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How To Shrink Leggings

There’s nothing worse than your favorite pair of leggings not fitting anymore. Whether you lost weight, the leggings got stretched out, or they were too big or too long in the first place are all reasons why you might need to shrink your leggings. But how do you shrink leggings anyway?

You can shrink leggings in the washer and dryer or with an iron, a hairdryer, or boiling water. You can also shrink them as a whole or in certain areas. But, the best method depends on what materials the leggings are made of and where you need them to shrink at.

In this article, I’ll explain how to shrink leggings in different ways. You’ll also learn which methods are better for shrinking certain materials and how to shrink them in certain areas, such as the waistband. Finally, you’ll learn how to prevent leggings from shrinking even more or stretching too much once you’ve made them the right size.

How To Shrink Leggings

Do Leggings Shrink?

You can shrink most leggings in one way or another, but how easily they shrink depends on what they are made of. Leggings made from cotton will be easiest to shrink, as cotton is prone to shrinking being a natural fiber. It will shrink with just water and heat.

Leggings made from synthetic fabrics are designed to be more shrink-resistant. Therefore, they will be harder to shrink. This includes fabrics such as polyester, spandex, and nylon. Plus, synthetic fabrics can become damaged due to exposure to too much heat, so you have to be more careful with how the heat is applied. But, they can shrink some as long as you use the right methods.

Will Leggings Shrink in the Washer?

It’s possible that some leggings will shrink in the washer if you use the right settings. Again, cotton is most likely to shrink in the washer and this is true even if you’re not trying to shrink it. However, leggings made from other materials may not shrink just by washing.

Even if the leggings don’t shrink just by being washed, washing them first will make them easier to shrink in the dryer. This is because it’s not so much water that causes shrinking, but a combination of water and heat. This combination causes certain fibers to relax when wet the constrict when exposed to heat, causing shrinking.

Do Leggings Shrink in the Dryer?

Some leggings will shrink in the dryer, especially using high heat and if they were washed first. Cotton leggings are very likely to shrink in the dryer, but you have to be careful when doing this because the dryer can shrink them too much.

Synthetic materials may shrink some in the dryer, but the dryer can damage them. Synthetic fabrics may melt some or show burn marks when exposed to high heat. When trying to shrink anything in the dryer, no matter what it’s made of, it’s important to check it periodically to prevent over-shrinking and damage.

How to Shrink Leggings That Are Too Big

Do Leggings Shrink in the Dryer

If you’re trying to shrink leggings, it’s probably because they are too big. Below are the most effective methods that can shrink leggings. I’ll explain what methods are best for certain fabrics and the washer and dryer. But, these methods should be effective if you don’t have a washer or dryer or don’t have time to wash and dry them.

1. Check the Care Tag

Before trying to shrink your leggings, you’ll need to check the care tag first to find out what materials the leggings are made of. Leggings can be made from cotton, polyester, spandex, nylon, or a blend of those materials. The type of fabric they’re made of determines which method will be best for shrinking them.

But, the care tag also explains what temperature settings to use to wash them if you don’t want them to shrink. With that being said, you don’t want to follow those exact care instructions if you’re trying to shrink them. But that’s why it’s important that you’re careful, since using instructions other than what’s on the care tag can cause damage to the fabric.

2. Washer/Dryer

As I previously mentioned, the washer and dryer is the best method for shrinking leggings made from 100% cotton. But, it can also be effective for leggings made from a cotton/polyester blend, although you may not get as much shrinkage.

You can also try this method with leggings made from other fabrics, such as polyester and spandex, but again, how much shrinkage you get may vary. Remember that the heat from the dryer could also cause damage other than shrinking.

To shrink leggings in the washer and dryer, you’ll first need to wash them on the hottest water setting. You don’t have to worry about too much damage happening in the washing machine, as the hot water mainly relaxes the fibers, not shrinks them. If your machine does timed washes, you’ll also want to wash them on the longest setting possible.

After washing the leggings, you’ll want to place them in the dryer and use a high heat cycle. For cotton leggings, you’ll want to check them regularly to make sure they don’t shrink too much and pull them out once they’ve shrunk to your liking.

For leggings made of polyester, spandex, or a polyester/spandex blend, place them inside a mesh laundry bag first. The laundry bag will help to limit the fabric’s contact with direct heat and help prevent damage. You’ll also want to be sure to only leave them in the dryer for about 10 minutes.

3. Iron

If you only need to shrink your leggings in certain areas, such as areas that have gotten stretched out, then just using the iron can be great for this. But first, you’ll still need to wash your leggings in the washing machine using hot water and iron them while they are still wet.

After washing them, check the care tag and set your iron to the right temperature based on what the care tag says. This is one instance in which you want to follow the care tag instructions since you’re applying heat directly to the fabric.

If the leggings are made of cotton, you can iron directly on the fabric. But if they’re made from a fabric other than cotton, place a dish towel over the area you’re going to iron to prevent damage. When the iron heats up, just iron over the area you want to shrink. Once the leggings have shrunk, allow them to finish air-drying so that they don’t shrink more.

4. Hair Dryer

Another method if you only want them to shrink in certain areas or if you’re in a hurry is to use a hairdryer. This method is very quick and easy because you don’t have to wash the leggings first. Instead, just fill a spray bottle with water and use it to dampen the area that you want to shrink.

After spraying the area thoroughly, use a hairdryer set on high heat to dry the leggings until the area is completely dry. You can repeat this process if necessary if you need more shrinkage. You can use this same method if you only need to shrink the waistband.

5. Boiling Water

Some leggings, especially those made from cotton, are pre-shrunk. Pre-shrinking fabric is designed to reduce further shrinking with subsequent washes. With that being said, you likely won’t be able to shrink pre-shrunk leggings that much just by washing and drying them. You’ll need to use even hotter water to relax the fibers first.

To do this:

  1. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the leggings.
  2. Place the pot on the stove and turn the eye on high heat.
  3. Wait for the water to boil, then place the leggings in the water for three minutes.
  4. Try not to leave them in for longer than that to prevent damage.

Use tongs to remove the leggings from the boiling water. Then, place them in the washing machine and wash them using hot water. Place them in the dryer on high heat and remember to check them regularly. If the leggings still haven’t shrunk enough after drying them, repeat the process as necessary.

How to Shrink Workout Leggings

How to Shrink Workout Leggings

Workout leggings are a bit harder to shrink as these are the ones that are often made out of synthetic materials. Most workout leggings are made out of spandex, polyester, or nylon due to the properties of the fabric that made them more moisture-wicking, stretchy, etc. But, these are also the fabrics that are more prone to damage from heat, so you have to be more careful.


For shrinking leggings made from spandex, the most effective way is to wash and dry them using high heat. Remember that they likely won’t shrink a whole lot just by being washed. They may shrink some, but the water will mainly help to relax the fibers. Place the leggings in the washing machine and use the hottest water temperature your machine has.

After washing, check to see if they shrank any. If you need them to shrink more, place them in the dryer on a high heat setting. Leave them in the dryer for no longer than 10 minutes. If you’re worried about the fabric becoming damaged, place the leggings in a laundry bag first. You can repeat the process as necessary if you need more shrinkage, but be aware that synthetic fabrics will only shrink so much since they’re designed not to shrink.


Leggings made from polyester can be shrunk in a similar way to spandex. Just wash and dry them using hot water. First, place them in the washer and use the hottest water setting. After washing, check to see if they shrank.

If you need more shrinkage, place them in the dryer and use a high heat dryer setting. Again, only leave them in for about 10 minutes and place them in a mesh bag if you’re worried about damage. Repeat the process as necessary. But remember that like spandex, polyester will only shrink so much.


Leggings made from nylon will be the most difficult to shrink, especially if they are made from 100% nylon fibers. If the nylon is blended with other fibers, then you can follow the instructions for polyester and spandex to shrink them in the washer and dryer. But, the leggings still may not shrink as much as leggings made from other materials.

For 100% nylon, the best way to shrink it is with boiling water. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the leggings. Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Add the leggings and let them soak in the water for at least 6-8 hours.

Note that if you’re trying this method, don’t leave the house while the clothing is in the boiling water to keep everything safe. Make sure you do this on a day when you don’t have plans.

Also, note that boiling water can cause the colors to fade, so be careful if your nylon leggings are made with a brightly colored fabric. You can add ½ cup of ammonia to the water to help prevent this from happening. After removing the leggings from the water, allow them to air-dry.

In some cases, nylon may not shrink no matter what you do. If you’ve tried the above method and they still didn’t shrink, you may just have to have them hemmed to the right size.

How to Tighten Leggings Waistband

If it’s just the waistband on your leggings that is too loose, you can try shrinking them with the iron or hairdryer method mentioned above. But, some leggings still may not shrink, or if all of your leggings have a waistband that is too big, you may have to modify them in some way.

To do this, you’ll need some extra elastic that you can buy at a craft store. The width of the elastic is up to you. Then, turn your leggings inside out and cut a small hole in the front waistband of the leggings. Make sure to only cut through the layer of fabric that goes against your waist and not through the whole waistband.

Measure around your waist with the elastic and cut it to your size. Put a safety pin in one end of the elastic; the bigger the safety pin, the better. Feed the safety-pinned end of the elastic through the waistband of the leggings, work it all the way around, and pull it out the other end.

Put the leggings on, then adjust and tie the elastic in a knot so that the leggings fit more securely. Then, cut the excess elastic off or tuck it underneath the waistband. Note that if the leggings have a seam in the back of the waistband, you can’t use this trick.

How to Fix Leggings That Are Too Long

There are some leggings that come in different lengths, but most of them don’t. It can be hard to shorten leggings that are too long by shrinking them, especially without shrinking the rest of the leggings too. With that being said, you have three options for fixing leggings that are too long.

If you don’t have sewing experience, then one way to shorten leggings is by cuffing them. Just roll up the ankles until the leggings are the desired length. Another way is to pull up the leggings about 2 inches, then fold the excess fabric down until you have a smooth look around the ankles or even around your calf if you want a cropped look. Note that neither of these fixes is permanent and you will have to do it every time you put the leggings on.

If you have sewing experience, the easiest way to fix leggings that are too long is to just hem them. You can hem them to whatever desired length you want to so that they will stay that way permanently.

Do Lululemon Leggings Shrink?

All Lululemon leggings are pre-shrunk, which means that they won’t shrink much, if at all. With that being said, it’s possible that they may shrink up to 2% when they are washed with hot water and dried using high heat.

If you need them to shrink a bit more, you can use the boiling water method above. However, you’ll want to be careful not to over-shrink them, especially since you probably paid a lot of money for them.

How to Prevent Leggings from Shrinking

Once you’ve shrunken your leggings, or if you don’t need them to shrink at all, you can prevent further shrinking by making sure to follow the instructions on the care tag when washing and drying them. The best way to prevent shrinking is to wash them using cool or cold water. Then, you can put them in the dryer on low heat or air dry them flat.

How to Prevent Leggings from Stretching

Leggings can easily stretch out with frequent wear, which is one reason why you may need to shrink them. The best way to prevent them from stretching is to wash them inside a mesh bag. This will prevent them from coming into contact with other clothes, getting wrapped about things, etc.

When you dry them, dry them inside the mesh bag as well. Or, you can let them air dry by laying them flat. Depending on what they’re made of, if you hang them up to dry, they could stretch out of shape.


I hope this guide was helpful for teaching you how to shrink your leggings. Whatever your reason is for needing to shrink your leggings is, you can usually do so just by washing and drying them with hot water. However, how much they will shrink depends on what they are made of.