Do Workout Clothes Shrink in the Dryer?

Have you ever put your workout clothes in the dryer only to find them tighter than before? Here’s what you need to know about why this happens and how to prevent it.

Understanding Fabric Types

Knowing the fabric type of your workout clothes is key to preventing shrinking in the dryer. Different fabrics react differently to heat and will shrink or hold their shape accordingly, so it’s important to be aware of the materials your clothes are made from. Let’s take a look at the different fabric types and how they respond to heat.

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers such as cotton and wool make great choices for exercise wear. They are soft, warm, and absorb sweat. However, it is important to note that natural fabrics like cotton are prone to shrinking in the dryer. To keep your clothes from shrinking – make sure you always check the label!

Cotton: It’s a lightweight, breathable fabric which makes it perfect for everyday wear or working out. Cotton wicks moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable while exercising. The downside of cotton is that it can shrink if dried at too high a heat or left in the dryer too long.

Wool: Wool is known for its thermal insulation properties. This makes it ideal for cold weather workouts since it absorbs and stores heat from your body but also releases moisture vapor when you’re sweating heavily. It will also resist shrinking in most cases as long as temperatures remain regulated during washing and drying cycles.

Linen: Linen is a durable fabric that has been used in clothing for centuries — It’s non-allergenic, breathable and extremely absorbent — making it great to wear while exercising because of its ability to protect against bacteria growth! Unfortunately linen will wrinkle rather quickly after laundry so if frequent washing won’t factor into regular wear, this could be less of an issue unless wearing around town or traveling with your garments rather than just working out in them regularly!

Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic fibers, including nylon, polyester and spandex, are often used to make workout clothes. These fabrics are lightweight and breathable and help to keep you cool and dry during workouts. They also dry quickly, making them perfect for working out in hot weather. Synthetic fabrics usually do not shrink when washed in hot water and dried in the dryer — but it is always best to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions. To keep your synthetic workout fabrics looking their best, hang them up or lay them flat to dry whenever possible.

How Does Heat Affect Fabric?

Heat can certainly have a dramatic impact on fabric when it comes to drying clothes. Different materials respond differently to different levels of heat and it’s important to understand just how much damage the heat can cause. In particular, heat can shrink fabrics, warp them, and even damage color fastness. Let’s take a closer look at how heat affects fabric when drying clothes.

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers, such as cotton and linen, tend to react differently to heat than synthetic fabrics do. Depending on the type of natural fabric and the type of heat applied — such as ironing, steaming or using a dryer — it may shrink, fade or change shape. Natural fabrics are often sensitive to extreme warmth; this means that they can suddenly shrink when heated up beyond a certain temperature. For example, if you accidently toss a cotton item in the dryer on too high of heat settings — even for a few minutes—It is likely to shrink substantially.

Therefore, natural materials require more consideration when exposed to extreme temperatures. To avoid shrinking an article of clothing, make sure to read through the garment label before any cleaning or alteration. Many natural fibers require only line drying and low-temperature ironing so take extra care with these items.

Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic fibers are created from chemicals, instead of natural sources like plant or animal fiber. They can be made to be thermal resistant and many are particularly durable, stretchable or even waterproof. Polyester is a popular choice for synthetic fabrics as it is lightweight and wears well over time. Most synthetic fabrics can withstand high heat, but may shrink during a hot cycle. To avoid this risk, always wash your workout clothes in cold water and hang dry them rather than put them in the dryer.

How to Care for Workout Clothes

Workout clothes are an essential part of your exercise wardrobe. With the right fabrics and stitching, they can help keep you cool, dry, and comfortable while exercising. However, if you don’t take proper care of them, you can quickly ruin them. First, let’s talk about how to care for your workout clothes so that they last for as long as possible.


For the health of your workout wear, it should be washed after every use. This helps reduce bacteria build up and keeps your clothes fresh and smelling nice. To ensure that your compression, nylon, and spandex fabrics last a long time, there are several precautions you can take when washing them.

When you wash your clothes in a washing machine, it’s best to use a gentle cycle with cool or warm water and mild detergent. Be sure to close all zippers and Velcro straps before washing to prevent snagging on other items in the load. If handwashing is necessary, you should use a soft detergent-free soap like Woolite or an athletic laundry detergent such as Nikwax TechWash specifically designed for athletic wear. It’s also important to rinse thoroughly after using soap to remove all detergent residue.

If possible, avoid using bleach which can weaken the fibers in synthetic fabrics over time as well as reduce their ability to wick moisture away from your skin. Color-safe bleach may be used occasionally but it’s best avoided when possible. Another good practice is not to pour liquid fabric softeners directly onto workout clothes before they are washed – they can damage the material’s ability to stretch properly which will dramatically decrease its life span.


Drying your workout clothes is a very important step in taking care of them properly. You should dry your workout clothes according to the washing instructions written on the garment’s label. If you’re in doubt, hang them up to dry or lay them flat. When using a dryer, avoid high temperature settings which can lead to shrinkage. Keep in mind that some materials will shrink more than others and therefore require a lower drying temperature setting. To protect colors from fading, select a cool tumble-dry setting and check your garments for length and size after drying. In addition to this, it is important not to overload your dryer as this can cause excessive shrinkage as well as damage due to friction and intense heat.

Tips for Preventing Shrinkage

It is often a common concern for many people when machine washing and drying their workout clothes, as they are afraid the clothes might not fit properly afterwards. Fortunately, there are certain techniques you can use to make sure that your workout clothes don’t shrink in the dryer. In this article, we will discuss some of the tips and tricks to help you prevent shrinkage of your workout clothes.

Wash on a Gentle Cycle

When cleaning clothing, it is recommended to always select the delicate cycle on your washing machine. This will help to keep the fabrics from agitating too much and possibly resulting in shrinking or snagging. The fabrics in a workout outfit should also be turned inside out before putting them into the washing machine. This extra precaution can prevent colors from fading and fabric from pilling during washes. To further anyone concerned about shrinking, cold water is best for washable workout attire because it minimizes shrinkage as well as helps to retain bright colors and material strength. The clothes should then be hung or laid to air dry since heat can cause further shrinkage or damage to some fabrics.

A mild detergent should also be used when washing workout clothing; special detergents made specifically for exercise gear may not be necessary but they do provide an added layer of protection against sweat oils and odors that cling onto synthetic fibers in particular. If hand-washing is preferred, never ever scrub the suit with a brush or washboard — use only gentle soap-based detergents designed especially for lingerie and hand washables when cleaning any kind of suit worn near the skin.

Avoid High Heat Settings

When trying to prevent shrinkage, start by avoiding high temperature settings in the wash. Hot water can cause materials to shrink, and so can a hot dryer setting. To minimize shrinking, cool and lukewarm water should be used for both washing and rinsing. Additionally, consider using cold water on any difficult stains that need pre-treating to avoid heat damage.

Once the clothing is washed, it should be dried in a low heat setting or on an air-dry cycle if possible. If you’re worried about colors bleeding or running in a cold wash cycle, you can use a cooler temperature or switch to an air-dry option while adding some liquid fabric softener in place of detergent as further protection against color fading or running.

Air drying is always your safest option as it keeps your workout clothes from becoming misshapen or bunched up and eliminates the risk of high temperature damage completely. If you do choose to tumble dry on low heat or delicate cycles, keep checking back periodically to make sure everything looks okay after each cycle ends. This will help you catch any damage before the item becomes permanently shrunken and misshapen.

Line Dry or Tumble Dry on Low Heat

When drying your workout clothes, the best solution is to hang them up on a line or drying rack indoors. This method will prevent any shrinkage while still allowing wrinkles to be removed. If you are short on space or the weather isn’t cooperating, you can opt for a low heat setting on your dryer. Be sure to check the garment tags for any specific instructions about temperature settings and use the lowest setting that won’t damage the fabric.

Whenever possible, try to avoid high heat settings as this can cause clothes to shrink in length and width. Additionally, take out your garments from the dryer shortly after it stops; this will help minimize wrinkling and also preserves shape with most fabrics. It is also a great idea to shake garments before you hang them. This will loosen up fibers so they more easily conform back into their original shape once dried.


In conclusion, it is possible for your workout clothing to shrink in the dryer if you are not careful. It is highly recommended that you read the care instruction labels on your exercise apparel carefully before laundering it, and use a lower temperature setting if applicable. Avoid using harsh detergents and fabric softeners, as well as any extra wash cycles such as pre-soaking or boiling. Finally, hang drying your clothes is always preferable to using the dryer because it preserves the colour and texture of your garments for longer. By following these tips and taking special care of your garments, you can keep them looking new for years to come without having to worry about shrinkage in the dryer.

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