Leggings are a staple piece of clothing in any lady’s wardrobe, and how could they not be?
Leggings are extremely comfortable and versatile. They come in a huge range of colors, patterns, and materials, so you can practically pair wear them for just about any occasion.
But what happens when your favorite pair starts to loosen up too much? Today, we’re showing you how to shrink leggings so you can salvage your precious pieces and have them fit you as new!
- What to Consider Before Shrinking your Leggings
- 5 Ways to Shrink Leggings with Washing
- 3 Ways to Shrink Leggings without Washing
- Wrap Up
What to Consider Before Shrinking your Leggings
Before you jump into action, there’s a couple of aspects you should first consider if you’re planning to shrink your leggings. You can find this information on your clothing labels – in leggings, they’re typically printed on the lining of the waistband at the back.
The first and most important thing you should check is the material of the leggings. There are several possibilities for the composition of the fibers that make up your leggings.
Some leggings are 100% pure, which means they’re entirely made out of a certain textile – most likely cotton. Others are a blend of fabrics such as nylon, polyester, or spandex. The ratio of these fabrics varies depending on how cheap or expensive the leggings are.
Different types of textiles react differently to water, heat, and chemicals. This is why shrinking methods aren’t universal. By knowing the material of your leggings, you’ll be able to choose the method that best works for your pair.
Also located at the back of the waistband, you should find a set of care instructions along with the size and material. These labels indicate how you must handle the leggings when it’s time to wash them.
In other words, care instructions can tell you what conditions your leggings can withstand without being damaged. This information can serve as a general guide to the level of heat that you should use to shrink your leggings.
For example, if your leggings are supposed to be washed in cold water, they’d probably shrink faster and more extensively in hot water.
Other leggings are capable of better maintaining their shape in hot water, which means you’ll need to use water at higher temperature settings to get them to shrink. You may even need to repeat the process for it to take effect.
5 Ways to Shrink Leggings with Washing
As we mentioned above, not all fabrics will react the same to water and temperature. So, to help get the maximum effect of shrinking, we decided to categorize our DIY methods according to the material of which the leggings are made.
Among all fabrics used to make leggings, shrinking cotton is the easiest because it absorbs water very fast. Normally, cotton clothes will swell up when you wet them with cold water and then go back to their original size when dried via heat.
But when there’s heat involved in both processes (hot water during washing and hot air while drying), cotton will shrink beyond the typical amount. In a sense, heat double-times your cotton leggings to tighten them more than usual.
Here’s what you should do:
- Place your cotton leggings in the washing machine and select the hottest level of water temperature. If the leggings are dirty, feel free to throw in some detergent – otherwise, there’s no need for it.
- Choose the longest wash cycle. This is important because the longer you expose your leggings to heat and friction, the better they’ll shrink.
- Once the washing is complete, put the leggings into the dryer and use the hottest setting.
Be sure to check your leggings periodically to avoid shrinking them too much. Remember, shrinking affects both the length and width, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for overdoing it.
Polyester and Spandex Leggings
Using a blend of polyester and spandex is very common in leggings, especially ones meant for working out. Polyester provides durability while spandex delivers flexibility and comfort.
Polyester and spandex may not be so easy to shrink like cotton, but it’s still possible with just a bit more effort. This blend will even help your leggings retain their vibrant colors throughout the process (unlike nylon, which we’ll discuss soon).
Here’s what you should do:
- Put your leggings in the washing machine and select the hottest wash and rinse cycle.
- Once the wash cycle is done, place the leggings in a laundry mesh bag or a pillowcase. Then, tie a knot to close the opening so they don’t slip out.
- Place the bag in the dryer, set it to high heat, and let it tumble dry for 10 minutes only. After that, leave the leggings in the dryer for 10 additional minutes.
- Take the leggings out of the dryer, lay them out on a flat surface, and let them air dry.
Keep in mind that shrinking polyester and spandex can seriously affect their length. Your full-length leggings may end up looking cropped after shrinkage.
As a synthetic material, nylon is a bit more tricky to shrink. Like the previous fabrics, nylon requires high heat settings to shrink.
But, you should expect some color fading in the process. To avoid this, nylon demands specific shrinking techniques.
Here’s what you should do:
- Load the leggings in the washing machine at the hottest water temperature setting.
- Add about a ½ cup of ammonia to the water. This serves to prevent the fading of the leggings’ color.
- Once the wash cycle ends, allow your leggings to tumble-dry on medium heat for approximately 25 minutes up to 30 minutes maximum.
- Remove the leggings and let them air dry on a flat surface or a hanger.
Leggings with Lycra
Lycra is another synthetic fabric that’s extremely strong. Not only is lycra harder to shrink than other materials, but some lycra leggings may actually be impossible to salvage.
If your leggings are a blend of lycra with cotton or any of the textiles mentioned above, try following the same corresponding shrinking process.
However, be sure to not leave your lycra leggings in the dryer for more than 10 minutes regardless of the method. Excessive heat can damage the elastic and rubber elements of the lycra fibers, which can significantly decrease its lifespan.
Workout and compression leggings are preshrunk during the manufacturing process, meaning their fibers have already been relaxed and tightened before you get to wear them.
This makes them more resistant to conventional shrinking techniques, but don’t worry, there are still ways to successfully shrink your leggings.
Here’s what you should do:
- Boil some water in a pot and remove it from heat once the boiling starts.
- Put your leggings in the pot and allow it to sit for 3 minutes while completely submerged in water.
- With a glove or a stick, transfer the leggings from the pot to the washing machine and set it to the hottest temperature.
- After the wash cycle, place your leggings in the dryer along with a towel to even out the heat.
- When the drying cycle is done, remove the leggings and try how they fit once cooled down.
You can repeat this process until you achieve the desired fit.
3 Ways to Shrink Leggings without Washing
You don’t necessarily need to use a washing machine to shrink your leggings. You may not even need to get them wet at all!
Here are 3 ways to shrink your leggings without washing, but keep in mind that these methods will work best on leggings that aren’t stretched out too much.
Start by spraying some water on to the leggings. You just want a few drops on there, don’t wet or dampen the fabric.
Put the leggings on an ironing board and use a pressing cloth to cover its entire length. Then, begin ironing at low to medium heat. This will minimize the risk of damaging your leggings.
If you’re working with synthetic fabrics, make sure you’re extra careful when ironing. Too much heat may melt and warp the fibers, burn them, or even turn your leggings see-through!
Also, avoid using ironing tools with steam. The goal is to dry the leggings after you iron them to really lock in the shrinkage.
Blow Drying – with Water
Blow drying is another efficient solution if you’re looking to shrink certain parts of your leggings. This is also a great alternative if your leggings are cold wash only, where washing and drying could cause too much shrinkage.
You’ll need to fill a spray bottle with hot water and then lay your leggings on an ironing board (or any flat, clean surface). Spray the front side of the leggings – apply more water to parts that require extra shrinking.
Using the highest heat setting, proceed to blow dry your leggings wherever needed.
Blow Drying – without Water
You can also use the blow dryer to shrink specific parts of your leggings without having to use any water. This is particularly handy when you’re in a rush.
For example, if the high waisted band of your leggings is the only bit that loosened up, you’d want to shrink the waistband area only without affecting the rest of the leggings.
In this case, simply hand the leggings on a hanger and blow-dry the waistband area. You’ll soon notice the effect of shrinking as the leggings tighten up around the hanger.
From working out and running errands, all the way to parties and dates, leggings have got you covered (pun totally intended).
So give back to your leggings by preventing them from stretching further in the washing machine. Always put them in a mesh laundry bag and allow them to air dry on a flat surface.
If you still notice your leggings getting too loose, you can try the methods above to bring them back to life! Be sure to also check out our guide to the best non-see-through leggings.
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