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How to shrink cotton trousers

Updated February 21, 2017

Cotton is a popular fabric for cloth manufacturing for a multitude of reasons. Cotton is comfortable, breathable and easy to care for. In addition, if the clothing is not the perfect fit, it is easy to shrink to size. Because the cotton fibres are under a great deal of tension after the manufacturing process, mild to moderate sizing reductions, called relaxation shrinkage, can occur upon the first washing. Because of this, it is wise to purchase cotton fabrics just a little larger and allow them to shrink to fit.

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  1. Place cotton trousers into the washing machine.

  2. Add washing powder as recommended by the washing machine instructions.

  3. Set the machine to the highest water temperature and allow it to run through the entire cycle.

  4. Iron wet trousers with an iron set to the highest heat setting. Be very careful not to stretch trousers while ironing, as this will cause uneven or wavy shrinkage.

  5. Place the trousers in the dryer when they are almost dry from the ironing process. Run the dryer on the highest heat setting.

  6. Allow the trousers to sit in the dryer for several minutes after the cycle is over.

  7. Tip

    Always keep the iron moving, or you will scorch the fabric.


    Keep a close eye on the shrinkage process. It is easy to overshrink cotton fabrics.

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Things You'll Need

  • Washing machine
  • Clothes dryer
  • Washing powder
  • Iron

About the Author

Shelly Schumacher has a diverse writing background that includes work in print as well as electronic publications. She has been writing for over 18 years and enjoys working with a variety of different clients on both writing projects and as a marketing and public relations consultant. Schumacher holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.

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