A woman doing Pincha Mayurasana or Feathered Peacock Pose, while wearing form-fitting yoga leggings for her session.

Wearing perfectly fitted leggings comes with a wide range of benefits. First, they gives you minor compression, which improves your blood flow. Second, they give you support in whatever physical activity you practice.

Third, they don’t hamper your movement because they feel like your second skin. Fourth, they’re comfortable to wear and multifunctional. But after a while, your yoga pants can start losing their elasticity and become ill-fitting.

In this article, you will learn how to shrink leggings and bring them back to their natural shape, along with tips to take care of them to keep their elasticity.

How to Shrink Your Leggings

The two essential things you need to shrink your leggings are water and high temperatures. But before you attempt to bring your favorite Lululemon leggings back to their original shape, make sure you read the care labels first. 

Not all tights are created equal. Some are made of nylon, while some are of polyester or spandex. Each of these fabrics has different characteristics. Therefore, don’t shrink.

So, determine the materials of your garments first before attempting to shrink them. Doing this will ensure you shrink them effectively.

A woman doing her morning yoga routine in her bedroom, wearing perfectly shrunk yoga leggings that her well.

There are three basic ways to shrink leggings regardless of the fabric. These are the following:

No-Wash Method

With the no-wash method of shrinking leggings, you need two things: hot water and a hairdryer.

For this method, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Lay the yoga pants flat on a clean surface. 
  2. Dampen the parts of the yoga pants you want to shrink with hot water. Doing this is easier if you use a spray bottle. 
  3. Then, turn on the hairdryer and set it to the hottest setting. Dry the damp parts of the yoga pants until you achieve the fit you are looking for.

Wash Method

The wash method of shrinking your yoga pants means using the washing machine and the dryer.

Here’s how to do this method:

  1. Set the washing machine to the hottest wash and rinse cycle. If your pants are dirty, you can add detergent. Otherwise, there is no need to do that. Also, don’t add fabric conditioner.
  2. Now, place the leggings in the washing machine for one cycle of wash, rinse, and dry.
  3. Once the cycle finishes, check the leggings. If they’re still loose, you can go for another cycle until you achieve your desired shrinkage.

Iron Method

A woman wearing a printed robe, holding an iron up and ready to shrink her leggings.

If your leggings are not too loose but still need a little bit of shrinkage, a suitable method to follow is the iron method.

Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Lay the leggings flat on an ironing board. Spray the parts you want to shrink. Leave for five to 10 minutes to allow the leggings to absorb the hot water.
  2. Turn on the iron to the hottest setting. Iron the part you want to shrink. 
  3. Lay it down on a flat surface to air-dry.

Shrinking Based on Fabric

The shrinking methods above may not work for you, especially if you have leggings with a special type of fabric. However, here are some strategies you can do to shrink your leggings of specific material.

Shrinking Nylon Leggings

To shrink nylon leggings, you need ammonia and a washing machine. The ammonia will help in protecting the color from fading and in shrinking your yoga pants.

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Place the washing machine to the highest heat setting. 
  2. Add ammonia and wash your leggings.
  3. Once the wash cycle is finished, set the washing machine to tumble-dry in a medium setting. 
  4. Once done, let the yoga pants air-dry on a flat surface.

Shrinking Polyester/Spandex Leggings

A woman doing Cobra Pose with a friend, wearing tight-fitting yoga leggings made of spandex material.

To shrink a pair of yoga pants made of polyester and spandex is easy. You can do any of the three methods I have mentioned above. If you need to wash the leggings, by all means, add detergent, but never a detergent with a fabric conditioner.

If you can, use a detergent that is specific for compression leggings or activewear. Once done, allow the leggings to air-dry on a flat surface. Do not hang it as that will loosen the fabric. 

Shrinking Lycra Leggings

Lycra is a standard fabric used for leggings. While Lycra is breathable and moisture-wicking, it loses its tightness quickly. Therefore, as a material for leggings, it’s usually blended with other fabrics such as cotton, nylon, or polyester. To shrink Lycra leggings, follow the shrinking method based on the different material that combines with it. 

If the Lycra is blended with cotton, hot-wash it for the longest cycle, whether using the washing machine or not. Then, add ten or more minutes. Once done, lay it flat on a clean surface and air-dry.

Tips to Keeping Your Leggings Tight

Follow these tips below to keep the leggings tight and in great shape once you have managed to shrink your old leggings or had done so for new ones.

Don’t Use Fabric Conditioners

Fabric conditioners, as the name suggests, soften your clothes. Now, this is fine when your clothes are made of cotton, and you want them to be soft. But for leggings and other activewear items, using fabric conditioners is no good.

It loosens the compression of your leggings. It also makes your yoga pants waxy because it contains silicone, causing them to slide off easily. What’s worse, fabric conditioner clogs the fibers of your clothes, which also blocks the dirt, sweat, and bacteria. When this happens, your leggings are not going to wick moisture.

Use Sports Detergent

Active Wear Laundry Detergent - Formulated for Sweat and Workout Clothes - Natural Performance Sport-Wash Concentrate - Enzyme Booster Deodorizer - Powder Wash for Activewear Gym Apparel (90 Loads)

While regular detergent works for most yoga pants, sports detergent works better. Sports detergents can remove the body oils, dirt, and stains in your activewear. In addition, they are made explicitly for the tight-knitted fibers of your yoga pants. 

If you have to use regular detergent, be stingy. Using too much detergent can make your yoga leggings feel stiff. Leftover detergent can also irritate the skin. 

Don’t Hang to Dry

Using a hanger or clips to hang your leggings can overstretch fibers. So. if you want to keep your yoga pants tight and in excellent condition, lay them flat to dry. Or at least let them drape.


Wash Them Separately

Leggings for yoga and other sports are made of unique fabrics, unlike our regular clothes. Therefore, it’s best to make a load in the washing machine exclusively for your activewear.

That way, you save money on sports detergent, and you don’t have to worry about your regular clothes not getting fabric softener. Also, you don’t want cotton fibers sticking into your yoga leggings and sports bra. 

Wash After Wear

It may sound like it makes sense not to wash your leggings often to prevent them from loosening. But any tight-fitting clothes such as yoga pants need washing after every use. Sportswear, specifically, needs to be washed after every wearing, because you sweat on them.

When you sweat on tight-fitting clothes, bacteria and yeast can thrive on them. This bacteria can cause skin irritation and foul odor. If you don’t want this to happen, wash your leggings right away.

A woman holding a bottle of detergent especially made for activewear, to use for washing her yoga leggings right after a session.

Take Them Out of Your Bag or Car

As mentioned above, bacteria and yeast can thrive on sweaty leggings and other activewear. If you keep them in a close area, such as your bag or your car, the bacteria and yeast will continue thriving and, worse, can multiply.

If you don’t have time to wash them yet, at least put them out somewhere that has a lot of airflows so they can air-dry.

Follow the Care Label

Yoga pants and other sports clothing items are made of various synthetic and unique fabrics. Make sure to read the care label to learn how to take care of them. But of course, once they start losing their tightness, follow the primary trick to shrinking your clothes. That is to apply heat.

Wash Inside Out

Washing your clothes inside out, especially yoga leggings, doesn’t only protect the color of the fabric. It also makes it easier for the detergent to access the dirtiest parts of the yoga pants. 

Your leggings should fit and feel like a second skin so you can move with freedom. Once they start getting loose, follow the tips above on how to shrink them.