How to Wash Jeans Without Shrinking

Jeans are a staple item in many peoples closets since they can be paired with so many things. If you have a pair of jeans that fit you perfectly, you may be worried about washing them in case they shrink or warp. Simple tactics like washing your jeans in cold water and hanging them to dry will keep your jeans the same size every time you clean them.


[Edit]Washing Your Jeans in a Machine

  1. Read the label on your jeans to see what the manufacturer recommends. The tag on the inside of your jeans will most likely tell you how to wash them without shrinking them. Check the label to find out what the recommended wash settings are for your specific pair. Your jeans may already be pre-shrunk which could be indicated on the label as well.[1]
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    • The washing label may be on the back of the waist of your jeans, or it could be on the inside near a pocket.
    • You should only wash your jeans in the washing machine if the manufacturer recommends it. Otherwise, wash your jeans by hand.
  2. Turn your jeans inside out. Hold your jeans up in front of you. Reach into the waist of your jeans and grab the bottom of 1 leg. Pull the leg up through the waist to turn it inside out. Repeat that on the other side so your jeans are fully inside out.[2]
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    • Turning your jeans inside out protects the outside denim and allows the dirtiest part to get washed.
  3. Set your washer to a gentle cycle using cold water with mild detergent. Hot water makes denim shrink, as does the intense spinning of a high spin cycle. Use a cold water cycle with a low spin setting to wash your jeans. Add some mild detergent that does not have any bleach in it to avoid damaging the fibers in the denim of your jeans.[3]
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    • If you are worried about your detergent leaving residue on your jeans, use of vinegar instead. This will get rid of any smells naturally.
  4. Dry your jeans in the dryer for only 10 minutes. Heat from the dryer also makes denim shrink. To do a preliminary dry, take your jeans out after only 10 minutes in the dryer. Leaving them for much longer could cause them to shrink.[4]
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    • You can skip putting your jeans in the dryer if your washer spins out most of the water from them, but putting jeans in the dryer for a few minutes can get rid of any wrinkles or creases.
  5. Let your jeans air dry the rest of the way. Pull the legs back through your jeans so the outside of the denim is facing outwards. Hang your jeans on a clothesline or set them up on a clothes rack to dry the rest of the way. Depending on how thick the denim is, your jeans may need 1 to 2 days to dry fully.[5]
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    • Your jeans may feel stiff after they are dry, but they will soften up once you put them on.
    • Don't hang your jeans directly in the sun if you put them outside. This could cause them to fade faster.

[Edit]Washing Your Jeans by Hand

  1. Fill a bathtub or sink full with cold water. Jeans are fairly bulky and can take up a lot of space, especially when they are wet. Fill up a large sink or a bathtub about halfway full with water that is slightly below room temperature.[6]
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    • Cold water will prevent the jeans from shrinking and fading because it doesnt break down the fibers of the denim.
  2. Add of mild detergent to the water. Use a laundry detergent that doesnt have much scent or color to it to preserve the life of your jeans. Pour the detergent into the water and gently mix it around with your hands to disperse it. Dont use too much detergent, or it could be hard to rinse out.[7]
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    • If you accidentally add too much detergent, add more water to dilute it.
    • You can also add of white vinegar instead of detergent for a natural option.
  3. Submerge your jeans and let them soak for 15 minutes. Put your jeans into the soapy water and push them down until they are fully underwater. Let them soak for about 15 minutes to get rid of the majority of the dirt and grime that might be caked on them.[8]
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  4. Drain the tub of soapy water and fill it with clean, cool water. Lift your jeans out of the tub or sink and let the dirty water go down the drain. Refill your tub or sink about halfway with cool water and put your jeans back into the tub.[9]
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    • The soapy water will most likely be discolored with the dirt and grime from your jeans.
  5. Agitate your jeans with your hands to get rid of the soap and then drain the tub. Make sure your jeans are fully submerged in the cool water. Use your hands to gently poke and prod your jeans to get rid of the soap. Pick your jeans up out of the water again and let the tub or sink drain.[10]
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    • If you used a lot of detergent, you may need to rinse your jeans 1 more time.
  6. Hang your jeans to air dry. Put your jeans on a sturdy hanger and set them somewhere that they can drip dry, like outside on a clothesline or inside your shower. Leave them hanging until they are fully dry. Depending on the thickness of your denim, this could take up to 2 days.[11]
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    • If you hang your jeans outside to dry, dont hang them directly in the sun. This could cause them to fade faster.

[Edit]Cleaning Your Jeans Without Washing Them

  1. Spot treat individual stains with warm water and detergent. Dab warm water onto the stain with a clean washcloth. Add 1 drop of laundry detergent to the stain and gently dab it into the denim with your washcloth. Do not rub or smudge the stain, or you could make it worse. Add more warm water to rub the detergent out of the denim. Allow your jeans to air dry before you wear them again.[12]
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  2. Use a stain remover to get rid of large stains. Apply a spray or stick stain remover to your jeans. Let the remover sit for 1 to 2 hours. Rinse the stain remover out with cold water to get rid of the stain.[13]
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    • If the stain is old or really dark, stain remover may not be enough to get it out. You might need to give your jeans a full wash through the washing machine.
  3. Hang your jeans outside to get rid of odors. If you just need to freshen up your jeans or get rid of some odors, hang them on a clothesline outside for at least 1 day. The fresh air will circulate around your jeans and will help to remove any smells that may have accumulated. Make sure they dont get rained on while they are outside.[14]
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    • You can hang your jeans outside as often as youd like to.


  • Putting your jeans in the freezer wont kill off any germs. Instead, it will just make them cold and slightly damp.[15]