Will Basketball Shorts Shrink in the Dryer?

Basketball shorts are some of the most versatile pieces of clothing that a person can wear; they can be used for lounging or being active—and of course to wear during that important game. They are also relatively easy to wash; however, before you decide to throw your favorite pair of basketball shorts in the dryer, you may want to check if they will shrink first. 

Depending on the material, most basketball shorts will remain the same size and color after a dryer cycle under the right settings. However, those washed and dried under hot water and high heat will most likely shrink. 

Generally, basketball shorts are safe to run through the washer and dryer without sacrificing their color or size. However, if they are made of a more delicate material, there are a few alternatives to the washing and drying machine you should take to keep them in their original condition. 

Will Basketball Shorts Shrink in the Dryer? 

Basketball shorts will generally not shrink when run through a dryer, as long as you are using the right settings. However, the type of material your basketball shorts are made from could also impact the likelihood of shrinking. 

Basketball shorts can either be made from cotton, polyester, or Dri-Fit:

  • Basketball shorts made with cotton will usually be those used for lounging. They are more susceptible to shrinking if you wash them with hot water and/or use high heat to dry them. 
  • Basketball shorts are more commonly made with polyester. While these are safer to wash under hot water, drying them on high heat could cause some shrinking and even color fading if they are not turned inside out. 
  • Dri-Fit is an advanced material some basketball shorts are made from. They usually fit tighter on the body but are designed to wick away moisture. Dri-Fit basketball shorts should not be placed in the dryer, as exposure to any heat can damage the material and cause shrinking. 

Best Dryer Settings for Basketball Shorts

To properly dry cotton or polyester basketball shorts, make sure the dryer is set to a low or no-heat setting; this will help you avoid shrinking or other damage to the material. 

If you find that your shorts are still a little damp after a drying cycle with these settings, hang them on a drying rack or clothesline to complete the drying process. Avoid the temptation to run another cycle; in most cases, it is usually better to under-dry basketball shorts in the dryer than over-dry them. If you over-dry, you will most likely see some shrinkage.  

With Dri-Fit basketball shorts, you will want to air-dry them by hanging them on a drying rack or clothesline. As mentioned above, any exposure to heat in the dryer will cause them to shrink. 

Can Basketball Shorts Shrink with Air-Drying?

Air-drying basketball shorts by hanging them up is usually the safest route you can take to prevent any type of damage to the material. Basketball shorts will never shrink using this drying method. 

If you decide to hang your basketball shorts on a clothesline, follow these tips to keep them intact:

  • Hang the shorts up by the waistline. 
  • When hanging the shorts, you will want to pull the waistline, so it is not bunched together once clipped with the clothespin. However, do not pull the waistline so taught that the elastic in the waistband stretches; keep the elastic loose. 

If you do not have a clothesline, you can get away with hanging up your shorts in a well-ventilated area where they can dry thoroughly, such as:

  • Top of shower curtain rods
  • On a hanger over the top of an open door
  • On a hook on the back of a door
  • On a dry towel on the back of a piece of furniture 

You can also use a drying rack, which is perfect for anyone who may not have access to a dryer or clothesline. Drying racks are similar to clotheslines but can be kept indoors. 

Alternative Drying Methods for Basketball Shorts

If the above drying options do not necessarily work for you, then there are a few other alternatives that you can use to dry your basketball shorts. Because these options are not the most traditional ways to dry basketball shorts, some caution should be taken to avoid any damage to the material.

Use a Hair Blow Dryer

These are great for pointing a concentrated amount of air onto the shorts in a confined area. Simply blow-drying the shorts can be a quick alternative to hanging the shorts up or using the dryer. Just remember to use the cool air setting rather than hot if you decide to use this method. 

If a cool setting is not available on the blow dryer, you can use low heat. However, you should aim the blow dryer further away from the shorts and make sure you rotate them to dry them evenly. 

Use a Space Heater

Like a blow dryer, a space heater is a small unit that blows out hot air in an area. Simply lay your basketball shorts in front of the space heater for a short amount of time. 

However, do not place the shorts too close to the heater; several feet away works just as well. You also should not leave the clothes unattended, as this can pose a fire hazard. 

Opt for Dry Cleaning

Although this is not common for basketball shorts, it is a viable option for making sure they get cleaned and dry without risking any damage in a traditional washing machine or dryer. Note: This is not recommended for Dri-Fit shorts. 

How to Wash Basketball Shorts to Prevent Shrinking

You can prevent any shrinkage in your basketball shorts starting by washing them properly. Regardless of the type of basketball shorts you own, if you decide to use the washing machine, make sure you use cold water with a normal washing cycle. Any warm or hot water could start the process of shrinking the shorts before they even get to the dryer!

Also, it is recommended that you turn the shorts inside-out to maintain their color. You should also avoid using fabric softener, which can damage Dri-Fit shorts or clothes with any material with wicking properties. 

Hand Washing Basketball Shorts

If you prefer not to risk washing your shorts shrinking in the washing machine, you could always hand-wash them using these steps: 

  1. Pre-soak the shorts in lukewarm (not hot) water with the appropriate detergent. Leave them in the solution for 15 minutes. 
  2. Gently rub the fabric between your fingers to remove any lingering stains. 
  3. Rinse the shorts with cold water to remove any residue. 

After washing your basketball shorts, immediately hang them up to air dry or run them through the dryer with a low or no-heat setting. 

In Summary

Basketball shorts have many uses, which often requires them to be frequently washed and dried. 

Any exposure to warm water or high heat can increase the chances of shrinkage, so always stick to cold water and low to no-heat settings with your washing machine and dryer. Of course, using alternative methods for washing and drying your basketball shorts instead of the washer and dryer will guarantee their longevity. Opt for hand washing and air-drying when you can, making sure that you still use cold water and low heat if necessary. 

By following these tips, you can ensure your basketball shorts always fit well and are ready for your next big game! 

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