Do Cotton Jeans Shrink Or Stretch? The Answer Revealed

There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a new pair of jeans only to find out they don’t fit after the first wash.

So, do cotton jeans shrink or stretch? The answer may surprise you! Cotton jeans both shrink and stretch.

cotton jeans shrink or stretch

How can it be? This blog post will discuss the factors that affect how it stretch and shrink.

We will also provide tips on keeping your jeans in good condition so you can avoid having to go through the hassle of returning them!

About Cotton Jeans

denim jeans
Denim jeans. Credit: canva

What are cotton jeans? They are simply jeans made from 100% cotton fabric.

The denim fabric used for jeans is usually a blend of cotton and other materials, such as polyester or spandex.

But, some brands do make denim entirely out of cotton.

Cotton denim has a softer feel than blended fabrics and is more durable.

Do Cotton Jeans Shrink or Stretch?

Can You Put Denim In The Dryer
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

It turns out the answer is a little bit of both. It will shrink when wet or under heat exposure, but they will also stretch out over time with wear.

Shrink When Wet

It’s no secret that cotton shrinks when wet, especially in hot water. That’s why you should always wash it in cold water and air-dry them whenever possible.

If you must put them in the dryer, use the lowest heat setting. By following these simple tips, you can minimize the amount of shrinking.

Stretch Over Time

This happens because cotton is a natural fiber that relaxes when worn.

To combat this, buy slightly snug jeans when you first try them on. They should feel comfortable, but you shouldn’t be able to slip them on and off without unbuttoning or unzipping them first.

With time, they will loosen up and mold your body shape.

Shrinkage and Stretching

denim soaking
Credit: canva

The amount of shrinkage or stretching will depend on the type of denim used and the fit of the jeans

For example, selvedge denim is high-quality denim often used in premium jeans. This type of denim is less likely to shrink than other types because it is tightly woven.

On the other hand, stretch denim is designed to stretch and conform to your body, making it more likely to stretch out over time.

The key to avoiding shrinking or stretching is to choose the right type of denim for your body type and then follow the care instructions carefully.

How to Care For Your Jeans

To avoid shrinking or stretching, it’s essential to follow the care instructions on your jeans carefully.

  • Most jeans should be washed in cold water and hung to dry. However, some brands recommend washing in hot water and then tumble drying on low heat. 
  • It’s also important to note that washing your jeans too often can cause them to shrink or stretch. So, if you want your jeans to last, only wash them when they are dirty. And when you do wash them, be sure to follow the care instructions carefully. 
  • If your jeans get a little tight after washing, don’t worry. Just wear or stretch them a bit, and they will return to their original shape and fit.
  • Remember that your jeans will eventually stretch out no matter what you do. So, if you want a snug fit, it’s best to buy slightly tighter jeans than your usual size and have them tailored for the perfect fit.


Do 100% cotton jeans stretch or shrink?

Pia Interlandi, fashion designer and lecturer for RMIT’s school of fashion, says that traditional jeans made with 100% cotton will eventually stretch because the cotton threads expand instead of retracting.

“Cotton doesn’t have a lot of elastic recoveries. It can stretch but can’t pull back into shape,” she says.

Should I size down in cotton jeans?

Cotton is a natural fiber that naturally stretches. Cotton grows when it isn’t combined with a stretch fabric. When washed, it shrinks somewhat and returns to its normal state after wearing.

Why are jeans tighter after washing?

First, let’s get technical: the tightening phenomenon is called “consolidation shrinkage.” Imagine denim fibers as a long chain. When the fabric is agitated during the wash and heat cycles, it causes fibers to break their bonds, so the cloth gets smaller.

Was this article helpful?