How Do You Shrink Leggings – Complete Shrinking Leggings Guide

How do you shrink leggings. Every leggings owner will soon figure out he needs to shrink their leggings or throw them out. The type of fabrics used and the usage of the pants will most likely cause the leggings to stretch and expand, and after a while of doing this, they will be less comfortable wearing.

Most people just throw them out at this stage, but some want to keep using them and opt to shrinking their leggings in various ways.

This guide will teach you all the ways you can shrink leggings and keep wearing them for just a little while longer. 

One of the staples in a woman’s wardrobe is a pair of leggings. Correction: it’s “several pairs of leggings”. They are comfy and non-confining.

When you find a pair that fits you perfectly, all your pretty curves will be accentuated. But what if your leggings turn loose? Can you shrink the leggings?

Unless you do, you’re going to be stuck with a pair that will look wrinkled, keep slipping, and make you feel uncomfortable throughout the day.

The only way to get out of the situation is by shrinking your oversized and loose leggings. Fortunately, it is possible to shrink leggings for a better fit.    

How Do You Shrink Leggings – Why You May Have to Shrink Leggings

Every woman swears by leggings. The most common ones are in black and white, along with other pairs in base colors. Leggings can be paired with any top or tunic to give you a shapely look. Admit it – you have a few favorite pairs of leggings that you wear all the time, everywhere you go.

Sadly, this doesn’t bode well for the leggings. The waistband becomes loose, and the areas around the knees and ankles get stretched. The pair that used to fit you like skin has now taken the shape of your body from the waist down and has started to sag and fold.

What’s more, repeated washes don’t help the case, either. Your favorite leggings have now been reduced to their ghost. You can’t really throw them away, can you? After all, it’s hard to part ways with your favorite fashion-buddy.

So the only thing left to do is to try and shrink them.

Another reason why your not-so-overused pair of leggings can become loose and look saggy is your weight loss. Though you’re probably prepared to restock your wardrobe after a weight loss journey, you might be able to avoid throwing away leggings by shrinking them a little.

What about new leggings? Buying clothes online is a gamble unless it’s a known brand, and you’re aware of the size that fits you. As for physical stores, most of them don’t allow you to try on leggings to check the size. It’s also rare for all shops to take back leggings. Shrinking might be the only option.

Best Tool for Shrinking Leggings – Heat

There are some easy and homely ways to shrink leggings that don’t fit well. One way to reduce their size is the old-fashioned way of stitching. You can do it yourself if you’re good or go to a tailor. But it may be difficult to fix partially stretched out leggings by stitching. It’s also time-consuming.    

There are other quick ways to shrink your leggings, and these are absolutely hassle-free. How, you ask? The key tool is heat! Yes, you read that right. It is easy to shrink leggings and make them skin-tight again by applying heat on fabric, as heat has the tendency to shorten threads.   

But how will you apply heat? Should you wash the pair in hot water or put them in the dryer on high heat? Or should you iron them?

There are many ways of applying heat to leggings to shrink them in size and make them look new and perfect again. You need to know how not to destroy the leggings. 

Factors to Consider while Shrinking Leggings

how do you shrink leggings

What method you should employ to shrink your leggings in size depends on a couple of factors. You need to find out some information about the leggings first, and such info should be available on the label stitched to the waistband on the sides or the back. These labels mainly have two details:

a) Material

An essential factor to consider at the time of choosing the right way to shrink leggings is the composition. What type of fibers does the fabric of the leggings contain? Some may be made purely of cotton, while others are made of blends like spandex or polyester for stretchiness.

But why is this information important? That’s because depending on the nature of the fabric, they react differently to heat, as well as water and detergent.

Accordingly, you will have to choose a method of shrinking the leggings. Suffice it to say that the technique cannot be universal. 

b) Care Instructions

The label on the leggings also reveals instructions on how to maintain the leggings and how to wash and care for them to ensure that the pair holds up properly. These instructions will help you understand how best to apply heat so that your sagging leggings can fit you properly.

Some leggings have to be washed in cold water, according to the instructions on the label. It’s likely that these leggings will shrink extensively in hot water. Other leggings can handle warm water. For these, a higher temperature will need to be applied, possibly more than once.

Different Methods of Shrinking Leggings

There are various ways of applying heat on leggings to shrink them. Let’s take a look:

a) Washing Machine and Dryer

It is possible to use washing machines to shrink leggings. How? Check it out!

i) Washing in Hot Water:

Start the process by selecting wash and rinse cycle options, both with hot water. Heat will work its magic on the yarns and shorten the thread to undo their relaxation. The entire process will subject your leggings not just to heat but also to friction and water and bind the fabric back to shrink it.

You have to remember that this will affect used leggings more. A new pair of leggings usually comes pre-shrunk, though the pair will not go completely unaffected by the technique. You can also use detergent while washing leggings in hot water. It won’t disrupt the shrinking process.   

ii) Longest Wash Cycle

To boost the shrinking technique, you have to set the wash cycle to the longest time available. This will allow the leggings to receive heat, as well as friction and water, for the longest possible time for their best effect on the shrinkage of your loosened pair of leggings. But that is not all.

Another advantage of choosing a longer wash cycle is that it includes some time for pre-soaking, too. So, when the leggings are kept in hot water during this pre-soaking time, the heat and water will soak into the fabric and further enhance the process of shrinking the leggings.   

iii) Drying Leggings with Heat:

The final step of exposing your leggings to heat is during the drying process. As the water gets removed during this step, heat and friction are left to handle the shrinkage. So put the leggings in the dryer and set it on high heat to continue with the process of shrinking.

Putting the leggings in the dryer will help to lock the shrinkage. It can take up to 10 minutes for that to happen. Are you worried about possible damage to your leggings while tumble-drying? Then, put them in a pillowcase and tie up the mouth before drying. You can also do that while washing.    

Things to Remember –

Remember that shrinking leggings properly can take 5-10 cycles. But if this is your first time shrinking leggings in a washing machine and a dryer, keep checking throughout the process. Monitor the changes since both the width and length of the leggings will reduce during this process.

b) Electric Iron

This method can come in handy if you do not own a washing machine. Let’s take a look –

i) Washing in Hot Water:

While the washing process can be completed in a washing machine, just like in the previous method, you can also wash the leggings in boiling water.

Take a large pot and start heating the water in it. Then, put the leggings in a pot of boiling water and keep them there for around 10 minutes.

Make sure the water is boiling, and you can use a pair of tongs to move the leggings around in the water. You can understand that you need to use a fairly large pot for the process. This will create some movement, as the process cannot really create as much friction as a washing machine can.

ii) Preheating the Iron

Irons need to be plugged in and allowed to sit for a while to allow them to heat up. So fix your ironing board while the leggings are getting washed, and switch on the iron. But do not set it on high heat if your leggings contain nylon or polyester, as the heat will melt the fabric.

Meanwhile, as the leggings get exposed to sufficient heat, you can take them out of the boiling water or washing machine and smoothen them out on the ironing board. Place a small and thin towel on the section of the leggings that you want to iron. A pure cotton pair of leggings won’t need a towel.

iii) Ironing the Leggings

Start ironing the leggings, one section after the other. During the process, move the iron around the leggings and apply pressure. Continue with the process until all the water in the wet leggings evaporates. Touch the leggings and see if the fabric feels almost dry. Then, let the leggings air-dry.

During the process, make sure to keep moving the iron around to prevent burning any particular section of the fabric. Plus, the movement will also create friction, which will be helpful in shrinking the leggings. Remember not to set the iron on steam mode as it will reverse the shrinkage.   

Things to Remember –

Be careful while using the iron, and don’t forget to unplug it after using it. If you do not own an iron, you can also use a hairdryer. You won’t need to use the kitchen towel in that case. Remember that the process will take a little longer, though a hairdryer might be useful in shrinking leggings.

Can you shrink the leggings without washing them?

how do you shrink leggings

Instead of washing your leggings in hot water, you can also soak the pair in hot water overnight. Another method of exposing your leggings to heat and water without washing them is by spritzing them with hot water using a spray bottle.

How to shrink the waistband of your leggings?

If you want to shrink the waistband of your leggings only, simply dampen it separately, put the pair from a hanger, and let it hang loosely. Then, use your hairdryer, applying the highest heat setting, and it at the waistband specifically. Using an iron can melt the elastic strap.    

Material-Wise Methods of Shrinking Leggings

You might need to alter your shrinking methods depending on the material of the leggings.

a) Nylon

If your leggings are made of nylon, you can wash them using the hottest cycle in the washing machine to begin the shrinking process. If you’re apprehensive about the color of your leggings getting faded because of the hot water, you can throw some ammonia into the washer.

Next, it’s time to dry the leggings. Do so by tumble-drying the leggings on medium heat in the dryer. Don’t continue the process for more than half an hour. Too much heat for too long might damage the fabric of the leggings. Once you’re done, spread them on a flat surface and let them dry.      

b) Spandex

Spandex leggings can be shrunk using high heat in a low-water cycle. This will allow you to shrink multiple leggings in one cycle instead of wasting water in multiple cycles. On the contrary, you can also boil water in a pot. But in that case, each pair will have to be soaked separately. 

The process of drying needs to be handled carefully as you should not tumble-dry them in the dryer for more than 10 minutes using high heat. Otherwise, due to long exposure to heat and friction, the fibers of the leggings can get damaged. You can also put them in a pillowcase while drying.

c) Spandex and Polyester Blend

Leggings are popularly made of blends of spandex and polyester. While polyester adds strength and durability, spandex makes the fabric flexible and comfortable. The good thing is that such a material is easy to shrink. Such leggings also retain the color during shrinkage. 

Spandex-polyester leggings demand the highest heat setting, combined with the lowest level of water. After the wash, put the pair in a case before sending it to the dryer. Then, let the leggings tumble-dry for just 10 minutes on high heat in the dryer of the machine before air-drying.

d) Lycra Blend

Lycra is a synthetic material with extremely strong fibers. So pure lycra leggings will be extremely difficult to shrink. However, if it is blended with cotton or other materials like polyester and spandex, you can use the same method to wash the leggings in the washing machine and shrink it.

As for drying, don’t allow them to get tumble-dried in the dryer for more than 10 minutes at high heat. The rubber element of a lycra blend, which makes it elastic, can be destroyed due to high heat. Eventually, it will shorten the life of your favorite leggings, and the fabric will also wear out quickly. 

e) Cotton Leggings

The easiest material to shrink is cotton. This fabric is made of cellulose, and it absorbs water easily. When heat is applied to cotton leggings during both washing and drying using heat, the material shrinks easily. The molecules of water help to make the fabric even tighter.

Cotton can handle high heat, and you can take full advantage of that. Put the leggings in the washing machine, setting the temperature of the water to the highest level available. Then, use the longest wash cycle for the highest exposure to heat before drying them in the dryer on the hottest setting. 

f) Preshrunk Leggings

Some leggings are shrunk during the manufacturing process by relaxing the fibers and tightening them. Compression leggings or workout leggings belong to the category. Since they have already undergone pre-shrinking, they are more resistant to DIY shrinking techniques. 

For best results, heat water and remove it from the heat when it starts to boil. Then, soak the pre-shrunk leggings in it for 3 minutes and transfer the pair to the water using tongs or gloves. After washing it in hot water, put it in a dryer with a towel and dry it for a full cycle. Repeat, if necessary. 

Final Words

Shrinking stretched-out or loose leggings is not tricky if you know what to do and how to do it properly. For that, you must check the care label. But the results will vary based on the fabric. A key weapon for shrinking leggings is heat, though friction and water also play a significant part in the process.

The best way to apply heat is by washing and drying leggings in a washing machine to use heat, friction, and water. But control the cycle and the heat level while washing and drying. Ironing is also a great way to apply heat. It’s ideal to put a protective cloth on the leggings while ironing.