You’ve no doubt heard of the horror stories people have told about tumble drying jeans and other denim clothing items.
Heat can run the risk of shrinking denim, but is it actually as bad as people say?
And, if you can’t tumble dry jeans, then how else might you dry them effectively?
In general, tumble drying jeans is fine to do. The only thing that you need to be careful with is the temperature setting and the cycle speed. Some shrinking might occur when using a tumble dryer on denim clothing, but it shouldn’t be enough to completely ruin them.
In my other pieces about tumble drying specific items, I also included tips on how best to dry and wash them, so I’ll be doing the same here for jeans.
Tumble Drying Jeans
So, as I’ve said above, you actually can tumble dry jeans, usually without any catastrophic consequences.
The myth was that you should never tumble dry your jeans, or any other denim piece of clothing.
This is because the high temperature inside a dryer has potential to shrink denim. This is actually true, and if you tumble dry your jeans on too high a temperature setting, they can actually shrink.
However, this is not a massive issue for two reasons:
1) It’s easy enough to set your tumble dryer at a lower temperature for drying, reducing the shrinking that can occur, or even preventing it entirely
2) Jeans can become slightly stretched after a few days of wear, as the denim is usually slightly elasticated with some spandex. Tumble drying them in order to shrink them a small amount can actually help regain their shape and fit.
This second point can help with creases as well as getting the jeans back to their original fit.
In fact, the best way to dry your jeans using a tumble dryer is to remove them near the end of the cycle while they’re still slightly damp and pull them into shape, finishing the drying process on a hanger.
It is a good idea, though, to switch up your drying method for you jeans if you’re finding a lot of lint caught in the lint filter after tumble drying.
This indicates that the jeans are getting damaged and worn, so switching up the drying method before the damage gets too severe is a good call.
Speaking of other drying methods, let’s talk about some of them.
Other Methods of Drying Jeans and Other Denim
Just like with other items of clothing, there are a couple of different ways you can go about drying your jeans that don’t involve a tumble dryer.
If your dryer doesn’t let you select a temperature (which sounds pretty unlikely) or you just want to be more cautious about drying your denims, then one of these methods will be good for you.
When drying jeans with any method, it’s important to turn them inside out before you start. This prevents the colour from becoming faded either from heat or the sun.
Flat drying: This is a way of drying that is the best for avoiding creases and folds.
Laying them on a flat surface with decent air flow, such as a window sill, or a table by an open window will help them dry quicker.
Air drying like this can take a long time, so you could run them at a low heat cycle in the dryer to give them a head start, then lay them flat to get them completely dry and uncreased.
Line drying: This is great if you have a garden or similar outdoor space to hang up your jeans.
Like other methods, it’s best to turn your jeans inside out before doing this.
To avoid unwanted stretching in parts of the jeans, you can clip them to your line from the waistband.
Again, this can take quite a while, at best a couple of hours on a sunny day. You can give them the head start in the dryer as before if you want to speed this process up.
If you happen to shrink your jeans too much with one of your drying sessions (maybe the tumble dryer was too hot or the sun was too much), there is a way that some people swear by to reverse this shrinking.
Known as the “bathtub trick”, it involves wearing your jeans into a lukewarm bath for about an hour. This might sound crazy and uncomfortable (which it definitely is), but the warm water can help stretch the jeans back out and mold themselves to you.
Unfortunately, the way to dry them after this is simply to walk around in the sun, to avoid the same thing happening again.
While many people love this method and are advocates for it, this actually won’t work for the vast majority of jeans.
There is one manufacturer that designs their jeans to “shrink to fit” you so these ones will work in this method. The easiest way, rather than taking a full length bath in your jeans, is to soak them in the bath and put them on after the fact while still damp to dry them to your body.
Tips for Washing Jeans and Other Denim
Now that you’ve seen the best methods for drying your jeans, you can look at some tips for washing them effectively.
Hand washing: This is similar to the bathtub trick for the shrink fitting.
Since denim sometimes needs a delicate touch, hand washing can be one of the best methods for washing.
Soaking your jeans in a bath of lukewarm water with a small amount of detergent can provide them with the gentle washing they need.
Of course, with heavy stains this won’t do the trick. You can scrub certain parts of the jeans that need it, but err on the side of caution.
Small stains can simply be left to fade on their own, as it may not be worth it to scrub and risk damaging the jeans.
Machine washing: When using a washing machine on your jeans, the safest way for your denims is to launder it inside out on a short, colder cycle.
Just like with drying, avoid higher temperatures as much as you can.
So hopefully that’s answered some of your questions about washing and drying denims!
There are a lot of different ideas out there, but as long as you avoid high temperatures and harsh cycles, you should have no problems.
If you need to shrink your jeans slightly back to fit, you can use a slightly higher temperature, but don’t go overboard!
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