Do Leggings Shrink in the Dryer?

woman with leggings and socks is relaxing in the balcony

If you’re shopping for the perfect-sized leggings, you’ll need to know whether or not they’ll shrink with regular use. Leggings that are too tight can feel uncomfortable and you will want to make sure your next pair will fit you perfectly after their first wash.

Leggings do shrink in the dryer. They are more at risk for shrinking if they are made from certain kinds of materials and are dried often and at high temperatures. Treating your leggings carefully and air drying when possible will help elongate their lifespan. 

In the rest of this article, I will take a closer look at what leggings are most susceptible to shrinking in the dryer. I’ll also discuss what materials to look out for and what you can do to make sure your leggings have a long and happy life without shrinkage. 

Materials Known To Shrink

The first factor that can influence whether or not your leggings will shrink is the material they are made from. If you are shopping for workout leggings, you might run into some specialty fabrics used to give you a supportive and comfortable feel. 

Lycra, for example, holds its shape quite well. These resist shrinking when exposed to hot water wash cycles as well as tumbling around in the hot dryer. 

However, many leggings are made from materials like cotton, nylon, spandex, polyester, or a mix of these materials. These are subject to shrinking when exposed to prolonged hot temperatures in the washer or dryer. 

Some of these materials can even be damaged if dried at too high of a heat for too long. 

Nylon, for example, should never be in a hot dryer for more than 30 minutes or so. You will want to make sure you don’t throw them back in the dryer if they come out damp. It is best to air dry these after the initial drying cycle until they are ready to wear. 

With spandex, you have to be even more careful when drying them in the dryer. This material should only be exposed to heat cycles of around 10 minutes. Luckily the fabric usually dries fast, but make sure you don’t accidentally throw your spandex leggings in the dryer with the rest of your laundry for the long cycle. 

How To Dry Your Leggings

To avoid shrinking, you want to avoid throwing your leggings in the washer and dryer with the rest of your laundry. This is particularly true if you are planning on drying your clothes at high heat for a longer period. 

laundry room with a washing machine

Leggings keep their shape and size more effectively if they are laid out to dry or placed in the dryer in special settings. Your leggings will likely dry much faster than your denim jeans, for example. 

To dry your leggings quickly without the risk of shrinkage, place them in the dryer on a low heat setting. Let them dry for around 5 minutes at first. This might be enough to get them just about dry. If not, let them continue to dry for around 10 – 15 minutes. 

Removing them after this time period will help get them ready to wear after washing without putting them at risk of shrinking. 

If you want to be extra careful about preserving your leggings, consider washing them separately with a delicate, cold setting. You could even place them in a mesh bag to further protect them from the rigor of the washing cycles. 

Reshaping Your Leggings

On the other hand, you may actually want to shrink your leggings if you’ve had them for a long time and they are now stretched out. 

Washing them in hot water and drying them in the dryer are great methods to get them to shrink up a bit. You can iron them or use a blow dryer on a hot setting to get them to shrink to fit you better.

If your leggings are too tight, you can take some steps to stretch them out. Simply by wearing them and exercising in them, you will be stretching out the fabric over and over to make it looser. 

Make sure you are washing them in cold water and avoiding the dryer if you want them to hold this looser shape. 

The Right Fit

Leggings are known to be great choices for working out, being comfortable around the house, or complimenting an outfit. You want your leggings to be snug and fit properly without being too tight. 

thirsty woman dressed in leggings drinks water

Since you might be planning to exercise in these leggings, you will want to make sure you can move comfortably. 

When trying on leggings, check to see if they are becoming transparent. When leggings are fitting too tightly, the material often stretches too far and they become rather see-through. If this is the case, you will want to purchase leggings that are a size larger. 

You can check a few other parts of your leggings to see if they are fitting properly. 

Make sure the waist isn’t too tight and makes you feel uncomfortable. You can also check if there is too much or too little material around the crotch and knees. Checking the fit in these areas can guide you to the right size for you and your body. 

Finally, remember that not all leggings are created equal. 

If you are switching between brands or styles, make sure you try on your new leggings to ensure the best match. Take a look at the material as well to understand if you will be able to stretch out or shrink the material if necessary. 

Final Thoughts

Most leggings are heat sensitive and will shrink when exposed to high heat settings in the dryer. With the exception of lycra leggings, most other legging materials are sensitive to their washing and drying cycle and will need to be handled carefully. 

To avoid shrinkage, consider letting your leggings dry by air. If you’re in a rush, set your dryer to a low heat setting and dry your leggings for a shortened period of time.

What To Read Next: