Can You Put Shrinky Dinks In The Microwave?

Shrinky Dinks are known as a brand of printable plastic craft toys. Here’s the scoop on can you put shrinky dinks in the microwave!

They have been a popular crafting material for decades, providing endless creative possibilities.

These thin sheets of polystyrene plastic are designed to shrink and thicken from their original size when exposed to heat.

This makes them the perfect type of craft for creating dog tags, ornaments, lapel pins, key chains, zipper pulls, and other unique crafts.

While there is no doubt that these versatile and easy-to-use materials are a favorite among DIY enthusiasts, the question arises: can you put DIY Shrinky Dinks in the microwave to achieve the mysterious shrinking process and get desired shrinkage?

The answer to this question is no, Shrinky Dinks should not be placed in the microwave.

The reason behind this is that microwaves heat items differently than a standard oven, which could prevent the plastic from shrinking properly.

Instead, it is a good idea to heat your Shrink Dinks in a conventional oven or toaster oven on a baking sheet, where the temperature can be more accurately controlled and monitored.

This will ensure even shrinkage and the best results for your projects.

Oven Vs Microwave

Oven: Pros and Cons


  • Ovens provide even heat distribution, which is ideal for properly shrinking Shrinky Dinks.
  • Using an oven, especially a toaster oven, as the heat source allows for better control over the temperature and baking time.
  • Ovens, typically preheated to 325°F – 350°F, are a recommended and common method for baking shrink plastic.


  • Longer preheating time compared to microwaves.
  • Ovens consume more energy than microwaves.

Microwave: Pros and Cons


  • Microwaves offer quicker heating times and high heat than ovens.
  • Some sources claim that it is possible to make Shrinky Dinks using a microwave, but the success of this method might be inconsistent.


  • Microwaves do not provide even heat distribution, and this might result in uneven shrinkage or potential damage to the shrink plastic.
  • Microwaves heat food differently than conventional ovens, making it an unsuitable method for shrinking Shrinky Dinks for many people.

Alternative Methods: Heat Gun

An alternative to using an oven or a microwave is a heat gun or even a blow dryer.

These tools can be utilized to shrink Shrinky Dinks without the need for an oven or microwave, ensuring an even and consistent result.

Materials and Tools

Plastic Types for Shrinky Dinks

Shrinky Dinks and shrinky paper are made from specific types of thin plastic that come in thin layers. Polyvinal chloride is a well known plastic and is also used with shrinky dinks.

The plastic pieces can be turned into all different kinds of plastic shapes creating a fun craft with so many options.

Primarily #6 plastic is used, which shrinks and hardens when heated. While some people have experimented with using #1 and #5 plastic shrink paper, which is a thicker piece of plastic.

Although, the result using #1 and #5 of the shrink plastic sheet may not be as consistent or successful.

 Here are the main types of special plastic sheets used for plastic shrinks:

  • #6 plastic: The most common and recommended type for Shrinky Dinks.
  • #1 and #5 plastic: Not ideal, but some have tried using these with mixed results.

Markers and Coloring Options

To create vibrant and colorful homemade Shrinky Dinks, the first thing to do is use various coloring tools.

While certain options work better on specific plastic types, here are some popular choices for your shrinky dink craft:

  • Colored pencils: Best for the rough side of plastic sheets, after lightly sanding them.
  • Sharpie or permanent markers: Ideal for smooth sides of plastic sheets.

You may also use paint, clear nail polish, or mod podge as the final step for added shine and protection after baking and cooling the Shrinky Dink.

This will help create a crystal clear shrink you love. Or for a frosted shrink look add a bit of white paint to your clear nail polish or hod podge. 

Crafting Tools and Supplies

Preparing and customizing Shrinky Dinks requires a few essential tools and supplies:

  • Hole puncher: To make holes for attaching jump ring, charms, or keychains.
  • Aluminum foil or non-stick aluminum foil: To create a flat surface for your Shrinky Dinks during the heating process. Alternatively, you can use baking paper or parchment paper.
  • Crafting scissors: For cutting the plastic into desired shapes.
  • Hair dryer or heat gun: Although microwaving Shrinky Dinks is not an option, alternative heating methods like a hair dryer, blow dryer, or heat gun can be used. Using a CrockPot is another method for evenly heating your creations.
  • Plastic Containers: Once you have created your shrinky dinks, store leftover materials, or creations in a plastic container to use later or as a gift. 

When working with Shrinky Dinks, remember to follow instructions for the specific type of plastic and coloring method you are using.

Be aware that microwaving is not recommended, as it does not heat shrink plastic effectively.

Preparation and Designing

Creating and Printing Designs

To start creating your own Shrinky Dinks, first, find a design or template that you want to use. Looking online for shrinky dink plastic ideas is a great way to find a design you love.

There are a few different ways to include it. You can first draw your own design, print it onto a polystyrene sheet, or find a template online.

Remember to print the design on the rough side and not the smooth side of the sheet to ensure the ink adheres properly.

If you’re using a printer, ensure it’s compatible with the material and ink, as regular ink may not work with the polystyrene sheets.

Some printers have different printer settings when using different materials. Remember to have fun and put your personal twists on it when designing your own real shrinky dinks. 

Coloring and Decorating Shrinky Dinks

Once you have your design printed, it’s time to add some color to your Shrinky Dinks. There are several options to color your small plastic figurine:

  • Markers: Sharpie markers and other certain types work well for coloring Shrinky Dinks. They provide vibrant colors and won’t smudge during the shrinking process.
  • Colored pencils: If you prefer a more soft and subtle effect, use colored pencils on the rough side of the sheet. Ensure to sand the surface lightly if it’s a standard clear sheet to let the pencil color transfer easily.
  • Paint: Some people use paint to color their Shrinky Dinks. However, it’s essential to use a suitable paint type that won’t peel or crack during the shrinking process. Using acrylic paint pens is always a great way to add a personal twist.

Be sure to stay away from crayons or oil pastels as they will rub off.

When you’re done coloring, cut out your design, leaving a small margin around the edges.

Place the Shrinky Dinks on a microwave-safe tray, either on aluminum foil,  parchment paper, or wax paper as it prevents the design from sticking to the tray.

Remember to keep a close eye on your Shrinky Dinks during the heating process to avoid overcooking or damage.

By following these preparation and designing steps, you’ll have a unique creation ready to be microwaved and turned into fun, decorative shrink art.

Baking and Shrinking Process

Oven Baking Instructions

To bake your Shrinky Dinks in the oven, start by preheating it to 325°F (163°C).

Place your Shrinky Dinks pieces, colored side up, on a baking tray or cookie sheet covered with foil or brown paper.

Once the oven has reached the proper temperature, place the tray in the oven for 1 to 3 minutes. Initially, the Shrinky Dink plastic will curl up but will flatten back out to its desired shape soon after.

When they have flattened, leave them to bake for an additional 30 seconds before removing them from the oven.

Use a potholder to avoid burns and be careful when handling the hot tray. Let the plastic cool before holding or picking up the shrinky dink.

Sometimes the craft box wil come with a shrinky dink instruction manual to help know you are taking the proper steps and precautions.

Microwave Instructions

Unfortunately, Shrinky Dinks cannot be microwaved, as they will not shrink and may even cause damage to your microwave.

It is essential to follow the oven baking instructions for the best results when working with Shrinky Dinks.

Hair Dryer Technique

Apart from the oven baking method, another way to shrink your Shrinky Dinks is by using a hairdryer. Keep in mind that the results may vary compared to using an oven. To do this:

  1. Place your Shrinky Dinks on a smooth surface that is heat-resistant
  2. Turn on the hairdryer to the highest heat setting
  3. Hold the hairdryer approximately 6 inches away from the Shrinky Dinks and aim it directly at them
  4. Observe as the Shrinky Dinks curl up and start to shrink; it may take longer than if you were using an oven
  5. Let them flatten out and cool down before handling

Remember that the oven baking method is the most recommended for Shrinky Dinks, but you can try the hairdryer technique if you lack access to an oven or prefer a different approach.

Troubleshooting and Tips

Avoiding Common Issues

Flat Shrinky Dinks

To ensure your Shrinky Dinks remain flat after shrinking, place them on a tray with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper.

This helps prevent the shrinkable plastic from sticking to the tray or each other.

If needed, you can gently press the Shrinky Dinks with a folded piece of paper after removing them from the oven to flatten them further.


Curling is a normal part of the shrinking process for Shrinky Dinks, but it’s essential to monitor and address if the plastic curl is becoming too much.

Keep an eye on the Shrinky Dinks while they’re in the oven, and if you notice significant curling, remove the tray and gently press the pieces flat using a folded piece of paper or a non-stick tool.

Let them bake for 30 more seconds after they flatten out.


Bubbles may occur on the surface of Shrinky Dinks during the shrinking process.

To minimize bubbles, try to cut the shrink film smoothly, rounding any sharp corners and trimming off snags before baking.

If bubbles form during baking, you can press them flat using folded paper or a non-stick tool like fine sand paper while the Shrinky Dinks are still hot and pliable.

Color Side Up

Always place the colored side up when laying out your Shrinky Dinks on the tray.

This ensures an even shrinking process and prevents any color transfer to the oven tray or other Shrinky Dinks.

Toxins and Toxicity

Shrinky Dinks are generally safe and non-toxic, but it is always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for baking and handling.

Avoid inhaling any fumes during the baking process and ensure proper ventilation in your work area.

Ingesting small particles or broken pieces may pose a choking hazard, especially for young children, so keep them away from small kids.

Endless Possibilities and DIY Projects

Shrinky Dink Crafts for Kids and Adults

Shrinky Dinks offer a versatile and engaging medium that appeals to both kids and adults alike.

The polystyrene plastic sheets provide a fantastic playground for creativity, allowing children and grown-ups to experiment with various designs and concepts.

There are so many shrinky dink ideas that the possibilities are endless. They also make perfect gifts, whether it be for Mother’s day or a friend’s birthday, you can make a variety of things.

You can even make your children’s creations even more memorable by using a black sharpie and writing the date on the back to remember forever. 

Some popular Shrinky Dink projects include:

  • Jewelry: Create personalized shrinky dink rings, charms, and pendants for necklaces or bracelets.
  • Keychains: Design unique keychains featuring favorite characters, symbols, or initials.
  • Artwork: Craft miniature art pieces, perfect for embellishing notebooks or creating wall displays.

Gift and Retail Ideas

Due to their versatility and easy creation process, Shrinky Dinks have become a fun way for creating heartfelt gifts and unique retail items at no additional cost.

As handmade products continue to gain popularity, charming Shrinky Dink items such as charms, keychains, and jewelry pieces present themselves as a great way for small businesses or hobbyists to sell their works.

When creating numerous at a time, you can store them in clear containers and use them whenever needed. No more running to the store to pick up a giftcard or last minute gift.  

Some notable gift and retail options with Shrinky Dinks include:

  • Custom Jewelry: Offer personalized necklaces or bracelets featuring the buyer’s choice of designs and colors.
  • Themed keychains: Cater to various interests with tailored keychain themes, such as sports teams, hobbies, or holidays.
  • Seasonal ornaments: Create festive Shrinky Dink ornaments for holiday decorations or sentimental keepsakes.

Homemade Shrinky Dinks

You can even make your own homemade shrinky dinks using materials from your recycle bin like plastic water bottles or egg cartons.

Be sure to remove all labels and stickers attached to the recycled plastic. Find a flat section of the plastic and cut the desired size and shape.

Draw or trace on the plastic whatever design you choose. Heat in the oven, with a blow dryer, or in the toaster oven. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to the question of whether you can put Shrinky Dinks in the microwave, several considerations and factors must be taken into account.

Shrinky Dinks, a popular craft material, are typically designed to shrink and harden when exposed to heat.

While they can be safely used in conventional ovens, microwaving Shrinky Dinks is not recommended. Microwaves heat food by exciting water molecules.

Since Shrinky Dinks are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or other types of plastic, they do not contain enough water molecules to effectively heat and shrink in a microwave.

Attempting to microwave Shrinky Dinks may result in uneven shrinking or even damage to the material.

To achieve the best results with Shrinky Dinks, it is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which typically involve using a conventional oven and fine sandpaper for design shrink.

By respecting the recommended guidelines, craft enthusiasts can enjoy the creative process of transforming Shrinky Dinks into unique and colorful creations, such as jewelry pieces or a personalized gift card, while ensuring their safety and maintaining the integrity of the craft.

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