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Your mind’s not playing tricks on you. Sometimes your jeans have shrunk! You might find that your jeans are feeling particularly tight, or you can’t even get them on at all and it’s not because of a cheeseburger or that you’ve somehow grown overnight. While our modern washing methods are great at stain removal, saving time, and getting clothes pristine, they can also be very harsh at the same time. Using heat in the washing and drying process will cause the fibers of denim to expand and shrink once they dry. That’s why it’s always important to read your laundry labels, refrain from overwashing your jeans, and use heat in the process.
But if you have ended up with shrunken jeans, there are great solutions on how to unshrink denim that doesn’t require much more than water and household items. Once you know how to unshrink jeans, it’s vital that you keep good habits for the sake of your jeans. Prevention is always better than cure especially as there is only so much that can be done for shrunken jeans.
This means that you only need to wash jeans after every 5-7 wears, while they are turned inside out with cool to cold settings and using sunlight instead of a tumble dryer to dry them.
How to unshrink jeans by stretching
It might seem a little too on the nose but a great fix for how to unshrink denim is to just stretch them back to size. All you will need is a spray bottle filled with water and fabric softener and your hands.
Step 1: Spray your jeans with the water and fabric softener mixture. There isn’t a specific amount of fabric softener you need but the mixture should be more water than softener. You can choose to just spray specific areas you want to stretch or the entirety of the jeans. If you are doing the latter, you can also just wash your jeans as normal and work with them once they’re damp and out of the washer.
Read: How to Soften Jeans
Step 2: Next, you are going to use your hands to physically stretch the jeans. Place them on a flat surface; the floor works best. You may want to put a plastic bag or some sort of protectant especially if you’re working on wood floors or a carpet.
If you want to stretch your jeans lengthwise, it’s best to anchor one hand at the hem and the other at the waistband and pull as much as you can. If you’re stretching the denim across the width, use your hands to anchor on one side and pull on the other. Repeat several times over all the areas you want to stretch.
Step 3: Stand on the jeans to further secure the stretch. Don’t wear shoes or socks with any stains (such as grass stains) that will require further washing of your jeans. Use one foot as an anchor and the other to pull on the jeans. You can also use your feet as an anchor while using your hands to do the pulling.
Step 4: Leave your jeans on the hanger to air dry. Once they’re completely dry you can try them on. If you would still like more tightness, you can repeat the process until you’re happy with the results.
Read: How to Starch Jeans
How to unshrink jeans with wear
You know what causes most denim to stretch? Just general wear, especially if you’re doing physical activity that’s more strenuous than sitting and standing. You can learn how to unshrink denim just by doing some exercise.
Step 1: Denim is most moldable and malleable when it’s wet. Spray the areas of your jeans that you want to unshrink with water in a spray bottle.
Step 2: Put your jeans on and spray them a little further. Make sure your waistband is buttoned before continuing. Next, you can do lunges, squats, or any kind of stretches that will pull on the denim. This can be incorporated into your regular exercise routine as long as the jeans are wet.
Step 3: Once you’ve sweated and stretched as much as possible, hang your jeans in the sun to dry. Hanging your jeans can also aid the stretching process.
Step 4: Once the jeans are dry, try them on again and see if there are any areas that require more shrinking. If there are, you can just repeat the previous steps once more.
How to unshrink jeans in the bath
What’s better than a relaxing bath that doubles as a great way to unshrink jeans? While wearing jeans in a tub full of water might sound like the opposite of relaxing, it’s a classic hack for adjusting the fit and feel of your jeans. You can even use the time to catch up on some reading or unwind after a long day.
Step 1: Set up a warm bath. The water needs to err on lukewarm to cold for this to work. Hot water will only further shrink them which defeats the point.
Step 2: Put your jeans on inside out and completely submerge your legs in the water. The entire surface area of your jeans needs to be engulfed in the water.
Step 3: Sit in the tub for 15-30 minutes or until the water cools completely. You can use this time to stretch the jeans with your hands. You can also flex and stretch your legs in the tub for more unshrinking.
Step 4: After 15-30 minutes, you can exit the tub. For comfort and to prevent a very big mess, you can squeeze and wring any parts of the jeans you’re able to pull on.
Step 5: Time for some exercise! If you’re working out indoors, you can lay down towels or blankets to protect your floors and prevent any falls. This isn’t as much of a concern outdoors though you might want some protection if you’re working out on grass or earth. Next, complete any assortment of lunges, squats, jumping jacks or whatever physical activity to pull and stretch those jeans.
Step 6: It’s best to continue wearing and working out in the jeans until they dry completely but if you get tired or uncomfortable, you can just hang them to dry in the sun after 30 minutes of exercise. You just won’t get as much stretch if you do.
How to unshrink jeans with heat and wear
Alternatively, you can heat on your denim before wearing it out. While heat is often the cause of denim shrinking you can still use it to unshrink your jeans. This will provide a little more stretch than the wet method if your jeans are especially shrunken.
Step 1: Lay your jeans on a flat surface and use a hairdryer to warm up the areas you want to stretch. You can also go further and go over these areas with a hot iron.
Step 2: Put the jeans on immediately while they’re still warm. Now you can get moving with squats, lunges, and any sorts of stretches that will pull on the fabric as much as possible. It can also help to put objects inside your jeans while you’re wearing them during your workout. Depending on how much you want to stretch out your jeans, you can use rolled-up socks, lotion bottles, or even small cups. Whatever you can fit into your pant legs will work. Just make sure to keep some symmetry if you’re loading up two different sides.
Step 3: If you still want more stretch to your jeans you can go over them with the hairdryer or iron once more and repeat the workout. While you are using heat for this method, the tumble dryer is still off-limits.
How to unshrink jeans with baby shampoo
You may have heard that baby shampoo is great for washing makeup brushes but you can use it to unshrink your jeans too. This method also doesn’t require you to wear heavy wet jeans or do any exercise.
Step 1: Fill a container or bathtub with lukewarm to cool water. Always keep in mind that heat is the enemy of unshrinking. Mix the baby shampoo into the water. The baby shampoo will soften the denim fibers making them easier to stretch later on. You won’t need very much, and it’s best to keep the amount small and add more if you need to repeat the process.
Step 2: Push your jeans into the water. Get all of it soaked and saturated. Leave it to soak in the water and baby shampoo for 25-30 minutes.
Step 3: Once time is up, remove the jeans from the water and use your hands to wring out as much water as you can. When your jeans are damp, lay them flat over a dry towel.
Step 4: Roll the jeans and the towel up together into a cylinder. Roll them back out and then roll them up again. Continue this process until the jeans are considerably dryer. Use your hands to stretch and pull on the sections of the jeans you want to unshrink.
Step 5: Leave the jeans to dry on the towel. Once dry, you can try them on to judge the results. If you want more stretch you can repeat the previous steps.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other blog posts: Best Jeans for a Small Waist and Big Thighs | How to Get Grass Stains Out of Jeans | How to Shrink Stretch Jeans | Why Do People Starch Jeans?