Carhartt B136 and B01 Pants

How Much Do Carhartt Pants Shrink?

Figuring out what size Carhartt duck pants to order can make you feel like you’ve just been through the spin cycle. How do you know what size to order, especially because there's some confusion about how much Carhartt pants shrink?

First, what is duck fabric? Duck fabric is Carhartt's cornerstone fabric, made from stiff, ring-spun cotton. The fabric is snag-proof, windproof, and downright tough.

Exactly how much your new Carhartts will shrink depends on two things: The first is whether you purchase pre-washed duck cloth, and the second is your washing and drying temperatures.

Washing & Drying Temps for Carhartts

If you talk to Carhartt customer service, they report that Carhartt pants won’t shrink, as long as you follow proper care instructions: wash warm, do not bleach, and tumble dry medium. Other Carhartt sources say firm-hand duck cloth Carhartts will shrink 3% or less.

Murdoch’s employees and customers have mixed reports as to the accuracy of the above statements, probably because we dry our clothes on high (improper care will void your warranty). We’re all too busy to change how we do laundry for one pair of pants.

We’ve found that both pre-washed and firm-hand Carhartt duck pants shrink.

  • Pre-washed duck pants don’t shrink nearly as much as the unwashed duck pants (less than a half-inch when washed improperly).
  • Comparing washed and unwashed pants in the store, there was a 6.5% variance, or 2 inches in length, for size 34x30.

And remember, duck cloth is cotton. As amazing as it is, cotton is still a natural fiber, so there will always be a little bit of variance in how it reacts to different temperatures.

How to Buy Carhartt Pants

What Does Pre-Washed Mean?

How You Know: The product name will say “washed” or “sandstone.” Sandstone means the fabric has been washed, plus it’s been sanded to create an even more distressed look. If it doesn’t say "pre-washed" or “washed” or “sandstone,” it isn’t pre-washed.

Texture: Washed means the duck cloth is already a little bit softened for your first use.

Length: Washed also means the length has already shrunk up. Here is a pair of Carhartt Men's Double Front Work Dungarees - Washed Duck (style number B136). The 34x30 washed pants we measured actually had a 29.25” inseam, so this style can be shorter than advertised. Waist: No measurable variance.

Unwashed (AKA Firm-Hand)

Texture: Firm-hand duck cloth Carhartts will be more scratchy and rigid. The upside is longevity: you’ll get a few more wears out of firm-hand duck pants before they feel broken-in. The downside is comfort: you have to put up with the crispy feel initially. Ultimately, firm-hand duck Carhartts will end up feeling like washed duck Carhartts.

Length: Brand new firm-hand duck pants are much longer than washed. Here is a pair of Carhartt Men’s Double Front Work Dungarees – Firm Hand Duck (style number B01). The 34×30 pants we measured actually had a 31.25” inseam. These are made to shrink. Waist: No measurable variance

Which is Better

For online orders on, we might suggest ordering B136 pre-washed duck Carhartts, simply because you’ll be able to try them on and get an instant feel for texture and fit, especially if you’re a first-timer to owning a pair of these awesome pants. With the B01 firm-hand duck Carhartts, you’d have to wash them to know if the final length is right for you, and after that we can’t accept the return. Here's our policy.