Do Cargo Pants Shrink Or Stretch Over Time?

Figuring out what size cargo pants you need can feel impossible without some guidance. Do you want to buy a size up, hoping they will shrink over time, or just the opposite? We've done the work to bring you the answer you need.

Cargo pants do shrink over time. We say this because, more often than not, cargo pants are a cotton material, which shrinks in warmer temperatures. So although cargo pants won't dramatically shrink each time you wash or dry them, they will get smaller over time. If you do not wash or dry with heat, your cargo pants should stay around the same size for a while.

As we begin this post, we will share all things cargo pants and tag some related products. Whether your pants are cargo style or not, material plays a huge role in how they will hold out over time. With that said, let's get right into this topic!

rear view color image depicting a young adult man walking on a deserted railway track in the middle of the forest. Do Cargo Pants Shrink Or Stretch Over Time

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How Should Cargo Pants Fit?

When it comes down to how your cargo pants fit, they should be on the looser side. Cargo pants have a more relaxed look to them and tend to fall right at the waist. Generally, these pants are great for outdoor activities and laborious work but can be fashionable if styled right. We suggest keeping your cargo pants true to size or even go up a little just in case they shrink over time.

Multi-pockets trousers can be worn comfortably even with lots of content

Dickies Women's Relaxed Fit Straight Leg Cargo Pant

Here is a straight-leg cargo pant from Dickies to try. These pants are 100% cotton, relaxed fit, and machine washable.

View these on Amazon here.

How Do You Shrink Cargo Pants?

If your cargo pants are too big, try the ever-trusted dryer method. To do this, wash your pants as you normally would and then throw them into the dryer for about 30 minutes. Ensure you set the temperature to hot so the fabric will shrink a bit during the drying cycle.

If your pants are still too big after the first time, repeat this process again or until they are a better fit. Another way to do this is with a pot of boiling water, which is perfect for anyone without a dryer at home.

Why Does Heat Shrink Fabric?

One of the main reasons heat is so good for shrinking fabrics is because it causes the fibers in your clothing to constrict. This essentially means that when your clothes are in hotter temperatures, they are forced to shrink up rather than expand. So even a quick 15-minute dry can help with clothing fitting better before you leave the house. However, a takeaway from washing your clothes with hot water is that it encourages color bleeding, so avoid mixing colors.

How Do You Loosen Cargo Pants?

When it comes to loosening cargo pants, this process is a little more tedious. To begin, grab a spray bottle and fill it with warm to hot water. Once you've done that, spray the waistband of your cargo pants until they are damp.

Then, put them on and make sure to stretch and move around to encourage a looser fit. If you prefer not to dance around in wet cargo pants, a simple stretch with your hands is also fine to loosen up the waistband area.

Should Cargo Pants Be Tight At The Waist?

Although your cargo pants should have a relaxed fit, they should not be too baggy at the waist. In general, cargo pants should be close to your size and, if necessary, held up with a belt. If you prefer to size up, you can also always try the waistband method mentioned above. Regardless, there are adjustable waistbands in some cargo pant styles, so that is also something to consider.

Dickies Women's Signature Low-Rise Drawstring Cargo Pant

Here is a pair of cargo pants from Dickies with an adjustable waistband. These pants are 55% cotton and 45% polyester, machine washable, and come in many different colors.

Check them out on Amazon here.

How Often Should You Wash Cargo Pants?

young attractive woman doing her laundry at home

Similar to other clothing, you should wash cargo pants every other time you wear them. Of course, this depends on whether your clothes get dirty or not, but it is a good general rule. Like we mentioned, washing and drying clothes will often cause color loss and shrinking, so it's not a good idea to overdo it.

With that said, if you use cold water and minimal dryer heat, you should be fine to wash as frequently as you need to.

Can I Use A Stain Stick On My Cargo Pants?

If you notice staining on your cargo pants, you can certainly use a stain-removing stick or product. Considering your pants are cotton or polyester, it is OK to use stain remover before a wash. We suggest sticking with a fabric-friendly stain stick or trying a sprayable option on your cargo pants.

Follow this link to see these on Amazon.

View this stain spray on Amazon here.

How Do I Style Cargo Pants?

Regardless of your vibe, cargo pants are a fun way to spice things up. We recommend wearing a fitted top with your cargo pants and a pair of stylish sneakers. Usually, a cargo pant outfit has a sportier, more athletic look, so stick to that genre. Another idea is to class it up with a sexy heel and a statement bag or accessory.

KCDDUMK 4 Pieces Basic Crop Tank Tops

Here is a pack of four sleeveless tank tops from KCDDUMK to pair with cargo pants. These tops are cotton and spandex, soft to the touch, and come in a few color combinations.

Check these out on Amazon here.

DREAM PAIRS Ankle Strap D'Orsay High Heel

Here we have a pair of ankle strap heels from DREAM PAIRS to class up your cargo pants. These heels are slip-on, have a rubber sole, and come in a few different colors.

See these heels on Amazon here.

Are Cargo Pants Fashionable?

Whether you love them or hate them, cargo pants are a fashion staple. One of the cool things about this pant style is that it is versatile and inclusive for all kinds of people. When it comes to cargo pants being super fashion-forward, that depends on how you style them. From runway models to essential workers, cargo pants are a pocket-covered, trendy option that anyone can try.

How Long Do Cargo Pants Last?

close up photo of the pocket of cargo pants

Typically, cargo pants will last you anywhere from five to well into ten years if you take good care of them. Like any pair of pants, cargo styles will age gracefully as long as you keep them out of the elements. Sun and water exposure age clothing faster than other factors, so keep them stored in your closet or dresser.

If you wear your cargo pants every day, they most likely will start to fall apart after a few years. Clothes should be worn and enjoyed, so don't stress yourself out over them aging.

Are Cargo Pants Durable?

When it comes to how durable cargo pants are, we say they are on the hardier side. Compared to other pant styles, cargo pants have thicker material and can handle wear and tear. Although these pants can be heavy, they will hold out much longer than a standard pair of trousers. If you like to be outdoors or have a physically demanding job, you might want to consider a pair of these pants.

Here is a pair of durable cargo pants from AKARMY that will last. These pants are 100% cotton, sweat-absorbant, and have eight functional pockets.

See these on Amazon here.

To Wrap Things Up

Whether you have a pair of cargo pants or not, their material will shrink over time. When it comes to fabrics shrinking, this is inevitable as they are washed, dried, and worn. From what we found, there are a few different ways to loosen cargo pants with warm water and a bit of manual labor.

Typically, your cargo pants should fit true to size and might even need to be slightly bigger if you plan to wash and dry them with heat. Regardless, make sure to style your cargo pants whichever way makes you feel confident and enjoy them.

Want to read some more? Check out these super helpful related posts!

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