Can You Tumble Dry Levi Jeans? (does it shrink them or is it safe)
You should never dry your Levi’s in a tumble dryer. In fact, according to Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, you shouldn’t even wash your Levi’s in a washing machine. He also said he’d been wearing the same pair of Levi’s for 10 years without ever washing them and they were still as good as ever.
However we have spoken to many people that wash their Levi’s and then tumble dry them on the low setting. Apparently it all depends on the actual material used to make your Levi’s in the first place.
The Material Makes A Huge Difference
Some Levi’s are made from preshrunk denim which in theory at least shouldn’t shrink any more even if they are subjected to the rigours of the tumble dryer. Others like those made from raw denim will shrink in the wash and some experts advise wearing raw denim Levi’s for up to 6 months without washing them.
For what it’s worth, our advice is to always check the care label. If you look at the care label in a pair of Levi’s you’ll see the square symbol with a white circle and a black X on top which indicates DO NOT TUMBLE DRY.
If your jeans are a few years old, it might be worth taking a chance but we wouldn’t risk drying our new Levi’s in a tumble dryer.
Continue reading to find out how to dry your Levi’s without a tumble dryer…
What The Tumble Dryer Symbols Mean On Levi Jeans
We’ve just told you the only symbol you’re likely to find on your Levi’s but for information purposes here’s a quick rundown of all of the symbols you’re likely to encounter on any of your clothes. If you see;
- A Square With White Circle: It means you can tumble dry your clothes.
- A Square With White Circle, One Black Dot In Circle: It means you can dry your clothes on normal or low heat
- A Square With White Circle, Two Black Dots In Circle: It means you can dry your clothes on normal or medium heat
- A Square With White Circle, Three Black Dots In Circle: It means you can dry your garments on normal or high heat
- A Square With Black Circle: It means you can dry your clothes on normal but with no heat
- A Square With White Circle And A Black X On Top: It means do not tumble dry your clothes and this is the symbol you’ll find in your Levi’s.
How To Dry Levi Jeans Without A Tumble Dryer
It’s always best to use absolutely no heat when drying Levi’s because heat is likely to cause them to shrink.
There are several ways you can dry your Levi’s without resorting to the use of a tumble dryer. These include;
Drying Your Levi’s On A Washing Line
The official way to dry your Levi’s is to turn them inside out and dry them on a washing line until they are 90% dry and then wear them to ensure they fit right as they dry.
Before drying your Levi’s you should always;
- Turn Your Levi’s Inside Out
- Make sure they are zipped up
- Make sure any buttons, studs or flaps are closed
- Make sure the pockets are out
Then hang them on a washing line and wait until they are 90% dry then take them from the line and wear them until they are completely dry. This will ensure they fit as snuggly as they did before the wash.
Drying Your Levi’s Indoors
If the weather is too bad for drying washing, you should dry your Levi’s indoors. We have a number of tips to help you get your jeans dry indoors which are;
Use A Retractable Washing Line
This is a great device for those of us with no garden and limited space indoors. It’s basically a clothesline in a box, which is attached to a wall.
The line is then extended across the room and secured on the opposite wall. You can then hang your Levi’s on this line and then when they are dry, the line can be unsecured and it will retract into the box until the next time you need to dry any washing.
Flat Drying Your Levi’s On An Airer
An airer or clothes horse as they are also called, can be set up indoors or out and your Levi’s can be placed flat on the rack. We have found it helps if you turn them over after a while to ensure that they dry evenly.
Remember to ensure your Levi’s are turned inside out and all buttons, flaps and studs are done up. This will ensure your Levi’s stay in shape as they dry.
Using A Dehumidifier
To help speed up the drying process, a dehumidifier is a great appliance especially on days when the atmosphere is damp. Simply place the dehumidifier close to where you’re drying your Levi’s to remove excess moisture from the room.
If you don’t have a dehumidifier, you could use an electric fan to imitate a gentle breeze. Be sure to open a window to help the moisture to escape from your home.
What Happens If You Tumble Dry Levi Jeans?
Firstly we’d like to point out here that Levi’s were originally designed as workwear. And as such they were, and still are made from a strong and robust material which is designed to last.
If you’re of a rebellious nature and you’ve decided you’re going to tumble dry your Levi’s. Even after hearing the advice from the company’s CEO who also says all he does is spot clean his Levi’s. Here’s what could happen to your beloved Levi’s;
They Could Shrink
Some fabrics are more susceptible to shrinking than others, and Denim is likely to shrink if it’s exposed to any heat. Tumble dryers even on the cool setting will cause clothes to heat up through friction. This could be enough to cause them to shrink.
They Could Start To Fray And Tear
Due to the way Levi’s (and other jeans) are made, they’re likely to start to tear around the waistband and at seams and joints. This is because the heat can damage the integral structure of the material.
They Could Stretch Out Of Shape
This is less likely with Levi’s, but not impossible.
It Can Cause Other General Damage
It’s a proven scientific fact that any denim subjected to the rigorous twists and turns of a tumble dryer, is likely to wear out faster.
Added to which there’s the issue of rips and tears, colour fade and all the other associated issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Check the care label and you’ll find that Levi jeans should not be tumble dried. This is because the material can get damaged in a tumble dryer and the jeans could also shrink, rip, tear and fade. If you decide to risk it, only use a no heat setting on the tumble dryer.
There are several ways to dry your Levi Jeans without using a tumble dryer. These include, line drying outdoors (ensure the jeans are turned inside out and the zip, buttons, flaps etc are all done up) then when they are 90% dry you should wear them and let them dry on your body this will ensure a good fit, You can also dry them indoors on an airer or a retractable clothesline. Using a dehumidifier will speed up the drying process.
As Levi jeans are made from denim they will shrink in the dryer. Be warned, sometimes that shrinkage is irreversible, especially from the leg length.
The average amount of shrinkage for jeans in a dryer is around 3-4%. However this shrinkage is mainly restricted to the leg length and not the waist because the waist has less tension applied during manufacture.
As Levi 501s are not preshrunk they are likely to shrink up to 10% on their first wash.
According to Levi Strauss, you should wash Levi jeans once every 10 wears. This ensures they maintain their fit and prevents them sagging.