Speaking of leggings: should they be put in the dryer? If not, why? What is the worst thing that can happen? In short: leggings in the dryer are a no-no.
In fact, they are one of many fragile items that can be severely damaged by the extreme heat of the dryer. Here's a list of common items you should avoid putting in your dryer: anything containing spandex, including leggings, yoga pants, sports bras, etc., swimwear, pantyhose and leggings, silk and lace, running shoes, knitwear, etc.
Air dry your leggings
The best way to care for your leggings is to wash them in cold water and air dry them, preferably laying them flat to dry so they don't stretch as they dry. You'll be surprised how fast they dry - sometimes in less than an hour!
Dryers can cause serious damage. While your leggings can survive a drying cycle, you want to avoid causing wear and tear on them. In the worst case scenario, the following problems may occur.
Shrinkage of bottoms
The heat from the dryer (or hot water wash or iron) can cause your leggings to shrink. Usually, leggings come with "lay flat to dry" instructions, so you shouldn't put them in the dryer at all.
If this happens once, you may notice that your leggings will fit better afterwards. With wear and tear, they should return to their original size. But always try to avoid repeating the mistake too many times or serious damage may result. It's also worth noting that they may not shrink evenly.
Loss of elasticity
Spandex garments are more likely to lose elasticity rather than shrink as they age. Every time you wear leggings, you stretch them. As they relax and adapt to your body and movements, they will eventually stop springing back to their original shape.
However, heat does speed up the process. This seems to be inconsistent with the last point about shrinkage. The heat from the dryer causes the material to shrink, but it also causes the elastic to break. It will become baggy and ill-fitting.
Other care instructions
In addition to avoiding the dryer, there are some other suggestions for caring for leggings.
Wash bottoms frequently
Wear leggings close to the skin (and groin). More importantly, workout or gym leggings are designed to wick away moisture and sweat. Those damp, sweaty fabrics are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and odors. Therefore, wash your leggings gently, but often. Also, don't let a sweaty, stale garment sit in your laundry basket or gym bag for a week.
Skip fabric softeners
Fabric softeners can leave a very visible residue on the top of your leggings. This residue can also cause your leggings to darken and discolor. If you use fabric softener in your laundry, be sure to separate the garments to be softened from the synthetic garments before putting them in the machine.
You don't want your leggings to get stretched in the machine. Therefore, try washing your leggings in an item of similar weight (T-shirt, underwear, etc.). If you do wash your leggings with larger or heavier items (bedding, towels, sweaters), consider placing them in a mesh bag so they don't get tangled with those items.
Lay flat to dry
Clothes get heavier when they get wet. This means hanging your tights when they are wet allows them to stretch more. Instead, lay your tights flat to dry. You'll be surprised at how quickly your tights dry!
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