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Does Rayon Shrink in the Dryer? Facts & FAQ

woman using the dryer

Rayon fibers are extremely sensitive to heat, so fabrics made of rayon will shrink. Most rayon shrinkage is caused by excessive heat, usually from the dryer. Even drying rayon on the lowest setting often leads to a significant amount of shrinking. Therefore, it is recommended that rayon is not put in the dryer under any settings.

With that said, rayon is simply known for shrinking a lot. Sometimes, this fabric will even shrink when washed in cold water. Hotter water will shrink rayon quite a bit. However, even cold water can lead to some amount of shrinkage. The fibers are extremely sensitive to heat, even a small amount in cold water.

Therefore, washing rayon is quite complicated. You cannot expose it to hardly any heat, or the fibers will shrink significantly.

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How to Prevent Rayon from Shrinking

Luckily, there is a way to wash and dry rayon without causing significant shrinking. Preferably, you should always wash your rayon in cold water and air dry it. However, there is some possibility of shrinkage even with this method. Still, the odds are much lower, and the amount won’t be as significant as washing in warm water or drying in a machine.

Preferably, you should always wash rayon following the directions on the label. However, some of these directions can be so minimized that it may seem like there is no way to wash rayon. Sometimes, it is recommended to spot clean this material by hand and then hang it to dry.

Always avoid hot water, no matter what you do. Ironing and any exposure to heat can be a serious problem. You may even want to avoid hanging the fabric in the sun to dry.

Often, the best way to handle rayon is to expect shrinking, as it practically always happens.

Tiny Fiber in Dryer
Image By: ThamKC, Shutterstock

How Many Times Will Rayon Shrink?

Rayon has an extremely low elastic recovery rate. However, it is often said that it can only shrink about two times. Still, this isn’t for sure. There are a lot of differences in how rayon can shrink depending on the design of the fabric. Sometimes, companies will purposefully shrink the fabric before selling the product to prevent extra shrinking once the customer receives it.

However, it does depend on the company and the fabric.

Either spot-cleaning this fabric or dry cleaning it is recommended due to the high possibility that it will shrink. Don’t assume that your fabric cannot shrink anymore because it has already shrunk. Rayon is exceptionally prone to shrinking and can do so multiple times.

How Do You Dry Rayon Without Shrinking It?

The only way to dry rayon without shrinking it is to hang it and wait. You cannot use any heat to speed up the process, as this will lead to shrinking. You can hang them up somewhere out of the sun with good airflow. Usually, by a window inside is okay, as it is outside in some dependable shade.

Alternatively, you can lay the fabric on a dry towel and allow it to air dry, flipping occasionally. Airflow is still essential in this regard, so consider opening a window or turning on a fan. Restricted airflow can cause wet clothes to become smelly and prevent them from drying promptly.

There is no way to dry rayon quickly without shrinking it. Therefore, we highly recommend keeping the longer drying time in mind when planning events. Wash your rayon clothes with plenty of time left for them to dry.

Rayon Shrink
Image By: Pixabay

Which Shrinks More? Cotton or Rayon?

Rayon shrinks more than cotton by a large degree. While cotton is known for shrinking somewhat, rayon often shrinks twice as much as cotton. Therefore, rayon can quickly shrink many sizes, making it unwearable. This isn’t an amount of shrinking that can be covered up easily or ignored.

On the other hand, wool tends to shrink the least. Polyester shrinks somewhere close to wool, though it usually shrinks a bit more. Either way, these materials can often be washed normally, as the average person won’t notice such a small amount of shrinking.

This is not the case with rayon and cotton, though. These materials are sensitive to heat and can easily shrink several sizes.

Can You Air Dry Rayon in the Dryer?

No. It is not recommended to put rayon in the dryer at all. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, some dryers produce a small amount of heat when “air drying.” This is an extremely small amount of heat, but it could be enough to shrink rayon. Even if the dryer isn’t purposefully producing heat, the small amount of friction created as the dryer spins can produce heat.

Secondly, rayon is much weaker when it is wet than when dry. Therefore, the spinning of the dryer can damage the fabric. Instead, you should hang or lay the fabric down to dry with good airflow. You don’t want it spinning and potentially becoming damaged.

Pink hair dryer
Image By: Olha Solodenko, Shutterstock

What Happens If You Machine Dry Rayon?

Rayon will shrink in the dryer. This isn’t a matter of whether it may shrink or likely shrink. Instead, it will shrink a significant amount if put into a warm dryer. Even on “cool,” the fabric may still shrink a bit – or become damaged due to the movement of the dryer. Therefore, you should never place rayon in a dryer. Instead, you’ll need to hang it up to dry or place it on a dry towel and occasionally flip it.

We do not even recommend steaming rayon in most cases. After all, steam is warm, which can cause the rayon to shrink. Out of all fabrics utilized for clothes, rayon shrinks the most. Therefore, you should be extra careful with it.

Many people prefer to get their rayon professionally cleaned. Often, this is a great option, as the material is very sensitive. If you have the time and money, we highly recommend getting your rayon dry-cleaned.

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Rayon is extremely sensitive to heat. Studies have found that it shrinks the most compared to any other fabric commonly used for clothing. It even shrinks more than cotton, which is well-known for shrinking several sizes in some circumstances.

For this reason, we highly recommend never exposing rayon to heat. If you must wash it, you should preferably get it dry-cleaned by a professional. However, even this may lead to a small amount of shrinkage. For those extra cautious, we recommend only spot-cleaning and then laying the material down to dry on a towel. This way, the material won’t be exposed to hot water or steam.

If you must machine-wash rayon at home, do so in cold water. Then, hang the material up to dry or lay it on a clean towel.

Featured Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock


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