Soften Stiff Jeans




Just got a new pair of jeans, but they're super stiff? You could wear them in for a few months... Or you can take this nifty little shortcut =]

I should probably point out that this Instructable is not typical in a number of ways. First off, if you have a pair of jeans you need to "break in", by no means do you have to do all these steps. However, I would highly recommend you do the first step before anything else. All the others are up to you. Also, materials are listed individually at each step. Best of all, chances are you already have everything you need at home!

I have a few Thank-You notes I'd like to hang out. These guys gave me loads of help on my forum topic. Thanks guys!
- RocketScientist2015
- NachoMahma
- LinuxH4x0r
- tech-king
- Goodhart
- Firebert010
- Brennn10

*DISCLAIMER:* I'm NOT responsible for anything you do to your pants OR yourself while performing any actions described in this Instructable. Exercise caution. Irons are hot, it can burn you. Chemicals burn, don't get them in your eyes, mouth, or skin. BE CAREFUL!

Step 1: Iron

  • A clean pair of jeans
  • Iron & ironing board/surface
  • Starch

There are a few things we should do to prep the jeans before we start. First off, you should start with your jeans being nice and clean. Second, you'll want to make sure they're nice and straight; they'll be easier to work with that way.

My jeans were already washed, but due to the fact that they've been sitting on my desk in a heap for a week, I decided to iron 'em flat. I had to use a pretty little industrial version of starch on them. When you're done ironing, turn the jeans inside-out and roll them up.

Step 2: Bring Out the Sandpaper

  • Clean, ironed jeans
  • (Medium-Grit?) Sandpaper (I used my Saltoid

[ Firebert010] directed me to this article that suggested that I turn my jeans inside-out and rub them with scissors. Being the impatient person that I am, I decided that this method was taking too long, and whipped out my Saltoid. Sanding the jeans was very effective, and took way less time. I just sanded the legs; not worrying about anything above the pockets.

After just a few seconds of sanding, you'll begin to notice a bunch of colored cotton fibers collecting. If they bug you, you can pick the big ones out. When you're done sanding both legs of the jeans on both sides, just shake 'em out. It gets rid of most excess cotton.

Step 3: Stretch the Fabric

  • Hands
  • Jeans

Once you've sanded your jeans (or if you decided to skip that step ;), you should probably stretch the fabric. In fact, I did this in between EVERY step when I worked on my jeans.

Twist them, fold them, grab them and pull in every which way possible. It's denim; it was invented to withstand abuse. Fun, fun, fun =]

When you're done with that, roll them up again. I decided to have some fun and beat them against the side of my desk, and then roll them around and pound them. You're more than welcome to follow suit.

Step 4: Beat Them With a Stick

  • Baseball bat or stick
  • Jeans

Beat them with a stick. - [ RocketScientist2015]

At first I thought he was kidding, but according to [ Weissensteinburg] and [ NachoMahma], abuse such as this will break it in.

Oh, and I also had my little brother run over the jeans with his power-wheels truck. I'm sure that a full-sized truck would work much better, so if you have the resources... =]

Have fun =]

Step 5: Shampoo & Conditioner

  • Conditioner (or Shampoo, or a 2-in-1 Shampoo)
  • Beaten jeans =]

Rubbing shampoo on lacrosse mesh softens the mesh up, it may work with denim. - [ Brennn10]

Although Brennn10 suggested I use shampoo, I decided to go with conditioner, seeing as how while shampoo cleans your hair, conditioner is what makes it light and soft (which is our objective! =)

So just pour on a BUNCH of conditioner and rub it into your jeans. Make sure to get both sides of both legs!

Step 6: Wash & Wear

  • Washer & Dryer
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Liquid Fabric Softener
  • Fabric Softener sheets
  • Jeans

"real" fabric softener is a liquid and goes into the first rinse cycle of a wash. The sheets are pretty much anti-static and "fragrance enhancers" only, despite their misnomer . - [ Goodhart]

Now, using this newly-acquired hint, I set forth to obtain some liquid fabric softener. Mom told me that they didn't make hypoallergenic softener, but she was soon disproved by Nonna, who bought some for me =] (Brand is seventh generation, if you too have allergy problems, I recommend it =)

Now on to the washer. I made a full load of dark laundry. Started the water like normal, added same amount of detergent, and then poured in the fabric softener. On my machine, there is a special reservoir specifically for fabric softener, which it will add in at the last rinse cycle. There's a good chance that the instructions on your fabric softener will say to pour it in during the last rinse cycle, but if your machine has a reservoir like mine, one less thing for you to worry about ;]

When your wash is done, it's time to put your clothes into the dryer. I added a fabric sheet, not only because I want my clothes to smell good, but perhaps also because it's almost second nature. When your clothes are done drying, you'll have a brand-spankin-new (excuse the pun) pair of jeans!

As always, Good luck and Have fun!



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    20 Discussions


    10 years ago on Step 5

    If you deal with dying/treatment of hair, you'll quickly realize that shampoo strips/destroys hair a lot more than conditioner, which usually has more ingredients aimed towards *conditioning* and revitalising hair.

    Shampoo would seem to be your best bet here.

    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    Conditioner softens your hair; this is the goal here. Or are you saying that shampoo would "break it down" and break in the fabric?


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    Exactly. Shampoo is more destructive, conditioner is good for softening & revitalising, but hair is different than denim fiber. Not sure it'd work quite the same, but the ingredients in shampoo would still act the same. IE: cleaning, stripping, & breaking down the components of what it's being rubbed into. That hippy "green" shampoo crap isn't going to do as good of a job as your $1.79/bottle Suave/store-brand shampoos are, though.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Conditioner is better, it goes on last and makes dee hair silky and smoooth

    Metal Octopustchiseen

    Reply 2 years ago

    Shampoo is better; It goes on first and cleans the hair.


    2 years ago

    Instead of a model car. I ran over my jeans with my own car. As the
    tires touched the jeans, then I would slam on the breaks for greater
    friction. Worked brilliantly. Though other people in the car park may wonder
    what on earth you are doing. But worth it for an excellent pair of


    4 years ago on Step 5

    Hair conditioner!! I had tried a vinegar soak method suggested elsewhere but that hadn't caused any change (these jeans were hard as a plank). The hair conditioner suggestion was so obvious and made so much sense that I just had to try it immediately (also, I'm far to lazy to sandpaper or roll them up and beat them or run over them with the car etc). Didn't iron the jeans first, just rubbed the wet jeans with a generous amount of hair conditioner (both inside and out), left it wet for 24 hours then washed (no detergent but lots of fabric softener) and voila - they are baby soft. Great fix!


    7 years ago on Step 6

    AWESOME, thank you for this article!! I've been soaking my jeans in fabric softener, washing them, and repeating for a few days now. I knew there must be other things to try besides just stretching, soaking, and beating the crap out of them. I never thought of sandpaper or shampoo/conditioner-- brilliant!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Cool, if I get a new pair of jeans, this will be helpful. >.O


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Hey mate, this is a great instructable. Never thought I would come across something on a topic like this that would keep my attention through the whole instructable! Very nice!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Haha! Great 'Ible!!

    Thanks for the quote =D

    I'm definitely using this on the jeans I'm wearing now - they're dreadful! Very well done and humorous to boot!

    +1 and Faved!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    You could probably stretch them out much more effectivly if you had some muskles behind those arms :/