8 Best And Easy Ways To Shrink Jeans

Bring your old skinny jeans back to life with these simple and easy-to-follow hacks.

Reviewed by Traci Jeske, Personal Stylist Traci Jeske Traci JeskePersonal Stylist facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature) Sushmita Barman MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon
Edited by , BSc Shatabdi Bhattacharya BSc linkedin_icon Experience: 2.5 years
Fact-checked by , BA (English Hons) Pahul Nanra BA (English Hons) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years

We all know how annoying a pair of stretched jeans can be – but isn’t it just the way it is? The waistband suddenly doesn’t feel so form-fitting and the knees have creased because you have been sitting all day. Relatable?

But there is a solution to this. You can shrink your jeans. Yes, you read it right. Shrunk jeans are the new trend. These jeans are much tighter than regular jeans and more form-fitting than skinny jeans. Their crotch area is higher up on the waistline and makes your legs, hips, and butt look slimmer. So, you must be wondering how to shrink jeans so they fit you perfectly? All you need is a bunch of simple tricks right up your sleeves (cuffs, we mean). Discover these techniques in this post and never let a pair of jeans bother you again.

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  • Fabric: Jeans made from natural fibers can shrink with these methods. Denim fabric with looser weaves is easier to shrink than those with tighter weaves.
  • How To Pick The Right Size: Try to fit two fingers between the waistband and your stomach pre-purchase. If they are fitting well, that’s the size to buy.
  • Washing Tip: Hand wash the jeans with cold water and a very little detergent. Use soaps designed for wool to prevent stretching out.
  • How To Fold It: Fold the jeans and stack them up in the cupboard instead of hanging them on the hanger to maintain the shape.

8 Best Ways To Shrink Jeans Easily

1. Use Dry Ice

Seal your jeans inside a plastic bag, put it into another plastic bag, and tie it up. Place it in a chunk of dry ice and leave it alone for a couple of hours to allow it to shrink. But be wary as certain fabrics may become stiff or get damaged once the dry ice evaporates.

2. Use An Iron

Shrink your jeans by ironing them
Image: Shutterstock

Dampen any of the loose areas on your jeans using hot water. These could be the waistband, thigh areas, or the knees. Switch your iron to the cotton setting and run it over the dampened areas of your jeans. Ensure you aren’t pausing on an area for too long. You can put on the jeans once they are completely dry.

Do remember to just dampen the problem areas on your jeans, and not soak them.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Usually it’s the 100% cotton jeans that expand the most. Cotton has the natural quality to expand but has no elasticity to retract. Denims with mixed fabrics have a better chance of shrinking with these methods.

3. Get Into The Bath

Shrink your jeans by getting into the bath
Image: Shutterstock

While this may seem a little uncomfortable, it works well. Fill the bathtub with hot water. Remember, no soap. Put on your jeans and get into the bathtub. Wait until the water cools down, and then step out. Shake off the excess water and step outside. You may walk around a bit too, but ensure the jeans are completely dry so that they naturally fit to your form.

But in case the weather is cold, you may instead hang the jeans outside after washing them. Then allow them to dry for the rest of the day.

Danny, a YouTuber, shared his personal experience about how to shrink denim jeans using the bathtub method. He depicts the method and states, “The water is in between warm and hot, not hot enough where it’s going to be unpleasant to sit in or hard even to get into the water (i).” He then proceeds to share his satisfaction about the results and says, “I can feel the difference and you can probably see the difference as well.”

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can also put the wet jeans in the dryer right after taking them off. This may help with added shrinkage.

4. Shrink Jeans Using A Paddle

Fill up your sink with warm water and submerge the jeans. Once wet, remove the jeans and wring them until they are damp. Then tap all over the fabric using a wooden paddle/spoon for about ten minutes and repeat on the other side. This method will help you shrink the jeans by increasing the friction in certain regions.

5. Use The Freezer Method

Shrink your jeans by placing them in a freezer
Image: Shutterstock

Throw your jeans into the freezer overnight and take them out the next morning. After a day or two, your pants will shrink and be ready for wear. However, this method is not recommended for items made of cotton because the material will become stiff and uncomfortable after drying.

6. Throw Them In The Dryer

Shrink your jeans by throwing them in a dryer
Image: IStock

This technique is simple. Put your stretched-out jeans into the washer and set to the hottest temperature. Once done, throw them in the dryer. Wait till they have dried completely. Your shrunk jeans would be ready to be used. However, practice caution if your jeans are made of delicate fabric – try reducing the temperature in the washer appropriately.

7. Use The Boiling Method

Shrink your jeans by placing them in boiling water
Image: Shutterstock

Fill a large pan or pot with water at 70 degrees. Keep in mind that very hot water will damage the fabric. Now turn your jeans inside out and leave them over the pan. Ensure the jeans are submerged completely. As the water is hot, you may use a spoon or a ladle to push the denims down under. Leave them for about 20 to 30 minutes. Avoid adding fabric softener to your jeans as it will soften and relax the fiber. Stir the water once a while. Afterward, you can drain the water and dry the jeans.

8. Try Clothesline Drying

If you want your jeans to shrink a bit, try the clothesline drying method. Just wash your jeans like usual, then put them on the clothesline instead of throwing them in the dryer. The air and the heat from the sun will make them a little smaller. Keep in mind that not all jeans will shrink the same way, and this method might not work for all types of denim. So, if you are looking for a little shrinkage, you can give clothesline drying a try! On the plus side, hanging your laundry outdoors preserves the lifespan of your garments by avoiding the wear and tear caused by tumble dryers.

Each of these techniques works differently for different types of material.


Now you know precisely how to shrink your jeans. But if they feel baggy despite following these techniques, you may want to visit your neighborhood tailor for alterations. This is because the tricks mentioned here offer a temporary solution at best. Visiting a professional can give you a permanent solution and can also prolong the life of the clothing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do jeans shrink in cold water?

No. Since denim fibers do not break down from being washed with cold water, the fabric may not shrink.

Do jeans shrink after the first wash?

Yes, denim may shrink about 7% to 10% after the first wash. However, it returns to its original form within approximately an hour due to the reversal of relaxation shrinkage.

Will jeans shrink or stretch over time?

The fabric of jeans morphs and adjusts according to the wearer’s body. To that end, jeans may shrink with time.

Key Takeaways

  • Always choose the method based on the type of fabric. For example, the freezer method is not ideal for cotton jeans.
  • You can first buy cheap jeans and try them on for practice.
  • The simplest way to shrink your jeans during the winters is to leave them out in the cold night.
how to shrink jeans

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Curious about the effects of hot water on your favorite jeans? Watch the video to unravel the truth behind the age-old question: Does denim shrink in hot water?

Personal Experience: Source

Traci Jeske

Traci JeskePersonal Stylist

Traci Jeske is an internationally certified personal stylist with over 30 years of experience. She is also the director of En Vogue Stylist and helps women 50 and beyond up level their glamor game by finding their unique style and looking and feeling absolutely fabulous. Traci was born and brought up in Canada and then established her stylish brand in...read full bio

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