How to Shrink Sweatpants in the Wash: 8 Easy Steps

Learn how to correctly use the washing machine to shrink your sweatpants. Shrink your cotton as well as your poly blend sweatpants with our quick and easy wash method.

How to Shrink Sweatpants in the Wash

Cotton Polyester

Shrink your cotton and poly blend sweatpants in the washing machine by adjusting the heat setting to the highest level possible. Once the wash cycle has been completed, continue to shrink your sweatpants by placing them into the dryer and using the tumble dry high setting. 

This is How to Shrink Sweatpants in the Wash: 8 Easy Steps

Sweatpants are typically made from either 100% cotton fleece, or a cotton/polyester blended fabric. Although the degree of shrinkage you are able to achieve will vary depending on which fabric your pants are made from, you will always be able to achieve some level of shrinkage by using the washing machine and dryer. 

Sweatpants made from 100% cotton will shrink more than sweatpants made from polyester or a polyester blend, however both types of fabrics will shrink to some degree. 

Heat is the most important element for shrinking your sweatpants, which is why running the washing machine on the highest heat setting possible, followed by the dryer on tumble dry high, will be the most effective way to shrink your sweatpants. 

How to Shrink Sweatpants in the Wash

Follow the instructions below to learn how to shrink sweatpants in the wash. 

  1. Turn your sweatpants inside out.
  2. Optional: Place your sweatpants into a mesh laundry bag.
  3. Place your sweatpants into the washing machine. 
  4. Optional: Add liquid laundry detergent.
  5. Adjust the settings on the washing machine to the highest water temperature, as well as the longest wash cycle duration possible. 
  6. Once finished, remove your sweatpants from the washing machine and place them into the dryer.
  7. Adjust the settings on the dryer to tumble dry high and push start. 
  8. Once finished, your sweatpants will be shrunk and ready to wear. 

While your using your washing machine to shrink your sweatpants you can take out your other pieces of clothing that need to come down a size or two. Not all fabrics interact with water and heat the same, so be sure to read our guide on what article you want to shrink.

3 Other Ways to Shrink Sweatpants

If you do not have access to a washing machine or a dryer, there are still 3 other methods you can use to shrink your sweatpants

Continue reading below to learn how to use boiling water, an iron, or a blow dryer, to shrink your sweatpants. 

1. How to Use Boiling Water to Shrink Sweatpants

Follow the steps below to use boiling water to shrink your sweatpants

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. 
  2. Carefully place your sweatpants into the boiling water.
  3. Let your sweatpants soak in the water for 8 to 15 minutes depending on the level of shrinkage you are looking for. 
  4. Once finished, carefully remove your sweatpants from the water and let them cool off. 
  5. Wring your sweatpants to remove the excess water. 
  6. If you wish to continue shrinking your sweatpants, proceed to place them into the dryer on tumble dry high. 
  7. If you are satisfied with the level of shrinkage you have achieved, then hang or lay flat to dry. 

2. How to Use an Iron to Shrink Sweatpants

Using an iron is a great way to spot shrink specific areas of your sweatpants. This is an effective method to use if you are seeking to shrink your waistband, thigh, or knee area, without affecting other areas of your sweatpants.

  1. Lay your sweatpants evenly on an ironing board.
  2. Use a spray bottle filled with water to add moisture to the area you wish to shrink. The area should be damp but not soaking wet. 
  3. Turn your iron on to the highest heat setting possible. 
  4. Use the iron to hand press your sweatpants in the area you wish to shrink. 
  5. Lay flat or hang to dry.  

3. How to Use a Blow Dryer to Shrink Sweatpants

If you have no other options, you may also use a blow dryer to shrink your sweatpants. 

Identify the areas of your sweatpants that you wish to shrink, and use a spray bottle filled with water to add moisture to those areas. Turn your blow dryer on to the highest heat setting possible, and use it to shrink/dry the areas you wish to tighten. 

How to Shrink Sweatpants in the Wash FAQ

Using a washing machine and dryer is the most effective way to shrink your sweatpants. Place your sweatpants into the washing machine and use the highest temperature setting to run the rinse cycle. Once finished, place into the dryer and run on tumble dry high. 

Adjust the washing machine’s settings to the highest heat level possible, and run for the longest rinse duration possible as well. 

Shrink your sweatpants by using the washer and dryer on their highest heat settings. Alternatively, you can place your sweatpants in boiling water, or use an iron and spray bottle to shrink your sweatpants. If your sweatpants are still too big they may require an alteration. 

Shrink sweatpants by putting them into the washing machine and running the rinse cycle on the highest heat setting possible. Once the wash cycle is finished, place your sweatpants into the dryer and run on tumble dry high. 

Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

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