Sweatpants How to Shrink? Update 07/2022

Many different designs of sweatpants are available, but they all have a loose, comfortable fit with a soft hand and lots of flexibility for mobility. If the pants are worn out and stretched, they can sag at the knees or waist, making them uncomfortable to wear. Even if your sweatpants are too big, you don’t have to throw them away because you can quickly learn how to shrink them!

Color-fast detergent should be used to keep sweatpants from fading while they are being washed and dried. Polyester pants can also be washed in a boiling water bath. Smaller sweatbands and knees can be reduced using spot treatments with an iron or a hairdryer.

Sweatpants can be shrunk in six simple ways, all of which are outlined in this article. In this article, you’ll learn how to shrink cotton fleece versus polyester sweats. Finally, you’ll learn how to mend thick sweatpants or sweatpants that are overly long.

How to Shrink Sweatpants

Can You Shrink Sweatpants?

If you use heat and moisture, you should be able to reduce the size of most pairs of sweatpants by at least one size. Sweatpants shrink at a different rate depending on the style and fabric of your pants.

As a matter of fact, what are sweatpants? Yoga pants and leggings have a lot in common.

Most of the time, the phrase “sweatpants” refers to a broad range of athleisure pant styles. Anything with an elastic waistband made of cotton fleece or knitted into the fabric is considered a “sweatpant.”

However, sweatpants are loose pants made of cotton fleece with a drawstring waist or an elastic waistband if you want to be more specific. Cuffed ankles, loose, wide legs, or a cropped leg are all options for these leggings.

Professional athletes first used these pants in the 1920s to stay warm while working out in the cold. This fleecy sweatshirt style is, of course, a huge hit with everyone today!

Nylon joggers, often known as sweatpants, are an exception to this rule! Many fashion gurus now use the phrases “sweatpants” and “joggers” interchangeably.

This is critical since the type of cloth in your pants might affect how quickly they shrink. For example, a sweatshirt made of 100% cotton is prone to shrinkage. There were times in the past when thick elastic-waist cotton fleece pants were made with 100% cotton.

However, cotton production prices have risen significantly in recent years, therefore many clothing manufacturers have opted to use synthetic polyester fleece in place of all-natural cotton. In comparison to cotton sweatpants, polyester fleece sweatpants don’t shrink as much.

The popular striped Adidas black and white pants may also require you to deal with nylon when it comes to slinky and loose-fitting joggers.

In order to discover what kind of fabric your pants are made of, look for the small label sewn into a seam. At the center back of the waistband, this label is usually located. In this section, you’ll find information about the garment’s fabric composition and care instructions.

It’s also important to consider the pants’ style. If your elastic-waist pants have gone all saggy, the problem may not be with the fabric itself. The elastic band in the waistline may need to be replaced.

However, the fabric of your sweatpants can also lead them to stretch out more quickly. Sweatpants’ cotton (or polyester) fleece, for example, is a knit material. Instead of crisscrossing threads, this material uses loops of interwoven thread. Sagging knees or a loose waistband can occur over time since it is more stretchy than many other materials.

What Makes Clothes Shrink?

In order to shrink fabric, heat, moisture, and friction all play a role. Your clothes are subjected to all three forces during the washing and drying process! The good thing is that if you want to make your sweatpants smaller, you can take advantage of this.

A quick surge of wetness, heat, and friction occurs as the machine agitates when you use hot water in your washing machine. You can further increase the heat and friction by tossing the still-warm clothes into the dryer after they’ve been washed and dried.

When exposed to heat, moisture, and friction, most fabrics contain fibers that contract, reducing the overall size of the garment, regardless of the kind of material.

Because the cotton spinning process puts a lot of tension on the fibers, cotton shrinks quite easily when exposed to heat. Fibers relax and return to their original size when heated to high temperatures.

Polyester fibers behave differently. The heat resistance of this man-made material is rather great, but it begins to melt at a certain point. Even while drying polyester pants in the dryer should not cause them to shrink, placing them in a pot of boiling water will.

To avoid shrinking your clothing, of course, you should stay away from heat as much as possible! Many shrinking issues can be solved by just washing your clothes in cold water.

How to Shrink Sweatpants: 6 Methods

What Makes Clothes Shrink

Sweatpants can be shrunk in the washing machine or dryer, or with particular area treatments like a steamer.

The flexible knit fabric used in most sweatpants makes them prone to stretching out and becoming saggy. To get them back in shape, you can use any one of these six simple methods

1. In the Washer

Washing your sweatpants is one of the quickest and easiest ways to shrink them by a whole size.

  1. Check your computer’s settings first. Make certain that hot water is selected. Adding a hot water soak before the washing cycle will help you shrink your pants even more.
  2. Use a color-safe detergent to keep your clothes bright. If you don’t use this particular detergent, your pants may fade in hot water.
  3. In order to ensure you don’t miss the conclusion of the washing cycle, set a timer to remind you. Before they cool down from the hot water, put your jeans in the dryer right away. Alternatively, if you only want to see a small reduction in the size of your sweats, you can lay them out on a clean towel and let them air dry.
  4. To find out how much they’ve shrunk, dry your jeans in the dryer or let them air dry.

If the pants don’t shrink enough, you can always go through the process again. Because the fibers can only expand and compress to a certain extent, most garments can only be shrunk by one size.

2. In the Dryer

Cotton fleece sweatpants can be readily shrunk by drying them in the dryer. It is both a source of heat and a source of friction. It’s actually possible to use both the washing machine and the dryer to shrink your clothes to their greatest extent.

When it comes to shrinking your sweats, you can also use a spray bottle of clean water and run them through a dryer cycle.

Your jeans may feel a little tighter once they’ve been washed. These shrinkage effects are caused by the natural corkscrew form of cotton fibers that have relaxed and contracted over time. Sweatpants made of cotton will suffer the same fate if they are dried.

The shrinkage of polyester sweatpants is less than that of cotton sweatpants, although you may discover that they are a little tighter after drying them.

Make sure you double-check your machine’s settings before you put your sweats in. Using settings like “high heat” or “extended cycle” will cause the greatest amount of shrinkage. If you’re using a “permanent press,” delicate, or synthetic setting, you won’t get the best results.

3. Boiling Water

You can shrink practically any form of fabric by boiling water, which reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. For polyester sweatpants, this is the only approach that will work consistently. It requires some cautious handling of really hot things.

  1. Find a pot big enough to fit your jeans and make sure it’s big enough. Fill the pot about three-quarters of the way with water and remove the pants.
  2. Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a pot on your stove. Even if a thermometer can be used to determine whether or not the water temperature has reached 212°F, you can tell by the frothy bubbles on the surface.
  3. To carefully lower the pants into the water, use salad tongs or grilling tools. The saucepan should be removed from the fire once all of the fabric has been pierced with a needle.
  4. Allow the pants to soak for 5-20 minutes in the hot water. Their shrinkage is proportional to the amount of time they soak for.
  5. Carry the pot to the sink and empty it using dishtowels or potholders. The pants will remain extremely hot if you touch them with your bare hands.
  6. Squeeze the jeans between your hands once they’ve cooled down a bit to remove any remaining moisture. If you don’t want to shrink the trousers all the way, you may either use the dryer method or let them air dry.

4. Steamer

The appropriate degree of shrinkage in your sweatpants can be achieved with a handheld-clothing steamer, which uses concentrated heat and moisture. With a garment steamer, you won’t get dramatic effects because it doesn’t use a lot of heat. You may wish to give this strategy a try if you find that your pants’ knees begin to sag after a while.

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to set up your steamer. Some steamers necessitate close proximity to a power outlet. You may need to use distilled water for some people.
  2. The steamer should be warmed up first. Choose the most recent choice if there are any.
  3. When using the steamer, it’s best to keep sweats on a curtain rod or shower curtain rod.
  4. As soon as steam begins to emerge from the nozzle, begin stroking the nozzle over the desired locations. Stay as close to the fabric as possible without touching it with the nozzle to maximize the steam’s effect.
  5. Steam for a few minutes, then switch to a different part of the room.
  6. Put the steamer in a safe area to cool down after you’ve turned it off.
  7. Using a clean bath towel, place your pants on the flat area and let them to air dry.

5. With an Iron

An iron can also be used to focus on specific sections of your sweatpants. Using this method, however, can be risky because not all sweatpants can withstand the heat. To discover if an iron is safe to use on your jeans, check the manufacturer’s label on the inside of the garment.

It’s best not to use this procedure on any pants made of polyester, nylon or rayon. You should also avoid pressing directly on any vinyl printing on your pants, such as a logo or other embellishment elements..

  1. The ironing board is the perfect place to spread out your hoodies. Set up on a flat surface, such as a kitchen table, to save time. To begin, simply place a bath towel or other form of cushioning on the table.
  2. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for setting up your iron. To prevent mineral buildup, many irons require distilled water in their steamer reservoir.
  3. Wait for the iron to reach the “heated” state by turning it on and selecting the hottest steam setting.
  4. Slowly but consistently, go back and forth over the pant legs with the iron. Make sure you do this so that you can steam the fabric as you go along.
  5. When ironing pants, you have two options: concentrate on certain regions or go over the whole thing.
  6. Once you’ve ironed one side of the pants, turn them inside out and iron the other side, too.
  7. Allow the pants to cool to room temperature before wearing. Once they’ve shrunk enough, put them on and see if they fit. Try ironing again if necessary.

6. Fabric Softener

You can use fabric softener in a variety of methods to help shrink your clothing. The shrinkage that occurs as a result of using a fabric softener is minimal. A heat source can cause a lot of shrinking if this attribute is combined with it!

This approach can be used in two ways. For the dryer approach, you can use a fabric softener sheet. This can also help you avoid static accumulation in your garments when they are washed!

Mix one spoonful of fabric softener with one cup of water and spray it on your clothes. Using a spray bottle, apply this mixture to the knees and waistband of your sweats. Then use a hairdryer to completely dry the area.

How Much Do Sweatpants Shrink?

If you use any of the procedures outlined in this article, your sweatpants will often only shrink by one size.

As a rule of thumb, cotton sweatshirts shrink about 3% when washed regularly. Polyester pants typically shrink very little when washed in a normal cycle. However, if you use the boiling water approach, they could shrink by as much as one size.

If you love your sweats but they’ve gotten a little too big over the years, shrinking them is a fantastic option. Even if you buy jeans that are four sizes too big, you won’t be able to get them to shrink four sizes.

How to Shrink Sweatpants that Are Too Big

How Much Do Sweatpants Shrink

Heat and moisture, like a hot water wash cycle followed by a high heat dryer spin, can shrink too-large sweatpants by up to a full size. Here are some helpful hints for dealing with sweatpants that are a little too big for your body.

Cotton Sweatpants

Cotton sweatpants are more prone to shrinkage than pants made of any other material, even denim. It is possible to apply any of the ways in this article on this type of pant, but you should read the instructions below first!

Fleece-lined pants have an outer layer of smooth knit and an inside layer of plush fuzzy fleece. Brands like Nike and Champion sell a variety of sweatshirts manufactured from this type of cotton fleece.

Take a look at the following tips for shrinking cotton sweatpants:

  • Find out what kind of cloth you’re dealing with by looking at your pants’ labels first. Pants that appear to be made of cotton fleece may actually be made of 100 percent polyester.
  • Cotton shrinks fast. Setting an alarm for five minutes while using the dryer method may be necessary to avoid overdrying your hair. This way, you can keep an eye on the pants and make sure they don’t shrink excessively.
  • Because cotton is so elastic, you may want to focus on the portions of the pants that have become loose. To accomplish this, try heating or ironing. If you’re looking for anything that can withstand the heat of an iron, cotton pants are the way to go.

Thick Sweatpants

The only difference between thick sweatpants and regular-weight trousers is the amount of time they need to soak or heat before they can be shrunk.

There are heavyweight and 18 oz cotton fleece sweatpants. A combination of cotton and polyester fibers makes this fabric somewhat more resistant to shrinkage than 100% cotton pants.

  • Thick sweatpants can still be washed and dried in the washing machine and dryer. However, it’s possible that you’ll have to go through the process again two or three more times before you notice any real results.
  • Try ironing each leg of the pants for five minutes to see if it helps. Thicker materials will require more time and effort to be impacted by the heat generated during this procedure.
  • If your sweatpants are made completely of polyester, the simplest way to get rid of them is to boil them in water. However, if the pants become wet, they will become very heavy, so be careful!

How to Make Sweatpants Tighter Without Sewing

Several techniques, such as reducing the elastic cuffs or inserting fresh elastic, can be used to tighten your sweatpants without stitching.

Around the Waist

It’s common for sweatpants to feature a drawstring or elastic waistband that wears out over time and causes discomfort. After a certain number of washes, elastic fibers lose their elasticity due to heat damage, so your pants will no longer be stretchy.

There are two ways to remedy this issue without stitching. To begin, you can add a new, longer drawstring and tighten it up even further. Even if the fabric doesn’t shrink, this will help slim your waist.

Second, certain pants have elastic that can be replaced.

  1. The inside back of the waistband should have a clean incision cut into it. After doing this, you should be able to see the elastic within.
  2. Pull it out by snipping through the wide elastic strip inside.
  3. Using a safety pin attached to the end of a fresh piece of elastic, work the new elastic back into the waistband.
  4. Make a complete circle around your lower body. Use the pin to close the elastic circle once you have the two ends at the incision.

If you like, you can sew the elastic ends together, but this is a simple fix!

Around the Ankles

The ankles of sweatpants are another area where they can stretch out and become overly loose.

Tapered-leg jogging sweatpants with elastic knit ankle cuffs are a popular choice. You’ll appear like you’re wearing your big brother’s jeans if these cuffs drop and droop. You may wish to try this simple hack to temporarily solve the issue.

  1. Add boiling water to a small glass bowl, then stir. Allow the cuffs to soak for five minutes in warm water.
  2. Squish the wet, hot cuffs into the desired form on a clean towel. Set the cuff in a straight line if the bottom is broader than the top.
  3. Next, use a clean towel to remove part of the water.
  4. In order to finish drying and shaping the cuffs, use a hair dryer.


You may shrink sweatpants in the washing machine, dryer, ironing board, clothes steamer, or fabric softener! To prevent cotton pants from shrinking too much, use one of the ways listed above to shrink them. It’s possible that shrinking polyester pants requires a long soak in hot water.

Generally speaking, sweatpants are made of cotton fleece with a knit surface, which shrinks quite quickly when exposed to heat and moisture. Sweatpants of this type often have the ability to be shrunk by a whole size.

When it comes to sweatpants, have you ever tried shrinking a pair? How did it go? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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