Can You Put Jeans In A Tumble Dryer?

This subject is one of the most talked about subjects in the whole world of laundry. It has divided families and many a good friend has fallen out over it. So let’s settle it once and for all. Keep reading to find out the answer to that age old question, can you put jeans in a tumble dryer?

There are purists out there that won’t even wash their jeans, they put them in the freezer when they start to smell. In the hope that freezing will kill any bacteria and leave them smelling fresh again. Without altering the shape or size of the fabric.

Do Jeans Shrink In The Tumble Dryer?

It seems like an odd question really, when you think how tough denim feels. But apparently exposing denim and by extension jeans to high heat can cause them to shrink. In fact some people have been known to purposely shrink their jeans in the tumble dryer to make them a tighter fit.

It is possible to tumble dry jeans and prevent them from shrinking, simply dry them on a cool program, and remove them from the machine before they’re fully dry and finish them off on a hanger.

Always Check The Care Label Before Tumble Drying Jeans

Always check the wash care labels

Take a look at the care label in the jeans, this will give you all the information you need about how to wash and dry them. The tumble dry symbol is a square with a circle inside. However, there’s more;

  • Square With White Circle
    You can tumble dry
  • Square With White Circle, One Black Dot In Circle
    This indicates you can dry on normal, low heat
  • Square With White Circle, Two Black Dots In Circle
    This indicates you can dry normal, medium heat
  • Square With White Circle, Three Black Dots In Circle
    You can dry normal, high heat
  • Square With Black Circle
    You can dry normal, with no heat
  • Square With White Circle All With A Black X On Top
    Do not tumble dry
Tumble Dryer Symbols On Clothes

SEE ALSO: Tumble Dryer Symbols On Clothes Explained

What Can Happen To Jeans In A Tumble Dryer?

Apart from the shrinking issue we’ve already talked about, there are a number of other problems that can be caused to jeans in a tumble dryer. These problems include;

  • Colours Fading
    To help to prevent the colours from fading you should turn the jeans inside out before putting them in the dryer.
  • Damage (especially at seams and joints)
    This occurs mainly because they use different thicknesses of fabric to create different parts of the jeans for comfort. Subjecting denim to too much heat will cause separate parts to shrink at a different rate to others, which can cause them to tear at seams and joints.
  • Fraying (loss of material)
    To help to prevent fraying you should turn the jeans inside out before putting them in the dryer.

Check for excessive amounts of lint in the filter of the tumble dryer as this is a sure indicator that the jeans are likely to fray. If you do find excessive amounts of lint in the filter we’d recommend not tumble drying those particular jeans again.

What Setting Is Best For Jeans When Using A Tumble Dryer?


The best setting to use for jeans in the tumble dryer is always going to be the lowest heat setting possible. This should ensure they do not shrink or become damaged in the dryer. 

How Else Can You Dry Jeans

If you don’t feel comfortable drying your designer jeans in the tumble dryer, choose one of the following options;

Line Drying

If you have a garden this is a great way to dry your jeans without the risk of them shrinking or getting damaged as they dry. Simply peg them to the line around the waistband (to prevent any unwanted stretching) and allow lots of time for them to dry. This type of drying will take at least a couple of hours on a sunny day and far longer if it’s overcast.

Flat Drying

This involves laying the jeans out flat on a windowsill or on a table by an open window. Ensure the area has a decent air flow and be prepared to wait for hours for the jeans to dry.

What To Do If Jeans Shrink Whilst Drying

Whatever method of drying you choose for your jeans, there’s always a possibility they might shrink. Whether from the drying process or from the wash cycle you chose. The best way to get them back into shape is to remove them from whatever drying method you chose before they are fully dry, and put them on. This should ensure that they dry to the shape of your body and fit you perfectly.

How To Care For Your Jeans When Washing Them

We touched briefly above on how washing your jeans can cause problems, so let’s quickly look at the best ways to wash them so as not to cause any problems.

Hand Washing Jeans

The best way to hand wash jeans is to fill a bath with lukewarm water and add a small amount of detergent. Then allow the jeans to soak for a while in this solution. Rinse with water of a similar temperature and allow to dry naturally.

If they are heavily stained you can treat just the stain to a stronger regime. Just scrub the stain lightly with a fairly soft brush, but take care.

Machine Washing Jeans

If you decide to put your jeans in the washing machine, turn them inside out and wash on a short cool cycle. Always use the coolest cycle available on your washing machine when washing jeans. Keep spinning to an absolute minimum and avoid heat at all costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do jeans shrink in the tumble dryer?

Jeans can shrink in the tumble dryer if you subject them to too much heat. Jeans should be dried on a cool cycle in a tumble dryer, if at all.

How much do jeans shrink in the dryer?

You can expect jeans to shrink in the dryer by around 3 or 4% which can be as much as an inch to an inch and a quarter of the length.

Is it better to air dry or tumble dry jeans?

It is always better to air dry jeans rather than tumble dry them. Not only will this prevent shrinkage, it’s easier on the fabric, helps to reduce wrinkles and creases and helps the jeans stay in shape.

How do you dry jeans in the dryer without shrinking them?

The best way to dry jeans in the dryer without shrinking them is to use the coolest cycle on the dryer and remove the jeans before they are fully dry and finish them off on a hanger.

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