How to Shrink Jeans in the Wash: The Complete Guide

Keep your jeans tight and fitted by reading through our article on how to shrink jeans in the wash.

How to Shrink Jeans in the Wash

Washer and Dryer

Adjust the settings on the washing machine and dryer to the highest heat level possible in order to shrink your jeans. Put your jeans into the washing machine and adjust the settings to the highest water temperature possible. Once the wash cycle has been completed, put your jeans into the dryer and run the cycle on tumble dry high. 

This is How to Shrink Jeans in the Wash: The Complete Guide.

Heat is the most important element being used when shrinking your jeans in the wash.

Putting your jeans into the washing machine on the highest heat level possible, paired with using the dryer on tumble dry high, will effectively work to shrink your jeans. 

Shrinking in the wash is the most effective way to shrink jeans, however there are also 4 other methods we can use. These methods are:

  • Use boiling water to shrink jeans
  • Use an iron to shrink jeans
  • Use a blow dryer to shrink jeans
  • Wear your jeans in a hot bath

Our article provides instructions on how to shrink jeans in the wash, as well as instructions on how to shrink jeans if you do not have access to a washing machine and dryer. 

One thought before you start shrinking, can putting on a belt solve the problem your having?

How to Shrink Jeans in the Wash

Using the washing machine and dryer is the most effective way to shrink your jeans. Follow the steps below to properly shrink your jeans in the wash.

  1. Turn your jeans inside out to protect the outer surface of the denim.
  2. Place your jeans into the washing machine. 
  3. Add liquid laundry detergent if you wish. 
  4. Adjust the settings on the washing machine to the hottest water temperature possible and push start. 
  5. Once the wash cycle has finished (how long does a washer take), remove your jeans from the washing machine and place them into the dryer. (Learn how long does a dryer take.)
  6. Adjust the settings on the dryer to tumble dry high and push start. 
  7. Repeat the process until you have achieved your desired level of shrinkage. 

Learn how hot a dryer gets to make sure yours is running efficiently.

How to Shrink Clothes in the Wash

Even though the concept is the same when it comes to shrinking different pieces of clothing in your closet, the time and steps may vary a bit. Check out our specific guides to make sure you don’t ruin anything beyond repair.

4 Alternative Ways to Shrink Jeans

Besides the washing machine and shrinking your jeans in the dryer, there are still 4 other methods you can use when trying to shrink jeans.

Once shrunk, fold or hang your jeans to make sure they look proper the next time you want to wear them. There will be no need to iron your jeans if you do.

Find each method and the detailed step-by-step instructions needed to complete each method below. 

1. Use Boiling Water

While boiling your jeans in hot water may seem unconventional and weird, it is actually a highly effective method for shrinking your jeans (especially shrinking your waistband.) Hot water shrinks denim, and always will.

Follow the steps below to shrink your jeans using boiling water.

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. 
  2. Carefully place your jeans into the boiling water. 
  3. Let your jeans soak in the boiling water for 8 to 15 minutes depending on the degree of shrinkage you wish to achieve. 
  4. Once finished, carefully remove your jeans from the water and lay them flat to cool off. 
  5. Once your jeans have cooled, wring the excess water from your jeans, and hang them to dry (line dry) or dry flat then iron them.
  6. Place your jeans in the dryer and run on tumble dry high if you wish to continue shrinking your jeans further.

If you do not feel comfortable in using the dryer, you can instead dry your jeans without a dryer.

2. Use an Iron

An iron can help to more accurately target certain areas of your jeans that you wish to shrink, as opposed to shrinking the entire garment at once. 

First use a spray bottle filled with water to add moisture to the area you wish to shrink. The fabric should be damp but not soaking wet. Turn the iron onto the highest heat setting possible and hand press the areas you wish to shrink.  

3. Use a Blow Dryer

Another good way to spot shrink your jeans is by using the blow dryer.

Use a spray bottle filled with water to add moisture to the waistband, thigh, knee, or whichever area of your jeans needs shrinking, and then use the blow dryer to apply heat. This is a quick, easy, and effective way to shrink certain areas of your jeans. 

4. Wear in the Bath

The final way to shrink your jeans is also the most unique as well as the most uncomfortable. Wearing your jeans in the bath is also a good way to break in your jeans.

Follow the steps below in order to shrink your jeans in the bath. 

  1. Fill your bathtub with hot water. 
  2. Wear your jeans.
  3. Get into the bathtub with your jeans on. 
  4. Sit in the bathtub for 5 to 12 minutes. 
  5. Get out of the bathtub and go outside to dry off in the sun while still wearing your pants.

How to Shrink Jeans in the Wash FAQ

On rare occasions jeans may shrink all the way up to 10% in the wash, however, most jeans will shrink around 2%-3%. 

The best way to make your jeans tighter is by using the washing machine and the dryer. Use both machines on the highest heat settings in order to shrink your jeans. 

First dampen the waist of your jeans with a spray bottle filled with water, and then turn an iron on to the highest heat setting possible. Use the iron to hand press and shrink the waist until you have reached your desired level of shrinkage. Learn more on how to make jeans waist smaller.

Written and reviewed by:
Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

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