Do Moisture-Wicking Shirts Shrink?

Moisture-wicking shirts are the favorite for especially those who are into sweat-evoking exercises that make the skin demand breathable comfort wear throughout the routine. For sportsmen, these shirts are inevitable that they are one of the first things included in a gym bag. 

As these shirts are designed to absorb moisture, there often arises the question of whether this can make them shrink and leave them unfit for the user.

Moisture-wicking shirts do not shrink when they are used. They tend to keep their form intact while washed in normal temperature water as well. It is heat that can make these shirts shrink as the material used is synthetic fiber. In fact, there are situations when heat is applied to shrink these shirts for better utility.

Do Moisture-Wicking Shirts Shrink

What is a moisture-wicking shirt made of?

The shirts are crafted to suit the body that is sweaty and hence the material used for making these shirts is highly capable of absorbing the perspiration and letting it out for evaporation. Most of the moisture-wicking shirts are made of 100% polyester while others are a blend of polyester and cotton. 

Polyester shirts due to the extreme silky nature and light texture help to keep the wetness at bay. The level of absorption depends on the content of polyester in the fabric.

That is, a 100% polyester shirt is more effective in absorbing sweat than a shirt made of 50% cotton and 50% polyester. As the dampness would be almost null, the shirts stay fresh and stink-free post-exercise.

Moreover, the smooth fabric allows air to flow through it giving space for the skin to breathe. These shirts are also called ‘dri-fit’ shirts.

The nature of the synthetic fiber ensures a long life span to the apparel made out of it. These shirts, therefore, last longer despite the number of times and kind of activities they become a part of.

Polyester, therefore, is a reliable material in many ways and hence the shirts made out of them never go out of demand.

Do moisture-wicking shirts shrink when washed in cold water?

No, dri fit shirts are not prone to shrinking when washed in cold water as they do not contract the material. Most of the shirts come with a label that instructs the buyer how to wash the clothes in ways that cannot affect the texture.

The labels show the content of each material and mention how the cloth can be maintained based on the proportions of each material. For shirts completely made from polyester, the cleaning can be done with cold water without fear of the material changing its nature. 

Polyester gives the luxury of flexibility for the user. The material, unlike cotton, is not easily crushed nor does it tend to stay in a definite shape when pulled or stretched. If stretched, it comes back to its real shape within no time.

See also: Best Work Shirts for Hot Weather (Long and Short Sleeved)

When do dri fit shirts shrink?

Dri fit shirt shrinks when heat touches the fabric. This does not mean the normal lukewarm water but a temperature much higher. Hot water makes the fabric contract leading to the whole cloth getting shrunk.

Hence, most sports shirts are advised to be either washed in cold or lukewarm water based on the mix of material used. 

Moreover, drying the fabric at a high temperature is enough to cause the same result. If the temperature is higher, say close to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, you risk melting the fabric itself. 

Therefore, one needs to be extra careful not to go overboard while drying moisture-wicking shirts in the washing machine. Some tips you need to remember to avoid any adverse results while drying these clothes are:

      • Do not let the cloth stay inside the dryer post the process for too long
      • Set the temperature low before starting to machine dry the shirt
      • If possible let the shirt air dry as it does not take much time for the material to get devoid of water completely
      • Do not let too much sun while drying the shirt for this may lead to fading of the color.

See also: Does Regular Shirt Work as Undershirt for Sweating?

How to unshrink my shrunken dri fit shirt?

So what if you mistakenly shrunk your favorite workout shirt? Despite taking all the precautions you ended up shrinking it and now you are clueless as to what to do. Well, fret not for there are quick methods to rectify the mistake. Let’s see what those are:

Step 1: Put your shrunk moisture-wicking shirt in a bucket or a tub and fill it with lukewarm water.

Step 2: Add a bit of shampoo or conditioner to the water and let the shirt soak for 20-30 minutes.

Step 3: After the soaking is done, take the shirt out and gently squeeze to let the water out. Do not rinse the cloth, for this harms the effectiveness of the trick.

Step 4: Lay the shirt inside a towel and roll it to let more water out. 

Step 5: Take another dry towel and lay the shirt on it while you stretch it enough to reach its real size. Place a weight of some sort on the stretched areas and let it air dry.

When dried, you will have your favorite workout shirt in its real size. 

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When will you have to shrink your moisture-wicking shirt?

Yes, you read that right. Shrinking the shirt purposely is also a thing. The situation arises when you get a shirt that is a size or two bigger than your body size.

In such a case, the best way to get past the situation is to return the product and get the right size. But this might not always be an option.

What if the store that you ordered from does not have an exchange policy? So the only way to deal with the pickle is by making the shirt shrink.

You can shrink a moisture-wicking shirt by using the same method that accidentally reduces the size – by applying heat. 

Applying heat can be done in different ways. They are:

1.) Washing machine saves a lot of effort

Is one of the aids that can help in shrinking your shirt. Put the shirt in a load and set the temperature of water high but not too high for the fabric to melt.

Keep the temperature below 230 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat thus applied is enough to get your shirt smaller in no time.

2.) Manual wash offers better convenience

Keep the shirt inside a bucket of hot water and let it soak for 20 minutes. As the heat takes its effect the shirt will shrink in no time.

Unlike machine wash, this method allows you to check-in between to see the effect making it more convenient.

3.) A hot dryer for a faster result

As the sole purpose of a hot dryer is to dry a cloth, setting it at a high temperature and leaving a polyester shirt in it for some time can easily result in its shrinkage. Ensure that the temperature is not too high.

4.) A hot iron for perfecting the result

If you are still not satisfied with the extent of shrinking, a hot iron can come to the rescue. With a hot iron, one can easily allow heat in the needed areas and control the shrinkage thereby perfecting the cloth in the way he needs.

See also: Best No-Iron Shirts for Work


It is wrong to say moisture-wicking shirts do not shrink. While their nature is smooth and silky and maintains the texture in cold water, these shirts can shrink when they are in contact with high temperatures while washing or drying.

So next time you put your workout shirt in the laundry remember to keep the temperature settings of the washing machine low.

Do visit my other blogs and learn more such tips!

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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