7 Easy Ways to Shrink Jeans at Home (Step-by-Step Guides)

It is always difficult to find ready-made jeans that would fit perfectly. But not to worry, all hope is not lost. Instead of searching for a perfect fit, you can get anyone you see and shrink it to your size. This sounds easier, right?

In this article, we will look at how to shrink jeans using different methods.  So that next time you get bigger jeans, you can easily shrink them to your size.

Why is Shrinking Jeans Important?

Why is Shrinking Jeans Important

Here are vital reasons why shrinking jeans is necessary:

  • To Avoid Sagging: Over time, your jeans might begin to sag due to excessive use and poor maintenance. When they sag, the length or waistband increases and fails to fit. But with the help of different shrinking techniques, you can restore the jeans to their standard size.
  • To Obtain a Better Fit: Shrinking reduces the size of jeans and makes them fit better. You can even mold the jeans into your shape by wearing them during shrinking. If you buy loose jeans, you can shrink them with heat to make them tighter and fit your body shape better.
  • To Boost Durability and Longevity: Another important reason we shrink jeans is to make them stronger and more durable. Jeans can become weak when they lose their elasticity and undergo wear and tear. But the good news is, you can always restore the elasticity of your jeans by shrinking them. Once you restore its elasticity, the jeans become thicker and stronger again.

Factors Affecting the Shrinking Process

How do different types of materials shrink? Let’s find out.

  • Cotton: Cotton is a breathable natural material.  It shrinks easily when heat is applied. To shrink any jean made of cotton material, apply excessive heat and increase the tension in the fibers.
  • Denim: Different types of denim are composed of various materials, and these materials determine the extent they shrink. The more natural ones, such as cotton denim, shrink better, while the synthetic ones, such as Lycra denim, rarely shrink.
  • Elastane: Elastane is a very delicate material. It is low-heat tolerance but is not entirely resistant to shrinking. To shrink elastane, wash it at high temp and dry it, or iron with a hot iron.
  • Silk: Just like many other materials, silk shrinks when enough heat is applied. Different types of silk shrink differently.

Importance of Considering the Jeans’ Composition

Importance of Considering the Jeans' Composition

Most jeans are composed of cotton, although some contain more synthetic materials. Jeans consisting of 100% cotton can shrink up to 20% of their original size. The trick here is to subject cotton fibers to excessive heat, reducing the size of the jeans.

Remember, not all jeans are 100% cotton. Some less expensive ones are composed of natural and synthetic materials. Although these might shrink, do not expect up to 20% shrinkage.

Tools and Materials Needed for Shrinking Jeans

Here are important materials and tools you need to shrink jeans like a pro:

  • Washing Machine: The washing machine is an important shrinking tool.  It shrinks jeans when you set the machine at over 60° C, allowing it to run for several minutes.
  • Dryer: After the washer, the next shrinking tool is the dryer. The primary function of the dryer is to absorb moisture. But it is also used for shrinking when it is set at a high temperature.
  • Bathtubs: The bathtub is used to shrink jeans into one’s perfect shape. When you fill the bathtub with hot water and sit in it with your jeans, it shrinks after a few hours.
  • Iron: To shrink, using an iron, dampen the jeans and run a hot iron over them. It is the perfect shrinking tool to avoid washing the jeans.

How to Shrink Jeans Like a Pro

Here are solid techniques anyone can use to shrink their jeans. Each technique has a specific situation it works for, so note that before selecting a technique.

Iron Your Jeans

How to Shrink Jeans Like a Pro 

Ironing is the most common shrinking technique. This technique is most suitable when you do not want to shrink the entire jeans.

To shrink by ironing

  • Neatly place the jeans on the ironing board.
  • Dampen the area by sprinkling water on it.
  • Next, run the hot iron over the moist surface slowly until it becomes hot. Lastly, allow the jeans to dry in the open air.

Soak Your Jeans in Hot Water

Jeans also shrink in hot water at different degrees, depending on what material the jean is made of. This method is suitable for shrinking the entire jeans.

  • Fill a bowl with scalding water and dip your jeans inside.
  • Stir the jeans gently to soak every part in hot water properly.
  • Allow the jean to sit in the hot water for over an hour.
  • Bring it out, gently draining the excess water with your other hand.
  • Finally, place it in a hot dryer and allow it to set.

Here’s a detailed video on how to do it:

Utilize Dry Ice

This procedure is unique, and it’s not hard to see why. You don’t need a dryer, iron, or washing machine for this process. The trick is to drop the temperature instead of adding heat.

To shrink jeans using dry ice:

  • Tie them in a double plastic bag and place them beneath a heap of ice.
  • Allow it to shrink for a few hours before removing it.
  • Note that you can’t use this method for light fabrics. If you do, the ice will make the fabric stiff.

Put in a Dryer

Put in a Dryer

This dryer method is super easy because it doesn’t need any other instruments apart from a dryer. Imagine you’re doing your regular laundry.

How do you shrink jeans with this method?

  • Wash your jeans like you would normally, but the machine must be set on high heat.
  • After washing the jeans, put it in a dryer and set it at high heat. The jeans shrink as the dryer absorbs its moisture.

Take it to a Tailor

Visiting a tailor is not exactly a shrinking technique because tailors do not constrict the fibers of the jeans. However, they can reduce the size of the jeans in either dimension.

If the length is too long, the tailor removes the old hem, reduces the length, and sews in a new hem. If the waistband is too big, they can equally reduce the waist size by stitching through it.

This method provides a more permanent solution. And the best news is that it is the least stressful method because you don’t have to tailor your jeans yourself.

Using a Washing Machine and Dryer

Using a Washing Machine and Dryer

Although this method is effective, it is not exactly stress-free.  It is mostly used when the jean material can withstand heat and the rough conditions of a washing machine.

To shrink jeans with a washing machine:

  • Soak the jeans in hot water above 60°c.
  • Once the jean is properly absorbed, let them run through the washer for two rounds and transfer it to the dryer to dry.

Subjecting jeans to the rough rumbling of a washing machine at a very high temperature causes the jeans to shrink considerably. You must set the dryer to a high temperature to further shrink the jeans.

Wearing the Jeans while Shrinking

This method is the most effective way of shrinking jeans. With this method, not only is the size of the jeans reduced, it molds to your exact shape. Although this method is the best, only some people adopt it because it requires much preparation, time, and patience.

To shrink your jeans while wearing them:

  • Fill the bathtub with hot water and then put on the jeans.
  • Make the water as hot as possible because jeans shrink better when exposed to extreme heat.
  • Climb the bathtub and relax because the jeans will take over one hour to shrink. You don’t have to sit in the bathtub like a mannequin. You can read a book, listen to music, sip a glass of wine, or do something entertaining!
  • Once the time elapses, remove the jeans from your body and dry them under the sun. If you want a perfect fit, allow the jeans to dry on your body before removal.

Yes, I know, it might feel uncomfortable. But the results are flawless. Here’s a detailed video on how to do this: How to shrink to fit denim perfectly!

Post-Shrinking Steps

Congratulations! You’ve successfully shrunk your jeans. What’s next? It’s time to try them on to see if they’re a perfect fit. If you’re satisfied with the fit, your process is complete. If not, you may need to repeat the process.

Don’t beat yourself over if you don’t like what you see on the first attempt. Shrinking is not always perfect when you do it for the first time. You might need to repeat the process several times to get your desired results.

However, don’t repeat the process so much and overly shrink your jeans. My first mistake was trying so hard to shrink my jeans that they became too small for me. When you shrink them too much, they become too small and out of shape.

Frequently Asked Questions about Shrinking Jeans

Can all types of jeans be shrunk?

Yes, you can shrink every type of jeans. However, some are more than others. For instance, natural breathable materials such as cotton can shrink better than synthetic non-breathable materials such as Lycra. Don’t expect all jeans to shrink at the same rate without considering their material composition.

What do I do if my jeans become too small?

If you’ve shrunk your jeans so much that they’ve become too small, expanding them is your only solution. The common technique I recommend is using pant extruders and waistband stretchers. If you don’t have these tools, don’t worry! Simply spray water on the right parts and stretch with your hands.

Final Words

Knowing how to shrink jeans like a pro is one of the most important life hacks you will ever encounter. Unlike other clothes, most jeans don’t come ready-made. Unless you’re willing to leave them bogus, be ready to shrink them.

If you follow these steps, you won’t have to worry about finding the perfect size when you want to get a new pair.


Leave a Comment