How to shrink jeans in the waist

Updated February 16, 2017

Denim lovers know that jean brands vary in shape, sizing and fit. In fact, it can be difficult to buy the perfect pair that fits your waist off the rack. If you have a pair of jeans that are too big in the waist, you can shrink them without sending your denim to the tailor for alterations. For jeans that require shrinking due to rapid weight loss or because of an unflattering fit in the waistline, you can mould your denim to fit your shape without altering the fit of the legs or hips.

Start with jeans made of 100 per cent cotton. According to the Ohio University Fact Sheet, "jeans made from cotton and polyester blends are more shrink resistant than jeans of 100% cotton."

Fill the teakettle with water. Turn the stove's burner on medium heat. Put on oven gloves. Once the steam is visible from the mouth of the teapot, remove the kettle from the stove.

Place a 15-quart mop bucket or large pot on a sturdy table or kitchen counter. With the oven gloves remaining on your hands, pour the water away from your face into the bucket. Pour slowly to prevent the hot water from touching your skin.

Put the waistband of your jeans in the top of the hot water for 10 minutes. Let the legs of the trousers hang over the sides of the bucket. Using tongs and a large towel, remove the jeans from the bucket or pot. Roll your jeans in the towel to remove most of the water.

Tumble your jeans in the dryer using high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.


For jeans with a mixture of spandex or jeans that are preshrunk, you will have to repeat this process two to three times to shrink the jeans in the waist.


Your jeans may loosen in the waistband after each wearing. If they do, you may have to repeat this process to shrink the waistband properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Tea kettle
  • Stove
  • Oven gloves
  • 15-quart bucket
  • Large pot
  • Table
  • Kitchen counter
  • Tongs
  • Large towel
  • Dryer
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About the Author

Mimi Abney is a lifestyle writer specializing in online content for women. Her work has appeared in and "Keepsake Magazine," among other publications. With over 15 years of writing and editing experience for the web and print, Abney is also a contributor to online health, beauty and fashion publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Spelman College.