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How to Shrink Dickies Pants for Better Fit? – 2 Ways

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

how to shrink dickies pants

Let’s start this guide on how to shrink Dickies pants with a friendly reminder:

Dickies can offer replacements or refunds for your work pants if they are new—never worn, altered, or washed—and if you present your original receipt within 90 days from the date of purchase.

If you got the wrong size, we recommend availing of this service because shrinking your pants voids the warranty. Follow the tutorials below only when you have laundered your pants several times and lost the receipt.

Know the Fabric Before Shrinking Your Pants


Fabrics made of natural fibers like cotton contract easily when exposed to heat hotter than 130℉ in the washing machine. Meanwhile, polyesters are less susceptible to such issues, although minor shrinkage may still occur should the heat is too high—over 230℉. 

Since the brand’s line of pants varies in terms of the amount of cotton and polyester composition, know that some Dickies work pants shrink faster than others.

For instance, you need more time to shrink Dickies 874—which is composed of 65% polyester and 35% cotton—than downsizing a pair of 100% cotton uniform pants. We’ll go into more detail regarding different types of Dickies pants that can shrink below.

In any case, the last thing you’d want to do is to damage the fabric beyond repair. So, take our advice: read and understand your pants’ fabric composition first before tossing your pants into a boiling pot of water.

Ways to Shrink Dickies Pants


Below are some pointers to remember before you begin:

  • Practice precautionary measures when using hot water or steam iron.
  • Natural fabrics can shrink more if exposed to high temperatures for longer. However, overdoing this can be damaging to the fibers of your cotton pants—the specific length you can expose your pants to high heat will depend on each method, so read on to find out.
</p> <h3>1. Using a washer, dryer, and steam iron</h3> <p>

For those who want to shrink khakis or other types of work trousers to a considerably smaller size, feel free to try any or all three steps below.

But if you want to downsize only a few targeted areas on your pants, go straight to Step 3.

Step 1: Toss your machine-washable pants into your washer


Check the care tag to see that your trousers are machine-washable.

If so, turn them inside-out and choose the hottest water and fastest agitation on the washing machine’s control panel. Then, run the cycle for 20 minutes.

As discussed earlier, high heat can make cotton shrink. Well, so can intense agitation. Combining these two settings will shrink pants that are too big more effectively.

Before you move to Step 2, check if your pants change in size.

Step 2: Let your Dickies shrink in the dryer


Again, select high heat, but opt for a 10-minute cycle this time. However, just to be sure, you should check the garment every 3 minutes or so to see how smaller it’s become.

Feel free to stop once you achieve the right size.

Step 3: Steam iron your pants


Ironing can make Dickies pants shrink further. But to pull this off, we recommend using a steam iron instead of a dry iron, as it’s less likely to scorch and damage the fabric.

Place the garment on your ironing board and hover your steam iron half an inch over it. You can also aim the iron at specific areas that you want to shrink. In any case, remember to set the iron to the highest temperature.

</p> <h3>2. No-washer shrinking techniques</h3> <p>


So, you want to shrink dress pants or work pants, but the care tag says you can’t use the washing machine. Well, it’s not the end of the world! You can try these two methods:

The short way: Using boiling water


Heat a potful of water, then switch off your stove once it starts to bubble.

Submerge your trousers in boiling water for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how much you want them to shrink. Retrieve the garment with your tongs and allow it to cool.

While this technique produces faster results and can reduce your pants by more than a size, you need to focus your full attention on the task to prevent over-shrinking.

The long way: Using warm water


Pour warm water into a basin or bucket and leave your trousers to soak for six hours. After that, wring the pants to get rid of the excess water and hang them outside to dry.

Though it takes much longer, your Dickies shrink in length and width uniformly.

How Much Do Dickies Pants Shrink?


On average, Dickies pants can shrink up to 3% or 4% of their sizes, which is about one to two inches in terms of width and length.

Since Dickies pants are bound to shrink slightly – be it in the washing machine or when dried on the clothesline, you should buy a Dickies size about two inches larger than your original.

Different types of Dickies pants that shrink


Don’t get us wrong—we are not singling out Dickies. Any brand of cotton work pants can decrease in size if you wash or dry them in high heat.

But if you want to know which Dickies pants are susceptible to shrinking, here are some of them:

Dickies pants made of 100% cotton are more prone to shrinking. Examples include the stone washed duck Dickies carpenter pants and double-knee utility painter’s pants.

Even their stretchable performance pants contain 98% cotton and 2% spandex, which are just as prone to shrinking.

  • Khaki pants

In 2016, Dickies produced a new line of khakis that were lighter and stretchier than their signature 874®.

For this, the brand used 35% polyester and 65% cotton—the reverse of its original 65% polyester and 35% cotton.

With the same formula, its FLEX version is made of a 7.25 oz Mechanical Stretch Twill. Still, higher cotton content means higher chances of shrinking

  • Jeans

Constructed with 100% cotton heavyweight denim, these Dicies jeans will downsize in the washing machine and dryer, as confirmed by several user reviews.

Note that Dickies have plenty of other cotton fabric blends in its inventory. The list above is by no means an exhaustive one.

Because the brand keeps releasing new models, we encourage you to check the tag or product page to determine how much cotton is incorporated into the fabric.

Helpful Tips


Can you wash Dickies in hot water?

Unless you want to shrink it, the answer is no. Normally, Dickies pants should be washed with lukewarm water under 130℉ or cold water.

Tips to prevent Dickies pants from shrinking

If heat causes cotton to shrink, then logic dictates that avoiding it will help in maintaining your Dickies pants’ original size.

Here are the specific steps you can take:

  • Follow the care tag down to the tee.
  • Sort your laundry before putting them in the washer. This way, you don’t accidentally include your Dickies jeans with the clothes that you need to wash with hot water.
  • Use cold water or lukewarm water when hand washing or machine-washing your pants.
  • Steer clear from the dryer and air-dry your pants.
  • Put the pants in a cool shade when air-drying them, as the heat from the sun can still alter the fabric’s size.


We normally advise our readers to read the care tag when doing the laundry. But for this tutorial on how to shrink Dickies pants, we are breaking some rules to shrink cargo pants, Dickies jeans, or what-have-you in the wash-and-dry process.

That said, there is no fixed timeframe when downsizing Dickies pants. If your trousers have more polyester than cotton, it may take a while before you see the effect.

Of course, you have the option to fast-track the process by boiling water. However, you have to be extra careful not to damage your pants!

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