Acrylic Yarn – Guide To This Yarn Material & Best Uses

By Jodie Morgan

| Updated:

Looking for an affordable yarn in many colors? Acrylic fibers might be the perfect choice for you. I explore what acrylic yarn is, and the best ways to use it for knitting.

Acrylic Yarn Feat Img

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I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on May 14, 2023.

Table Of Contents

What Is Acrylic Yarn?

Acrylic yarn is a synthetic fiber sold at affordable prices. This fiber is popular because it’s affordable, warm, durable, and easy to care for. These yarns are practical and great for beginners. It’s available in all colors of the rainbow.

Where It Comes From

Acrylic yarn is made with acrylonitrile, which is derived from petroleum and coal-based chemicals.

How It’s Made Into Yarn

Polymers are formed by treating petroleum chemicals with monomers (a type of molecule). Using an extraction method and spinnerets, the polymer is dissolved and spun into thin fibers. After spinning, these synthetics are washed and stretched. The finished acrylics can be dyed any color.

How To Wash Acrylic Yarn

Here are the care instructions for acrylic fibers. It’s easy to care for and can be machine washed and dried, like superwash merino yarn. Use cold water and a mild detergent. Also, avoid bleach, as it can damage the fibers.

Always check the yarn label for instructions specific to the yarn you’re using.

Does It Shrink When Washed?

Hot water can shrink acrylic yarn. The shrinkage is minimal, but it’s still possible. Excessive heat damages fabric, causing it to melt or stretch.

How To Soften Acrylic Yarn

Here is a quick and easy method to soften acrylic yarn.

  • Fill a basin with lukewarm water
  • Add a capful of fabric softener
  • Soak the yarn for 15 minutes
  • Rinse it in cold water
  • Gently squeeze out the excess water
  • Dry flat

Washing it after you’ve finished knitting always helps!

Pin For Later

Acrylic Yarn Pin

What Do You Use It For?

A durable fiber like acrylic lasts a long time, unlike natural fibers. This makes it good for projects like jackets and hats. It’s also resistant to stretching and shrinking, so it’s a good choice for garments that need to keep their shape.

It’s often used for projects and things like afghans, sweaters, scarves, home decor, pillows, socks, and blankets. It’s especially popular for baby blankets, like chenille yarn is. (For more on which yarn to use for a baby coverlet, see here.)

Common Blends Using This Fiber

Here is a list of common blends using this yarn, and why they’re created. 

  • Acrylic/Wool – This staple blend is warm and has the benefits of both fibers
  • Acrylic/Cotton – This blend is strong, lightweight and can be machine washed

Acrylic yarns blended with silk or nylon are rare.

Where To Find It

Here’s where to find this yarn: at a yarn store or craft stores in your area, at big box stores like Michaels, Walmart and Joann, and in online brand shops. Here are brands or manufacturers of acrylic yarns to try: Red Heart, Berroco, or Caron.

What’s The Price Like?

Acrylic yarns are typically less expensive than other fibers like wool, and it has many of the same properties.

Interesting Facts

Want to know some fascinating tidbits about this material? Impress your friends with these.

  • It was first created in Germany in 1893(1)
  • This fiber is often used to make fake fur
  • It’s also used in making carpets and upholstery fabrics
  • It doesn’t absorb moisture, so it’s used in sportswear

FAQS About Acrylic Yarn

Is Acrylic Yarn Safe For Babies?

Yes, most of these synthetic yarns are safe for babies. I recommend OEKO-TEX® certified yarns that don’t contain harmful levels of irritants, allergens or carcinogens. Brands like Red Heart Saver and Bernat meet these standards.

Is Acrylic Yarn Ethical & Eco-Friendly?

They aren’t biodegradable and are manufactured with chemical processes.

What Can I Make With Leftover Acrylic Yarn?

You can make hats, blankets, afghans, and home décor items.

Is Acrylic Yarn Itchy?

A person with an animal-based allergy won’t be irritated by acrylic and microfiber yarns, since they’re synthetic. Acrylic yarns had a bad reputation for being scratchy. As manufacturing processes have improved, these yarns are softer.  

Is Acrylic Yarn Good For Clothes?

Clothing made from acrylic yarn is durable and washable. This makes it perfect for clothes. 

Is Acrylic Yarn Good For Summer?

I wouldn’t recommend acrylic yarn for summer. Clothes made with acrylic yarn are not as breathable as natural fibers like wool and cotton. It doesn’t wick away moisture and can keep in odors. Not a good choice for the warmer weather.

Is Acrylic Yarn Good For Winter?

Yes, acrylic yarn is good for winter. It’s warm and soft. Also affordable, so making a big cozy blanket is a great idea.

Is Acrylic Or Cotton Yarn Better?

Although acrylic is widely available and affordable, cotton is softer, more durable, and a natural fiber. It comes down to the project you’re creating.

Do Acrylic Yarns Pill?

They pill, so take care when washing and wearing garments made with this fiber.

Can You Dye Acrylic Yarns?

Yes, you can dye acrylic yarns. They accept dye well.


Happy crocheting or knitting! Hope you enjoyed this article. Do you have questions? Please leave them below!


  1. Utah State University Cooperative Extension. “From Fiber To Fabric: Acrylic.” n.d. Accessed October 13, 2022.

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder) | Lives In: Regional Australia

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in regional Australia. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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