What Causes Jeans to Shrink? (Do Jeans Shrink Every Time You Wash Them?)

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What causes jeans to shrink? There are many factors that can cause your denim jeans to shrink in the wash. You should always follow the instructions on your jeans care tag…. If you do not have a care tag, check out the information below to help you keep your jeans looking great.

Denim is made from cotton and other fibers…. Cotton shrinks when it gets wet…. When you throw your jeans in the washer, the water turns into steam and causes the denim fabric to shrink…. The amount of shrink will depend on how hot you have your water set, how long you leave them in there, as well as how thick or thin the fabric is.

The amount of shrinking depends on the material, too.

  1. Cotton (the most common material used in jeans) shrinks anywhere between 5% to 10%.
  2. If you’re looking at stretch denim, this number will be higher.
  3. Polyester/polyester blends will shrink less than cotton and rayon/viscose blends will not shrink at all – which is why many women prefer these fabrics for their jeans.

The temperature that you wash your jeans in – can affect how much they will shrink…. High temperatures will make them shrink more than cold water temperatures…. So if you are washing your jeans at a high temperature and notice that they are shrinking more than you would like, try using a lower temperature next time.

Will Jeans Shrink in The Wash?

The most common cause of jeans shrinking is the use of hot water and/or drying in the dryer…. Both of these actions can move the fibers in the fabric around more than you want, causing them to shrink — But new jeans sometimes shrink even when they’re not exposed to high heat.

One factor that can cause jeans to shrink in the wash is the type of fabric they are made of.

Jeans made of cotton or a cotton blend are more prone to shrinking than those made of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. This is because cotton fibers are more prone to shrinking when they get wet and are subjected to heat – such as in a dryer.

Another factor to consider is the fit of the jeans.

Looser-fitting jeans are less likely to shrink in the wash than more fitted or stretchy jeans. This is because there is more slack in the fabric of looser-fitting jeans — so they have less opportunity to shrink.

So, how can you prevent your jeans from shrinking in the wash?

One way is to wash your jeans in cold water and hang them to dry instead of using a dryer. This will prevent the heat from causing the fibers to shrink. You can also wash your jeans inside out to help protect the color and prevent fading.

…And Also Avoid Fabric Softener

Treating your jeans with a fabric softener can sometimes cause them to shrink… Some experts recommend avoiding this product altogether instead of risking it — because it leaves a residue behind that may cause other clothing items to shrink as well… You should also avoid using chlorine bleach on your jeans — as this can cause similar problems.

Do Jeans Shrink Every Time You Wash Them?

It’s an age-old question — do jeans shrink every time you wash them? The answer is yes and no.

The first time you wash a new pair of jeans, they will probably shrink…. It’s normal to expect a minimum of 1%, and up to 5%, of shrinkage in a pair of jeans.

Technically they do shrink a little with every wash but there is nothing to worry about because they stretch out again to their original shape…. Unless you wash them incorrectly in hot water and dry them on a hot setting in the dryer you shouldn’t fear subsequent washes.

The fabric in your jeans does shrink a bit when washed, but the amount of shrinkage can vary depending on the material, the manufacturer, and the washing machine…. Some jeans have already been pre-shrunk, so they don’t shrink as much during washing.

But even pre-shrunk jeans will eventually lose their shape and size due to repeated washing and drying cycles…. Over time, a pair of jeans that once fit perfectly tight could become loose enough to slip off your hips.

That’s not to say you should skip washing your jeans entirely…. Over time, jeans get worn out and dirty…. Washing them can help restore their original color and appearance…. Even if they shrink a bit in the wash, you’ll still be able to wear them comfortably after they dry.

Does Hot Water Shrink Jeans?

Hot water will cause jeans to shrink faster than cold water, but if your jeans are already shrunken from a previous wash, hot water might actually stretch them back out.

If you really want your jeans to shrink in hot water, use a gentle detergent like Woolite instead of a detergent that contains bleach or color-safe bleach…. Bleach is known to cause shrinking in fabrics like cotton and rayon.

What happens when you wash your jeans in hot water? The hot water causes a chemical reaction between the fibers in the fabric and the dye in the garment…. That’s why they appear to fade faster in hot water than cold.

The fading is similar to what occurs when you walk outside on a sunny day only it happens much more quickly…. Some jeans will fade unevenly which generally results in a hole forming at some point down the road.

Is it a good idea to wash your jeans in hot water? I would say probably not…. Over time, hot water tends to make denim fade very fast and when that happens, your jeans might begin to show signs of wear sooner than normal as well as develop holes faster too.

If you want your jeans to last longer and look better washing them in warm or cold water is definitely recommended! Warm or cold will help preserve the integrity of the garment as well as result in a better overall product too.

How Long Does It Take to Shrink Jeans in Hot Water?

To shrink your pants in hot water, you must first wash them and then place them in a warm (not boiling) bath of water…. Make sure the bathtub is big enough so that there is room for the jeans to move around freely…. Soak them for about an hour, or until you notice the jeans are starting to rise up from the bottom of the tub.

When you remove them from the tub, immediately hang them up to dry…. If they are not completely dry, they will begin to return to their original size…. This can ruin all of your hard work.

Depending on how much you want your jeans to shrink, you can repeat this process as many times as needed…. If you want your jeans to be very small, try soaking them overnight or longer…. Be careful not to overdo it with too many lengths of time or the jeans may rip out when stretched over your legs.

Will Jeans Shrink in Warm Water?

If you want to keep your jeans from shrinking in warm water, try this trick…. Soak the jeans in warm water for about 15 minutes…. Afterward, put them through a normal wash cycle…. This will help the color stay in the jeans and help keep the jeans from shrinking…. Just make sure that you wash them on cold or warm, but not hot.

Color Fading: Many people wonder if washing their clothes in warm water will cause colors to fade faster…. The answer is no…. In fact, it can actually help increase the longevity of your clothes’ colors because warm water allows dyes to bind better with fabric fibers than cold water does….

However, this only works if you are using cold or warm water when doing a rinse cycle following a wash cycle…. If you wash your clothes in hot water and then do a rinse cycle with cold water, this can actually cause colors to fade faster.

Will Jeans Shrink in Cold Water?

Coldwater washing is a great way to prevent clothing from shrinking, fading, or becoming damaged…. The temperature of the water and the length of time items are washed in cold water will affect how effective this method is.

Cold-water washing can help maintain the shape and color of garments…. However, some clothes are pre-shrunk, so they don’t shrink during washing…. Garments that aren’t pre-shrunk can be washed using cold water to prevent shrinking, but they should be air-dried afterward.

Cold water can be more gentle on fabrics than hot water…. It can help keep colors from fading and also reduce wrinkling, but it has to be COLD water…. Hot water can cause shrinkage.

Do Jeans Have to Be Wet to Shrink?

The best way to shrink skinny jeans is to soak the affected area with water and then run an iron over it…. The heat from the iron will cause the denim to shrink slightly…. Leave it overnight and you’ll find that it has shrunk enough to fit you better.

Treating your jeans to a little water will help the fibers relax and allow for easier shrinkage…. And contrary to popular belief, your jeans don’t have to be completely soaked for this technique to work; just dampen the area you’re trying to shrink with a little water, then apply the iron and let them dry.


PAIGE Denim Women's Transcend Verdugo Ankle Skinny Jeans, Nottingham, Blue, 26


How Do You Shrink Jeans Without Water?

Shrinking jeans without water are actually pretty easy to do…. It all depends on how big of a pair of pants you have because the drying process plays a part in how much they will shrink…. The best way to shrink your jeans without water is to put them in the dryer on low heat for a short amount of time.

Can You Shrink Jeans That Have Already Been Washed?

There are many ways to shrink your jeans…. You can give them a hot wash or dryer cycle or you can put them in the dryer on high heat.

Tumble-drying your jeans on a high-heat setting is the quickest way to shrink any type of denim.

  1. The first thing you want to do is soak the jeans in warm water with a small amount of detergent for about an hour.
  2. Step two is to lay the jeans flat on a towel and roll them up, putting as much pressure as you can onto them.
  3. After doing this, hang the jeans up for about three hours…. This will help set their new shape and size.
  4. If you still need some more shrinking action, throw them back in the washing machine and run them through another wash cycle with cool water.
  5. Try not to put them in the dryer, because the shrinking process may be reversed again if they go through another tumble dry cycle.

Do Jeans Keep Shrinking Over Time?

Have you ever bought a new pair of jeans and found that they seemed to get tighter the more you wear them? This is actually a common phenomenon, but it’s not necessarily because your jeans are shrinking.

Subjective Perception

The reason jeans appear to shrink over time is because of our perception of sizing changes over time…. When we buy something new, we tend to think of it as being bigger, so when we put on a new pair of jeans for the first time, they’re likely to feel looser than an older pair of the same type and model.

As we wear the jeans and wash them, they become more familiar, so we start thinking of them as fitting more like our other pairs…. Our perception of how tight or loose a pair of jeans feels is completely subjective and isn’t based on how much the jeans have actually changed.

Materials Shrink Over Time

Nylon may be one factor contributing to your shrinking jeans…. It’s present in most denim fabrics, and its fibers do shrink over time if they’re exposed to water or extreme heat…. Cotton doesn’t shrink much when it’s washed or worn, but exposure to water might cause its fibers to stretch out over time…. Denim manufacturers use both cotton and nylon in their fabrics, so it’s possible they will shrink slightly over time.

Do Jeans Shrink in the Dryer?

The first rule of thumb is that you should never put your jeans in the dryer…. If your jeans are made from 100 percent cotton, it might be okay to dry them on low heat for about 10 minutes, but even then you’re risking destroying them.

If you’re going to tumble-dry any of your denim pieces, stick with ones that are at least 50 percent polyester or rayon so they won’t shrink and become misshapen when they’re exposed to heat.

Do Express Jeans Shrink in the Dryer?

Express jeans shrink in the dryer, but so do all the other brands…. You can avoid this by washing them in cold water and hanging them to dry or drying them in a low-heat setting…. If you must use the dryer, turn it to low heat and tumble dry…. This will take longer but at least they won’t shrink as much.

Do Jeans Shrink in Length?

There are two main reasons why your jeans may shrink in length.

  1. The first is that the denim may have been pre-washed before it was made into jeans…. This means that the manufacturer has allowed for some shrinkage during their manufacturing process to ensure your jeans fit perfectly right out of the box.
  2. The second reason is due to using chlorine bleach to wash your jeans…. Most major retailers use chlorine bleach instead of detergent to help keep colors bright and ensure they last longer…. Instead of washing your jeans with plain water, you should use a color care detergent which will help minimize any shrinkage in length.

Shockingly, not all denim shrinks at the same rate! Some brands such as Paige Premium Jeans are made from extra stretchy denim which is designed to retain its original length throughout its life whereas other brands like Cheap Monday Stretch Jeans.

Do Levi Jeans Shrink in Length?

Levi jeans tend to shrink very little if at all…. Most Levi jeans are preshrunk, but if you are worried that your jeans will shrink too much…. Just make sure you wash them correctly.


Levi's Men's 511 Slim Fit Jean, Throttle - Stretch, 36W x 32L


How to Wash Your Levi’s:

  1. Turn jeans inside out and wash with like colors using cold or warm water…. It is not recommended to use hot water or bleach…. If you must use hot water, use it sparingly and then turn your jeans inside out and rinse again with cold water.
  2. Hang to dry or tumble dry low – medium heat for a short period of time; do not put your jeans in the dryer…. Jeans are best when they are washed before wearing them because the denim has shrunk slightly during the initial washing process; this eliminates excess shrinkage due to wear.

How Much Can You Shrink Jeans?

Here’s how to shrink your jeans:

  1. Put them in the washing machine hot with detergent and 1 cup of white vinegar.
  2. Let them run through the entire cycle.
  3. Take them out and put them in the dryer on high heat.
  4. Let them dry completely, and they should be shrunk down a bit.
  5. You can repeat this process two more times to further shrink your jeans if you need to…. A few precautionary tips: Don’t use bleach, or any fabric softener, as these can break down the fibers over time and cause fading.

You can also use a hot iron to shrink the jeans, but this method is more time-consuming…. When you’re done washing them, hang them up to dry…. Next, use the iron on a medium setting and press it down firmly on the back pockets of the jeans.

Can I Shrink Jeans Down a Size?

Yes, you can shrink your jeans down a size, but the degree of shrinkage varies from pair to pair.

The amount of shrinkage can be anywhere from one inch to three inches, depending on the weight of the denim and how much starch is in the jeans.

Can You Shrink Jeans Waist?

The most common place for jeans to shrink is in the waist since that’s where they are most likely to stretch out…. Sometimes you’ll also see shrinkage in the length of your jeans — say if you’ve thoroughly soaked them with water or put them through multiple washes — which is why it can be helpful to have a pair of jeans longer than your usual size on hand.

Do Jeans Shrink Permanently?

Do jeans shrink when you wash them? It depends…. If you’re lucky, no…. But if you have the wrong pair, shrinkage is almost inevitable.

  1. Treat the jeans well before they ever come close to a washing machine and they should behave themselves…. Here are some tips for making sure your jeans are ready for washing:
  2. Dry them out – When you take off your jeans after wearing them all day, hang them up to dry in a cool spot instead of throwing them on a chair or other flat surface where they can sit in wetness and mildew.
  3. Turn them inside out – Never put jeans in the washing machine unless it’s been turned inside out first — otherwise, it will destroy the color and fade the print.
  4. Run water through them – Make sure there’s no sand or dirt left in pockets by running water through the legs and then hanging them on a hanger to dry.
  5. Check hem – If you’ve got a pair with a frayed or torn hem, mend it before washing or at least turn it under so you don’t lose any more material than necessary.

Do 100% Jeans Shrink?

Cotton denim will shrink if it is not pre-shrunk…. If you’re shopping for 100% cotton denim, the first thing to do is check the tag…. Look for a line that says “pre-shrunk.” If it doesn’t say that, you may want to go up a size (or two) after you wash your jeans.

The more cotton there is in the fabric of your denim, the more likely it is to shrink…. While 100% cotton can shrink by as much as 20%, blends of cotton and synthetic fibers like polyester should only shrink by about 10%.

A little bit of elasticity in the material can also help prevent shrinking, so stretchy fabrics are less vulnerable than stiff ones.


Lee Women's Missy Relaxed Fit Straight Leg Jean, Livia Cotton, 14


How Do You Keep 100% Cotton Jeans from Shrinking?

Do not use hot water when washing any 100% cotton garment…. Even though it is tempting to throw those new jeans in a hot water load of laundry with all of our other “hot” items (bed sheets, towels, etc.), this can seriously damage the fabric causing it to fade and wear out faster than it should.

Do Jeans with Spandex Shrink?

Does Jeans with Spandex Shrink? According to the manufacturer, yes! But there are also several different factors that will affect whether or not your spandex jeans shrink when washed.

Tight jeans are a fashion staple for many people, but it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a situation where you just purchased a pair of denim jeans that are too snug.

Whether they’re too tight around the waist or thighs, too long, or simply don’t fit right, it’s frustrating when you have to endure the “sizing torture” of squeezing into a pair of pants that aren’t meant for you.

The culprit is likely spandex–also known as elastic fibers–the stretchable material often used to make clothing fit more comfortably and/or tightly on the body…. While it can make for a better-fitting pair of jeans, the downside is that spandex can make clothing shrink when exposed to heat from washing and drying machines.

So does jeans with Spandex Shrink? Yes, depending on how hot you set your machine and how high you choose to dry them…. The higher you set the temperature and the longer you let them dry, the more they will shrink.

Do Jeans with Elastane Shrink?

It’s certainly a conundrum for anyone who has bought jeans with elastane in them…. Elastane is a manufactured fiber that provides stretch in clothing, which means that these items tend not to last as long as their non-elastane equivalents…. But does it also mean that jeans with elastane will shrink?

The short answer is yes, they will shrink…. Most manufacturers of jeans add a percentage of Elastane to the denim fabric used to make jeans, and this elastane will reduce the lifespan of the jean…. Jeans with Elastane are also more likely to shrink in the wash than regular denim jeans.

So why do manufacturers use Elastane anyway? The main reason is that Elastane allows clothes to be made more cheaply and quickly…. As you might imagine, this makes the cost of these clothes cheaper…. The downside is that they don’t tend to last as long as traditionally made clothes, so they ultimately end up costing more on a per wear basis than their more expensive counterparts.

Do Jeans with Polyester Shrink?

Shrinking clothes is a swear word for many fashion lovers, but this is actually a common occurrence…. Polyester and other synthetic fabrics are prone to shrinkage, while natural fibers do not usually suffer from the same fate.

Treating jeans with fabric softener before washing them will help to prevent any shrinkage from happening and also help in making your jeans softer and more comfortable…. Fabric softeners are great for all types of clothing, including denim.

A fabric softener prevents shrinking by depositing a layer of chemicals on the surface of the fibers inside the clothing…. This coating helps protect the fibers from being damaged when washed in water…. It also prevents moisture from penetrating into the fibers, which can cause them to become stiffer and shrink in size.

For best results, use a fabric softener that’s made specifically for washing denim or laundry items…. Regular liquid fabric softener can be used, but it may not have enough of the chemicals needed to achieve effective protection against shrinking…. If in doubt about which type to use, test an inconspicuous area first to make sure there are no adverse effects on the color of your jeans or other clothing items.

Do Jeans with Stretch Shrink?

Do stretch jeans shrink? The answer is YES…. At least some of them do…. It all comes down to the type of fabric used for the jeans…. And you should know that stretching your jeans will most likely cause them to shrink over time.

The spandex molecules are aligned and crisscrossed inside the denim weave, making it a lot more flexible than normal denim…. Stretch fabrics are used in men’s, women’s, and kid’s high-end designer jeans…. They’re also used in casual wear bell bottoms, shorts, and tops.

If you’ve noticed that your stretch jeans seem to be getting tighter over time, it’s because they are shrinking…. This is because of excessive washing or repeated stretching and then wearing them back to their original size (or slightly smaller).

You can avoid this by not stretching your stretch jeans as much during regular wear…. Wash less frequently and don’t use hot water when washing your jeans…. Hang dry instead of using a dryer on high heat settings.

In summary, if you follow the washing instructions on the label, your jeans should last for years…. However, there are a couple of steps you can take to make them last even longer:

Wash in cold water whenever possible…. Hot water can set dyes and cause colors to run…. If you don’t want to put your jeans in the freezer before washing, try cold water and turn the denim inside out before tossing them into the machine…. (This will also help prevent fading.)

Avoid washing your denim with synthetic clothing…. When fabrics rub against each other during the wash cycle, they can get snagged and pulled, causing holes and tears…. It’s best to separate your denim from any items that aren’t made of natural fibers

You may also be interested in… Why Do Jeans Have Rivets? and Why Are Jeans So Uncomfortable?