How to Shrink Acrylic Yarn: Simple Steps for Perfect Results

Dive into understanding how to shrink acrylic yarn, because transforming your oversized knits into the perfect fit is both a fascinating and straightforward process.

Acrylic yarn, known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear, is typically resistant to shrinkage. However, there are certain techniques that can help you achieve a smaller size if needed.

In this article, we’ll delve into a step-by-step guide detailing how to shrink acrylic yarn effectively. From the right water temperature to the appropriate drying method, we’ll cover all the essential details to ensure your acrylic yarn projects maintain their shape and size, even after you’ve intentionally shrunk them.

Keep reading to gain a comprehensive understanding of the process.

Key takeaways:

  • Acrylic yarn is resistant to shrinkage but can shrink under certain circumstances.
  • Acrylic yarn typically shrinks by 1 to 3 percent, if at all.
  • Washing with cold water and air drying can prevent shrinkage.
  • Use high heat and check progress when shrinking in the dryer.
  • The process of shrinking acrylic yarn cannot be reversed.

Characteristics of Acrylic Yarn

characteristics of acrylic yarn

Acrylic yarn is known for its durable, lightweight, and easy-care properties. It’s a synthetic fiber, highly resistant to wear and tear, therefore a popular choice for everyday knit or crochet items.

Unlike natural fibers, it retains its color well over time and doesn’t shrink or felt easily. This type of yarn is machine washable and can even stand up to a tumble in the dryer. Given its man-made nature, it’s also hypoallergenic, making it ideal for those with wool sensitivities.

Despite these advantages, it’s less breathable than natural fibers, which we’ll explore in reference to its behavior when subjected to heat and washing. Be sure to understand these characteristics when working with acrylic yarn, as they directly impact its suitability for certain projects and care requirements.

Does Acrylic Yarn Shrink?

does acrylic yarn shrink

Indeed, it’s common for acrylic yarn to shrink under certain circumstances. With its synthetic fibers, this material responds differently than natural types such as wool or cotton.

Heat in particular can drastically modify its dimensions. However, it’s essential to remember that every brand and type of acrylic yarn may respond differently to heat, so the amount of shrinkage varies.

Two major factors come into play: washing and drying. Exposure to hot water from washing or to high temperatures during a drying cycle can result in noticeable shrinkage. However, the impact of each depends on additional elements, such as the duration and intensity of heat exposure.

In general, lowering these variables decreases the chance of shrinkage. With this in mind, managing how you care for your acrylic yarn can greatly influence how much, if at all, it shrinks.

How Much Will Acrylic Yarn Shrink?

how much will acrylic yarn shrink

Acrylic yarn is synthetic, therefore, its ability to shrink significantly is less than that of natural fibers like wool or cotton. Typically, it may shrink by a mere 1 to 3 percent, if at all.

This minuscule amount is often unnoticeable in finished projects. In fact, some brands of acrylic yarn are specifically treated to be shrink-resistant, preventing size reduction even when subjected to heat.

Keep in mind, though, that every yarn is unique. As such, the exact amount can vary slightly depending on the quality and specific properties of the yarn in question. These points are essential in assessing just how much shrinkage to expect with acrylic yarn.

Does Acrylic Yarn Shrink in the Wash?

does acrylic yarn shrink in the wash

Acrylic yarn is polymer-based, causing its shape to remain relatively unchanged throughout the washing procedure. Normal washing will not typically contribute to significant shrinkage with this type of yarn.

Cold water, in particular, poses less of a risk. However, intensely heated water combined with a violent agitation of the material could potentially cause some degree of reduction in size. This reduction is not generally guaranteed, nor is it uniform.

Each yarn type, even within the acrylic category, experiences distinct reactions to washing, and the outcome might range from untouched to a modest decrease in size.

Does Acrylic Yarn Shrink in the Dryer?

While acrylic yarn is generally resistant to shrinkage, extreme heat can indeed cause it to contract. Unlike natural fibers, acrylic is a type of plastic, hence it responds distinctly under high temperature.

This is commonly seen in a dryer set to high heat. Too much heat not only shrinks the fabric but can lead to decreased softness and potential melting. Therefore, be careful with the heat settings to ensure the acrylic fiber doesn’t lose its desirable qualities.

It’s always safer to air dry after washing or use the tumble dry setting at very low heat, if needed.

Process to Shrink Acrylic Yarn

To begin, get your acrylic yarn wet. Soak the yarn in a tub or sink filled with lukewarm water and slightly press it to ensure the water permeates its fibers. Do not wring it out; instead, gently squeeze out excess water.

Next, switch to using heat. Lay the damp yarn onto a flat, heat-tolerant surface like a baking sheet. Employ an oven or a hair dryer set to a high heat setting to apply heat evenly over the yarn. Ensure your yarn doesn’t come into direct contact with an open flame to prevent damage or melting.

Monitor the yarn closely for shrinkage. Once you notice the desired size reduction, stop the application of heat and leave the yarn to dry and cool.

Remember, heat is the key element in this process. Control the level of shrinkage by adjusting the amount of heat you apply. Note though, that this method could potentially alter the color or texture of your yarn, so take these factors into consideration before proceeding with this method.

Preventing Acrylic Yarn Shrinking in Laundry

While the deliberate shrinking of acrylic yarn can sometimes be a necessary step, there are indeed situations where maintaining the original size of a knitted or crocheted item is essential. Here are a few practical steps to take in order to do precisely that:

1. Cold Water Wash: Always opt to launder your acrylic yarn items in cold water. Heated water can induce shrinkage in acrylic fibers.

2. Gentle Cycle: Choose a gentle wash cycle to avoid the shaking and spinning that could potentially agitate the acrylic fibers, leading to unwanted shrinkage.

3. Air Dry: Instead of using machine drying, let your acrylic yarn items air dry naturally. Exposure to the heat in a dryer can be especially harsh on acrylic fibers.

4. Flat Drying: For shaped items like sweaters or hats, lay them flat to dry, shaping them as needed. Hanging can stretch the yarn, altering the desired size and fit.

5. Mild Detergent: Use a mild detergent that won’t be harsh on the acrylic fibers. Some detergents contain bleach or other harsh chemicals that may cause shrinkage.

By adhering to these laundry tips, you can efficiently safeguard your acrylic yarn items from unwanted shrinkage and maintain their initial size and form.

Remember, proper care can significantly extend the lifespan of your crafts, enabling you to enjoy them fully for years to come.

Ways to Shrink Acrylic Yarn in the Dryer

Setting the right conditions in your dryer can effectively shrink acrylic yarn. Here’s how:

1. Temperature: Using high heat in the drying process can shrink acrylic yarn. Remember, too high might damage the yarn, so find a balance.

2. Time: Keep an eye on the time your yarn spends in the dryer. The longer the duration, the more it shrinks.

3. Check Progress: It’s vital to inspect the shrinkage progress intermittently. This will prevent over-shrinkage.

4. Drying Method: Lay the yarn flat to dry post the dryer-session. This bidirectional drying process contributes to minimizing further unnecessary shrinking.

5. Repeat the Process: If the desired level of shrinkage is not achieved, feel free to repeat the process.

By understanding these tips, you can better control your yarn size, customizing your crocheting and knitting projects for an ideal fit.


How do you shrink a beanie 100 acrylic?

To shrink a 100% acrylic beanie, you can utilize either boiling water, hot water and detergent, the iron and steam method, or a hot hair dryer.

Can you put acrylic yarn in the dryer?

Yes, acrylic yarn can be put in the dryer as it tends to hold up better when dried at lower temperatures, and the process is typically quicker than hand drying.

Does acrylic shrink like cotton?

Acrylic does not shrink as much as cotton does.

What causes acrylic to shrink?

Acrylic shrinks due to its high affinity for water, leading it to contract when exposed to heat and moisture.

Is it possible to shrink pre-made acrylic yarn garments?

Yes, it is possible to shrink pre-made acrylic yarn garments using a technique involving heat from a washer and dryer.

How does heat impact the durability of acrylic yarn after shrinking?

Heat can significantly reduce the durability of acrylic yarn after shrinking due to changes in the fiber structure that may cause it to become brittle or lose its softness.

Can the process of shrinking acrylic yarn be reversed?

No, the process of shrinking acrylic yarn cannot be reversed.

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