Tall Mens Fashion Advice

How to Shrink Jeans: 4 Easy Ways & 1 Bonus

Learn how to shrink your jeans here!

How to Shrink Jeans

Tighter Denim

Take one of these 4 techniques and learn how to shrink jeans by up to one size: put in the washing machine and dryer / boil them in water / use our specific ironing method / wear them in your next bath.

This is the How to Shrink Jeans: 4 Easy Ways & 1 Bonus.

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.

Are you a taller guy trying to make an ill fitting pair of jeans work for you? I created these guides of the top brands just for this reason. Before you make your purchase you better understand how to measure inseam on jeans.

How to Shrink Jeans

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.

"Shrinking jeans is also a common method to correct sizing after a pair of spandex-blend jeans naturally stretch out over time. Jeans shrink easily in the wash if you use the right settings, and, if you do it right, you can use that to your advantage."

Before we discuss 5 simple methods on how to shrink jeans. Do you know how to fold and hang up your jeans to make sure they are ready to wear?

Also, is the simple act of putting on a belt the answer to all your problems?

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

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

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?

Boil Your Jeans

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 the water to a boil, and place the waistband of your big and tall jeans in the water.
  2. 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. Find something to rest your jeans on that is elevated and away from the heat.
  3. Let your waistband boil in the water for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Turn off the burner and pull your jeans out of the water using tongs or other kitchen utensils. Anything but your bare hands as the jeans will be very hot!
  5. Place your jeans in the dryer until they are completely free of moisture
  6. Enjoy your shrunk jeans!

Shrink Using the Ironing Method

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. Use hot water to add moisture and dampen the loose fitting areas of your jeans.
  2. Do not soak the jeans as this will be counterproductive.
  3. Turn your iron onto an appropriate heat level for the type of material your jeans are made from.
  4. Iron the wet spots, and do not leave the iron sitting in one place for too long to avoid burning.
  5. Once you have ironed out all the moisture, the heat will have shrunk the jeans in all the places you require. A quick and easy way to tighten up your jeans!

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.

Wear Your Jeans in the Bath

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 a bathtub with warm water. The water should be hot but not too hot because you are going to sit in it.
  2. 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. Make sure your legs and jeans are fully submerged in the water.
  4. Let the water shrink and mold the jeans to your body, which should take somewhere between 8 and 15 minutes.
  5. Once you feel the jeans have tightened up, you can get out of the bathtub.
  6. If you are able to, let the jeans air dry on your body. This would be highly uncomfortable but if you live in a warm sunny climate you may be able to do this.
  7. If you do not want to wait around in wet jeans, carefully take the jeans off without stretching them, and proceed to air dry them or put them in the dryer for even more shrinkage.

Get an Alteration

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?)

How to Shrink Jeans 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.

Written and reviewed by
Tall Paul
Tall Paul
Paul Marlow, standing at an impressive 6'7 (201cm) and weighing 225lb (102kg), is a mental health speaker, fashion expert, and ex-athlete who excels at helping tall men find well-fitting clothing and teaching them how to style it effectively. As a model in the fashion and film industries, Paul shares his expertise in tall men's fashion, offering valuable advice on measurements, tailoring, and alterations. In addition, he founded Never Alone, an organization that provides mental health and therapy inspiration, and started the Mental Growth Newsletter to support those facing mental health challenges, drawing from his own experiences.

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