How to Shrink Sweatpants

I have a favorite pair of sweatpants without which I simply cannot function. I wear it everywhere, in the house, store, gym, or school runs. Sweatpants have evolved from cozy sleepwear to a multi-functional necessary clothing accessory.

However, you might notice that your sweatpants are getting loose because of frequent wear, or maybe you purchased an ill-fitting pair. Not to worry, I’ve had this problem many times, and I simply adjust the size at home using a few tricks.

There are basic laundry practices that will shrink your sweatpants.

Different Ways to Shrink Sweatpants

Ways to Shrink Sweatpants

Excellent laundry practices that ensure you wash your clothes well without causing damage are crucial lessons ingrained in everyone. One of the damages that can occur while washing your clothes is shrinkage.

But in this instance, you want to trigger shrinkage.

Shrinking your sweatpants to your desired size is easy; you will ignore almost every appropriate laundry practice you know.

Using a Washer to Shrink your Sweatpants

shrink sweatpants in washer

Shrinking your sweatpants in the washer is the most palpable method because you are already spending time to ensure your clothes don’t shrink while washing.

Be careful that the harsh washing procedure doesn’t damage your sweatpants – other than shrinkage. But it should not be a worry because most sweatpants have durable fabrics that usually withstand severe conditions.


  • Separate your white or light-colored sweatpants from dark ones because this treatment may produce more color bleeding than usual.
  • Pour a suitable color-safe detergent into the washer to ensure the cleaning agent doesn’t contribute to excessive color bleeding. Follow the instructions on the label to avoid leaving detergent residue on the sweatpants that can ruin absorbency.
  • Choose the hot water setting. Heat is a prime contributor to clothes shrinkage, and we’re often warned to cold wash our clothes, but not when we want to trigger shrinkage.
  • Select the heavy-duty wash cycle because it has a lengthy soaking and washing time. This time will enable the proper treatment to guarantee success.
  • Place the sweatpants of similar fabrics together for uniform shrinking.
  • When the wash cycle ends, you should notice significant shrinking.
  • Dry the sweatpants with intense heat to shrink them further.

Using Boiling Water to Shrink Sweatpants

Boiling water shrinks sweatpants down more sizes than a washer. It is especially suitable for polyester or cotton/polyester sweatpants.

Polyester is a synthetic fabric capable of resisting several mechanical damages like shrinking. It is near impossible for polyester clothing to shrink, but the boiling method should be successful.


  • Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the sweatpants without spilling them upon entry.
  • Place the pot on the stove to boil until it starts to bubble; use high heat to reduce boiling time.
  • When the water boils, carefully place the pot on a flat, comfortable surface.
  • Place the sweatpants into the pot. Be careful when handling hot water to avoid terrible accidents. Use a wooden spoon or large tongs to push the sweatpants till it fully submerges.
  • Cover the pot with the lid to conserve heat for as long as possible.
  • The soaking time will depend on how much shrinkage you want to trigger. Soak the sweatpants for five to ten minutes for minimal shrinkage, but soaking for 20 to 30 minutes will reduce it further.
  • After the soaking elapses, use a metal tong to remove the sweatpants from the pot and place them in the sink.
  • Leave the sweatpants in the sink to cool for a few minutes.
  • Gently press the sweatpants to remove excess water.
  • Don’t twist, wring, or squeeze the sweatpants to avoid stretching them out.
  • After the treatment, dry the sweatpants with intense heat.

Using a Dryer to Shrink Sweatpants

Continuing the theme of ignoring laundry’s best practices is how you set your machine dryer when you intend to shrink your sweatpants.

Usually, the care label and common sense will lead you to tumble dry on low or medium heat, but to shrink your sweatpants, you should turn the heat to the highest setting available on the dryer.


  • Put your wet sweatpants into the dryer. Supposedly, this step comes after following the shrinking by washing or boiling water methods.
  • Conversely, rinse your sweatpants under warm running water till it is dripping, and leave them in the sink for ten minutes before placing them in the dryer for shrinking.
  • Your dryer has several heat settings; choose the hottest one available.
How to Shrink Sweatpants with Dryer
  • The sweatpants should be in the dryer for a long time for maximum effect, so set the dryer to 30 minutes.
  • The intense heat, high moisture level, and constant spinning will affect the fibers of the sweatpants, causing them to constrict and reduce to a smaller size.
  • Stop the dryer earlier if you don’t want the sweatpants to shrink to more than a few sizes.

The Case for Air-Drying

Although air-drying will not produce the same effective results as the dryer, it can shrink your sweatpants. You still need to wash or soak the sweatpants before air-drying.

Hang your sweatpants outside on a clothesline under direct sunlight for hours until you notice the changes. Scorching sunlight will produce better results.

Using an Iron to Shrink your Sweatpants

Iron to Shrink Sweatpants

Like drying, ironing uses the effect of constant intense heat to shrink your sweatpants, but unlike drying, this process will take longer to achieve the littlest results.

If you use an iron to shrink your sweatpants, you may spend hours on the procedure; this is labor-intensive and unsustainable. However, it is suitable for shrinking targeted areas like the waistband or the legs.

Before you start the ironing method, test an inconspicuous area of the sweatpants to see the effect of the hot iron. If the sweatpants can withstand the heat, you can proceed.


  • Turn on your iron to the highest heat setting available. Steam iron is the better choice because it will incorporate moisture throughout the ironing.
  • Iron an inconspicuous part of the sweatpants to test for compatibility.
  • Spread the sweatpants on the ironing board and place a clean ironing cloth on top of it; the ironing cloth will create barrier protection against the direct impact of the hot iron.
  • Fill a spray bottle with water and use it for added moisture to boost shrinkage and prevent melting.
  • Start ironing the sweatpants, focusing on the targeted parts you want to shrink.
  • Once in a while, check the sweatpants to see the level of shrinkage.
  • If the shrinking is minimal, continue ironing till you achieve your desired size.

Using a Blow Dryer to Shrink your Sweatpants

Blow Dryer To Shrink Sweatpants

Using a blow dryer to shrink your sweatpants is similar to the ironing method in being labor-intensive and unsustainable.

Like the ironing method, it is also suitable for targeted shrinking, but it is less likely to cause damage because the primary purpose of blow dryers is hair.


  • Spread an absorbent towel on a clean flat surface.
  • Place your sweatpants on the towel to avoid water spillage.
  • Fill a bottle with water to incorporate moisture into the treatment.
  • Sprinkle water on the sweatpants to make them damp.
  • Set the blow dryer to the highest heat setting and start running it throughout the sweatpants, particularly the targeted areas.
  • After a few minutes, flip the sweatpants to the other side and continue drying.
  • After a while, check the sweatpants to see the effects of the shrinking treatment.
  • If the shrinking is minimal, sprinkle more water, and continue blow drying till you achieve your desired size.

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