DIY

How To Shrink Your Jeans Back To The Perfect Fit Without Using A Dryer

Galina Mikova LittleThings writer by Galina Mikova
Galina is a freelance writer for LittleThings based in the U.K. and specializes in lifestyle content.

Having jeans that fit perfectly can make you feel both comfortable and confident — but if the ones you’re wearing don’t fit quite right, they can have the opposite effect.

There are plenty of reasons for shrinking jeans. It’s not uncommon to buy a pair of jeans that don’t fit quite right. Sometimes we instantly fall in love with a certain type or wash at the store, despite them being a little too loose. And even if they fit perfectly the first time, jeans can naturally stretch over time and may end up not fitting as well.

There are some great ways to repurpose old jeans, but what if they’re your favorite pair and you can’t bear to let them go?

Fortunately, there are ways to shrink jeans back to the perfect fit with simple, DIY methods you can do right at home. To help you achieve the results you’re looking for without damaging the fabric, we’ve compiled a list of the best ways to shrink jeans.

Keep reading to find out more!

How Your Jeans Should Fit

Can squat in jeans
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Before you start shrinking your jeans, make sure that you know how they should fit. They should be snug but comfortable — don’t aim to make them too tight or you may fall victim to health issues explained later. Make sure that the back pockets’ lining isn’t showing, and check their friction at the inseam — you don’t don’t want bunching at the crotch.

Oprah.com also suggests squatting in the jeans so you can preview if they’ll sink or rise when you sit.

How To Shrink Jeans Without A Dryer

Jeans are too big
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Stretching jeans is a common problem, but the good news is that they can still be salvaged. With a little know-how, you can alter your jeans at home. And all it takes is some hot water, laundry appliances, and/or a sewing machine.

Hot-Water Methods
Method #1: Wash Your Jeans In Hot Water

Putting jeans in washing machine on hot setting
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If you’re looking to shrink cotton jeans, hot water works wonders on cotton fibers. According to livestrong.com, “Cotton can shrink under the right conditions, so if you have a cotton [garment] that is a tad too big, you can shrink it.”

When trying this method, don’t put them in the washing machine with any other clothes and don’t use fabric softener. A front-loading washing machine is preferred, as it has more impact than a top-loader and the tumbling action is what shrinks the fibers. You can also likely find one of those at your local laundromat.

  1. Load your jeans inside out. It causes less wear on them.
  2. Use this method on cotton jeans only, as it doesn’t work well on synthetic fibers.

Alternatively, you can try soaking your jeans in a bucket of hot water. Dunk and submerge them completely. Wring them out only after the water cools.

Method #2: Boil Your Jeans

Putting jeans in boiling water
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

This is particularly effective for shrinking jeans that are hard to tighten. According to fashionmike.com, the method works even faster than using a washing machine — just make sure to use a pot that’s clean and large enough to fit your jeans.

  1. Place the jeans inside the pot.
  2. Fill it with water and bring it to the boil.
  3. After the water reaches a boil, lower the heat to simmer.
  4. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Method #3: Take A Bath In Your Jeans

Taking a bath in jeans to shrink them
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

For a super-snug fit, you can wear your jeans and take a hot bath — a method that Popular Mechanics vouches for. This method stretches the fabric just enough to hug your figure in all the right places!  

  1. Put your jeans on, and draw a hot bath.
  2. Step inside the bath, and sit until the water starts to cool.
  3. Once the water cools, get out of the tub.
  4. Keep your jeans on until they dry.

This can be a bit uncomfortable, especially in cold weather. Make sure it’s warm when you do it, so you don’t come down with a cold.

How To Shrink Your Jeans With An Iron

Misting jeans with spray bottle
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If washing jeans in hot water isn’t enough to shrink them, fashionhance.com  recommends ironing them.

  1. Leave freshly washed jeans out to hang dry until damp but not dripping.
  2. Iron with slow, smooth motions across each leg until fully dry.

If you want to target specific areas of the jeans, mist those spots with water from a spray bottle, and iron until dry.

Sewing New Seams

Sewing jeans
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If you need to shrink your jeans and have a sewing machine handy, you’re in luck! Instead of applying heat, you can simply sew in new seams.

  1. Turn the jeans inside out.
  2. Button or zip them up so they fit and don’t fall down.
  3. Standing in front of a mirror, mark the areas where you would like the jeans to fit better.
  4. Pin the fabric together at the crotch and down the inseam.
  5. Set up the sewing machine.
  6. Start sewing at the crotch, keeping jeans as flat as possible.
  7. Fasten off the thread.
  8. Remove the pins.
  9. Finish the new seam by cutting off the excess.

Don’t worry about the bunching around the crotch, as this will settle down when worn and won’t be noticeable for most jeans after a while. You may be able to take in the sides with this method — but you’ll likely need a strong needle to pierce through the thick fabric!

Can Tight Jeans Cause Health Problems?

Jeans cutting off circulation in legs
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Tight, curve-hugging jeans can look amazing, but bear in mind that wearing them too tightly can cause health problems. Skinny jeans can cut off circulation, causing tingling, numbness and pain, according to vascular surgeon Dr. Nicholas Morrissey. Remember to avoid making them so tight that they cause you discomfort and pain.

If you plan on trying any of these easy ways to shrink jeans, be sure to SHARE them with all of your friends so they can try them out as well!