There’s nothing worse than putting on a trusty pair of jeans only to find it takes a little extra effort to button them up, or the thighs are a little snug or even that the ankles seem a little shorter.
If you didn’t wash them on a high heat or tumble dry them, you’re probably asking yourself: “Why are my jeans getting smaller?”
Good news: it probably wasn’t the extra biscuit you had with your tea. All jeans shrink naturally as they age.
In this article we’ll find out why jeans shrink over time, what you can do to prevent it and how to rescue them if they won’t zip up.
Why Do Jeans Shrink in the Wash?
Denim is made from cotton which is susceptible to shrinking in the wash. This is because the heat from the water causes the fibres to first expand and then once the water has drained, the fibres contract, becoming smaller. This means that the higher temperature you use to wash your jeans, the more they will shrink.
The composition of the jeans can also play a part. Cotton can shrink in the wash, but materials such as polyester are more resistant to heat, so a polyester blend may retain more of its original size.
Do jeans shrink every time you wash them?
Jeans always shrink the first time they are washed but won’t shrink significantly after the first wash.
While they shrink a little after washing, they will then stretch out again as you wear them. It may not be fun to dance around trying to do up the button, but you only have to do this when they’re fresh out of the wash as jeans will adapt to your body shape again.
As mentioned, jeans shrink at higher temperatures, so they will shrink every time you wash them at anything above 60 degrees.
Do Jeans Shrink After Not Wearing Them?
No, jeans and other denim items don’t shrink when they’re hanging in your wardrobe or folded in your drawer. A combination of heat and moisture cause them to shrink so they will only shrink after washing or drying.
How to Stop Jeans from Shrinking
While jeans tend to shrink a very minimal amount after every wash, you may want to keep them intact as long as possible. Follow these tips to minimise shrinkage in your jeans:
- Choose a polyester blend as it’s more resistant than cotton.
- Hand wash your jeans or choose a gentle cycle.
- Wash jeans at around 40 degrees as this will clean them but is not so hot that they will shrink too much.
- Air dry or tumble drying for a short time.
- Turn them inside out before washing as the outside of the jeans are considered to be the most sensitive to heat and, therefore, most likely to shrink.
- Invest in high quality jeans as they are manufactured to deal with some shrinking.
How to Stretch Out Jeans that Have Shrunk
If your jeans are past the point of breathing in to get them on, you can try following these steps to stretch them out again. However, proceed with caution as this may warp them and they will still be unwearable.
- You can either fill a bucket with lukewarm water, submerge the jeans in the water and then squeeze out the excess water. Or put the water into a spray bottle and spray the jeans. You can also add a little fabric softener or baby oil to the water so that the jeans become more supple.
- Once they’re damp, grab two sides and pull them in opposite directions. For a more intense stretch stand on one part of the jeans and pull them up towards yourself.
- Be sure to avoid pulling at the belt loops or pockets which may rip.
- Hang the jeans up to air dry rather than tumble drying which can cause them to shrink again.
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