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Do Jeans Shrink In Length Or Width?

No one can tell whether your jeans will shrink from length or width, but in most cases when jeans shrink, it shrinks from both length and width. Although, researchers have shown that, depending on your laundering method, you can predict whether your jean will shrink or expands in length and width.

Now many people think shrinkage means a reduction in the size of a jean, but that’s not the case always. So read this article completely to know the ways your jean can change their dimensions via shrinkage.

2 Types Of Shrinkage:

Plus and minus shrinkage explained

Whether your jean gets loose or tight after washing and drying depends on plus & minus shrinkage. Plus shrinkage is responsible if the length and width of a jean expand after washing, on the flip side minus shrinkage explains the contraction of dimensions.

Ok after detailed analysis and research AUTEX Research Journal, concluded that the fabric of your jean can shrink or extend in length and width depending on the way you treat your garment while laundering,

Using Scientific Research To Contract or Expand Jean While Laundering

Here are the conclusions of the experiment done by AUTEX on single-jersey but seem to hold for jeans also:

  • Tumble drying the jean will yield contraction (minus shrinkage) in length & width whereas line drying results in extension (plus shrinkage) of length
  • Water/line drying caused more extension in length & width than detergent/line drying.
  • On a similar note, water/tumble drying produced less shrinkage in length & width than detergent/tumble drying.
  • The reason why jean length increases when we water/line dry the jean is that the mass of fabric causes the fabric to move downward.

One more important factor is mechanical agitation and spin cycle. Found by the research article published in the International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology in January 2009 that mechanical agitation during tumble drying is one of the prime factors in the shrinkage of cotton/natural fabric as it inspires the fabric to relax to its original dimensions. That’s why it was concluded by the same paper – an increase in the laundering spin cycle will increase the mechanical agitation which ultimately accounts for more shrinkage in length and width wise.

Material Matters – A Shrinkage Deciding Factor:

On the scale of shrinkage, cotton, linen, wool, rayon, and viscose shrinks more easily than silk, acrylic, nylon, and polyester. Note, the jeans or any garment for the matter that has spandex in good proportions tends to shrink more than jeans that have no spandex.

Now, there are two types of materials used to make your jeans – synthetic & natural in either pure or as blending. Now keep this in mind if your jeans contain more than 80-90% of synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon then it is very hard to shrink and if jeans or other clothes are made of 100% polyester or nylon then it is most challenging for them to shrink.

Otherwise, all-natural fibers tend to shrink, for example, cotton which is prime content in any denim jean is tend to yield shrinkage from 1% to 20% depending on how it is woven, knitted, chemical & mechanical treatment, spinning, yarn loops, and many other factors including fiber to yarn to fabric to manufacturing a final product which in our case is jean.

You would be surprised to know that there is a caveat, not all cotton jeans shrink, yup that’s right as they are treated and manufactured likewise that only allows them to shrink temporarily after washing or drying them in a heat setting but they come back to their preferred size.

Why, because during manufacturing they are treated under specific heat settings and other consolidations which keeps them on their original/natural dimensions even after going through mechanical and chemical stresses & strains. One such example Is Old Navy, this brand makes cotton jeans that only shrink temporarily, you can read more about them here.

However, other brands of cotton jeans shrink a lot, including American Eagle and Wrangler.

How To Shrink Length & Width Of Jeans?

As per all measurements, if you want to shrink your jeans then go with natural clothing or the materials discussed above, however, if you would like to get a jean that stays in shape then go with polyester, nylon, or silk-made jeans.

Coming to the point, not all cotton jeans shrink like the one which is sold by the old navy, yet still, there’s hope with other brands so you can try these steps:

  • Dip the jean in boiling water and let them boil for a few minutes. (You can use Detergent as it results more shrinkage compared to water alone)
  • Take your jean off, after the water is warm but not too hot.
  • immediately put in a tumble drier and apply the highest heat setting available
  • It will start shrinking your jeans, now for the effectiveness of the process, it would be best if you tumble dry your jean with the longest cycle because the more your jean spend time spinning in a drier, the more mechanical agitation it has to suffer which tend to increase the shrinkage.
  • After all these steps you will have a pair of jeans that is shrunk in length & width.
  • Make sure you only do this with likable color clothing to avoid mixing or losing the vibrancy and color of any other garment you want to shrink along with your jean.