Macy’s / Ideas & Inspiration / Men's Jeans Guide / How to Wash Jeans, Shrink & Stretch Out Jeans

How to Wash, Shrink & Stretch Out Jeans

Jeans are an essential closet staple, and you should take care of them. Keep reading to discover the best way to clean your jeans, plus methods you can use to help shrink or stretch them to prolong their time in your closet.
Shop Men's Jeans

How to Wash Jeans

There's lots of advice out there on how to wash your jeans. Some people think you simply shouldn't wash them at all while others believe a good scrub is needed every now and then. We've rounded up key tips:

Wash Them Less
Don't wash your jeans after each wear. Less laundering helps your jeans to avoid fading and losing their shape.

Tips for Washing Jeans

  1. Turn the jeans inside out and wash with similar shades to prevent bleeding.
  2. If using a machine, wash them in cold water with quality detergent. Only use warm water if the jeans are extremely dirty.
  3. For handwashing, turn the jeans inside out and soak in the bathtub for 45 minutes, only using a few inches of cold water. Stir them around occasionally.
  4. Hang dry. If possible, hang out to dry in the sun.
  5. Spot clean as needed with a damp cloth and soapy water.

How to Shrink Jeans

Your favorite pair of jeans doesn't fit as snug as they used to? This can happen with lots of wear. Before you give up hope, check out these methods to help shrink your jean for a better fit.

  • Turn up the heat setting on the washer and dryer. We've all shrunk jeans by accident in the wash, now you simply do it on purpose. Wash and dry your jeans on the highest setting possible. Repeat as needed to get the fit you want.
  • Take a bath with your jeans still on. Yes, you read that right. Fill a bathtub with the hottest water you can tolerate (be careful not to burn yourself) and sit down until the water cools. Get out the bath, and then wear your jeans until they dry.
  • Target specific areas. Maybe you only want to shrink your waistband or another jean section? Combine ¼ cup fabric softener with ¾ cup hot water in a spray bottle. Mix it well with a shake and thoroughly saturate the desired area. Toss the jeans in the dryer on a high heat setting. And voila!
  • Take a trip to the tailor. Sometimes it's best to seek professional help. Find a good tailor to cinch your jeans here and hem there for a one-of-a-kind fit!

How to Stretch Out Jeans

Stumbled across your old favorite jeans, only to find out that they no longer fit? Don't fret! Follow these easy steps to help stretch out your jeans.

Before You Get Started...

  • Decide where you need more room. The seat? The thighs? Whatever place feels a little too snug.
  • Measure your jeans and record the width and length. When you measure them after you finish, you'll be able to tell if the stretching was successful.

Popular Methods to Stretch Your Jeans

  1. Exercise with them on. Specifically, lunges will help stretch the jeans to fit your shape in the thighs and seat.
  2. Spray the jeans with a generous amount of lukewarm water. Be sure you're wearing them. Allow the water to cover the outside and inside of the jeans.
  3. Place your jeans on the floor, stand on them and pull. Pull the fabric in the direction you want the jeans to stretch.
  4. Soak in the bathtub (while wearing them). Use warm water (be careful it's not too hot), and soak for 15 minutes. Keep them on for half an hour and walk around the house. Lunges won't hurt. Hang dry.

You Might Also Like: