How to Shrink Leggings to Fit

Leggings are supposed to be tight-fitting, comfortable clothes. However, they might stretch with usage, or you might buy oversized ones. While some people would throw their large leggings away, I’ll show you some easy ways to shrink them.

How to Shrink Leggings by Material

Manufacturers make leggings out of several materials, each with a shrinking method that suits it best. I’ll show how to shrink leggings made out of different materials.

1. How to Shrink Cotton Leggings 

Victoria's Secret High-Waisted Black Leggings
Victoria’s Secret High-Waisted Black Leggings

The most straightforward fabric to shrink is cotton. This fabric is made of cellulose and quickly absorbs water, shrinking the material when washing and drying using heat.

  • Put your leggings in the washer and set it at its highest temperature and the longest wash cycle. Cotton can handle high heat, and the molecules of water help to make the fabric even tighter, so you don’t have to worry about it damaging your fabric.
  • After washing the leggings, bring them out, put them in the dryer, and dry them in the hottest setting.
  • When the leggings are dry, bring them out and try them on. Repeat as necessary.

2. How to Shrink Nylon Leggings

Nylon Leggings

Nylon leggings are harder to shrink than cotton; their color also fades when you use hot water. The steps to shrink nylon leggings are as follows:

  • Place your leggings in a washer set to the hottest water temperature for the wash and rinse cycle. You can prevent color fading by adding ammonia to the wash cycle.
  • After the washing cycle is complete, transfer the leggings to the dryer. Tumble dry it on medium heat for 20-30 minutes; leaving it too long can damage your leggings. 
  • Hang the leggings on a hanger to dry properly.

3. How to Shrink Polyester Leggings

Polyester Leggings

You can shrink polyester leggings with boiling water or a washer/dryer.

Method 1 — Boiling water

  • Boil a large pot of water to boiling point and bring it off the stove.
  • Carefully put your leggings in it with a pair of tongs, and leave them in the water for about 6 minutes.
  • Bring out the leggings with the tongs and allow them to cool to room temperature before squeezing out excess water.
  • Air dry the leggings, put them in a dryer, and run them on at a high temperature. 
  • If you feel you need to shrink the leggings more, you can repeat, using the same process.

Method 2 — Washing and Drying

  • Turn your leggings inside out to protect them from fading.
  • Set the washer’s water to a high temperature, and let it run for the longest cycle. Using detergent is unnecessary, but you can add a little if you want to wash it.
  • Remove the leggings from the washer, put them in a pillowcase, and tie it; this is to prevent them from stretching.
  • Put the leggings in the dryer and run it at a high temperature; spread them on a hanger after drying.
  • Repeat if necessary.

You can repeat these methods if you’re not satisfied with the level of shrinkage. However, although high heat shrinks polyester, it can result in faded colors and degraded fibers.

4. How to Shrink Spandex Leggings

Spandex Leggings

Spandex leggings are synthetic; therefore, they don’t shrink as much as natural fibers like cotton. Nevertheless, you can still shrink them a bit by following the process below:

  • Turn your leggings inside out and put them in the washer. 
  • Set your washer at a high temperature. You don’t need to add detergent unless you want to clean the leggings simultaneously.
  • After washing, put the leggings inside a pillowcase and tie it. Put it in the dryer and tumble-dry for 10 minutes or less.
  • After drying, bring out your leggings and try them on. 

5. How to Shrink Lycra Blend Leggings

Because lycra is a synthetic material with solid fibers, pure leggings will be difficult to shrink. However, if Lycra fiber contains fibers like cotton or polyester, you can shrink it. 

  • Place your leggings in the washer and wash them at a high temperature.
  • After washing, tumble-dry it in the dryer at high heat, but don’t let it last more than 10 minutes. The rubber element of a Lycra blend, which makes it elastic, can get destroyed due to high heat and, in that way, damage the leggings. 
  • Bring your leggings from the dryer and try them on to be sure they fit well.

Factors to Consider Before Shrinking Leggings

Before attempting to shrink your leggings, you might need to know these things. 


One of the essential factors to note before shrinking your leggings is the material it’s made of. Some fabrics are made of pure cotton, while others are made with polyester or spandex. You will have to choose a method to shrink your leggings according to the fabric used.

Care Tag

Every legging has a tag that gives instructions on how to care for it so that it lasts for a long time. Some care tags will tell you if your leggings are machine-safe and the maximum heat they can handle.

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