Do 99% Cotton Jeans Shrink? and How to Care for Them

Jeans are a staple in almost everyone’s wardrobe, and for good reason. They’re comfortable, versatile, and come in a variety of styles.

But have you ever wondered about the material that makes up your jeans? Specifically, what does the “99 cotton” on the label mean, and will 99 cotton jeans shrink? How to prevent it?

In this article, we’ll answer those questions and more.

Key takeaways:

  • 99% cotton jeans can shrink because cotton is a natural fiber, which tends to shrink when exposed to heat and moisture.
  • To prevent shrinkage, 99% cotton jeans should be washed in cold water and air-dried instead of being put in a dryer.
  • The degree of shrinkage depends on the quality of the cotton, the initial size and fit of the jeans, and how they are washed and dried.

What are 99 cotton jeans?

First, let’s define what we mean by “99 cotton.” This refers to jeans that are made up of 99% cotton and 1% elastane (or spandex).

The elastane provides a small amount of stretch to the jeans, which can make them more comfortable to wear and provide a better fit.

This blend of materials is commonly found in jeans and is popular because it combines the durability of cotton with the flexibility of elastane.

Will 99 cotton jeans shrink?

Now, let’s address the big question: will 99 cotton jeans shrink? The answer is yes, they can.

This is because cotton is a natural fiber, and natural fibers have a tendency to shrink when exposed to heat and moisture.

This is why many clothing labels recommend washing their garments in cold water and air-drying them, to prevent shrinkage.

Therefore, if you have a pair of 99 cotton jeans and you’re concerned about them shrinking, you should take some precautions.

First, make sure to wash them in cold water. Hot water can cause more shrinkage than cold water, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Second, avoid putting them in the dryer. Air-drying your jeans will help prevent them from shrinking, and it will also help preserve the elasticity of the elastane.

Jeans, dryer

The degree of shrinkage that 99% cotton jeans may experience can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the quality of the cotton, the initial size and fit of the jeans, and how they are washed and dried.

In general, cotton fabric can shrink anywhere from 3% to 5% in the first wash, and up to 10% or more with repeated washings.

This means that a pair of 99% cotton jeans that fit perfectly when you first buy them could end up feeling tighter and more restrictive after a few washes, especially if they are washed and dried using high heat.

The duration of the shrinkage process itself will depend on the specific washing and drying conditions used.

Typically, the cotton fabric will shrink most during the first wash, and then gradually stabilize over time with subsequent washes.

With proper care and maintenance, you can help to minimize shrinkage and keep your 99% cotton jeans looking and feeling great for longer.

A woman wears shrink and tight jeans

How will 99 cotton jeans shrink?

When cotton is exposed to water, it absorbs the water and swells. As a result, the cotton fibers become shorter and narrower, causing the garment to shrink.

This process is reversible to some extent, but the degree of reversibility depends on the quality of the cotton used and the washing conditions.

Note: In the case of 99 cotton jeans, the elastane in the fabric can also impact how the jeans shrink.

Elastane is designed to stretch and recover, but if it is exposed to high temperatures, it can become damaged and lose its elasticity.

This can cause the jeans to lose their shape and become baggy.

A man wears baggy jeans

Step-by-step guide for washing 99% cotton jeans to prevent shrinkage:

If you’re not careful, jeans made of natural fibers like cotton can shrink in the wash, which can be frustrating and costly if you have to replace them frequently.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent your jeans from shrinking and keep them looking great for longer.

In this guide, we’ll provide a step-by-step process for washing your 99% cotton jeans to prevent shrinkage.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to maintain the quality and longevity of your denim and keep your favorite jeans looking great for years to come.

  • Read the care label:

Before washing your jeans, be sure to check the care label to see if there are any specific instructions for washing.

The care label may indicate a particular temperature or cycle to use, or suggest a specific laundry detergent to use.

jeans care label

  • Turn the jeans inside out: 

This helps to minimize fading and protect any embellishments or details on the outside of the jeans.

The jeans are turned inside out

  • Wash on a cold or cool setting: 

Warm or hot water can cause cotton to shrink, so it’s best to use cold or cool water when washing your jeans. This will help to prevent any shrinkage from occurring.

Jeans are washed

  • Use a gentle cycle: 

Jeans can be tough on washing machines, so it’s important to use a gentle cycle to prevent any damage to the fabric or hardware.

Avoid using the heavy-duty cycle or anything that could be rough on the fabric.

Wash jeans in washing machine

  • Use a mild detergent: 

A mild detergent will be gentler on the fabric and help to preserve the color of your jeans.

Avoid using harsh detergents, bleach, or fabric softeners, which can also cause shrinkage.

  • Avoid overloading the washing machine: 

When washing jeans, be sure not to overload the washing machine. This will help to ensure that the jeans have enough space to move around and get clean without getting too bunched up.

  • Air dries your jeans: 

After washing, avoid putting your jeans in the dryer, as this can cause them to shrink.

Instead, hang them up to air dry. Be sure to hang them by the waistband or belt loops, rather than by the legs, to prevent any stretching.

Air dries jeans

By following these steps, you can help to prevent your 99% cotton jeans from shrinking after being washed. Remember to always read the care label and use gentle, low-temperature settings to preserve the quality and longevity of your jeans.


If you have a pair of 99 cotton jeans, they can shrink if exposed to heat and moisture. However, there are steps you can take to minimize shrinkage, such as washing them in cold water and air-drying them.

Keep in mind that the likelihood and degree of shrinkage can vary depending on factors such as how the jeans were made and the washing conditions.

With proper care, you can help ensure that your 99 cotton jeans will stay looking and feeling great for a long time to come.

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