How To Wash Jeans Without Shrinking

So, you have found this amazing new pair of jeans that cling on to you like your second skin and have the right length. Congratulations because finding such a perfect pair is anything but easy. But then, you went and put your denim through the washing machine and dryer. Now, they have shrunk so much that you can hardly fit into them.

Sounds like a familiar situation that many of your jeans had to go through in the past, right? Well, not anymore! All you need to know are the right tips to keep your jeans perfectly fitted for the years to come.

Do Jeans Shrink In The Washer?

Yes. At the time of spinning the fibers into yarns and knitting or weaving yarns into fabrics, the fabrics and yarns remain under some amount of tension.

As the fabric goes wet at the time of tumble drying or washing, this tension finds a release. So, the fabric weaves, fibers, and yarns all simply relax to make the dimensions of that fabric shrink. It usually shrinks in terms of the length.

Thus, the jeans might fit tight in the waist and thighs when you wear them after washing. Generally, expect a shrinkage of about three to four percent. As such, a pair of jeans that has a 30 inches’ inseam will shrink about 1” to 1¼” in its length.

However, it varies from one brand and style to another. A shrinkage of more than five percent is usually rare and unacceptable. Also, you can prevent the jeans from shrinking in the wash by following the given techniques.

How To Wash Jeans Without Shrinking?

Jeans tend to shrink both in the washing machine and the dryer. Cotton shrinks the most among all the materials, but others do, too.

However, this does not mean you give up on washing or drying your pants. When you wash the pants, make sure to use cold water and white vinegar on the gentle wash cycle.

It is better to hand wash the jeans, if possible. In terms of putting the jeans in the dryer, take them out while they are damp, stretch out the fabric a bit, and air dry. You should never put your jeans through a tumble-drying process.

Method 1: Put On The Gentle Cycle And Use Cold Water

You might get the idea that something as tough as a pair of jeans needs equally tough treatment in the wash. But that is farther from the truth. 

Denim does not absorb debris and odors the same way as other fabrics do. Therefore, turning the washing machine’s knob to the gentle cycle will be helpful. 

Also, the water temperature can make or break the fabric. So, use cold water at all times. Forget hot – even warmer water can shrink your jeans pretty fast.

Method 2: Use White Vinegar Instead Of Your Regular Detergent

You have heard enough times that jeans do not really get too dirty. Thus, if your jeans do not smell funny or have debris caked on them, using regular detergent is not necessary. In fact, regular detergent is usually pretty harsh and can cause fading. 

Stick to a cup of white vinegar and add that to the wash. Being a natural and strong cleanser, the vinegar will respect the fabric and its colors. 

Method 3: Hand Wash The Jeans Instead Of Machine Washing

If there is enough time at hand and a free tub or sink, one of the best things you can do is to hand wash the jeans. This way, your jeans will shrink not even a bit after washing. All you need to do is use cold water mixed with a cup of vinegar to let the jeans soak for about fifteen minutes. 

Method 4: Zip Up Your Jeans And Turn Them Inside Out

Taking care of your favorite jeans also means making sure they do not lose their color and shrink at the same time. 

Therefore, you should always turn your jeans inside out before washing them. Keep in mind that it will prevent water and soap from attacking its actual color. In fact, the bleeding dye might even ruin other clothes in the same washing cycle.

So, zip up every zipper and fasten all snaps and buttons such that they do not shrink and bleed, or get their dye on other clothes in the wash.

Do Jeans Shrink In The Dryer?

Yes, denim is tough, but it is not without its weaknesses. The dryer has been called the jeans’ kryptonite for a reason: your denim will shrink after going through a full cycle in the machine. 

The heat tends to damage the cotton and weaken that fabric. Thus, though you are supposed to get at least three years out of a pair, you wouldn’t even get one and a half in this case.

How To Dry Jeans In Dryer Without Shrinking?

One of the surest ways to prevent your jeans from shrinking is to not over-dry them. After all, once they get completely dry, the fibers tighten and they will not fit as easily as they did before. Now, it is a good thing if you want your jeans to get a little tighter, but really uncomfortable if you plan to avoid any shrinking.

Method 1: Select The Lowest Setting On Your Dryer

If the dryer has over one heat setting, select the lowest setting such that your jeans do not heat up excessively and start to shrink.

Method 2: Dry Your Jeans Until Damp

To get the best results, you need to half-dry the jeans rather than completely dry them. Therefore, you leave them while they remain a bit damp. 

The duration for you to dry out your pants depends on the other things you already have in your dryer and its effectiveness at drying. Generally, for completely drying a load of ten kg of washed clothes, the dryer needs to run for at least two hours. If it’s a load of five kg, you will need to run the dryer for an hour.

A dryer that only has your jeans needs to run for at least twenty minutes. However, it depends on the strength of the dryer and the available heat setting.

Method 3: Dry The Jeans Naturally For The Best Result

Hang the jeans on the clothes’ line outside, on your clothes airer, or in your airing cupboard. And wait until the pants get dry enough for you to wear. In fact, if the jeans were already a bit snug, you can wear the pants while they are still wet, and go out in the sun. The sun will dry out the pants and give it some extra stretch in the process.

A great advantage of drying any cloth this way is you need less ironing. As such, a majority of the creases are dealt in the dryer. If you are able to take out the jeans quickly as they remain warm, you won’t find creases in them.

If the jeans get dry enough, you can wear them straight away and let the body heat complete the rest of the drying.

Wrapping Up

As mentioned earlier, your jeans do not need to undergo washing and drying every other day to stay clean. However, whenever you feel like they need a good wash, follow the tips you got to know today. This way, your jeans will last three years or more, and will also fit you like a dream during this time. 



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *