how to make jeans softer

If you are looking for How To Make Jeans Softer, then you are on the right page. It contains how to soften jeans with salt and how to soften stiff thick jeans. Suppose you want how to soften denim jacket without washing instead. Then this article is what you need.

Finding the perfect pair of jeans can feel like a major achievement. Sometimes, though, even perfect-fitting new jeans can feel stiff and uncomfortable. If you have sensitive skin — or if your children do — a stiff denim fabric can irritate it and make you avoid wearing that cute pair of new jeans. The good news is, there are things you can do yourself at home to soften those jeans and make them more comfortable to wear, without the use of harsh chemicals. Just follow our step-by-step, eco-friendly, all natural guide to softening stiff denim fabric, so your blue jeans will feel better against your skin. 

Note: The following tips can be used to soften any type of jeans, from white jeans to colored rinses and dark wash denim. Keep in mind that anything you do at home to treat the fabric of your jeans may change their look and feel, however, so you may want to experiment with less expensive pairs of jeans before trying these techniques on more pricey, designer versions.

how to soften denim jacket without washing

How To Make Jeans Softer

  • Pair of jeans you want to soften
  • Scissors
  • White household vinegar
  • Plastic bucket or tub
  • Small square of fine-grit sandpaper
  • 4 clean tennis balls
  • Clothes washer and dryer

01of 09

how to soften stiff thick jeans

Remove Clothing Tags

Father holding baby quality time
 Every body deserves to wear soft denim jeans. Porta Images/Getty Images

Scratchy clothing tags can irritate sensitive skin, especially for kids. Cut off any manufacturer’s tags from the inside of your new jeans using sharp, pointy scissors. Be very careful to snip close to the threads but not directly on top of them, to avoid puncturing the pants fabric. You can always save the tags as well, if you want to refer to any special washing instructions later.

Handy Tip: Keep snipped-off clothing tags in a dedicated place in your laundry room, with a note about which jeans they match up with, so you can easily access this information as needed.02of 09

Turn Jeans Inside Out

Woman trying on jeans in fitting room
 Take off jeans and prepare them for washing properly. PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images

Turning jeans inside out before washing them — especially when you’re going to be purposely aggravating the fabric to manipulate its feel, as in this jeans softening tutorial — will help to preserve their look. This is important if you want to avoid fading on a darker wash, or don’t like the look of distressing. Of course, if you find distressed and abraded details charming on denim, you can skip this step entirely.

Handy Tip: Wash your jeans alone — or only with other pairs of jeans — for optimal results.03of 09

Soften With a Vinegar Soak

Bottles of Vinegar
Multi-bits/ Photolibrary/ Getty Images

White vinegar is a natural softening agent that can soften denim fabric, making it more comfortable to wear. Make a softening solution for your jeans by combining eight cups of hot tap water with one cup of regular, white household vinegar in a clean bucket or plastic tub. Place jeans into the solution, fully immersing the fabric, and soak for several hours or overnight. A vinegar soak not only softens denim, it can also help to preserve the color in dark rinse jeans and help prevent dye bleeding, especially when the jeans are brand new.

Handy Tip: Don’t worry about your jeans smelling like vinegar chips. When they dry, the vinegar scent will evaporate, leaving a clean and fresh scent behind.04of 09

Put Jeans in the Dryer

Young man at washing machine
 Wash your jeans right and they’ll last you longer. Photo and Co/Getty Images

You’ll need to dry your jeans before continuing onto the next step in the softening process. (Don’t worry, you’ll be washing your jeans again to get the vinegar out, before you wear them). Throw jeans (still inside-out) into the clothes dryer and dry completely.

Handy Tip: If you’re concerned about shrinking your jeans, you can use the lowest heat setting on the machine.05of 09

Roll Jeans Into a Ball

Colorful rolled up jeans
 Roll jeans into a ball. Imarchi Margarit / EyeEm / Getty Images

When your jeans are fully dry and still hot from the dryer, roll them into a tight ball. Start at the hems and roll tightly, as you would a sleeping bag, working all the way up to the waistband. Make those jeans into the smallest, tightest ball possible. Then use a bathrobe belt or other longish piece of fabric to tie up the jeans ball so it stays condensed, and leave it to cool for half an hour to an hour. Rolling your jeans this way when they’re still hot from the dryer helps to stretch the denim, loosening the tightly knitted fibers of the fabric, for a softening effect.

Handy Tip: If you’re rolling up several pairs of jeans, as an alternative to tying them up, you can fit them into a basket or other container where they’re tightly packed in, to prevent them from unrolling.06of 09

Sand Your Jeans

Person in jeans standing on a beach
 Treat your jeans with sandpaper. Benjamin Egerland / EyeEm / Getty Images

Now you’re going to sand your jeans, to give them a softer, lived-in feel, without putting in the hours of wear. Unroll your jeans and, making sure they are still turned inside-out, use a small square of sandpaper to gently scrape the surface of the denim fabric. Start at the top of the jeans, moving your sandpaper square in horizontal strokes to scrape the fabric. Take your time scraping your way along the fabric (you can brush away the bits of loosened fiber that come off the jeans as you go), all the way down to the hems.

Handy Tip: Use fine grit sandpaper to achieve a softening effect.07of 09

Wash Jeans in Warm Water

Woman putting jeans in washing machine
Lina Bruins / EyeEm

Place jeans (still inside-out) into the washing machine. Wash jeans by themselves, without detergent, selecting the warm or medium temperature water setting on your washer.

Handy Tip: When laundering only one pair of jeans, select the low-water setting (if your washer has one) to preserve water for smaller laundry loads.08of 09

Dry Jeans With Tennis Balls

tennis balls
 Put tennis balls in the dryer cycle with jeans. Russell Sadur / Getty Images

Put your freshly washed jeans into the clothes dryer, adding four new (clean) tennis balls. The tennis balls will give your jeans a strenuous “massage” as they go through the dryer cycle, helping to soften the denim fabric for a worn-in feel.

Handy Tip: Set the dryer on low heat to prevent shrinkage, especially if your jeans have a high amount of stretch. Or if you don’t mind a bit of shrinking, you can select the hottest setting, which will help to further soften the jeans.09of 09

Wear and Repeat as Needed

Rear view of woman wearing jeans
GettyImages/Westend61 

Wear your jeans often, to soften the fabric and help it mold to your body. Wash them frequently too, which will help to continue breaking down the denim fabric so it feels worn out and softer against your skin.

Whether you are a man, woman, young or old, there’s no denying the fact that jeans are versatile. You can wear them to work outside in the yard, or you can wear them when dining out with friends or family. It’s this level of versatility that makes denim jeans such as popular choice among men and women alike. However, comfort is another reason why so many people wear jeans. Assuming they are made of genuine denim, jeans are soft and super comfortable to wear. But there are ways to make jeans even more soft and comfortable, which we’re going to reveal in today’s blog post.

Choose High-Quality Jeans

Just because two jeans are made of 100% denim doesn’t necessarily mean they are the same quality. Some companies use low-quality denim in an attempt to save money and increase profits. Unfortunately for the consumer, this means he or she is getting the short end of the deal. By choosing high-quality jeans from a reputable and trusted vendor like MakeYourOwnJeans, however, you can rest assured knowing that you are getting the highest quality denim on the market. And high-quality denim is usually softer and more comfortable than its cheaper counterpart.

Wash Them… But Not Too Frequently

You can also make your jeans softer by washing them. Doing so helps by softening the denim fabric, making the jeans more comfortable to wear. With that said, you should use caution to ensure you don’t overdo it. Washing denim jeans too frequently may backfire by causing more harm than good. So, how many times should you wash your jeans to make them soft? It really depends on the type of jeans and quality of denim. However, washing a pair of new jeans 2 to 3 times should make a noticeable difference in their softness and overall comfort.

Avoid Heavy Denim

When shopping for new jeans, you may notice how some of them feature thicker, heavier denim than others. These “thick” jeans are typically preferred for cold weather, as the extra material provides insulation and protection from the cold. As a downside, however, jeans made of thick denim are stiffer than their counterpart. Therefore, it’s recommended that you stick with standard denim jeans if you’re trying to achieve a softer and more comfortable feel.

Avoid Raw Denim Jeans

In addition to heavy denim, you should also avoid choosing jeans made of raw denim. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again that raw denim jeans are made without going through the pre-wash jeans. Normally, denim is washed before it’s used in the production of  jeans or other garments. Raw denim, however, is different in the sense that it is not washed beforehand. This means raw denim jeans are typically stiffer than other jeans. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as some people prefer stiff jeans. Others, though, prefer to wear softer jeans, in which case it’s best to avoid choosing raw denim.

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Consider Stretch Jeans

If you haven’t tried them yet, consider picking up a pair of stretch jeans. Many people find that stretch jeans are softer and more comfortable. What exactly are stretch jeans? Well, stretch jeans are made of a special type of fabric that features denim as well as an elastic material like spandex or polyester. Just a small amount of elastic material allows the denim to bend and stretch with greater ease (hence the name: stretch jeans). The only downside is that stretch jeans don’t hold up as well in the washing machine. Of course, this shouldn’t be a problem as long as you limit the number of times you wash them.

Add Fabric Softener

There’s a reason why it’s called fabric softener — because it softens fabric. You can find fabric softening products available at most grocery stores and major retail stores. While there are several different types, most are liquid that you add to the washing machine when washing the garment. Go ahead and add your regular laundry detergent, after which you add the fabric softener as instructed. The fabric softener is designed to seep into the fabric, making it smoother, softer and more comfortable. Fabric softener is a cheap and easy way to improve the softness of your jeans. And best of all, it usually requires just a small amount, meaning you can use it to make other clothes softer as well.

Wash with Salt

If you don’t have access to fabric softener for some reason, you can use salt as an alternative. Just pour about 1 cup of salt into the washing machine and wash your jeans on the hot water setting. The salt water works as a natural fabric softener, helping to soften the denim.

Read the Care Label

When was the last time you checked the care label of your jeans? Most people rarely, if ever, read this label. Being that different manufacturers use different techniques and materials to produce their jeans, there are subtle nuances regarding how to best care for them. The only way you’ll know which method is right for your jeans is by checking the care label. You can usually find the care label inside the back of the waistband. If it’s not here, look farther down the leg. Take note of what the manufacturer says in the care label, as this is the best possible way to care for and maintain your jeans.

Rub with a Pumice Stone

While I’ve yet to try this method, some people have reported success by softening their jeans with a pumice stone. Place your jeans on a flat surface and gently rub the pumice stone across the denim.

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