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How to Shrink Denim Jeans

Updated February 21, 2017

How a pair of jeans fits makes the difference between feeling relaxed and comfortable or the irritating feeling of knowing they just do not look right. Every effort should be made to purchase jeans that fit properly, but when that bargain is too good to pass up or that perfect pair of jeans is just a bit too big, you may need to shrink the material for a proper fit. Although there is no guarantee that you can get the perfect fit from shrinking your jeans, there are a few things you can do to shrink denim.

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  1. Wash new jeans in hot soapy water. Set your washing machine to the hottest setting and allow it to fill. Add the jeans and agitate for 2 minutes. Turn the machine off and allow the jeans to soak in the hot water for a half-hour. Complete the washing cycle as usual.

  2. Consider washing the jeans in boiling water in large stockpot on the stove if higher temperatures are needed. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and allow the jeans to soak until the water is cooled. Place in the washer and run through the rinse and spin cycles.

  3. Remove the jeans and place in the dryer on the highest heat setting. Dry the jeans completely. Check the jeans for shrinkage. If they are still too big, place them back in the dryer and run on high heat for 10 minutes. Repeat until jeans have reached the degree of shrinkage you require.

  4. Tip

    Results vary. Many jeans are already preshrunk and may produce minimal shrinkage.


    Monitor the jeans carefully while drying. Stop the dryer and allow them to cool for several minutes before drying for longer periods.

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Things You'll Need

  • New jeans
  • Washer
  • Stockpot
  • Dryer

About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

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