Skip to Content
From The Guest Room is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more

Can I Put Denim In The Dryer?

Can I Put Denim In The Dryer?

Yes, you can put denim in the dryer, but with care. It’s a question that’s crossed the minds of many Western fashion enthusiasts.

After all, denim is the backbone of the rugged, stylish look we all love. But can you trust the tumble and heat of the dryer with your cherished jeans, jackets, and shirts?

In the world of cowboy boots, hats, and Western flair, denim reigns supreme. It’s versatile, durable, and exudes that classic, lived-in charm. But when it comes to laundry day, concerns arise.

We’ll dive into this denim drying dilemma, answer the pressing question, and share tips on how to handle that situation while preserving the Western style you adore.

Jeans in the air dryer

Can I Put Denim In The Dryer?

Putting denim in the dryer is possible, but it demands careful handling.

Denim, a beloved fabric renowned for its durability and rugged charm, can face a host of challenges when exposed to the dryer’s heat. These challenges include issues like shrinkage, fading, wear and tear, and a loss of its original shape.

The crux of the matter lies in denim’s primary composition – cotton fibers. Cotton naturally contracts when subjected to high temperatures.

Consequently, when the dryer’s heat comes into play, these cotton fibers tighten, causing the fabric to become smaller and more compact. While this can lead to a snugger fit in your denim clothing, it might not be the fit you desire.

However, it’s worth noting that the shrinkage experienced by jeans after a round in the dryer is often temporary.

Many jeans are expertly crafted from a blend of materials that includes a touch of elasticity. This elasticity allows them to bounce back, regaining their initial shape and fit with regular wear.

A woman wears denim jeans

Moving on to another concern, the rich and vibrant colors of denim can begin to fade when frequently exposed to high-temperature drying.

The intense heat can trigger the breakdown and leaching out of dye molecules within the fabric, eventually resulting in a loss of color intensity. Over time, this can lead to a somewhat washed-out appearance.

The mechanical dance of the dryer, where clothing items tumble and rub against one another and the dryer’s drum, can exacerbate wear and tear. This friction has the potential to weaken the fabric, giving rise to thinning areas or even tiny tears.

These problem spots often crop up in areas subject to heightened stress, like pockets and seams.

Furthermore, denim items, particularly jeans, boast distinct shapes and fits. Yet, the combination of the dryer’s agitation and heat can rob them of their original forms.

The fabric may take on a softer feel, and your jeans might lose some of their crispness, which can affect how they hang and fit on your body.

To navigate these potential pitfalls, it’s wise to employ the dryer with care when dealing with denim.

Utilizing lower heat settings, turning your denim items inside out, and keeping a close eye on drying times can go a long way in minimizing these issues.

However, for those who seek the utmost gentleness, air-drying remains a superior alternative. It not only preserves the quality of the fabric but also maintains its appearance over the long haul.

Jeans in the air dryer

How to Handle the Denim Drying Dilemma

When it comes to using your dryer, opt for the gentlest approach by selecting the lowest available heat setting. This low heat setting is much kinder to your denim and significantly reduces the risk of noticeable shrinkage and fading.

For the ultimate safeguard against shrinkage and fading, contemplate the option of air-drying your denim.

The air-drying method entails hanging your denim items in a well-ventilated space, allowing them to dry naturally. Notably, air-drying completely eliminates exposure to heat, ensuring minimal impact on the fabric’s size and color.

Before you place your cherished denim pieces in the dryer, take a simple yet effective precaution – turn them inside out. This straightforward step serves as a guardian of your denim’s outer appearance, where the color and design take center stage.

By shielding this outer layer from direct heat and friction inside the dryer drum, you greatly reduce the risk of fading and wear on the visible surfaces of your denim.


Add a clean, dry towel to the dryer along with your denim items. The towel acts as an absorbent buffer, soaking up excess moisture and reducing the time your denim spends in the dryer.

This not only prevents overexposure to heat but also helps maintain the fabric’s integrity.

Many jeans on the table

How long to dry jeans in the dryer?

The drying time for jeans in the dryer can vary based on several factors, including the dryer’s heat setting, the size and thickness of the jeans, and the humidity level in your area. However, as a general guideline:

  • Using a low heat setting: Jeans can take approximately 30 to 40 minutes to dry thoroughly.
  • Using a medium heat setting: Drying time may range from 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Using a high heat setting: Be cautious with high heat, as it can increase the risk of shrinkage and fading. Jeans may dry in about 15 to 20 minutes on a high setting.

To prevent overexposure to heat, it’s essential to check the jeans periodically during the drying cycle and remove them as soon as they are dry to the touch.

Can I put denim in the dryer without washing it?

Yes, you can put denim in the dryer without washing it first. In fact, it’s a common practice to refresh or de-wrinkle denim garments between washes by using the dryer.

The key is to ensure that the denim is clean and doesn’t have any stains or spills that might become set in during the drying process.

Simply shake out the denim to remove any loose dirt or debris, and then follow the guidelines for drying denim with care, as mentioned earlier, to minimize the risk of shrinkage, fading, and wear.

How to dry jeans in the dryer without shrinking?

The ideal temperature setting for drying jeans without risking significant shrinkage is to opt for the “Low Heat” or “Delicate” setting on your dryer.

This setting typically maintains a temperature range between 125°F (52°C) and 135°F (57°C), which is gentler on the fabric compared to higher heat settings.

It helps minimize the rapid contraction of cotton fibers, reducing the likelihood of noticeable shrinkage.

Using the “Low Heat” or “Delicate” setting, combined with the other precautions mentioned earlier (turning jeans inside out, adding a dry towel, and monitoring drying time), can help ensure that your jeans are dried effectively without compromising their fit and size.

Air drying jeans


So, can you safely put denim in the dryer? The answer hinges on your preferences and the level of care you want to extend to your cherished denim.

While the dryer can be a suitable option, taking precautions such as opting for low heat or air-drying can help preserve the quality and fit of your denim.

By understanding the concerns surrounding drying denim and embracing the gentle handling techniques we’ve explored, you can ensure your denim retains its rugged charm and authentic Western appeal.