Does Denim Shrink? Denim Shrinkage Guide
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Does Denim Shrink? Denim Shrinkage Guide

Learn why denim shrinks over time, and how to prevent your denim fabric from shrinking in this article.

Pants being machine-washed and dried naturally results in shrinkage. The amount that a pair of blue jeans may shrink will partly depend on the manufacturer’s efforts to limit shrinkage during production.

Denim can shrink under certain circumstances, just like other kinds of fabric. Due to its composition and manufacturing process, it shrinks. Buying pre-shrunk denim or taking special care with how you take care of it are the only ways to stop it from shrinking.

You want your denim clothing to continue fitting well over time, whether you have a favorite jacket or a pair of comfy jeans. We’re here to give you the solution.

Does Denim Shrink?

Denim, especially denim jeans, is very likely to shrink unless you purchase pre-shrunk denim. When you wash or dry your denim, the most common reason for shrinkage is during the process. It’s important to be ready for some shrinkage, especially after the first wash.

After the first wash, the amount of shrinking in jeans gradually gets smaller. Not all jeans, however, shrink. Shrunken jeans can be avoided if you purchase mixed denim-lycra pants. Lycra helps give your jeans more stretch and prevents shrinking.

Do Denim Jeans Shrink in the Washer?

The washer is one of the most frequent causes of denim shrinkage, particularly with regard to jeans, as was previously mentioned. It doesn’t necessarily follow that your jeans will shrink if you wash them in the washing machine.

Does Denim Shrink? Denim Shrinkage Guide

In the end, the temperature of the water you use to wash your jeans in will determine whether or not they shrink. Particularly if it’s your first time washing jeans, hot water increases the likelihood of shrinking.

Do Denim Jeans Shrink in the Dryer?

Denim jeans can shrink in the dryer just like they can in the washing machine. Even if you didn’t wash your jeans in hot water, drying your jeans on high heat in the dryer can still cause them to shrink. If they already shrank after being washed in hot water, they may shrink even more if the dryer is set to a high temperature.

Thankfully, it is much simpler to stop your jeans from shrinking in the dryer than it is to stop them from shrinking in the washer. You don’t necessarily need hot temperatures in the dryer to clean them while they’re drying.

Does Denim Shrink over Time?

Denim can continue to shrink with repeated washings even though it shrinks slightly more the first time you wash them. However, the amount of shrinking that happens during other washes is minimal and only lasts for a short time.

This is so that denim will fit your body type better because it is made to stretch when you wear it. Because the fibers stretch out with use, the garment will fit you more comfortably. However, after being stretched out, the fibers in something like a pair of jeans begin to contract slightly. When you wear the jeans again, they will start to stretch again.

Related: How to Shrink Denim?

Why Do Denim Jeans Shrink After Washing?

Denim shrinks primarily as a result of heat. It can be annoying when your clothes shrink after washing your cotton denim in hot water because the fabric constricts.

Some fabrics shrink more than others when washed, including cotton, linen, and rayon. Cellulose fibers that have been spun to their maximum stretch make up these fabrics. The agitation and heat of the washing machine relax the fibers’ tension during the washing of these clothes. Your clothing will then shrink as the fabric returns to its original state.

Does Denim Shrink? Denim Shrinkage Guide

How Much Will Denim Jeans Shrink?

In general, expect up to 3–4% shrinkage, which on a pair of jeans with a 32″ inseam would mean shrinking about 1″–1¼” in length. Because there is less applied tension in that direction during fabric construction, the width is much less likely to shrink.

From one brand and one style to another, this can change. In the garment industry, shrinkage of more than 5% is typically regarded as unacceptable.

Can You Prevent Denim from Shrinking?

There is no foolproof method to stop your jeans from shrinking. There are strategies you can use to stop the shrinking, though. Here are some tips to keep your denim from shrinking.

Wash in Cold Water

Washing your jeans in cold water is an obvious choice. All of your natural fiber clothing should be washed in cold water. In order to save water, you can wash all of your cotton clothing and jeans at once.

Jeans are regarded as delicate when washing even though they may appear to be sturdy. Shorter wash cycles and gentler detergents are therefore required. In order to preserve your clothing as much as possible, always make sure that you wash items together.

Avoid Dryers

Even if your washing machine has a dryer setting, avoid using it, at least for your cotton clothing. Your clothing will experience additional stress and agitation as a result, which will cause the fiber to further relax. For your jeans, air drying is the best option.

Does Denim Shrink? Denim Shrinkage Guide

Set your dryer to the lowest setting if you can’t dry your clothes by air because of your circumstances. In this manner, your jeans won’t be exposed to intense heat and consequently shrink.

Another option is to partially dry it in the dryer and finish by letting it air dry. One of the best methods for hastening the drying process and preventing shrinkage of your pants is to do this.

Your denim will benefit most from drying in the shade. To fully dry, yes, it would take a long time. However, drying in the shade is a good way to lower the amount of heat your jeans are exposed to.

Wash Your Jeans Inside-out

This might seem like strange advice. However, there is significant friction on jeans when you wash them, which may be helpful. Because of the friction, the material relaxes more, which results in shrinkage. You can avoid color fading by washing your jeans from the inside out. Because of this, your jeans last longer looking brand-new.

Read the Wash-care Instructions

All of your clothing has a tiny white tag that is not there to annoy you. Instead, it includes information that is crucial if you want your clothes to last a long time. These directions, however, occasionally use peculiar symbols.

If your tag features a bucket with a hand symbol, hand washing is recommended for your jeans. Wash the dot at the designated temperature if there is one in the bucket. A different emblem to watch out for is square with a circle inside it. The shape can be tumble-dried on any setting if it is unmarked. Don’t tumble dry the symbol if it bears a cross.

Dry on a low heat setting if the circle has a dot inside. You can use bleach or not based on the triangle on the instructions tag. Generally speaking, stay away from using bleach when washing your jeans because the colors may fade quickly.

Hand-wash Your Pants

Does Denim Shrink? Denim Shrinkage Guide

The hardest item of clothing to hand wash is a pair of jeans. If you want your pants to last, however, it might be worthwhile. First, soak your jeans in a mixture of cool water and mild detergent for 15 to 20 minutes. After that, drain the soapy water and halfway refill it.

Keep your pants partially submerged and stir the fabric with your hands. This will clean your pants of soap and dirt. You can then give your pants one last rinse and let them air dry. The fabric will not lose color or shrink or pill if you use this technique.

Spot-clean Your Pants

To remove a small stain, try to avoid washing your entire pair of pants. Your entire pair of pants will needlessly go through the washing process as a result. Cleaning the stained area is preferable.

Buy High-quality Jeans

There’s a reason why the price tag on some jeans has so many “zeroes.”‘ The likelihood that your pants will last a long time increases with their quality. Higher-quality denim is used when you pay more for your pants. Pre-washing is also common with higher-quality denim.

Therefore, the fabric for your pants wouldn’t have been stitched together until after the initial shrinking process. Your pants should therefore largely remain the same size. Furthermore, if it does shrink, it won’t be too much because the fabric shrinks less with each wash.

Pay Attention to the Fabric

100% cotton denim is pretty rare. more so if you’re purchasing stretchy jeans. To make jeans more stretchy, polyester is frequently added to the fabric. Regrettably, polyester is one of the fabrics that is infamous for shrinking when washed.

The shrinkage of polyester is also final. Hence, pay attention to the fabric of your jeans when purchasing them. In addition, if polyester is present, be sure to carefully follow the washing instructions.

Wrapping Up: Denim Shrinkage

When it comes to aftercare, getting proper-fitting jeans will also be beneficial. Choose a retailer whose sizing chart you can trust if you’re buying jeans online. Choose a brand that offers standard sizing or one that you have already tried.

We hope this article has answered all of your queries regarding the shrinking process of denim as well as how to keep your denim from shrinking.


How Do I Shrink Jeans on Purpose?

The exact opposite of what you would do to prevent shrinkage is to wash them in hot water and dry them in a high-heat setting. Keep in mind that some fading is also probably going to happen.

Will Jeans Get Clean If I Wash Them in Cold Water to Prevent Shrinkage?

By adding Clorox 2® for Colors, which enhances the cleaning and brightening capabilities of your preferred detergent, you can always improve cleaning in cold water.

Is Denim Shrinkage Permanent?

Washing and drying in high heat will help shrink denim, but the effects are temporary. They’ll probably loosen up again because denim naturally stretches with wear and movement. Hem your jeans at home or take them to a tailor to permanently drop a size.

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