How to Shrink Leggings
The answer may not be what you’re looking for: It is way easier to stretch leggings than to stretch them.
And if your favorite pair of leggings has gradually become baggy, or if you’ve lost some weight and your leggings aren’t exactly fitting you like a second skin, you may wonder if it’s possible to shrink your leggings to get them back to that ideal fit. But you may find it’s simply easier to go out and invest in a new pair of leggings.
That said, there are some tactics you can try to shrink leggings (though you might end up causing other kinds of damage in the process.) But first, let’s seek to understand why leggings get baggy in the first place.
Why Your Leggings Get Baggy Over Time
Leggings have a lot of elastic (generally, they are made of cotton or poly blends with spandex or lycra). It’s this stretch that makes them cling to your body, giving that ‘second skin’ appearance. It's also why they appear much smaller on the hanger than they do on your body.
However, all elasticated garments will stretch gradually over time.
In part, this is caused by general wear. Every time you put on your leggings you stretch them, and when you launder them, they can be stretched in the machine (especially if you wash them in hot water, or even warm water), or by hanging while they’re wet. When you move about in them (doing yoga, running or just walking) you are stretching specific areas, like the butt and knees.
When they’re new, leggings bounce back after they’re worn. But over time those elastics start to relax into their stretched shape instead of contracting back to their original shape. (Picture it just like a rubber band that relaxes over time.)
This doesn’t just happen to leggings. Any garments with stretch, including underwear, bras, swimsuits, even denim jeans with stretch, get looser over time because of this. And whether your leggings are cotton leggings, nylon leggings or spandex leggings they all have stretch.
This explains why shop assistants will often recommend you purchase the item on the smaller side if you’re between sizes. Because it will stretch to fit you and last you longer (versus a bigger size which will get too baggy too quickly).
The bagginess is most likely to show around the bottom and knees at first, in part because of the amount of stretch and motion these areas undergo. But over time, they’ll become loose all over. As mentioned, this is pretty unavoidable in the long run — just part of the lifespan of these types of garments. How long you get will depend on:
- How often you wear the leggings
- The care you take of them between wears
Shrinkage is a lot less common than stretching when it comes to elasticated garments. But it not unheard of.
How Should Your Leggings Fit?
What should you expect when you’re wearing leggings or shopping for new ones?
Leggings Fit Too Big: The Signs
On the flipside, if your legging fit is too big, you’ll notice the following:
- They slide down. One of the biggest reasons leggings can slide down is because they’re too big for you. Jump around in the changing room and make sure they’re fitting you snugly.
- They’re baggy. Leggings should be second-skin tight. This means no wrinkles or bagginess. If the leggings hang loose away from your body, they’re not tight enough and you’ve probably gone too big.
- They don’t feel like a hug. Leggings (especially leggings with compression) should give you a feeling of snug security, or be gently tight. If they just feel ‘there’ but there’s no snugness, they’re probably too big. Remember that they’ll stretch more over time (with wearing and washing etc.) so definitely look for snug to begin with.
Leggings Fit Too Small: Here’s Your Biggest Clue
When you wear leggings, there are 3 immediate signs that will tell you the fit is too small for you and you need to size up:
- They’re hard to get on. You can’t slide them on without a lot of painstaking wriggling and shimmying. Putting on leggings shouldn’t be like putting on Spanx; they should go on relatively smoothly.
- They fit so tight, they dig in around the waist. Your leggings shouldn’t leave you with red marks around the waist, or creating a "muffin top" or Increasing your chances of camel toe. They should sit snug but comfortably, like a car seatbelt.
- They become transparent. Leggings, yoga pants, and workout leggings are not supposed to be transparent. One reason they can become transparent is they’re too tight and the fabric is being stretched too thin and showing are your goodies.
But… How to Shrink Leggings?
How To Shrink Lululemon Leggings. The best way to shrink the lulu's leggings is to get a blow drier and air out the baggy with the highest heat setting but In general, we would advise you to simply buy a new pair of leggings rather than try to shrink an existing pair. This is because the tactics used to shrink leggings can cause other kinds of damage. So you’re better off donating those old leggings and upgrading to a new pair.
Still, you might persistently wonder how to shrink leggings. If you're tempted to try to deliberately shrink leggings by putting them through an extra long hot wash (boiling water) and then tossing them in the dryer on a hot setting. But, as mentioned, you’ll probably do more harm than good with these methods. Plus, any results will be short-lived.
Why Is it Such a Mistake to Try to Shrink Leggings?
You may have come here wanting to know how to shrink leggings, but hopefully, we can convince you that shrinking leggings with high heat won't really help you. The shrinking process can do more harm than good, and boiling water, and high heat may cause permanent damage to any of the following leggings:
- Cotton leggings
- Spandex leggings
- Lycra leggings
- Nylon leggings
1. Elastic Breaks Under High Heat
Heat can cause fabrics to shrink, but it can also cause elastic to snap. This applies to heat from hot water in the washing machine and from the dryer too. Ever noticed little broken pieces of elastic on the surface of a garment? This ‘elastic stubble’ appears when elastic snaps, and it only means your item will become even looser.
2. Leggings Lose Their Opaqueness
If your leggings shrink and you stretch them again when you wear them, they may start to become transparent. Leggings should NEVER be see-through; they should be completely opaque. But old leggings can start to become opaque when they haven’t been properly cared for, or when they’ve been worn threadbare.
3. They May Not Shrink in Ways You Like
It’s unlikely that your leggings are equally loose all over. Maybe they’re loose around the butt or knees, but fit perfectly on the waist. But your shrinking process won't just target those specific areas.
If you're shrinking leggings through a hot water washing machine cycle, or a dryer cycle, you’re not able to target specific areas of the garment. You might find the waist you didn’t want to change shrinks too much. Meanwhile, the baggy ass and knees might still be baggy.
The point is: You’ll be lucky if you get the specific kind of shrinkage you want. Odds are you’ll end up with something just as ill-fitting but in new ways.
Skip the Hacks: Invest in a Great Pair of Workout Leggings
Our Women leggings come in seasonal colors, but basic black is by far the most popular and versatile. Our seamless leggings put comfort first. They’re made with 360 seamless knit fabric for body-hugging smoothness that moves with your body.
Plus, when it comes to compression, we’re here to support (yep, pun intended). A ribbed waistband for gentle compression that smooths and holds your tummy.
Finally, they’re as versatile as they come. Perfect for lounging, for layering with whatever ensemble you’re putting together and, of course, as activewear. The flattering high rise silhouette is easy to style and easy to wear inside and outside.
Here's some GymDeity take care guidelines for washing workout leggings:
- Machine wash cold (not medium heat or high heat)
- Do not bleach
- Do not iron
- Do not dry clean
- Lay flat to dry
How You Should *Really* Care for Your Leggings
When you do decide it’s time to invest in new leggings, check out these guidelines for how leggings should fit. And when you do find that new, perfect pair, take care of them.
Here are some pointers:
Wash Them As Frequently as Underwear
Leggings are worn right next to the skin (and the groin) so they absorb EVERYTHING. What’s more, workout or gym leggings are designed specifically to be moisture wicking. Those damp, sweaty fabrics are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and odor, which can quickly turn yucky.
There are no hard rules about how many wears you should get out of your leggings. But I usually think about it the same way I think about my bras: If I work up a sweat, 1 wear and it gets washed. If I’m pretty sedentary, 3 wears is fine.
Also, don’t let a stale sweaty garment just sit in your laundry hamper or workout bag for a week or bacteria can breed and odor can worsen (even a quick hand-wash can be a great solution).
A Cool Washing Machine Cycle Is Best (No Hot Water)
Hot washing machine cycles are great for tough fabrics that can really take it, and need a very thorough clean. But most garments with stretch need a gentler touch.
This is because elastics can break under high washing machine temperatures — and leggings have A LOT of stretch. As well, it could just overall make your beloved leggings look a little grubby. So stick with the cold wash cycle for your leggings and other items with a lot of stretch (like sports bras and wireless bras).
Protect Them From Getting Tangled in the Washing Machine
You don’t want your leggings to get stretched in the washing machine. So try to wash leggings with items of a similar weight (t-shirts, underwear etc.) If you do wash them with larger or heavier items (bedding, towels, sweaters), consider popping them in a mesh bag so they don’t get knotted up with these items.
Choose a Gentle Detergent
Because leggings are skin tight, harsh cleaners can leave residue that really irritates the skin. I tend to treat leggings like lingerie and use a more delicate detergent with them. Don’t use too much, either. It’s always tempting to think adding more will make things cleaner. But adding more just means more residue.
Skip Fabric Softeners
Fabric softeners will leave a very noticeable residue on the top of your leggings. Not nice. This residue can also dull and discolor your leggings. If you use softener in your laundry, make sure you separate the items you want to use softener on from your synthetics before you pop them in the machine.
Lay Leggings on a Flat Surface to Air Dry
When clothing is wet, it weighs more. That means hanging leggings when they’re wet can stretch them out more. Instead, lay leggings on a flat surface to dry. You’ll be surprised how quickly leggings dry!
Avoid the Dryer Completely (Even Medium Heat)
Drying machines are an absolute no-no. Instead opt for an air dry. Why? Because the heat of dryers can be detrimental to the elastic in your leggings. And once the elastic is gone, your leggings are finished.