As far as clothing-related tragedies go, having your favorite leggings start to look more saggy than skintight is right up there with snapping a heel off your go-to pumps. But unlike the latter disasters, baggy knees are actually preventable thanks to a simple trick… Yes, we're about to reveal the fashion-girl trick to shrinking leggings.
The main secret here is heat—and knowing how to apply it properly to tighten up the fibers of your leggings without ruining them. The following easy guide breaks down exactly how to use heat to shrink up everything from your go-to yoga pants to that bold pair of split-hem leggings you lived in this winter, so read on and tighten up.
It's likely that the leggings you hit the gym in are going to wear out quickest of all, thanks to the stress they're put under as you move from downward dog to SoulCycle. Before you attempt to shrink your leggings, check what they're made out of. Nylon, spandex, and polyester blends will be the easiest to get back into shape, while Lycra is the hardest to shrink back up—so these tips unfortunately won't save your Lululemons.
1. Wash on the hottest cycle your washer can manage.
This will kick-start the shrinkage in the fibers of your leggings. If you're worried about the hot water causing the color to fade, toss a bit of ammonia into the cycle to keep things from running.
2. Dry on medium heat
This is where heat control really comes into play. Set your dryer on medium heat and tumble-dry your leggings for half an hour at the most—any longer or hotter will cause more damage than repair. Once you pull them out, lay them on a flat surface to dry the rest of the way.
1. Wash on a high-heat, low-water cycle
This ensures that you can shrink multiple pairs by themselves (throwing them into a single cycle can cause them to become tangled, which will interfere with the shrinking process) with minimal wasted water. Alternatively, you can boil a big pot of water and soak each pair one at a time.
2. Dry carefully
The care label on most spandex leggings will advise against tumble-drying, as the heat and motion can cause the fibers to wear out quickly. But if you're trying to shrink a pair of spandex leggings, put them in the dryer on high heat for just 10 minutes to lock in the shrinkage achieved in the washing machine. If you're really worried about damage, pop them in a pillowcase (tied off at the top) before putting them in the dryer for a bit of protection.
The leggings you wear on the daily are likely made from a cotton-spandex or polyester blend, which means they should respond to almost all of the tricks listed above. Even materials like wool found in more luxury pairs will shrink nicely, so you can rock that style you splurged on as often as you'd like.
1. Rinse and repeat
You can use the same methods outlined above for cotton and polyester leggings. Both materials should be fine for extended sessions in the dryer, but if you're worried about damage, pull them out and try them on every 15 minutes or so until you hit the perfect fit.
If you don't have time for a full wash-and-dry cycle, most leggings will also shrink up when ironed. The trick here is to lay a protective cloth (a thin sheet should work well) over your leggings and to skip any steam settings. Instead, spritz your leggings with water and allow the heat from the iron to dry them—a process that will promote shrinking.
3. In a pinch, reach for the blow dryer.
If the leggings you're planning to head out in today are looking a bit baggy, you can shrink them back up using your trusty blow-dryer. Simply drape them over a hanger, fire up the blow-dryer at its hottest setting, and watch any areas of bagginess shrink right up.
Next, brush up on the four trendiest ways to wear leggings for spring.