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Does Fleece Shrink? In-Depth Answer & Guide

Fleece is one of the best cold-resistant fabrics a clothing item can be made from. It offers protection, quality, and good looks.

However, one worrying element about the quality of clothes is their resistance to shrinking. So, owners of fleece are curious about this too. Is fleece resistant to shrinking? Does fleece shrink after washing and drying?

Key Takeaways

  • Fleece is a quite good-looking and durable fabric
  • Most of the time it has a low chance of shrinking
  • Cotton-made fleece is more susceptible to shrinking
  • Taking into consideration care instructions can make its good shape last longer

Does fleece shrink? Let’s get to it!

Yes, generally speaking, fleece is prone to shrinkage. Exposed to heat, fleece will get significantly smaller due to the fact that the fabrics that are usually used to blend this type of material are polyester, rayon, or cotton.

If you did not know, there are plenty of types of fleece. Most of the available fleece in the market is made from polyester, but others are made from cotton, bamboo, rayon fleece, etc.

Polyester fleece is quite durable and resists shrinking. On the other hand, cotton fleece is more sensitive, and that makes it prone to shrinking.

Most of the shrinking happens after washing and drying clothes in high temperatures. Fabric fibers, especially cotton fibers tend to relax when exposed to heat and that causes misshaping and shrinking.

It is best to be careful with temperature settings to prevent shrinking. Instructions are most often found on the tag of the clothes. Taking into consideration these precautions you should be good.

Let’s see in the further text what makes fleece shrink, how to do proper care, and how to unshrink it if it already happened to you.

What is fleece?

Fleece is a unique fabric that is praised as an excellent insulator. It is a cozy and soft fabric that is loved to be worn during the winter.

Fleece is most of the time derived from plastic (polyester). It is a lightweight and quite breathable material. Fleece is a great sportswear fabric, considering it dries fast, allows moisture from the inside to evaporate, and simultaneously blocks the humidity from the outside.

As mentioned in the beginning, fleece is also produced from other materials. Fleece can be made from natural fibers, like wool. But there also exist lycra spandex fleece, bamboo fleece, microfleece, sherpa fleece, etc. These all offer different thicknesses and plushness and serve other purposes.

Now, we are going to look at different types of fleece and their sensitivity to shrinking.

Different types of fleece

Generally speaking, man-made fleece is more durable than natural fleece.

Polyester fleece

this type of fleece is soft and quite durable. This kind of fleece should not shrink and can withstand temperatures created in the dryer and the washing machine.


Based on susceptibility to shrinking, one of the most durable fabrics is microfleece. It is also made from polyester but it is much lighter and thinner. It is the most likely to retain its shape even when going through the highest temperatures in the dryer.

Cotton fleece

Fleece made from cotton or other natural fibers is predisposed to shrinking. Even though this process happens after longer times of washing and drying, it should be noted that these fabrics are more prone to lose their shape.


Fleece is used for making jackets, activewear, blankets, covers, etc. Different combinations of materials are used in different cases.

Taking care of fleece

There are some rules to follow to minimize damage to fleece.

It is recommended to use cold or lukewarm water when washing these clothes. Turning the clothes inside out before washing is a protective factor too.

Not using bleach or softeners is mentioned as one of the rules to follow with fleece.

Air-drying is mostly recommended. When you do not have the time or the space, tumble drying it should be done in the lowers heat settings.

Dry cleaning is something you do not do with fleece. Ironing is not recommended too, but if you do it make sure you use lower temperatures.

It is true that following these rules minimizes damage to fleece and makes it last longer.

Shrinking is not the biggest problem that can happen when handling fleece. However, there is a problem that happens often with fleece. After washing fleece in the washing machine, it is more prone to pilling.

To prevent pilling, it is recommended that if you have the conditions and the time to do it, wash fleece in cold water on the hand or a delicate cycle.

Some people want to shrink fleece on purpose. Let’s see some tips if you decide to do it.

How to properly shrink fleece

The best way to shrink fleece is to wash and dry it in high temperatures. You are going to get more results with cotton-made fleece than with polyester ones.

Here you can find some steps you should consider taking doing this procedure.

Starting with warm water first is a good idea to prevent damage and over-shrinking.  If you do not get proper results, continue with higher temperatures.

Same with the dryer too. You should start with medium heat at the beginning. If that does not work use high heat, considering that this can damage your clothes.

Check the clothing item from time to time so it does not get damaged or you do not shrink it more than you need.

After finishing with washing and drying, air dry your fleece.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put fleece in the dryer?

Yes. You can put fleece clothing items in the dryer. However, be careful to set it to low or no heat settings. High temperatures can cause shrinkage and damage to fleece.

Does fleece stretch out?

Yes, fleece has a stretchy knit structure that allows it to stretch.

How do you loosen fleece?

You can use different methods to do this. One way includes using baby shampoo and water to relax the fabric and return it to its original shape.

Final words

A soft to the touch and great insulator from the cold is what makes us love fleece. However, quality fleece offers great durability, and most of the time it does not shrink. Knowing more about this fabric and following the rules we mentioned, your fleece is going to stay great for a long time.