Rubber is a material that manufacturers use to make a wide variety of materials, from gloves and shoes to gaskets and rubber bands. With continual use, these objects get stretched out and no longer work efficiently. We’ll show you how to shrink rubber materials back to their original shape and size.
While some rubber items are visible, such as a silicone rubber phone case or pair of rubber shoes, some are less noticeable. Your home appliances, car parts, and plumbing all contain rubber parts as well. Many of these parts stop working properly, and often, the culprit is something as simple as a stretched-out rubber component.
Fortunately, rubber molecules have properties that cause the material to shrink when you expose it to extreme heat. How much the rubber material shrinks depends on the form of heat, whether it is hot air or water, and how much heat you apply.
How to Shrink Different Types of Rubber Materials
There are several different ways to shrink rubber, and it comes down to the size of your item and how much shrinkage it requires.
Shrinking an item too much or not enough is not useful for getting the job done right. Here are the most common techniques for shrinking rubber, whether it’s a small o-ring, rubber band, or large pairs of shoes.
Ways to Shrink Rubber using Hot Water
Of course, when you clean rubber car mats, you usually don’t want to shrink them, so don’t use hot water.
Super Glue is sometimes a quick fix for shrinking items to size but one of the best ways to shrink rubber is to place it in hot tap water for a few minutes.
The heat causes the material to shrink, and the water prevents cracking. This technique works great for gloves and other rubber items as well.
Hold the rubber material beneath a faucet running with hot tap water. Try to use water that is hot enough to tolerate without hurting your hands. If the water is too hot, place the plug in the sink and fill it with hot water.
Soak the item in the sink for ten to 15 minutes before removing it. Dry the rubber material thoroughly with a towel and test it for proper shrinkage.
A similar process is used for shrinking other materials, too. Can you shrink rayon and polyester? Yes, it’s possible to shrink most fabrics and many other items. The right technique makes all the difference.
How to Shrink Rubber with Boiling Water
If you try the hot water technique to shrink rubber items and it doesn’t work, the next best alternative is to crank up the heat and boil it for a few minutes to get optimal shrinkage.
Pour water into a large pot and set it over high heat on the stove. After the water boils, place the rubber item into the boiling water. If you are shrinking a small object such as a seal, gasket, or o-ring, leave it in the water for one minute before removing it with a pair of tongs.
Larger items such as a pair of rubber gloves require a longer boiling time of five to ten minutes. Use the tongs to remove the rubber item and place it on a towel to cool before checking it for shrinkage.
Shrinking Rubber Materials with a Hair Dryer
It is not necessary to use hot water to shrink rubber materials. Dry heat works well at shrinking rubber gloves, rubber bands, and any new rubber materials that require shrinking, as well as being one of the ways to shrink nylon and some other fabrics. This process doesn’t work adequately on old rubber items, however.
Lay the rubber item on a baking sheet or another heat-proof surface. Set the dryer to the highest heat and blow the hot air across the surface of the rubber uniformly.
If the rubber item needs to shrink in place, use the dryer to heat shrink it where it sits to create an airtight seal.
Shrinking a Silicone Rubber Phone Case
If you purchase a new silicone case for your phone and it is a bit too loose, or your old phone case is stretched out, try using high temperatures to shrink the material to the perfect size for your phone.
Remove your phone from the case, take off any plastic pieces attached to the case, and set the phone aside. Boil a large pot of water and use a pair of tongs to submerge the phone case in the boiling water.
Make sure not to let the case touch the bottom or sides of the pan. Hold the phone case in the water for 30 seconds to one minute, and transfer it to a bowl of cold water. While the case cools off in the water, it contracts and shrinks.
Once it cools enough to handle, remove the case from the water and pat it dry with a clean towel. The material continues to shrink as it cools further, so fit the phone in the case to get a perfect fit while it shrinks.
How to Shrink Rubber Shoes
While sneakers are popular and it’s important to know how to shrink tennis shoes if you need to, rubber shoes are all the rage these days. They are fashionable and comfortable – until they get stretched out. If you have a favorite pair of Crocs or another brand of sandal or shoe in need of shrinking, try using your clothes dryer.
Place your rubber shoes into the clothes dryer and toss in a couple of towels to help diffuse the heat evenly. Check the shoes every five minutes and test them for adequate shrinkage.
Continue heating them in the dryer until they shrink back to the proper fit. If the shoes do not shrink enough with dry heat, try spraying them with clean water before placing them in the dryer.
It’s important not to use the dryer when cleaning Vans® shoes or other types of shoewear as you may damage the upper material in the process. Stick to air-drying for shoes.
Rubber materials stretch over time, but that material is just as easy to shrink as long as you use the right techniques.
Rather than purchasing another new item, consider using high temperatures to restore the size and shape, whether it is a rubber seal or favorite pair of rubber shoes.
We hope you enjoyed learning how to shrink rubber items back to their original size, and we’d love it if you’d share our rubber shrinking tips with your family and friends on Facebook and Pinterest.