If there is no better feeling than finding a pair of perfectly fitting tall men’s jeans, then there is no worse feeling than shrinking those perfectly fitting jeans in the wash.

We’ve probably all had an incident or two when we weren’t thinking, and ended up shrinking one of our favorite pieces of clothing in the wash. 

To avoid doing this to your jeans, make sure to avoid using heat (yes hot water DOES shrink jeans) in the washing machine or dryer (how hot does a dryer get). When using the washing machine to clean your jeans, make sure that you adjust the dial to both the delicate setting, as well as the cold water setting

If you choose to use the dryer to dry your jeans, make sure that you use tumble dry low, and remove the jeans from the dryer while they are still slightly damp.

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How To Wash Jeans Without Shrinking

How To Wash Jeans Without Shrinking

Total Time: 2 hrs 30 min

Cost: $0.53

  • Buy Tide Pods for $55

Avoid using heat when washing your jeans and you will have no problem with shrinkage. Clothes only shrink in the washing machine when they are washed with hot water, and jeans only shrink in the dryer when it is set to tumble dry high. Use cold water in the washing machine and use tumble dry low in the dryer; this will let you wash jeans without shrinking.

You can also take your drying outside the machine and dry your clothes without a dryer. Bringing out your iron to flatten any creases if you need to.

The BEST way to wash your jeans without shrinking them is to let the professionals handle it. Taking your jeans to your local dry cleaner can not only save your jeans but also save time and save money. Learn how long dry cleaners take and how much dry cleaners cost.

While denim is known for being a durable fabric, it's important to care for it properly so it lasts long and looks great.

You may choose to wash your jeans either by machine or by hand. Follow the step-by-step instructions outlined below. 

1. Turn the jeans inside out

Turn the jeans inside out and do up the zipper as well as the button.

this is a photo of jeans turned inside out before washing them without shrinking

2. Place your jeans inside washing machine

Place your jeans inside the washing machine. If your adding more clothes make sure they are the same colors.

this is a photo of placing jeans into the washing machine making sure they dont shrink

3. Add liquid detergent

Add liquid laundry detergent.

this is a photo of liquid detergent being added to jeans being washed and not shrunk

4. Set to delicate and cold

Adjust the settings on the washing machine to delicate and cold water.

this is a photo of the washing machine being set to delicate and cold so the jeans dont shrink

5. Run the wash

Run the wash cycle (how long does a washer take).

this is a photo of tall paul running the wash making sure his jeans dont shrink

6. Remove once done

Once finished, remove your jeans from the washing machine. Leaving your jeans in the wash too long will leave them smelling musty and you will need to wash them again if so.

this is a photo of tall paul removing the washed jeans that arnt shrunk

7. Dry the jeans properly

Dry the jeans properly by not putting them into a dryer. Hot air will shrink your jeans, which is not what we want. Instead let your jeans dry out from the natural air, either outside or in your house. You can line dry your jeans or hang them on a chair like I have.

This is a photo of jeans drying on a chair so they dont shrink

Once your jeans are dry you can either hang them in your closet or fold your jeans. By doing this the jeans will not look wrinkly the first time you put them on.

*Continue reading below to find out how to dry jeans without shrinking.

How To Hand Wash Jeans Without Shrinking

Total Time: 2 hrs 30 min

Cost: $0.53

  • Buy Tide Liquid for $24.95

Follow the steps below to hand wash your jeans without shrinking them.

1. Fill basin with cool to lukewarm water for your jeans

Fill a basin with cool to lukewarm water and add one cap of liquid detergent, or two squirts. I am using my kitchen sink.

this is a photo of a sink being filled with lukewarm water to hand wash jeans without shrinking

2. Turn jeans inside out and submerge in soap water

Undo the zipper and turn your jeans inside out then submerge your jeans in the water and let soak for 5 minutes.

this is a photo of jeans turned inside out and soaking in soapy water

3. After 5 minutes use your hands to squeeze the jeans

Once 5 minutes have passed, use your hands to agitate the jeans in the water. Squeeze the jeans, swish them around, beat them up for a while.

this is a photo of tall paul agitating jeans to wash them in the sink

4. Rinse the jeans under clean tap water

Once finished, rinse your jeans under cool, clean water until all the soap has been removed and the water runs clear.

this is a photo of tall paul rinsing jeans under tap water until clean

5. Get rid of excess water in the jeans

Wring your jeans or use a towel to remove any excess water from your jeans.

this is a photo of tall paul ringing out jeans in the sink of excess water

6. Air dry your jeans out of sunlight

Turn your jeans back and lay them over a drying rack for optimal air flow. If there is no drying rack you can hang them over a chair or any other thing that can allow them to hang with good air flow. Air drying your jeans is the cornerstone to them not shrinking.

This is a photo of hand washed jeans being air dried so they don't shrink

How to dry jeans without shrinking

The best way to dry jeans without shrinking them is to avoid using the dryer and instead hang or lay your jeans flat to dry. Once your jeans have finished in the washing machine, turn them back inside out, and hang (line dry) or dry flat to dry. 

If you would like to use the dryer to dry your jeans, be sure to use the air dry or tumble dry low settings. Air dry, tumble dry no heat, uses no heat at all, while tumble dry low only uses a very small amount of heat to dry clothes. If you are really keen not to shrink your jeans, remove them from the dryer when they are still slightly damp, and finish drying them by hanging. Make sure you know how long does a dryer take.

Drying your jeans on the tumble dry medium or tumble dry high settings will lead to shrinkage in your jeans, even if you only do it for a short period of time. 

If you have a new pair of 100% denim jeans, washing them is one of the ways you can break in your jeans.

Take care of the rest of your clothes with the rest of our care guides to making sure no shrinkage happens.


Jeans washed in cold to lukewarm water will not shrink. Jeans are only susceptible to shrinkage if they are washed in hot water. Adjust your washing machine to the cold water setting before you begin washing your jeans in order to avoid shrinkage. 

Jeans only shrink if they are washed in hot water, which means you can choose to shrink your jeans or not. Wash your jeans in hot water to shrink them, and washing them in cold water to not shrink them. 

Your jeans keep shrinking in the wash before you are using the wrong settings and temperature levels while washing them. Make sure the settings on your washing machine are adjusted to cold water as well as delicate/gentle. 

Jeans will shrink in the dryer if the dryer is set to tumble dry medium or tumble dry high. Jeans will shrink in the washer if the hot water setting is used. If you do not want to shrink your jeans, use the cold water setting in the washing machine, and use the tumble dry low setting in the dryer.