How to Avoid Denim Shrinkage

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The perfect pair of denim jeans provides excellent fit and comfort. Denim is made from cotton fibers. These natural fibers shrink when exposed to high heat. Denim labeled as preshrunk is less prone to extreme shrinkage, although some shrinking is still possible. Improper washing and drying can cause the denim to shrink a full size, making that previous perfect fit into a too-small size. Constant shrinking and stretching weakens the cotton fibers, making the denim more prone to ripping and fraying.

Wash the jeans in cold or warm water on the normal cycle. Hot water eventually weakens the denim fibers. Turn the jeans inside-out before placing them in the machine to preserve their color.

Machine dry the jeans for five to 10 minutes on the regular heat setting. Brief machine drying gets out the excess moisture without causing shrinkage.

Spread a plush towel out in a well-ventilated area. Lay the denim flat on top the towel to dry. Alternatively, use a drying rack.

Fold or hang the denim after it dries completely. Avoid folding the denim while it's wet or damp.


  • Buy denim one size larger than needed if it isn't shrink resistant or preshrunk to ensure it still fits after washing.