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Denim is worn all year round and knowing how to prevent jeans from shrinking and how to bring them back to their old length will spare you the frustration of having to throw out your prized items or resign yourself to wearing something that is too short for you, especially in summer.
Even if it only happens once, shrinkage can ruin your relationship with your favorite pair of jeans.
Here are some tips on how to prevent jeans from shrinking:
- Wash them by hand in cold water without detergent until they have no more color left inside the garment.
Water is great for removing stains but it also causes the threads to swell and shrink, causing your clothes to lose their shape or even get ruined. Only use soap when absolutely necessary, otherwise, opt for a non-colored soap that won’t leave any residue on your clothes.
If you’re really short on time, throw them in the washer on a cold cycle but don’t add any detergent or softener then dry them with low heat. That way most of the shrinking will be stopped before it begins, especially since hot water is the main cause of shrinkage.
- Drying your jeans at a low temperature will help prevent them from shrinking and keep their shape intact in case they were not completely or properly washed. If you’re drying them naturally, try to dry them indoors in front of an air vent because heat can still damage your clothes even if it’s not as strong as when using a dryer machine.
- Do not add bleach when washing denim or any other fabric. Bleach can harm fabrics and weaken the threads over time until they snap all together, which will cause holes to appear in your garments.
White cotton items containing bleach stains should be washed immediately with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar added to the water to soak up all the bleach before it has time to penetrate through your clothes. For dark denim jeans, use water and vinegar instead of detergent if they are still new because the indigo dye may fade due to too many washings.
If you want to brighten them up again, put one teaspoon of baking soda into a full bucket of warm water then soak your garments without scrubbing for about half an hour.
- Do not use fabric softener when washing or drying your jeans but sometimes this is unavoidable if you’re wearing them right after they were washed and dried with fabric softener which can leave residue on the threads that will make them stiffer than usual. Washing them again in cold water alone usually does the trick even if it means throwing out all your fabric softener for good.
- Using baking soda instead of detergent is the best way to prevent jeans from shrinking because baking soda will neutralize any spots or residue left on your pants and restore their original color without damaging the fabric like bleach would.
Add one tablespoon of baking soda into cold water then soak the garment for at least thirty minutes, longer for brighter results. Rinse with cold water then blot dry with a clean towel to get rid of any excess moisture which could damage the threads if not blotted properly before drying.
- If you’re too late in deciding to wear dark jeans on a rainy day, simply spray them generously with hair conditioner straight out of the shower after you have dried yourself off but before putting your clothes back on so your pants won’t absorb all the moisture from the rain. Check out our article here if you want to learn how to dye your jeans.
According to Lifehacker, soaking jeans in a bucket of vinegar and water will also help remove stains if they’re not too stubborn. Rinse with warm water then soak them for about half an hour or until you can dab some vinegar on the spots that didn’t come off easily once you rub them with a sponge dipped in hot water.
This only works on denim fabrics so use another method for any other material such as cotton, spandex or nylon since this may weaken those materials over time given their delicate nature which is highly prone to damage when exposed to acids like vinegar or lemon juice which contain acidity that can wear away the threads over time.
One of the most effective ways to prevent shrinking when washing your clothing, whether denim or otherwise is by dissolving one cup of salt in water before you add your garments into the mix.
This will stop fabric fibers from tangling so they won’t shrink even if you forget to put them in cold water first before wearing them after they’ve been washed and dried. Salt will also draw out any moisture, especially if it contains sugar which acts like a natural bleach used by some manufacturers because it helps lighten fabrics over time once exposed to sunlight (which probably explains why the crotch area usually wears out faster than other parts on jeans).
What causes jeans to shrink?
Washing them with boiling water or in sweltering temperatures does cause jeans to shrink because it will damage the thread fibers, defying their natural elasticity which is why they are stretchable.
This can be prevented by washing your dark denim jeans only on a cold wash with mild detergent and blotted dry with a clean towel if you want them to look fresh out of the package all over again.
Storing them properly also prevents shrinking as well as prolongs their lifespan so make sure not to fold them when piling up your clothes just keep them flat on top of one another instead.
Are Shrinking jeans permanent?
The good news according to the experts is that shrinking jeans isn’t permanent as long as you treat them properly which means following these tips for keeping your pants looking new.
The key here is not to wash them in boiling water or expose them to direct sunlight by hanging them on a clothesline because this might weaken the thread fibers over time until they finally give way and tear at the seams.
Follow our other tips on how to prevent jeans from shrinking and you won’t have a problem with those tight-fitting jeans anymore.
Do jeans stretch after washing?
Remember the key to preventing jeans from shrinking is by putting them in cold water first before washing them and taking them out as soon as possible. Hand washes only dark denim which is more likely to shrink compared with lighter shades because it contains a higher concentration of dye which can cause bleeding over time, especially if exposed to sunlight (a natural bleaching process).
This can be prevented by rinsing your pants under cold running water thoroughly and then drip-drying them until they feel dry to the touch which takes about three hours or so depending on how damp you want them to stay.