As a big and tall or tall man it can be difficult to find clothing items that fit properly, and wearing jeans that are too baggy or too loose around the waist can be really uncomfortable. Thankfully there are several different methods you can use to shrink your jeans so that you don’t have to walk around in awkward, loose jeans.

Table of Contents

  • Fastest way to shrink jeans: With boiling water
  • Best way to shrink jeans: With washing and drying machine
how to shrink jeans

How To Shrink Jeans

Total Time: 1 hr 45 min

Cost: $0.53

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Supplies & Tools:

  • Washing machine
  • Drying machine
  • Laundry detergent (optional)
this is a photo of a washing machine to shrink jeans
Washing machine
this is a photo of laundry detergent to shrink jeans
Laundry detergent
Drying machine

There are several ways to shrink jeans, and the main ingredient in each method is heat. Hot air & hot water shrink fabrics. Using heat will allow you to get your jeans back to their original size after stretching them, and you may even be able to shrink them a full size down.

The degree to which you are able to shrink your jeans also depends on which material they are made from. Jeans made from or containing a high percentage of cotton will shrink to a greater degree because of how cotton fibers behave when they come into contact with heat.

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

Turn your jeans inside out to protect the outer surface of the denim.

this is a photo of jeans turned inside out so they can be shrunk

2. Put jeans in washing machine

This is a photo of Tall Paul placing his inside out jeans in the washing machine

3. Add laundry detergent (optional)

Add liquid laundry detergent if you wish.

This is a photo of Tall Paul adding liquid laundry detergent to the wash with his jeans in it

4. Adjust washer settings to hot

Adjust the settings on the washing machine to the hottest water temperature possible and push start.

This is a photo of Tall Paul adjusting the washer setting to Hot

5. Put jeans into dryer

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.)

this is a photo of inside out jeans that were just washed inside the dryer

6. Turn dryer to tumble dry high

Adjust the settings on the dryer to tumble dry high and push start.

this is a photo of tall paul turning the dryer settings to tumble dry

7. Repeat as needed

Repeat the process until you have achieved your desired level of shrinkage.

This is a photo of turned inside out jeans with a repeat sign over them

Be sure you are using the dryer correctly by reading our article on tumble dry and its meaning. Do you know what tumble dry low means & how long does a dryer take?

Also you can dry flat, line dry or dry your jeans even if you don’t have a dryer!

Run through our guide on how to shrink jeans in the wash for a more detailed list. Plus learn how hot does a dryer get?

Shrink Jeans With Boiling Water

Total Time: 2 hr

Cost: $0

Boiling your jeans may sound like a strange thing to do, but remember, heat is the key ingredient! This method is a great way to shrink your jeans, as long as you have a pot or cauldron large enough to fit in those big and tall jeans of yours.

Boiling your jeans will also help speed up the process in breaking in your jeans.

Although it is effective for shrinking the entire pair of jeans, the boiling method is best for simply shrinking the waistband. This method also has the potential to shrink the waistband on your jeans permanently!

Find a large pot or cauldron, fill it with clean water, and place it on the stove.

1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil before adding jeans

Bring a big pot of water to a boil before adding your jeans to it.

this is a photo of a boiling pot of water brought to a boil to shrink jeans

2. Add your jeans to the boiling pot of water

Carefully add your jeans to the boiling pot of water, use a pair of long handled tongs if you have them. Continue to boil the water, and be sure to keep the access fabric far and away from the flames if you are using a gas stove.

this is a photo of adding jeans to boiling water to shrink them

3. Boil your jeans for 30 min

Leave your jeans in the boiling water for 30 minutes. Slowly fully submerge them so no boiling water splashes out.

this is a photo of jeans boiling for 30 minutes to shrink them

4. After 30 minutes turn down the heat and remove jeans

Turn off the burner and pull your jeans out of the water using tongs or other kitchen utensils. If you do not have any appropriate kitchen utensils, you can simply pour the entire pot into your clean kitchen sink like I am doing.

this is a photo of jeans removed from boiling water

5. Dry your jeans to finish the shrinking process

There are two ways to finish this sequence. One is to put the jeans in the dryer and the second is to air dry the.

Using the dryer will shrink the jeans further and take less time, however they will damage the denim fabric.

Air drying the jeans will not add any additional shrinking and will take longer, but you will keep the integrity of your jeans and they will last longer.

Take you pick on which you want.

Shrink Jeans By Ironing Them

Total Time: 45 min

Cost: $0

If you do not have the time or energy to boil or wash your jeans, you may also use the iron to shrink your jeans in certain spots. Follow the instructions below to try this method out.

1. Fill spray bottle with hot water

Use hot water to add moisture and dampen the loose fitting areas of your jeans.

this is a photo of a spray bottle being filled with hot water

2. Spray area on jeans you want to shrink till damp

You do not need to shrink the whole pant, just the area(s) you want to shrink. Spray the spots until they are damp, not soaking wet.

3. Turn iron onto high heat to use on denim jeans

Turn the iron to a high heat level. If your jeans are less denim and more of a mixed bag of fabrics then you will want to google what is safe for them on usage of heat.

this is a photo of an iron turned to high to use on shrinking denim jeans

4. Iron over the damp area till moisture is gone

Iron the area you sprayed, but do not just sit the iron on the area and wait. Move it around and let areas breath so they do not burn and warp.

this is a photo of tall paul ironing over damp jeans to shrink them

Once your done shrinking your jeans, take the iron over your entire jeans for a second pass and get all the creases out that you created in the process.

Shrink Your Jeans In The Bath

Total Time: 2 hr 45 min

Cost: $0

Ok, this one sounds even more weird than boiling your jeans, but it is a highly effective way to shrink your jeans! This method might be just a little uncomfortable, but it would also make for a pretty interesting Instagram story and it also works. 

1. Fill the bathtub with warm water for your jeans

Fill a bathtub with warm water. The water should be hot but not too hot because you are going to sit in it.

2. Get into the filled bathtub while wearing the jeans

Once the bathtub is full, put your loose fitting jeans on, and get into the bathtub. That’s right, put your jeans on and get into the bathtub!

3. Sit in the tub of water for 15 minutes

Let the water shrink and mold the jeans to your body, which should take somewhere between 8 and 15 minutes. Be sure the water is covering all of the denim.

4. Get out and let the jeans air dry in the shrunken state

The ideal way to let your jeans dry is to keep wearing them till they are fully dry. This may not be possible for you.

If you can’t do this, then gently take the jeans off without stretching them and let them air dry.

Get Your Jeans Altered

If your jeans are still too loose you may want to consider heading down to the local dry cleaner, tailor, or alteration expert to get some of the excess fabric removed. This can be a cheap and effective way to tighten up your waistband if the difference between your body and the jeans is too great and cannot be fixed with any of the methods listed above.

While your at the tailor your can ask them to fix any issues you have with your jeans, like fixing that sticky zipper!

Can you tailor your jeans? Yes you 100% can.

Which materials shrink the best?

When purchasing your new pair of jeans one of the important things to consider is the material used to make the jeans, as some fibers will have a better ability to shrink than others.

Nowadays denim comes in many different varieties and blends. Among those varieties cotton has an especially high potential for shrinkage. Jeans that are 100% cotton can possibly shrink by 20%. If you plan to shrink your 100% cotton jeans you need to make sure that they won’t shrink so much that they become too tight for your body.

Some jeans are preshrunk which means you will have very little ability to shrink them further, which also needs to be noted and considered.

Some jeans are made with a cotton blend, such as 70% cotton and 30% polyester for example. These cotton poly or cotton spandex blends are stretchy but shrink much less than a 100% cotton garment. A cotton poly blend will shrink about 4%, which is far less than the 20% shrinkage that a 100% cotton garment will provide (but can you shrink polyester?)

FAQ

It is possible to shrink jeans down a size if your jeans are made from cotton. By boiling, yes boiling, the waistline of your cotton jeans in hot water you will have a good opportunity to shrink your jeans down a size. When cotton comes into contact with heat a shrinkage of 20% may occur.

There are 5 ways to make your jeans tighter:

  1. By using a washing machine and dryer
  2. By Boiling the jeans
  3. By dampening and ironing the jeans
  4. By Taking a hot bath with the jeans on
  5. By getting an alteration

There are several ways to shrink your jeans after losing weight including washing your jeans in hot water, boiling your jeans, or spot ironing your jeans. The main consideration is about how much weight and size you have lost relative to how the pants should properly fit. If you lost a large amount of weight or size, it may not be possible to re-fit the jeans.

Yes you can shrink too big jeans by boiling or washing them in hot water. It is also possible to shrink your too big jeans by taking a hot bath with them on (seriously). Jeans that are made from 100% cotton have the greatest ability to shrink, and can shrink in size by up to 20%.

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.