Almost everyone has gone through an experience of having a piece of their clothing shrink during the washing process.
It is usually rather frustrating, especially since it can make an expensive clothing item practically unwearable.
However, many people shrink their clothes on purpose.
This is usually the case with sports equipment, especially in baseball, where the proper pants fit is one of the keys to optimal performance.
Even though baseball pants come in many sizes, players of certain build are still often unable to find the right fit for them.
Many of them resort to shrinkage as a way to adjust the size.
So, learning how to shrink baseball pants can be extremely useful and can help athletes feel more comfortable and safe on the field.
Why Do Some Baseball Players Shrink Their Pants?
Saggy or loose pants not only hinder a player’s performance and running, but can also increase injury risk.
Loose-fit pants may be more comfortable in everyday life, but on the baseball field, they are a nuisance.
There’s always a risk of tripping and falling.
Furthermore, pants that fit well provide better protection when sliding for the base and reduce wounds that can occur while sliding.
If a player can’t find pants that fit, or if they get saggy from too much use, they can always take them to the tailor.
But, this is a rather inconvenient and often expensive option. The cheapest way to get your pants to fit is to shrink them yourself.
Below, I’ll share some advice on how to shrink baseball pants at your own home.
How to Shrink Baseball Pants
The most widely used way of shrinking baseball pants is by washing them.
This is not a 100% predictable process, so you may have to deal with some trial-and-error before you figure it out.
Shrinking pants to perfect fit may require going through the process more than once.
The ultimate goal is to shrink the baseball pants until they fit perfectly while, at the same time, avoiding any damage to the fabric and prints.
For best results, carefully follow the steps I’ll lay out below.
Shrinking by Washing and Drying
Step 1: Check the Label
Every piece of clothing comes with a care label.
As you probably know, these labels provide important information on the garment’s composition and instructions on how to wash, dry, and iron them.
The large majority of baseball pants are made of polyester and the advice in this article will mostly refer to them.
Polyester replaced cotton, as it is stronger, more durable, and better at absorbing sweat.
Interestingly, one of the reasons was that the cotton would often shrink too much during washing.
Note that by attempting to shrink polyester pants you’ll likely violate the instructions on the label.
Step 2: Turn the Pants Inside Out
Before you do anything else, make sure to turn your baseball pants inside out.
The heat that is high enough to shrink the polyester can also cause color fading.
Turning the pants inside out will provide better protection against fading, but it may not stop the color bleeding.
So, if possible, avoid washing more than one pair of pants together.
Step 3: Wash Pants in Hot Water
Once you’ve prepared your pants, put them in the washing machine and wash them in the extremely hot water.
The heat does most of the work when it comes to shrinking.
Unless you also want to clean your pants, you don’t even have to use the detergent. In any case, it won’t interfere with the shrinking process.
Set the machine to the longest wash cycle available and the hottest water temperature. You should use both hot wash and hot rinse settings.
The water temperature shouldn’t be below 140 F (60 C) or over 230 F (110 C). As polyester is a type of plastic, too much heat may damage it.
Step 4: Dry the Pants in a Hot Dryer
After the wash cycle is done, immediately transfer the pants to the dryer.
Use the hottest dryer setting, but, again, makes sure that it’s not too hot.
The maximum temperature shouldn’t be over 180F (80C). Also, select the longest drying cycle.
Before you put them in a dryer, check that your pants are still turned inside out.
Step 4: Check the Pants for Shrinkage
Once the drying is finished, take the baseball pants out of the dryer and allow them to cool off at room temperature.
Then, try them on to check for shrinkage.
If you feel that they’re not shrunk enough, you may repeat the process. Note that you can only use this method a few times.
Doing it too many times may cause the color to fade.
If you can’t reach satisfactory shrinkage with this method, you may try using an iron.
Shrinking by Using an Iron
Steps 1, 2, and 3
The first three steps are the same as in the previous method.
So, check the label, turn the pants inside out and wash them in hot water.
Step 4: Ironing the Pants
Right after you take your wet pants out of the washing machine, put them on the ironing board.
Check to see if they’re still turned inside out.
Once you place the pants on the ironing board use the protective pressing cloth and lay it over the pants.
The cloth should cover the baseball pants completely.
Set the iron to a lower or medium setting to prevent the polyester from becoming too stiff. Also, never use the steam setting as it can damage the fabric.
Carefully iron the pants until they’re completely dry.
Step 5: Check the Pants for Shrinkage
Same as before, after you’re done with ironing, check to see if you’ve got a satisfactory shrinkage.
The ironing shouldn’t be done more than once. Otherwise, you risk color fading and damaging your baseball pants.
If you washed and dried your pants more than once, and ironed them on top of it, you’ve probably shrunk them as much as possible.
These methods take some time and effort, but they will still save you money and provide comfort on the baseball field.
Don’t forget to check the level of shrinkage after each shrinking process. You don’t want to overdo it and have your pants shrink too much.
Also, if you feel that your pants are losing color or being damaged in any way, stop the process immediately.
As I mentioned, the methods listed above will work for most baseball pants available.
However, make sure that these steps will work for the specific pants you own.
There are still cotton pants on the market, as well as various polyester/nylon/cotton blends.
Some materials are shrink-resistant. In that case, there isn’t much you can do.