How to Shrink Sweatpants

Do you own a pair of sweatpants? If so, you know that they are one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing to wear. Sweatpants are comfortable and can be worn a variety of different ways, but sometimes they can be a pain to get them back into their original shape. This is because sweatpants are made of a synthetic material that is hot and cold-resistant.

To shrink your sweatpants, take them to the dryer, washing them on the delicate cycle. Most sweatpants shrink upon the washer. Although, some sweatpants do not shrink. When you are done drying your pants, hang them up and let them drip dry all night long.

Since sweatpants are so comfortable to wear, it is important to take good care of them. Some people wash their sweatpants frequently. Washing your sweatpants often damages the sweatpants, but it is best to clean them every few weeks. The reason sweatpants do not shrink more often is because they are machine washable.

Can You Shrink Sweatpants?

Sweatpants are able to be shrunk because of the material that they are made from. Sweatpants are synthetic and can be washed in the washer and often dryer. When sweatpants are washed again in the washer, if they do not shrink fully, it is because they were not properly washed. Most sweatpants that do not shrink when washed in the washer are purposely pre-shrunk to avoid shrinking too much due to fabric damage during washing.

Sweatpants have many advantages as well as disadvantages to them. They are comfy clothing that can hold a lot of dirt and sweat, but at the same time they can be difficult to wash. The main disadvantage is that sweat pants do not shrink back into their original shape after being worn.

They can be dry cleaned, but most people do not want to waste the time and money to dry clean their clothes. When you wear sweatpants that have shrunk, it can be uncomfortable for you because they feel like they are too small. Some sweatpants can be reconditioned by getting them wet and microwaving them until they dry out. When the sweatpants are dried they are larger than when they were originally purchased.

Sweatpants shrink when they are washed or dried in a washing machine because of the way the materials that the pants are made of process in the washer and dryer. Sweat pants shrink because of the material heat or cold resistant fibers in them cause initial large shrinkage but after many washings eventually become smaller.

Shrinkage is caused by constant exposure to water, heat or cold which causes thermal degradation of materials such as cotton (colors may fade) as well as mechanical degradation of fabrics such as pilling or abrasion on seams and labels from wear over time (i.e., fades).

Shrinkage is most commonly measured by comparing the original unwashed size of a garment to the new shrunk size after washing. For men’s pants, it is usually up to 30% smaller and for women’s down to 10%. However, some brands shrink less or even slightly enlarge.

It is not easy to measure shrinkage because there are many factors that affect the final outcome.

How Much Do Sweatpants Shrink?

It is hard to measure how much sweatpants shrink. Shrinkage can vary depending on different factors.

For example, when they are first washed they may shrink slightly due to fabric debris or chemical damage during shipping from the manufacturer. The size may be 2 inches bigger after being washed in different conditions.

Shrinkage is widely measured by comparing one size before washing to a specific size after washing and drying. Other brands will shrink less than others or even enlarge slightly depending on the materials used, such as cotton or synthetic blends and dyes used for the print and logo which will fade with a lighter color of fabric over time.

It will also depend on how often you wash it, whether you dry it in front of a fan or in a dryer, and what kind of temperature you wash them at (hot/cold).

Another factor that can affect the final outcome is how many times they are washed: after several washes they may become smaller than when they were first purchased due to reduced quality materials used in manufacturing (such as the cotton material used), which results in reduced quality and faded colors if rewashed more than once.

How to Shrink Sweatpants: 7 Methods

Now lets talk about the 7 methods to shrink sweat pants.

In the Dryer

In the dryer, it is best to use garments that are similar in size to the one you are shrinking. Remove your sweaty pants and lay them flat on a drying rack. Or, place them in a mesh bag and hang it up by their drawstrings to dry. When they are completely dry, measure them with a tape measure or ruler to make sure they are still shrinking.

You can also use this method to shrink a pair of regular jeans. Just follow the instructions above and place them in a mesh bag while they are drying. When they are completely dry, you should measure them with a tape measure to make sure they are still shrinking.

In the Washing Machine

Put your sweaty pants in the washing machine with some kind of softener to make them less harsh on fabrics. You can also add a small amount of bleach if you want your clothes to be brighter. But let’s be safe and start with a lighter concentration first. When they are completely dry, measure them with a tape measure or ruler to make sure they are still shrinking.

And since sweatpants are generally made from cotton, they should not be washed with sportswear so it is best to separate them and use products specially designed for the type of fabric. You can find this kind of product in any large store that sells men’s clothing.

The Microwave

Some people that are not sure how much it will shrink exactly will put their sweatpants in the microwave with two or three towels and run it until they are dry before they measure. This can also work depending on your beliefs about microwaves and how much or little it affects you, but do at your own risk. The microwave method is not very effective on all brands of sweatpants; for example, I have found that my husband’s brand of sweatpants does not shrink properly in the microwave. Another danger with this method is if you let your pants get too hot in there, you could lose a lot of their original size.

Heat Guns

Some people have used heat guns to shrink their sweatpants, however bringing a heat gun into contact with damp sweatpants may cause a fire or damage the garment. Heat guns should be used carefully to keep them working properly and safe. If possible test these out on an old pair of clothes before using them on objects that can get damaged by heat such as household appliances or clothing items made of natural materials such as cotton, wool, etc…

Steam Iron

There is no way to predict how much steam will affect your garments but if used correctly they can help shrink some sweatpants while keeping the original shape intact thus making them comfortable to wear even after being shrunken down by washing machines and microwaving etc…

Since steam ironing can shrink clothes and ruin them after the fact, it is a good idea to take your pants out of the steamer before they are completely dry to avoid any shrinkage. Many people use cool water to try and keep the shape of the garment when they are being steamed while others simply let them dry in an open area to let the steam evaporate slowly.

Air Dry

Many people do not want to spend money on things that will not necessarily get the results they want and so they go the next best thing and just let their sweatpants air dry. The reality is that heat can be a great way to shrink sweatpants but many household items like fridges or microwaves can also potentially damage your pants if you are too aggressive with what technique you use.

So while there is no exact way of knowing how much steam or any other aggressiveness will affect your pants in the end, it would be wise to avoid aggressive techniques and let them air dry for a few days before trying to shrink them again.

Shrinking Pins

To shrink sweatpants with shrinking pins it is important to gauge the shrinkage of your garment. To do this you need to find the size you want your garment to be and then compare it to yourself. Make sure when trying on your pants that they fit perfectly, not too tight and not too loose.

Use this method if you are trying to use a method such as a heat gun or steam iron to shrink your pants because you will have a better idea of what is going on and can control the process more easily.

When you have shrunk your clothes to the size you want simply remove your clothes and wash them as usual. With shrinking pins it is important that you do not wash your pants immediately after because they will shrink back to their original state.

If you have time though then try washing yours right away after they have been shrunk by pinning them and then washing them as normal later on.

How to Shrink Sweatpants with Boiling Water?

If you are looking for an easy method to shrink sweatpants but do not have a hard time finding steamers or irons, there is an alternative that is comfortable and safe and can shrink your pants in no time. Boiling water works fairly well as it works by keeping the heat from the steam around you while letting it seep into your sweatpants at the same time. It is also very forgiving and can help you get better results the more you do it.

What you will need:

  1. Boiling Water (plain water does not work, but if you have boiled water to use then this is a great method to use)
  2. Dress pants or Sweatpants that you want to shrink. (You can reuse sweatpants from clothes that fit well on you and then wash it in hot water)
  3. Sweat pant hangers or pins (they can be as cheap as a dollar at H&M for example and are usually used for pants)
  4. Hot clothes steamer
  5. A pair of scissors

Note: If you are using a regular heat gun you should be able to get the same results as described in the picture but it will take a bit longer to dry out your pants.

Steps to follow:

  1. First you will need to find a place to work where you will be able to get the steamer in a direct line with your shirt. You can use a bath tub, kitchen sink or any other place where it is safe and easy to reach your pants.
  2. Heat up your items that you wish to shrink by putting them in the sink or bathtub with water and placing them on the potholder or steamer that you are using. If you have another heat source (such as a stove) then use that instead of using an electric steamer so that it will be safer for yourself too.
  3. Once the water is hot enough put on your microwave safe oven mittens so that you do not burn yourself and put on an old pair of socks to protect your hands from the steam as well. Turn on the heat under your steamer, but do not touch when contacting objects under it unless they are plastic as these will melt easily making it dangerous for yourself and toxic for other things around you like glass, etc.
  4. When everything is ready remove it from the oven mitts and start placing clothes that make up the outfit which can be anything from pants, shirts, sweatpants, skirts or whatever else would look best when shrunk in front of them until they reach their desired size (make sure they are not too tight so they are not going to rip apart later down the line).
  5. Do not worry if there is any condensation building up on the items that you have shrunk. It does not hurt anything, just wipe it off lightly with a dry paper towel or cloth and place them in a place for where they can be later washed and the water can evaporate.
  6. Once you have put everything from your outfit or wardrobe into the potholder turn it on until they are warm enough to touch. Once they are warm enough expose to steam as described below in step 7 until they reach their desired size (adjust your steaming time based on how long it took you to dry out the pants).
  7. Continue exposure until they reach their desired size, but make sure to change them position so that the air is getting evenly distributed all over them so that they do not get too hot at any given point because this will make them shrink unevenly and will cause rips while washing them because of uneven shrinking which is why we want things like shirts and pants to be spread out evenly throughout the shrinking process.
  8. Once you have gotten to an area where most of your clothes are fully dry put them back in the oven mitts for a few minutes so that they can cool off, take them out and put them away in their original clothes storage.
  9. Wash the clothes with soap and water that you have already bought for the outfit to shrink in and keep those clothes stored until you need them again so that they dry faster than normal clothes so that you do not have to wash everything when you re-use it, especially if it is like a dress or skirt or whatever.

How to Shrink Sweatpants that Are Too Big

Sweatpants are one of the most useful and comfortable things to wear in winter. Many people elect to wear sweatpants instead of jeans or pants. Here are instructions on how to shrink sweatpants that are too big. You can also customize your own outfit with clothes that you have shrunk or bought to shrink with.

  1. Put your sweatpants in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer for an hour or so. When they have cooled off enough take them out and place them over your clothes hanger until they get as cold as they can get then put them back in the freezer  again, this will make them easy to work with when you want to start shrinking them later on down the line.
  2. Once your sweatpants are as cold as they can be situate and stuff it into a pillowcase, take it out and place it straight on the table which will hold the heat so you do not need another heating pad for this process but if you want you can use one of these at a very low setting (like if you run an air conditioning unit).  Put back into freezer for about an hour, take out again and repeat step two until you reach a desired size for your sweatpants (do not place in fridge).
  3. When everything is ready remove it from the pillow case and pull out all the stuff that is still loose yet soft like hair or fabric fibers (if there is any) while taking care before placing on clothes hanger.  It should not take too long for all of the stuff to go back into the sweatshirt but it’s best to check and make sure before you put all of it back in because by putting it on the hanger in one piece can cause a hole in the sweatshirt; this hole will create more chances of the materials falling out when you begin stretching.
  4. Take your clothes hanger and lay over your shirt or pants and begin to stretch from the bottom, starting from the heel and work your way towards your waistline as much as you can without ripping or messing up anything.  Again, do not be afraid to pull on both sides and then also try to pull around other pieces of fabric that are still intact (like sleeves).
  5. If you have gotten everything stretched enough then turn around and do steps 6–8 all over again so that you can get a more perfect fit (as I said before keep checking so that nothing falls out) than before because after wearing it for some time they will eventually become worn out and this is very important with sweatpants because they are very versatile and heavy when wet, especially if they get wet while outside working on them (unless you just have nice sweatpants).
  6. Once everything is stretched down to your ideal size erase any wrinkles or tension in any areas by running hot water over them while they are wet then turn off the water until it runs cold then throw them in air-dryer for about an hour.  After the time is up turn it on to low and dry until any wrinkles fall out.
  7. Once you are done with the air-dryer, you can throw it in the dryer on a low setting (like if you run your air conditioning unit). \
  8. After that again turn off air conditioner and put your pants or shirt in the freezer until they are completely frozen.
  9. Then put them back in the freezer to form ice cubes because these will help with wrinkle-freeing when wearing, especially for a long period of time like when you sleep in it or for work (because at this time of year people tend to get warm very quickly as we’re getting closer to summer).
  10. And make sure everything is dry and good to go before putting it back together –  You can put it all back together in the original order if you want.

How to Make Sweatpants Tighter Without Sewing

If you don’t want to sew in the clothing materials, then there is a way to still get that sweatpants tighter.

Around the waistband

If you are having this problem then all you need to do is take an old belt and wrap it around your waist.  Then put it on and knot it loosely, tighter the better.  This will help with the drawstring which is usually made of a lose piece of material which, after some time, loosen.

On leg openings

Sometimes the hole for a drawstring can become too big to tie or too big for the drawstring to wrap around so at this time is when you need to attach a key ring loop with some string or something like that.  Just push it through both layers of material and make sure it is far enough from your skin so that when you wear it no one can see that the thread or string attached (you don’t want them to see) or note that a key ring is attached (and it can be seen) if you wanted to attach something like that.

For button holes

If you are having this problem, then all you are going to do is before starting knotting the drawstring and finding out what size hole is for, place a stitch through the drawstring about 3/4th of an inch down from where it connects with the fabric and use your needle to sew through it along with the drawstring so that when you tie a knot in the drawstring it won’t show.

For zippers

If you are having this problem, then all you need to do is before putting your pants on unzip them a little bit and then make sure the zipper material is making enough space for that hole.  If you are using plastic, simply sew it over the hole sometimes it’s hard to do.  

If you are using a different material of some color, add a small piece of fabric or something like that so that when the person sees it they won’t say that there is a thread or string attached (that’s why I added the key ring in this post)

For little edges

In case your clothing doesn’t have any edge that can be sewn closed then here is what all you need to do to fix it.  You are going to take some sort of thread or stick and run it through each one of those little holes and place it back together so they match up better afterwards, as if nothing happened at all.


At last I would say that shrinking sweatpants is frustrating but, it’s not always the end of the world.  This is because there are certain ways you can make sure that people won’t notice or notice so little that they won’t care (if you want to attach a key ring).  Plus sometimes it’s fun to have little holes and have them show, it gives variety!

If you know any ways to decrease sweatpants then please leave a comment down below!

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