle, then take the hat out and put it in the dryer.

Shrink Hat in the Clothes Dryer

This method can be used with or without using the washing machine first. If you only want the hat to shrink a little, use the dryer only.

Lower temperatures will cause less shrinking than higher temperatures. But if your hat is made of polyester, a high temperature will be most effective. Follow these steps to shrink a polyester hat.

  1. Set the temperature to the hottest setting.
  2. Take the hat out of the dryer every few minutes and try it on.
  3. If it fits, allow it to air dry. If not, continue drying it, checking it periodically.

Reshape A Hat Using Steam

You can use the steam from a clothes steamer to reshape a hat so that it fits better. If you don’t have a clothes steamer, there are many ways that it can be done without one. We will go over each method in more detail.

Clothes Steamer

This is the easiest way to reshape a hat using steam. Just follow these steps.

  1. Fill the steamer with water (distilled works best).
  2. Plug in the steamer and turn it to the hottest setting.
  3. Start at the brim and steam the entire hat for up to two minutes.
  4. Turn the steamer off and use both hands to reshape the hat so that it fits your head better.
  5. Repeat if necessary.

In the Shower

You can use this method even if you aren’t taking a shower.

  1. Hang your hat somewhere in the bathroom where it won’t be directly in contact with water.
  2. Turn the shower water on to the hottest it will get.
  3. Close the bathroom door.
  4. Leave the shower on for 10 to 15 minutes to give the steam time to work.
  5. Turn the shower off and use your hands to reshape it so that it fits better.

Use a Tea Kettle

Tea kettles produce steam, making this method very effective.

  1. Fill the kettle with water and place it on the stove.
  2. Turn the stove on and heat the kettle until it starts producing steam.
  3. Place the hat in front of the steam.
  4. When the hat starts to feel soft, use your hands to reshape the hat until it fits how you want it to.

In the Sink

Follow these steps to shrink a hat’s elastic band.

  1. Fill a sink with just enough hot water to soak the elastic band.
  2. Leave the elastic band submerged in hot water for 10 minutes.
  3. Take the hat out of the water and try it on.
  4. Repeat if necessary.

Hair Dryer

To use this method, you will need a spray bottle filled with cold water. Follow these steps:

  1. Spray the hat until it is damp. Avoid completely soaking it.
  2. Turn the hair dryer on the high setting.
  3. Point the hair dryer towards the hat, rotating it so that the heat reaches all sides.
  4. Do not let the fabric get too hot and avoid heating the brim. It could lose its shape.
  5. When the hat is dry, turn the hair dryer off and try the hat on. Repeat if necessary.

Hat Size Reducer

Use this method to reduce the size of a hat without using water or heat.

  1. Use a measuring tape to measure the gap between the hat and your head.
  2. Measure the circumference of the hat.
  3. Trim the hat size reducer to the same length as the circumference.
  4. Stick the adhesive side of the hat size reducer under the lining of your hat.

Will 70% Cotton/30% Polyester Shrink?

Cotton and polyester blends are more likely to shrink than items made with just polyester. This is because 100% polyester is synthetic and resistant to shrinking due to how it’s made. On the other hand, cotton is a natural fiber, so it is more prone to shrinking. A 70% cotton/30% polyester blend won’t shrink as much as 100% cotton will, but it may shrink up to as much as 3%.

How to Shrink a 70% Cotton/30% Polyester Blend

Cotton and polyester blends can be shrunk with a little heat and water. You should be careful, though, because polyester isn’t as heat resistant as cotton. Even though the percentage of polyester is small, too much heat can still damage the polyester fibers in the fabric. Follow these steps to shrink a 70% cotton/30% polyester blend.

  1. Fill a washbasin with enough warm water to cover the hat or other item you want to shrink.
  2. Push the item under the water and hold it there until enough water is absorbed that the item can stay underwater by itself.
  3. Soak the item for 15 minutes. If the water starts to feel cold, add warm water until the water in the washbasin begins to feel warm again.
  4. Take the item out of the water. Lay it on top of a towel or another absorbent cloth. In the case of a hat, lay it as flat as you can make it without damaging the shape.
  5. Roll up the item inside the towel and press on it until you’ve squeezed out as much excess water as you can.
  6. Put the item in the dryer.
  7. Run the dryer on a gentle cycle using cool air. Hot air can be too hot for polyester, damaging the fibers.
  8. Check the dryer occasionally. According to Whirlpool, you should check it around every five minutes. The item should be removed as soon as it gets dry to avoid wrinkling or losing shape.

How to Shrink a 50% Wool 50% Polyester Hat

Shrink fitted hat

Shrinking wool can be tricky because it’s really easy to shrink it too much. However, the high percentage of polyester in a 50/50 wool and polyester blend means that it might not shrink as much. There is still no way to determine an exact amount of shrinkage, according to Tenth Street Hats.

With that being said, shrinking anything that has even a small percentage of wool needs to be done carefully. Here are two methods you can try to shrink a 50% wool/50% polyester hat.

The Washing Machine

Follow these steps to shrink a 50% wool/50% polyester hat.

  1. Set the load size to “small”.
  2. Select the gentle cycle.
  3. Set the water temperature to warm to keep the wool from shrinking too much.
  4. Dry in the dryer on low heat, checking it every five minutes to see how it fits.
  5. Once it fits, allow it to air dry.

The Shower

You can also try to shrink a wool and polyester hat by wearing it in the shower.

Before we get into how to do this, there are some precautions you should be aware of:

  • Shower in warm water, not hot.
  • Do not get soap on the hat.

Here’s how to shrink a hat in the shower.

  1. Stand under the shower for five minutes to allow water to soak the hat.
  2. Gently massage the hat while it soaks to mimic the agitation of the washing machine.
  3. Use a towel to dry the hat and remove excess water.
  4. Wear the hat as it dries to maintain shape, or use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.


Hopefully, this article helped you learn how to shrink a fitted hat. No matter what method you choose, remember to follow the steps carefully to avoid damaging the hat or shrinking it too much. If you enjoyed the article, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!