Does Denim Shrink When Washed or Dried?


Denim jeans, besides being a fashion staple, are also one of the most popular fabrics in the world. Not only that, but they’re pretty tough and durable. So how much do they shrink in length when washed?

As a general rule of thumb, denim only shrinks about 1 inch after washing in cold water and line drying. Keep in mind too that Levi’s 800 series jeans shrink more than their 505 counterparts because the higher quality denim is usually more tightly woven than others on the market today.

If you’re a bit of a bigger guy then you may have to keep in mind that your jeans will not only shrink but some of them will also stretch back out to their original size, which is why it’s best to purchase about half an inch longer than what you actually need in the first place. This should be taken with a grain of salt though because denim varies widely and some of it doesn’t shrink at all when washed.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the denim’s most basic properties, but you may also be interested in reading a few of our other articles like how to care for your jeans and why they’re called Levi’s.

What Is Denim?

Denim is an important fabric in the fashion world today, and that’s mostly because it has a relatively long history behind it. It all started back when Jean Girard was making workwear for miners who worked in the city of Nimes, France. That’s how denim got its name (because it is made from the same fabric that miners use to make jeans and work pants).

The first jeans were intended for the French Army, but they weren’t designed in Nimes. However, Jean Girard and his son Emmanuel received a patent on the “French Blue” denim which is still used today.

Today, denim is one of the most popular fabrics in the world. In fact, it’s used in almost every single pair of trousers and jeans you’ll find on the market today. Although cotton is usually the material that’s used to make denim, this fabric can actually be made from a variety of materials including:

Today’s jeans are usually made from 100% cotton and are designed as fashion statements. Although they are often worn by both men and women, the styles have different names.

Women’s jeans are referred to as “dungarees” while men’s jeans are called “jeans,” which is believed to be a reference to Genoa, Italy (which is where denim production was first started). Men’s styles also include “jeggings,” which draws on the fact that this material used to be called “jeans.”

Does Denim Shrink?

Denim shrinks. This is a fact that most of us have accepted without question for decades. Denim, stretchy fabric, will slowly and gradually stretch out from day one of your wearing it. And this process doesn’t stop just because you wash your jeans; the shrinkage only starts after many wears and washes. But denim shrinking isn’t a bad thing especially when you consider the alternatives.

In fact, many people call it “the stretch”. Still, it makes sense that you should wash your jeans to remove dirt and grime. And when you do wash them, you have to do it properly because any shrinkage will become permanent.

What You Can Do To Avoid Denim Shrinking?

To make sure this doesn’t happen, here are some ways you can avoid shrinkage:

  1. Turn jeans inside out before washing. This will protect the surface from any damage during washing and drying.
  2. Use a mild detergent. Some detergents contain heavy duty chemicals that can ruin the surface or cause discoloration.
  3. Use cold water wash and cold water rinse. Warm water shrinks jeans more than cold so be careful. You can also use low spin wash and low spin rinse to minimize the amount of tumbling your jeans go through after they’ve been washed.
  4. When the washing machine stops spinning, avoid peaking inside to check how your jeans look then continue the process until it stops spinning again. This goes against most laundry makers’ advice but according to most denim experts, this is one of the best ways to keep shrinkage at bay.
  5. Keep your jeans on the line after washing to allow them to dry. This will help them retain their fit and shape longer.
  6. Never let your jeans dry with the buttons on. This is a big mistake many people make and it can cause permanent damage because the buttons are made from a type of plastic that’s brittle. They can crack easily and it’s best to wear pants without buttons instead of doing this as well as you should remember that denim looks better when it’s loose fitting, so don’t worry too much about wrinkling it up too much.
  7. Don’t use the dryer to dry your jeans. Using a dryer is one of the easiest ways to shrink your jeans. If you must use the dryer, then go for a low heat setting and turn it off as soon as they are done.

What Causes Denim To Shrink?

If you’ve ever read care instructions on the tag of any denim garment you’ll know that they have to be washed on cold and dried on low heat which can cause denim to shrink, but there is also a chemical element at work.

The process of dyeing denim is much more complex than most people assume, and the chemicals used can cause a series of reactions that shrink the material. The most common dyes used to create blue jeans come from a substance called indigo which is obtained from certain species of plant. Others are obtained from synthetic sources, but the result is almost identical making it difficult to tell one from another.

Indigo is highly reactive and will combine with other chemicals easily. Its only stable form is when it’s combined with sulfur, which makes up half of its chemical makeup – this combination allows the dye to be manipulated easily and also makes it fade.

During the dyeing process, indigo is added to the jeans. This can be in liquid form or as a powder, depending on the manufacturer’s preference. It is then heated which causes it to decompose and form a group of chemicals called salts. The salts are composed of sulfates, nitrates and carbonates – these act as catalysts and are responsible for speeding up the decomposition of other chemicals that cause shrinkage in the denim.

The next step takes place once they have been washed. Once in the water, the salts start to react. During these reactions, more than 85% of the original dye is lost.

If you aren’t so concerned about how your jeans will look after washing them, then think about how they will feel. Not too many people use cold water when washing their clothing, and this will cause clothing to feel rough after a wash. They might also be tight across the shoulders because of shrinking and shrinkage is a sure way to retighten it.

If you don’t want to deal with the chemicals that cause shrinkage, then consider spending a little extra on special jeans like oxford cloth. These are made from a soft and comfortable twill fabric that is wrinkle-free, doesn’t lose its shape and will keep you feeling cool even after hours of wearing it. After all, the best way to avoid shrinkage is by putting your pants in the freezer.

Does Denim Shrink In The Dryer?

If you’re still worried about shrinkage, then you need to know that it can also shrink when you are drying your jeans after washing them. As it dries, it shrinks and distorts. The clothes that have the most amount of shrinkage when they dry will be the ones that fit tight across the shoulders, waist and legs.

Of course, you can prevent this from happening by letting your jeans dry on a hanger instead of hanging them in the dryer, but when they are wet they are still in danger because they may get snagged on something. In this case, use the lowest heat setting possible to reduce the risk.

This is another instance where you should avoid putting jeans in the dryer because these changes will become permanent. Using a low heat setting to dry your pants is better than nothing at all, but it’s not worth it if you have to deal with an uncomfortable pair of pants that don’t fit properly.

Does Denim Shrink In The Wash?

One of the most common reasons why denim shrinks is because it’s washed in hot water. Many people think that hot water is the best way to get rid of any dirt that has built up in their jeans, but it’s really not the best idea.

Water always cools down when it runs out of a tap, and this can cause shrinkage when used to wash jeans. The reason for this is simple – hot water heats up the fabric which causes it to expand, thus making your jeans bigger. When you are finished with your washing, the temperature of the water goes back to normal – this also causes it to cool down, and when it does, the fibers contract. This means that your jeans will end up being smaller than your original size.

This is why jeans are sometimes recommended for hand washing instead of machine washing. It will eliminate this problem completely and make the jeans fit better.

Does 100 Cotton Denim Shrink?

Cotton is more likely to shrink than any other material. If you are in the market for a pair of pants with a little more style, then consider getting jeans made from 100 cotton instead of the traditional denim. This type of denim is similar to regular fabric, but it has been treated so that it retains its color better. Many pairs of 100 cotton jeans are also pre-washed and treated so that they can be worn right out of the box without needing to be washed first.

This means that you can expect them to be more comfortable than your regular jeans. Because of the way that they are made, you aren’t being rubbed against the fibers when you wear them and also don’t have to worry about shrinking.

Does Denim Shrink After Wash?

Letting your jeans get wet before washing them will cause them to shrink over time, but this is only to be expected. You should avoid using hot water when you are washing your jeans, and this means that you shouldn’t put them in the dryer.

If you do have a pair of denim pants that has shrunk after they have been washed a number of times, then you should look at getting it professionally cleaned instead. A great way to get rid of shrinkage is to use a tumbler and a mixture of water and baking soda.

At the same time, you should look at getting your jeans professionally hemmed so they can be reshaped. This will help to eliminate any problems that may arise from wearing clothes that are too short.

How Much Does Denim Shrink?

Depending on what type of denim you have, this can vary greatly. When it comes to the amount of shrinkage, there are usually two types of jeans that you can choose from that aren’t going to shrink as much as others. The first is raw denim, which is made from 100% cotton. This type of fabric was originally introduced in the 19th century and is still being produced today. The second type is selvedge denim which was used in the making of Levi’s jeans.

If you have a pair of jeans that have been pre-washed and treated, then they will probably shrink roughly 2%. This is not too much which means that they can be washed in hot water without worrying about them shrinking. Denim that has been made from 100% cotton will shrink at a rate of 4-9%, depending on how it is washed. If you are careful when washing your jeans, then you won’t see as much shrinkage.

Does Denim Shrink Over Time?

Denim that has been pre-washed and treated is likely to shrink over time. The amount of time it shrinks will depend on how often you wear your jeans, the type of fabric used to make them and the washing instructions they have been given.

If you want your jeans to last, then you should make sure that you aren’t following the washing instructions on the label when laundering them. This will ensure that they last a lot longer. It’s also smart to avoid ironing your jeans because this will cause them to shrink too much.

There are some types of denim that do not shrink at all. This includes:

Japanese milled selvedge denim, Japanese sanforized selvedge denim, Super stonewashed selvedge denim and Mid-weight unsanforized selvedge denim. These all come in a variety of colors and are usually made from 100% cotton. The types of colors include indigo, black, browns and a wide range of different colored fades.

Does Raw Denim Shrink?

There are a number of different types of denim that don’t shrink, and the first one is raw denim. This type of fabric was introduced in the 19th century and is still a popular choice today. It has always been made from 100% cotton and this means that it doesn’t shrink over time.

Because raw denim is so untreated, any type of washing you do on it will cause it to shrink. Because of this, you should avoid using hot water when washing them and keep them out of the dryer as well. If you don’t want to use warm water when washing them, then you can try using cold water instead.

How Much Does Raw Denim Shrink?

Raw denim is made from 100% cotton so it won’t shrink as much as regular denim. You can wash raw denim in hot water without fear of losing the fit of the jeans. Raw denim will shrink by 2-10% if you are washing them in hot water alone with no detergent.

The amount that your jeans should shrink depends on a number of different factors and some of them are more important than others. If you are worried that you may want to go up a size, then you should pay attention to the waist. The waist will always shrink the most, even when they are washed in hot water.

How To Wash Denim Jeans Without Shrinking?

Many people think that hot water is the best way to get rid of all of the dirt, oil and other substances that can be difficult to remove using ordinary water. Unfortunately, this can cause your pants to shrink.

  1. The best way to wash your jeans is to use cold water because it doesn’t cause them to shrink as much when they are washed. The best way to do this is by hand-washing them in a bucket instead of throwing them in the washing machine.
  2. If you want the jeans to be cleaner, then you can use a mixture of cold water and soap. If you don’t have any soap on hand, then you can use vinegar instead as this is also an effective cleaning agent.
  3. Your hands and work the solution into your jeans in order to break up the dirt and oil that has built up over time. Keep kneading it until you no longer see any of these substances sticking to your fingers.
  4. After washing it with cold water, wring it out in a towel like a washcloth so that all of the water is removed from it.
  5. Spread it out on a hanger and allow it to dry in the shade. Avoid putting your jeans in the dryer because this will cause them to shrink even more than they already have.
  6. After you are done, you will notice that there is a lot less oil and dirt that has built up on your clothes, including any stains that were on them before this washing session. This means that you should be able to use less soap when you wash your pants again.

Does Denim Permanently Shrink?

At first glance, you might think that your jeans will shrink forever. This isn’t necessarily the case because this depends on a couple of different factors:

  1. The type of material that you are wearing. Some fabrics are more likely to become smaller than others, and the same goes for denim. It is best to avoid washing them too often because it can cause them to shrink even more.
  2. The temperature of the water can also have an effect on how your pants will look when they are dry. Hot water causes the fabric to expand and wrinkle, which makes it look much different after you have washed it in several washes than when you have only washed it a few times.
  3. The amount of time that you let the jeans stay in the washing machine. There is a limit to how many times that you can wash your pants without them shrinking, but it will depend on how many washes they have had and if they have been washed at high temperatures.
  4. Lastly, the length of time that you wear your jeans before washing them can also cause them to shrink after periods of dryness (when they are unused). The same goes for if they are stained or worn out in any way. If this is the case, then it might be best to find a new pair of pants because another one will fit much better than ones that have been worn out and shrunk over a period of time.

How Do You Shrink Jeans That Are Too Big?

Sometimes you may want to shrink your jeans so they end up being the right size. This can be difficult because it will depend on how much they have been washed and how much they have been stretched out over time.

If you are trying to shrink jeans that are too big, then it’s a good idea to wash them at high temperatures with hot water. This can help them shrink faster because hot water makes the fibers become smaller and tighter, which is what you need in order for your jeans to fit better when they are dry.

That said, there will be a limit as to how many times that you can do this; otherwise they won’t look good anymore. After trying this method, you may find that your jeans look better when they are too big.

How Long Does It Take For Jeans To Shrink?

Jeans can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days to shrink after you have put them in the dryer. The time that it takes for your jeans to shrink will depend on how hot the heat is and how much shrinkage you want them to have.

Keeping your jeans cool for 6-8 hours will allow them to loosen up, but this means that they won’t be getting smaller. This can be useful if you want to fit into your jeans again or if you want your jeans to look good after being washed. You may also notice that the color tends to be better during this time as well.

If you want them to shrink fast, then it’s a good idea to wash them in hot water so that they will dry out quickly when they have been put in the dryer. This will allow them to shrink quickly because they will be smaller and you won’t need to leave them out as long.

When it comes to the amount of time that your jeans will take to shrink, this depends on how much you want them to shrink. The more you dry them out, the more they are going to shrink. This is especially true for jeans that have been washed a number of times and then put in the dryer for a short period of time.

If you want your jeans to shrink very fast, then it’s best not to dry them at all; instead, use an iron on the highest heat setting available.

How Do You Unshrink Denim?

Many people ask this question, but they don’t know if it is possible to do this. In fact, you can use a few different methods in order to get your jeans back to their original size.

Put Denim Into Dryer

There are different brands of jeans that can be unshrunk, but the method will vary. For example, if you own Wrangler jeans, then you need to put them in the dryer for 1-4 minutes at a low heat setting.

If you own jeans from another company, then you will have to put them in the dryer for a shorter period of time, usually 10-15 minutes. It is best to allow both your jeans and the towels that you are using to cool down after you have put them in the dryer.

Use Electrical Dryer

If you want your jeans to be unshrunk quickly, then it can be difficult. The best way to do this is by letting your jeans get their shape back first so they don’t shrink as much when they are dried out in an electric dryer. This is done by keeping them in a warm environment (like inside), but don’t let them get too hot.

That said, if you are planning on using the method of placing them in the dryer for a short period of time, then you need to make sure that you do this before they get too small because if they do, then it will take longer for them to revert back to their original size.

Use Hanger

If you have put your jeans in the dryer too much and they have shrunk; then it may be difficult to get them back to their original shape afterwards. It is best practice to let your jeans dry on a hanger instead of putting them into the dryer because this will allow them to relax and shrink again over time.

FAQ about Denim (Jeans) Shrinking

How Often Should You Wash Your Jeans?

You may be wondering how often you should wash your jeans because this will depend on how often you wear them. Some people only wear their jeans once per day, but if your job requires you to be active or on your feet, then it is a good idea to have another pair of jeans ready and available. You may want to wash your jeans more often if they are dirty or smelly, but this will depend on how much you wear them and whether or not they are dirty after wearing them.

Do Jeans Get Tighter After Washing?

The concept of how tight denim can get after washing is a common question that many people face. The truth is that if you are wearing your jeans properly, then they will stay just as tight over time when they have been washed on a regular basis. It helps if you cinch up your waistband so it doesn’t sag as much when you wear them and also don’t stretch out as much when they are washed. If your jeans aren’t staying as tight over time, then this may be because they have been washed too often and so need to be replaced although it could also be because you are letting them soak in water too often.

Can You Stretch Jeans After They Shrink?

This one may seem odd because nobody wants their jeans to be stretched out after they get shrunk, but it is possible and it can be beneficial. If the jeans are stretched out and then you put them into the dryer again, then they will shrink even more. On the other hand, if you leave them on a hanger to dry, then they can shrink as much as about 10% across all of the pants.

Final Thoughts

I hope now that you know how to shrink or stretch your jeans and also what your options are when it comes to cotton versus denim. Just make sure that before you wash them, you have considered the idea of whether or not it’s worth it, as well as analyzing any other factors involved. This way, you will know that your pants are staying true to their original size and shape.


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  3. RedFlagDeals – Do jeans usually shrink or stretch?
  4. Styleforum – SHRINKING DENIM JEANS?
  5. Thestudentroom – do jeans normally shrink or go bigger in the wash
  6. Authentic forum – Jeans slightly too big – is shrinking safe?
  7. Reddit – Shrinking denim forum jeans?
  8. DigitalSpy – Best way to really shrink jeans?
  9. Quora – Does raw denim shrink?
  10. Wikihow – How to Shrink Denim


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