How to Shrink Shorts: 4 Easy Steps

We sometimes find ourselves in situations where we need to shrink our shorts. You might mistakenly buy oversized shorts, or your old ones could have stretched and don’t fit anymore. In most cases, it’s possible to shrink your pant shorts to your preferred size.

Different Ways to Shrink Shorts

Lady Wearing Shorts

Manufacturers make shorts from various materials with different qualities. Therefore, there isn’t a universal way to shrink all types of shorts. I’ll break down the general method of shrinking shorts and other more specific ways if the first method doesn’t work.

The General Method to Shrink Shorts

To shrink your shorts, start by using hot air; if that is ineffective, use hot water. Another way to get hot water to shrink your shorts is to boil water on the stove and apply your shorts to that water.

  1. Look at the care label to know what material your shorts are made from. Natural textiles like denim, cotton, linen, silk, and wool shrink easily. Cotton blends might require a little more heat and care. 
  2. Your shorts should be free and clear of stains. Drying filthy shorts causes dirt or stain to set in. You have two options for handling stains: a stain removal spray or manual labor with soap and water.
  3. Drying the shorts in small bursts prevents excessive shrinkage; put the shorts in the dryer for 15 to 20 minutes to start on high heat. Dry shorts can go into the dryer, but you’ll get a more significant shrinking effect if you put them in wet.
  4. In order to shrink the shorts, check them and dry them for a long time. If they are not small enough, dry them in intervals of 10 minutes until you are satisfied with the result. If still wet, put them on a rack to dry completely.

How to Shrink Cotton & Denim Shorts

Cotton & Denim Shorts

The steps to shrink cotton and denim shorts are as follows:

  • For new shorts, try washing them first with warm or hot water.
  • If the care tag says the shorts should be air dried, try drying them in the dryer for 10 minutes before letting them dry naturally.
  • For best results, let the shorts dry on their own.

How to Shrink Synthetic Fibers (Gym Shorts)

Gym Shorts

Compared to natural fibers, synthetic fibers resist shrinkage better. Spandex and polyester are hard to shrink, while rayon and other cotton-synthetic blends will shrink more easily.

  1. Use a tea kettle or a pot on the stove to heat enough water to submerge your shorts. If you’re using a tea kettle, place the shorts into a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. For the pot on the stove, you can put the shorts directly into it (with the heat turned OFF).
  2. Once the water has cooled down, pull the shorts out and wring them until the water isn’t dripping.
  3. Put the shorts in the washing machine for the hottest cycle possible. Put a small load into your washer, using the least quantity of detergent. Use hot water only for this process.
  4. Put shorts in the washing machine: for 50 to 60 minutes, and tumble dry the shorts on high (or the highest setting you have). Keep an eye on the washing machine so you can move the shorts over as soon as it shuts off.

How to Spot-Shrink Shorts

Sometimes you don’t want to shrink your entire shorts. The following steps will show you how to shrink specific parts of your shorts that are bigger than you want.

  1. Mix fabric softener and hot water in a spray bottle and shake it. The mixture should be about 180 ml hot water for 59 ml liquid fabric softener.
  2. Place your shorts on a flat surface and spray the mixture on portions of your shorts that you wish to shrink. Spread a towel over the places you don’t want to shrink to protect the mixture from touching it.
  3. Run a hot pressing iron over the sprayed portions until the shorts are dried completely.
  4. Depending on the shorts, it may take a few tries to get them to the correct size. In general, 2-3 attempts will be all you need.

Shrinking Your Shorts at a Tailor

Sometimes all the above heat-shrinking methods won’t work to shrink your shorts. Your shorts might not shrink if it’s too old or if you’ve shrunk them several times before. Also, the shrinkage might not be to your taste; maybe it doesn’t shrink enough, or the shorts shrink unevenly.

Whatever the case, shrinking your shorts at a tailor is always the best way to get them looking exactly how you want. The tailor will trim the excess cloth and adjust the seams to a tighter position. This method works for all types of shorts and gives you the most accurate results.

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