This Is The Best Way To Dry Your Denim

From air to tumble.

by Julia Musto
Originally Published: 
Do jeans shrink in the dryer? Find out the best way to dry jeans (yes, even tumble dry) ahead.
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It’s a point of contention in the world of denim as to whether or not you should wash your jeans, let alone dry them. Some people are adamant about not letting their jeans see soap and water while others throw their denim in the wash weekly. Some denim purists even take it to extremes like sticking their favorite pairs in the freezer when they start to smell, seeing the process as a way to clean their jeans while retaining the carefully preserved shape and fit.

If you’re partial to washing and drying jeans, you’re not alone. But be advised: the process isn’t as simple as it seems. You want to launder (or handwash) your denim in such a way that you don’t totally change the fit, length, and shape. The worst possible scenario is you go through one wash cycle and end up with jeans that you can longer wear.

Fortunately, there are so many tips for avoiding that. Yes, you can successfully wash and dry your jeans without damaging them. The process is all about your level of comfort. Whether you wash and dry manually, by hand, or not at all (hi freezers!) depends on personal preference, much like choosing a low-rise acid washed pair over a high-rise dark wash. But either way, do what feels most comfortable and keeps your jeans fitting exactly how you want them to.

Ahead, find the best way to dry jeans, from air drying to tumble drying and everything in between. Trust: your closet (and wallet!) will thank you.

Should You Dry Jeans?

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According to Good Housekeeping, the simple answer is yes. But there is a caveat. "All fabrics and especially jeans benefit when you take them out of the dryer slightly damp,” they say, adding, “Simply tug and smooth them into shape and let them finish drying flat or on a hanger. If, even after tumbling on low heat and a delicate cycle, you see lots of lint on the dryer's filter, you may want to switch to line drying your jeans to help preserve the fabric."

Do Jeans Shrink In The Dryer?

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It depends on how you wash them. According to washing machine favorite Whirlpool, “Denim may seem like a tough fabric, but that doesn’t mean you should choose a heavy duty wash cycle. Instead, opt for a delicate or gentle cycle, and use cold water to avoid shrinking or fading.”

After that, your best bet if you’re afraid of shrinkage is to air dry. The more heat that your jeans are exposed to, the more likely that they are to shrink up on you.

How To Dry Jeans

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In short, your best option is to air dry your denim. Whether you’ve got a drying stand, clothing line, or simply throwing all your clothing over the backs of dining room chairs, let them recover in the open air.

That said, you may be pressed for time and air drying takes forever. If you help them along in the dryer, try to save them from being heated to bone-dry. Follow Good Housekeeping’s instructions and remove them from the tumbling heat before they’ve totally finished their drying cycle.

Can You Tumble Dry Jeans?

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If you’re going to stick your jeans in the dryer, keep the setting on low or no heat. It’s the high temperatures that will be the biggest culprit in damaging your denim fibers.

Whirlpool also suggests that you turn your jeans inside out when you throw them in the dryer. “Turning jeans inside out helps protect the fibers on the outside of the jeans from friction and direct exposure from detergent,” they share, adding, “which helps prevent fading.”

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