Do Old Navy Jeans Shrink? Here’s What We Know!

Old Navy jeans actually do shrink, especially after being machine washed and dried using a machine dryer for the first time.

This is because the fabrics are constructed in a way that fits your exact size. But the only difference is that their shrinkage level is low because the jeans are already pre-shrunk from the industry.

And just like any other denim, these jeans reduce in size as the heat from the dryer and pressure from the wash shrinks the thread of the fabrics making them a bit smaller than usual.

So, Old Navy jeans do shrink depending on how it is being washed and maintained.

How much will Old Navy jeans shrink?

The level at which Old Navy jeans shrink actually depends on whether it has been dried in the dryer or machine washed.

And even if you religiously take care of these jeans by hand washing them, they will still shrink but to a minimal extent though. But they can actually shrink to a reasonable extent if left in the dryer or washed for too long.

However, Old Navy jeans do shrink up to 3–4%, which means, that if you have a pair of Old Navy jeans with a 32″ inseam, the original length will shrink to about 1″–1¼” of the length of the total jeans.

Again, the amount of shrinkage will depend on the type of process taken to wash and dry these jeans. Also, the shrinkage is only applicable to the length of the jeans as the width is designed to be more resistant to shrinkage.

This is so because, during the construction of the fabrics of this denim, a little tension is applied in that direction.

Although the generally acceptable shrinkage level for jeans by the garment industry is anything less than 5% and any value more than that is really poor.

But for jeans already pre-shrunk as Old Navy, they don’t constrict much but will do if they are embedded under the pressure of heat and force (from the dryer and wash respectively).

Why do Old Navy jeans shrink?

Just like any other denim, Old Navy jeans shrink because of the process of washing, drying, the accumulation of dirt, and frequent wear. All of these, consequently result in the shrinkage of the fabrics of the jeans over time.

Although, when it comes to taking care of your Old Navy jeans, one is conscious to follow the precaution of not machine washing these jeans or limiting the process.

And most times why this denim shrink so much is because of the effect of being machine washed which also causes the color of jeans to fade out slowly as the dye is washed out.

But the major problem of shrinkage occurs when these jeans undergo rough handling after you bring them out of the dryer.

Drying Old Navy jeans with a dryer exposes the denim to heat (hot air) resulting in the unexpected shrinkage that potentially renders your favorite Old Navy jeans useless.

The rule is that, when heat unites with the fabrics of any denim, the jeans constrict naturally and eventually shrink.

So, Old Navy jeans do shrink because of the way they are washed and dried using a wash and dryer.

How to prevent Old Navy jeans from shrinking?

There are several ways you can prevent Old Navy jeans from shrinking even while machine washing.

Hand wash them in cold water

Although the technical way to prevent jeans from shrinking would have been to machine wash them in hot water.

But that’s more like shrinking them more because hot water would tighten the fabrics of the denim causing them to reduce in size, unlike cold water. And this will also result in a significant fading of these jeans.

Controlled Machine Washing

Even if you insist on using a wash to clean your Old Navy jeans, there is a safer way to do so

And it is by controlling the cycle, you don’t want the process of washing to be rough and tough on these jeans, instead, go gentle by lowering the water and using cold water, this will help reduce how much Old Navy jeans shrink.

Try spot cleaning your jeans instead

The trick here is that you don’t want to wash these jeans frequently, even after a spill. So, to reduce the chances of shrinking your Old Navy jeans, you need to spot-clean instead of washing.

You can do this, by putting a small amount of mild detergent on a used or new toothbrush, and gently rubbing off the stain till it fades before you rinse that area with clean cold water.

Check the label of your jeans

Old Navy jeans always come with manufacturer instructions on how to wash and dry.

So, you may need to check the little tag on the inner side of your jeans to see the preferred recommendation on how to properly wash these jeans without shrinking them much.

And if your jeans are already pre-shrunk, it will be indicated there as well.

Dry in the dryer for 10 minutes or less

Drying Old Navy jeans on high heat is totally the opposite of what to do to prevent them from shrinking. And for safer drying, a lower temperature for about 10 minutes or less is recommended.

This will drastically reduce how much Old Navy jeans shrink. But don’t leave them longer in there as only a few minutes is enough to get rid of any creases.

Air-Dry Your Old Navy Jeans

Although using a machine dryer is an efficient way of drying clothes out, it is not especially for jeans as it causes these jeans to not only shrink but fade as well.

However, a more efficient, easier, and safest way to dry jeans is to hang them out in the air to drip-dry, as this ultimately reduces creasiness and leaves the jeans in their original shape.

So, to air dry, grab the jeans by the legs and hang firmly on a sturdy clothing line with pegs.

How to fix a shrunken Old Navy jeans

Here are the best ways you can fix shrunken Old Navy jeans:

Reduce shrinkage using lukewarm water

Using a bottle-spray containing cold water, sprinkle around the area of the jeans that seems constricted especially at the waist and crotch.

The effect of the water is to loosen up the fabrics of the jeans and after that, generously pull the fabric up and down along the length and pull apart along the width, so that it can loosen in all directions.

At the end of this process, air-dry these jeans and don’t toss them back into the dryer as this will give a similar result.

Immerse in a water bath

Another method to unshrink a pair of Old Navy jeans is by soaking them in a tub containing lukewarm water and pouring a little amount of baby shampoo.

You may need to soak the jeans in this mixture for at least 15-20 minutes depending on how the jeans shrink.

So, immerse the jeans into the water bath to soak before removing and squeezing the excess moisture out of the jeans. Then you can conveniently air dry them to stretch them out faster.

Try the bathtub method

For this method, you will need to wear jeans over your hips and up to your waist. But before (or after that) fill the bathtub with warm water and be careful not to make it so hot to avoid burns.

You only need to immerse yourself in those jeans in the warm water so that the jeans soak up water and continue in the process until the water is no longer warm.

Move around a bit and bend your knees so that jeans can stretch as they dry into your shape.

How do you wash Old Navy jeans?

The best way to wash Old Navy jeans is by hand washing in cold water mixed with vinegar, with a good bar soap meant for jeans.

Although, some people prefer using normal detergent some don’t because it causes the jeans to lose their color in water and look a bit faded after drying.

And I know, as a working person, it’s not always easy to come by that extra time to wash in the sink or tub, but this is actually one of the best ways to ensure your jeans remain the exact way after being washed.

Although, you can still machine wash these jeans, but note that you may have to turn the knob of the washing machine to the gentle cycle so that the jeans don’t shrink or fade.

And one other thing to note again is that the water temperature of the wash could make or break your jeans, so to be on the safer side, ensure you always use cold water to either hand wash or machine wash your old navy jeans.

Using hot or even warm water will definitely cause these jeans to shrink fast.

So, you can safely wash your old navy jeans by hand in cold water mixed with a cup of white vinegar or use the wash.


We have come to a conclusion on what conditions make Old Navy jeans shrink. And one important condition is not to machine dry for long or not to machine dry at all, as the jeans would lose their color as well.

A preferred low setting is safe, to quickly wash and dry jeans without much shrinking and fading.

But in order not to risk much, simply hang the jeans to slowly air dry and not in direct contact with sunlight.

So, in addition to the other method of air drying proposed above, hang the jeans by the waist using a sturdy pants hanger inserted on a shower rod or rack. Or, you can hang the jeans on the belt loops using two separate hooks.

And to make a shrunken old Navy jeans bounce back to normal, make sure to select a lower wash temperature.

Finally, by looking into your laundry habit, you can help prevent and limit the level at which your old Navy jeans shrink.


Leave a Comment