Do Leggings Stretch Or Shrink Over Time?

When you feel your leggings getting tighter, it makes you wonder if you've put on a few pounds or if they've shrunk. In this post, we have researched if your leggings stretch or shrink over time.

Leggings can be stretched or shrunk over time. It depends on what they're made of and how you wash and care for them. In general, to prevent them from stretching out, you should use warm or hot water to wash leggings. Using hot water will make them shrink a bit, which will counteract any stretching.

Now that you know that your leggings can either stretch or shrink over time based on how they're cared for, keep reading to learn more about how to care for various legging materials and prevent them from becoming unwearable. In addition to care tips, we will also discuss how long leggings should be and how to make sure they fit properly.

young firt woman drinking water after workout wearing black leggings. Do Leggings Stretch Or Shrink Over Time

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How To Shrink Your Leggings Depending On What Material They're Made Of

You can buy leggings in many different materials. The most common are nylon, spandex, cotton, and polyester blends. Most of the tricks below can be used for any material, even wool. These tricks all work especially well for fashion leggings made of cotton-spandex or polyester blends.

Lululemon leggings are made of lycra material, which is much harder to shape up. As a result, these tricks won't work for leggings made of lycra.


woman stretching leg before run. Do Leggings Stretch Or Shrink Over Time

To shape nylon leggings, you will want to run the washing machine as hot as you can. To prevent the temperature of the water from making your leggings fade, be sure to put in a little bit of ammonia.

Next comes drying your leggings. Unlike your washing machine, you don't want your dryer to be extremely hot. You will want to be sure your dryer is on tumble dry at medium heat for half an hour. Your leggings may still be wet, but any longer than half an hour can damage the fabric.

Finally, lay them out somewhere completely flat to dry. Keeping it completely flat will help it dry quicker and keep the fabric from getting wrinkled.


young woman is staying in shape by exercising & doing crunches while enjoying her time at the park. wearing white spandex leggings

When your leggings are made of spandex, you will want to use a high-heat washing cycle with low water. If you don't use low water, your leggings might get tangled together, which will prevent them from shrinking properly. As an alternative to a washing machine, you can boil water and soak one pair at a time. This will ensure they don't get tied together in the wash but can be a bit more time-consuming.

Drying spandex leggings can be tricky as tumble-drying them for too long will damage the fabric. However, when you are trying to shrink your leggings to prevent stretching, you want to put them in a short 10-minute tumble dry session. To minimize damage from the dryer, you can put them in a pillowcase before drying.

Cotton and Polyester

cotton and polyester sports Pants for woman

For cotton and polyester blend leggings, you also use a high-heat wash cycle and a medium heat drying cycle. These materials are okay to be in the dryer for longer periods of time. However, it is best to try them on every 15 minutes until they fit properly.


Unfortunately, this material won't shrink. Lululemon leggings, for example, are often made of lycra and nylon blends. If you need these leggings smaller, you will need to go to a dry cleaner or tailor to have alterations done.

Other Tricks For Shrinking Leggings

If you don't have time to put your leggings through the wash, you can iron them to get them to shrink. Spray a little bit of water onto the leggings before you start ironing. When ironing, make sure to avoid steam settings and putting the iron directly on the leggings. Instead, put a thin sheet between the iron and the material.

In addition to using an iron, you can also use a blow dryer. Simply hang your leggings on a hanger, set your hairdryer to the hottest setting, and blow-dry the bagginess out of the material.

How To Stretch Your Leggings

Just like it is possible to shrink your leggings, you can also stretch them out. One of the easiest ways to fix leggings that are too small is to exercise in them. All the squats, stretching, and lunging will help the leggings loosen.

Heat with Warm Water

To stretch them out, you can also heat them with the warm setting in the washer or some warm water, then use your hands to pull them out.

Heat & Weigh-down

One more method to stretch the leggings is to use fabric weights. You heat the leggings, then secure one end with fabric weights so that it won't move when tugged on. Next, stretch them out and secure the other end with weights. If your leggings are spandex, make sure to stretch them a little more than you think you need, as spandex is designed to hold its shape well.

Click here to see fabric weights on Amazon.

Dry Flat

Finally, leave your leggings stretched like that for about an hour or until they dry. Thicker fabrics will need more time. Once your leggings are stretched out, make sure you wash them in cold or room-temperature water as warm water will cause them to shrink.

How Should Leggings Fit?

fit young woman in sports clothing posing with hand on hip

The whole point of leggings is to get a snug fit that is flattering to your body type. To make sure they aren't too tight, you will want to make sure you don't have any wrinkled skin or skin bulging over the top of the waistband, also known as a muffin top.You will also want to check the crotch area to see if it's too tight or too loose. If you have any extra fabric there, you need a smaller size. If it is stretching and the fabric is becoming see-through or sheer, then you need to go up a size.

One good way to check the fit of the leggings is to do a squat test. Do a squat and see how the leggings feel. Leggings that fit well will move with your body and won't feel restrictive or tight. If you can see skin or underwear, the leggings are either poor quality, or you need to get a bigger size.

Well-fitting leggings won't be baggy in the knees, and they won't slip down. If you find your leggings constantly slipping down, you need a size bigger.

How Long Should Leggings Be?

According to Elle magazine, full-length leggings should fall just barely above the ankle. However, this is a matter of personal preference and comfort. Alternatively, you can also find Capri-length leggings as an option for workouts or casual wear.

How Tight Should Lululemon Leggings Be?

Just like any other legging, Lululemon leggings should feel comfortable. They should allow you to move comfortably. To make sure they fit correctly, do the squat test in good lighting. Fitting rooms can be dark, so it might be best to go to a mirror outside the fitting room. If you can see skin, underwear, or anything other than fabric, the leggings are too tight and need to be sized up.

Should Workout Leggings Be Tight?

When you are looking for workout leggings, you want them to be tight. However, you don't want them so tight they won't allow you to stretch and move during your workouts. It is important to be sure they aren't baggy around the knees, ankles, or hips. You want them to fit snugly around your hips. In fact, it is recommended to get high-rise leggings for more support.

Click here to see men's workout leggings on Amazon.

Should Compression Leggings Be Tight?

Compression leggings are like a second skin. For this reason, they should be much tighter than everyday leggings are. When you first wear compression leggings, you may feel like you need to move up a size. However, they are supposed to be tight.

Click here to see women's high-waist compression leggings on Amazon.

To determine what size you should wear, refer to the size chart. It is based on weight and height. If you are on the line between two sizes, pick the smaller size to ensure proper compression.

Do Leggings Shrink In The Wash?

Yes, they do. The ideal washer setting is as hot as your washer can go. When drying, you want to set it on medium heat and do it for a short period of time.

Why Do My Leggings Stretch Out?

Over time, activity and movement will start to stretch your leggings out. Another thing that can cause them to stretch is improper washing. Make sure to follow the instructions that are on your garment's tag.

If you wash your leggings too much, that can also stretch them out. If you are sweating a lot in your leggings, then you will need to wash them every time you wear them. However, everyday leggings can be worn two or three times before washing. Washing them less often will make them last longer and stay vibrant longer.

Finishing Thoughts

We have discussed how leggings will either stretch or shrink depending on how you care for them. When you use hot water, they will shrink. Physically stretching them and then washing them in cold water will help stretch them.

If you enjoyed this post, check out the links below!

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