How to Shrink Jeans: 6 Best Tried-and-True Strategies

Men's Fashion

In the quest for the perfect fit, knowing how to shrink jeans is an essential skill for any fashion-savvy individual. At FashionBeans, we understand that a great pair of jeans is a cornerstone of any wardrobe, but finding the right fit isn’t always straightforward.

Whether your favorite denim has stretched out over time or you’ve stumbled on a vintage pair that’s just a tad too loose, our guide for how to shrink jeans is here to help.

In this article, we delve into six different methods for how to shrink jeans, from quick home remedies to professional tailoring, ensuring that your jeans not only fit perfectly but also complement your unique style.

Join us as we explore the art of how to shrink jeans, combining practical advice with the latest fashion insights to elevate your denim game.

how to shrink jeans

How to Shrink Jeans in the Wash


  • A robust washing machine
  • A powerful dryer.


Step 1: Begin your denim transformation by setting your washing machine to its highest heat setting. Put nothing but your jeans in the machine and then do a full wash cycle. This process goes beyond shrinking and is about reviving the fabric by restoring its original snugness.

Step 2: After the wash cycle, transfer your jeans (and nothing else) to the dryer. Set it to the highest heat setting and do a full dryer cycle. This step is crucial as the heat from the dryer further compacts the cotton fibers, leading to a reduction in size.

Expert Tip

This method of how to shrink jeans is particularly effective for achieving an overall snug fit. However, it’s important to remember that the shrinking effect is mostly temporary, especially in areas other than the length. Over time, your jeans will start to conform to your body shape again.

denim jackets being stone washed
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How to Shrink Jeans by Boiling Them


  • A large pot
  • Stove
  • A reliable dryer.


Step 1: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil. The size of the pot should be large enough to allow your jeans to move freely in the water.

Step 2: Carefully submerge your jeans in the boiling water. This step is where the magic happens. The intense heat causes the cotton fibers to contract more aggressively than they would during a standard wash.

Step 3: After about 20 to 30 minutes of boiling, carefully remove your jeans and place them in the dryer. Set the dryer to the highest heat setting for maximum shrinkage and do a full dryer cycle.

Expert Tip

This method of how to shrink jeans is ideal for those seeking a more dramatic alteration in fit. It’s particularly effective for jeans that have stretched significantly over time.

man looking far out the sea
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How to Shrink Jeans in the Bath


  • A bathtub
  • Hot water
  • A sunny day.


Step 1: Fill your bathtub with water as hot as you can comfortably tolerate. The heat from the water will help to shrink the denim fibers.

Step 2: Wear your jeans and sit in the hot bath, with all of your jeans below the water line. The combination of the heat and your body’s shape will help mold the jeans to your form.

Step 3: After soaking for about 15 to 20 minutes, step out into the sun. Either keep the jeans on as they dry or lay them flat in a sunny spot. The natural drying process will help set the shape. (Note that this is not the same as you’d be doing if you wanted to stretch your jeans.)

Expert Tip

This method of how to shrink jeans is particularly favored by raw denim enthusiasts. It allows for a custom fit that truly conforms to your body, creating a unique and personalized silhouette.

man pulling up his jeans
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How to Shrink Jeans by Replacing Buttons


  • Stylish replacement buttons
  • A needle and thread.


Step 1: Select a button that not only serves the purpose of shrinking the waistband but also adds a touch of personal style to your jeans.

Step 2: Carefully sew the button onto the waistband at a position that brings the waist in, creating a more tailored fit.

Expert Tip

This method of how to shrink jeans is a clever trick for those looking to reduce a gap in the waist of their jeans. It’s a subtle yet effective way to customize the fit of your denim.

resting both feet on top of a chair backrest
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How to Shrink Jeans by Hemming Them


  • Sewing essentials including thread, a needle, pins, scissors
  • Optional: a sewing machine.


Step 1: Measure the desired length of your jeans while wearing them. Mark the length, ensuring that both legs are even.

Step 2: If necessary, trim the excess material, leaving enough fabric for a hem.

Step 3: Fold the hem inward and pin it in place, making sure it’s even all around.

Step 4: Sew the hem, either by hand for a more artisanal approach or with a sewing machine for a quicker, more uniform stitch.

Expert Tip

Hemming is the go-to method for adjusting the length of your jeans. It’s a fundamental skill for anyone looking to refine their denim’s fit and is particularly useful for achieving a polished, bespoke look.

tailor making a pair of jeans
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Last Resort: Take Your Jeans to a Tailor


  • A skilled tailor with a keen eye for denim.


Step 1: Seek out a tailor who specializes in denim. This is crucial, as denim requires specific handling and expertise.

Step 2: During the fitting, communicate your desired fit and any specific concerns. Whether it’s the waist, the thighs, or the overall length, a good tailor can make precise alterations.

Step 3: Once tailored, your jeans will not only fit better but will also feel more comfortable and look more flattering.

Expert Tip

Tailoring is the ultimate solution for those looking to resize their jeans by more than just a simple shrink. It’s about crafting a piece of clothing that is uniquely yours, both in fit and style.

man sitting comfortably on a wooden chair
waxlondonclothing / Instagram

Why Trust Us?

At FashionBeans, our commitment to delivering expert style advice is rooted in a deep understanding of fashion trends, fabric technology, and tailoring techniques.

Our recommendations are crafted by seasoned fashion writers and stylists who not only stay abreast of the latest in men’s fashion but also rigorously test and research various methods to ensure practical, effective solutions.

In this guide on how to shrink jeans, you’re getting tried-and-tested advice backed by industry knowledge and a passion for helping you look your best. Fashion isn’t just what we do; it’s who we are.

Final Verdict

Although DIY methods for how to shrink jeans bring a certain level of satisfaction and immediate results, they often offer only a fleeting fix. For a lasting alteration that truly transforms your denim, professional tailoring stands unrivaled.

It’s not just about achieving a better fit; it’s about investing in your style, ensuring that your denim is as unique as you are, and crafting a piece that endures both in fashion and function.

In the world of denim, the perfect fit is a statement of personal style and attention to detail.

Whether you choose a quick fix or a professional tailor, remember that your jeans are an extension of your personal brand. Treat them with care, and they will serve you well, both in style and in comfort.


    • You can shrink your jeans down a size through methods like washing and drying them at high temperatures, boiling them, or getting them tailored for a more precise fit.

      • To make your jeans smaller, consider washing them in hot water and then drying on high heat, boiling them for intense shrinkage, using replacement buttons for the waist, or seeking professional tailoring for a custom fit.

        • Shrinking your jeans in 5 minutes is challenging, but a quick method is to spray them with warm water and then use a hairdryer on a high heat setting to target specific areas that need shrinking.

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