How to Shrink Jeans So They Fit Perfectly

No more stretched-out knees on your favorite denim.

Finding the perfect-fitting jeans is not an easy task. And even when we do come across a solid pair, it can stretch out and lose its shape after only a few wears. Fortunately, shrinking jeans back to that fit you fell in love with doesn't require much know-how or equipment.

For the most part, all you need is some hot water. Heat can cause the fibers in the fabric to shrink up, and the water will help with this as well. Once you've gotten your denim to where you want it, you can wear your smaller jeans until they lose their shape again.

If you're looking to shrink your jeans now, here are five suggestions for how to get the job done.

Smiling person wearing an off-the-shoulder top and high-waist jeans
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Throw Them In The Dryer

Heat naturally shrinks fabric, so the quickest and easiest way to shrink your jeans is to put them in the washer and dryer. Grab the jeans you want to shrink and put them in the washing machine on the highest heat setting it has. You might as well add detergent so they get washed in the process. The key, though, is the dryer. Put those jeans in the dryer with the heat blasting. Run it for a full cycle so the heat has time to tighten up the material and shrink the denim.

If you have stretchy denim that loses its shape every time you wear your jeans, the washer and dryer trick should be a go-to. It's a really quick and easy way to shrink your denim back into a smaller shape.

Person standing against a wall in a trench coat, high-waisted jeans, and bucket hat
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Wear Them In The Tub

Don't worry if you don't have access to laundry facilities — there are plenty of other ways to shrink your jeans. Put on the jeans that you want to shrink and get in warm water with them. Yes, dunk your whole body into a bathtub or similar. Wearing wet denim will be uncomfortable but the results will be worth it. When you wear your denim in warm water, the heat will shrink the denim and make your jeans more closely conform to your body.

Ideally, you'd let your jeans dry while you're still wearing them, but it won't be pleasant and it'll take a while. You can also take them off to let them dry, but that may stretch the denim back out a little bit. You can air-dry them from here to make sure they keep their shape. If you have a dryer, that's useful, but air-drying will give you similar results.

Boil Them

Are you noticing a trend here? Another option is to get a huge pot of water boiling on the stove and then throw in your denim (jeans soup, anyone?). All of these options will give you similar results, so it's a matter of what works best for your time and space. Boiling your jeans is probably the most intense option when it comes to water, so this might be worth a shot if you need more dramatic shrinkage.

Follow the same instructions as the previous methods: Boil the jeans for about 30 minutes, then take them out and either put them in the dryer or let them air-dry. The boiling water will tighten the fibers in the denim and shrink the jeans down.

Person wearing a purple top, sunglasses, blue jeans, and holding a yellow baguette bag
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Iron Them

The key to shrinking denim is applying heat, which you can also do with an iron. This method is not always as effective, but it can definitely help. Turn your iron on really hot and go for it with your jeans. This is also a great way to target a certain area you might want to shrink, like the waistband, for instance. You can apply the heat directly to the fabric you're hoping to shrink without affecting the whole garment.

Bring Them to a Tailor

If your jeans are simply just too big, it might be time to either tailor them yourself or go see a tailor. Shrinking your jeans with heat at home can be effective if you don't need to change the size too much, but you won't really see a drastic change with these methods. If you're looking to completely alter the size of your jeans, consider asking a tailor to take them in or do it yourself if you know how to sew — or use adjustable buttons.

Typically, tailoring your jeans is a more cost-effective option than buying new jeans. Having them tailored will give them longevity, plus if they fit better, you'll want to wear them more often. You also won't have to worry about going through the shrinking process every time you want to wear them.

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