Most sweatpants are made from cotton fleece material which is usually either 100% cotton or a cotton polyester blend. If your sweatpants are made from 100% cotton material they will have a greater ability to shrink. However, since polyester is meant to be resistant to shrinkage, a cotton polyester blend will shrink much less than a 100% cotton garment.

If your tall sweatpants are made from a cotton polyester blend you should avoid attempting to shrink them too frequently. A high amount of heat is necessary to shrink clothing, and since polyester is not resistant to heat you could end up damaging your sweatpants over the long run.

Learn more how polyester reacts with heat can you shrink polyester?

If you are a taller guy looking to find the perfect fitting sweatpants, I created these guides of the top brands just for you.

In this article we will provide you with 7 Useful Methods for shrinking your sweatpants.

Table of Contents

  • Fastest way to shrink sweatpants: With an iron
  • Best way to shrink sweatpants: With washer and dryer

Below are 7 different methods to shrink your sweatpants, listed in order of effectiveness, with the washer and dryer method being the most effective option.

Before you administer any type of care to your sweatpants, it is imperative to first check the garment’s care label.

Using the washing machine and the dryer is the most effective way to shrink your sweatpants. Follow these steps to do it properly.

How To Shrink Sweatpants

Total Time: 1 hr 45 min

Cost: $0

Tools & Supplies

  • Washing machine
  • Drying machine
this is a photo of a washing machine to shrink sweatpants
this is a photo of a drying machine to shrink sweatpants

1. Check the care label on your sweatpants

Before you attempt to shrink your sweatpants you must first check the garment’s care label. You should first know if your sweatpants are 100% cotton, or if they are a cotton polyester blend. This is important information as it will make a difference in how much shrinkage you could potentially achieve, as well as the type of heat you use.

Plus the care label will help you understand the best way to wash your sweatpants.

this is a photo of tall paul checking the care label of his sweatpants before shrinking

2. Set washing machine to hot to shrink sweatpants

For 100% cotton sweatpants set the washing machine to the highest water temperature setting, and adjust the wash cycle to the longest possible time (how long does a washer take?). If your sweatpants are a cotton poly blend, consider using medium heat or a shorter wash cycle, and observe the results.

this is a photo of a washing machine being set to hot to shrink sweatpants

3. Remove sweatpants from washing machine

Remove the sweatpants from the washer. Check the sweatpants to make sure they are damp, not soaking wet. If they are soaking wet, put them back in the washer and do a spin cycle to remove any of the excess water.

this is a photo of tall paul removing sweatpants from the washing machine while being shrunk

4. Shake sweatpants out before drying

Shake the sweatpants out before you place them in the dryer to make sure there is no excess dirt or debris.

this is a photo of tall paul shaking sweatpants before drying

5. Put sweatpants in the dryer on tumble dry high

Place the sweatpants in the dryer. If your sweatpants are 100% cotton, adjust the heat setting to tumble dry high. If your sweatpants are a cotton poly blend then use tumble dry medium and observe the results and modify as necessary.

this is a photo of sweatpants going in the dryer on tumble dry high to shrink

6. Check on the sweatpants often

Feel free to check on the sweatpants periodically to ensure that you don’t over shrink them. Understand how long does a dryer take, to get exact times. Also do you know how hot a dryer gets?

this is a photo of tall paul checking on his shrinking sweatpants often

7. Remove the sweatpants from the dryer right away

Remove the sweatpants and wear or store them appropriately. Be sure to properly fold your sweatpants.

this is a photo of sweatpants folded after being shrunk

How to shrink sweatpants: quick tips

  • Immerse the sweatpants in a basin or bathtub filled with hot water for about 30 minutes. Hot water can help shrink the fabric.
  • Wash the sweatpants in the washing machine using the hottest water setting recommended for the fabric type.
  • Place the sweatpants in the dryer and set it to the highest heat setting. Tumble dry them until they reach the desired size.
  • Keep a close eye on the sweatpants while they’re in the dryer. Check them periodically and remove them once they’ve shrunk enough to avoid excessive shrinking.
  • If the sweatpants haven’t shrunk enough after the first cycle, repeat the process by washing and drying them again. Gradual shrinking can be achieved through multiple cycles.

How To Shrink Sweatpants In The Dryer

Total Time: 45 min

Cost: $0

Tools & Supplies

  • Spray bottle
  • Drying machine
this is a photo of spray bottle to shrink sweatpants in dryer
this is a drying machine to shrink sweatpants in the dryer

1. Turn the sweatpants inside out before dryer

Be sure to turn your sweatpants inside out as this will protect the delicate outer layer.

this is a photo of sweatpants turned inside out to shrink them

2. Add moisture to the sweatpants

Use a spray bottle filled with water or put your sweatpants into the washing machine before you attempt to shrink them in the dryer. Your sweatpants should be damp, but not soaking wet.

this is a photo of tall paul adding moisture to sweatpants to shrink them

4. Set the dryer to tumble dry medium for your sweatpants

Set the dryer for 45 minutes to start. Check on them every 20 minutes.

If your sweatpants are made from a cotton and polyester blend then you may want to consider using a tumble dry medium cycle, since polyester is intolerant to heat and the high temperatures might eventually damage your sweatpants.

For 100% cotton sweatpants, run the dryer on tumble dry high and periodically pause and observe the process to make sure you don’t over shrink your sweatpants.

If you find that tumble dry medium doesn’t shrink your sweatpants enough, then you can try to use tumble dry high, however this should not be done too frequently or else it may damage the polyester fibers.

this is a photo of a dryer set to tumble dry medium to shrink sweatpants

How To Shrink Sweatpants With Boiling Water

Total Time: 2 hr 45 min

Cost: $0

Tools & Supplies

  • Large pot
this is a photo of a large pot of water that sweatpants can shrink in

Heat is the catalyst for shrinking sweatpants, or any type of clothing, and there is nothing hotter than boiling water! Follow these steps to shrink your sweatpants using boiling water.

1. Boil a large pot with water that sweatpants will fit in

Fill a pot or basin with water and bring it to a boil. Make sure the sweatpants wont push boiling hot water out of it when the submerge.

this is a pot of boiling water to shrink sweatpants

2. Carefully place sweatpants in boiling water

Carefully place your sweatpants into the boiling water. Use tongs if you have them, and watch out to not let boiling water spill out.

this is a carefully placed pair of sweatpants in boiling water to shrink them

3. Boil sweatpants for 10 minutes

Let the sweatpants boil for 10 to 15 minutes or more if you are seeking a greater level of shrinkage. Turn the heat down to simmer, you do not need a massive rolling boil for this.

this is a photo of boiling sweatpants for 10 minutes to shrink them

4. Remove shrunken sweatpants from boiling water

Remove the sweatpants from the boiling water with tongs. You can also use hand mitts to pick up the entire pot and dump it all out into your clean sink.

this is a photo of boiled sweatpants being removed

5. Let the soaking sweatpants cool off

Wait for the sweatpants to cool and then wring out the water with your bare hands until damp.

6. Dry your sweatpants depending on if you want more shrinkage

Lay your sweatpants flat to dry or use the dryer on tumble dry high if you would like the shrink further.

this is a photo of sweatpants drying on a drying rack after. being shrunk in boiling water

Note: If your sweatpants are a cotton poly blend, do not use this method too frequently.

How To Shrink Sweatpants With An Iron

Total Time: 30 min

Cost: $0

Tools & Supplies

  • Spray bottle
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
this is a photo of a spray bottle to shrink sweatpants with an iron
this is a photo of an iron to shrink sweatpants with an iron
this is a photo of a n ironing board to shrink sweatpants with an iron

Although not as effective as the first 2 methods, ironing your sweatpants can still have a shrinking effect on your sweatpants.

1. Dampen sweatpants before ironing

Dampen your sweatpants using a spray bottle or by using the tap and sink. The temperature of the water does not matter for this. Do not soak the sweatpants, but be sure to get moisture on the entire sweatpant.

this is a photo of tall paul dampening sweatpants before ironing to shrink

2. Shrink your sweatpants on the highest iron setting

Turn the iron to its highest heat setting. Heat is the key focus when shrinking fabric. If the iron is only medium hot, you will not see as much shrinkage of the fabric and it will also take longer.

this is a photo of an iron set to high to shrink sweatpants

3. Put the iron directly onto the sweatpants

Press the iron down onto the areas you wish to shrink and not other parts of the sweatpants. Be sure all the fabric gets direct contact with the hot iron surface. Keep the iron moving slowly across the sweatpants, not settling on one spot for too long. Slow and steady movements.

this is a photo of an iron directly on sweatpants to shrink them

How To Shrink Sweatpants With A Blow Dryer

Total Time: 30 min

Cost: $0

The blow dryer method may be strenuous, slow, and less effective than our other methods. But it may be your only option (perhaps your staying at a hotel.)

Tools & Supplies

  • Spray bottle
  • Blow dryer
this is a photo of a spray bottle to shrink sweatpants with a blow dryer
this is a photo of a blow dryer to shrink sweatpants with a blow dryer

1. Dampen your sweatpants before blow drying

Dampen your sweatpants with warm to hot water. Use a spray bottle or splash them with water if a spray bottle is not available. Try not to completely soak the sweatpants.

this is a photo of tall paul dampening sweatpants to shrink blow drying

2. Blow dry your sweatpants on highest heat setting

Turn the blow dryer onto the highest heat and wind settings and use long downward strokes. You may want to turn your sweatpants inside out so you don’t damage the fibers on the outside.

this is a photo of tall paul blow drying sweatpants on high heat to shrink them

Now you best make sure you put them away properly so no wrinkles appear. Our two articles will not only save you space but time how to fold sweatpants & how to roll sweatpants.

FAQ

Clothing garments made from 100% cotton material will shrink in the dryer when using tumble dry medium or tumble dry high. If you do not want to shrink your cotton garments in the dryer then use tumble dry low, or air dry. If you really do not want to shrink your 100% cotton clothing then lay flat to dry or line dry.

To shrink a sweatshirt, place it in the washing machine and adjust the settings to the highest heat and the longest wash cycle settings. After the wash cycle has completed, place the sweatshirt into the dryer and run the machine on tumble dry high. The degree of shrinkage will vary depending on which type of material your sweatshirt is made from. 100% cotton sweatshirts will shrink to a greater degree than sweatshirts made from a cotton polyester blend.

You can shrink clothes in the dryer by first adding moisture to the garment and then by adjusting the heat setting to tumble dry medium or tumble dryer high. If you want to further shrink your clothes, place them in the washing machine on a high heat setting before you place them into the dryer.

100% Cotton sweatpants have a great ability to shrink, and may shrink up to 5% or more if the pants are not already pre-shrunk during production. If the sweatpants are not pre-shrunk they may actually shrink by up to 20%!

If you do not want to shrink your 100% cotton sweatpants, use the washing machine on the cold water setting, and either use tumble dry low to dry your clothes, or simply lay them flat to dry (or line dry.) Also check out all the ways to dry your clothes without a dryer we have for you.

Dive into the full system and understand what is tumble dry, and all the settings it has.

Yes, warm water will shrink clothes, and hot water will %100 shrink clothes. The most essential component for shrinking clothes is heat. Applying heat to your clothing is most easily done by using the washing machine on a high heat setting, paired with the dryer also on its highest heat setting.

The degree of shrinkage will depend on the type of material your clothing is made from. Items like sweatpants are usually made from 100% cotton and will have a great ability to shrink. Natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and wool will shrink to a greater degree than man made synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, nylon, and viscose. 

The materials that are most likely to shrink in the dryer are cotton, linen, wool, and rayon. The materials that are least likely to shrink in the dryer are nylon, polyester, spandex, and viscose. To shrink clothes in the dryer, set the machine to its highest heat setting, usually called tumble dry high. Understand how to use your dryer better.