How To Soften Jeans? 7 Ways To Make Jeans Comfortable

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A good pair of jeans is a fashion staple that everyone needs. After all, who doesn’t have that one or two pairs of favorite denim in their closet?

Close up view of various jeans stacked.

Jeans are timeless and can be mixed and matched with almost every other wardrobe piece.

But sometimes, jeans made of thick, durable denim fabric can be stiff, rough, and scratchy. As a result, they can be uncomfortable to wear.

If this happens, you don’t have to relegate them to the back of the closet. You just need to soften them up a bit.

But do you know how to soften jeans effectively? We’ve got all the tips and tricks you can try.

By the end of the article, you’ll realize that softening your jeans can be as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Keep reading and discover how to soften stiff thick jeans and turn them into the ultimate comfort and style piece.

Why Do Jeans Become Stiff?

Jeans may become stiff and uncomfortable for several reasons.

One of the main reasons is that denim—a heavy and sturdy fabric— is often treated with various chemicals during manufacturing to give it a desired fit and finish.

These chemicals can make the fabric stiff and uncomfortable to wear. Additionally, denim fabric is often dyed using indigo dye, which can also contribute to stiffness.

Another reason is that jeans are sometimes made with multiple layers of fabric, which can add bulk and make them less flexible.

And finally, one of the last reasons jeans are stiff is because they are new and have yet to be broken in. Sometimes, it takes time and regular wear to soften them up and make them more comfortable.

But breaking in jeans can take time that you may not have. 

So to help you turn your stiff jeans into comfortable faves, we will share the best tips on softening denim jeans. 

Continue reading to learn step-by-step tutorials on how to make stiff jeans softer the right way.

3 Different Methods for Softening Jeans

There are several methods for softening jeans, including natural methods, chemical methods, and simple wear and tear.

  1. Natural Methods
    Natural methods include washing jeans with baking soda, soaking them in vinegar, and freezing them overnight. These methods can help soften the fabric and remove any chemicals or dye that may make the jeans stiff.
  1. Chemical Methods
    You can also try chemical methods like fabric softener, applying commercial denim softening sprays, and treating jeans with hair conditioner. 

    These methods can be effective at softening the fabric, but it’s important to be careful when using chemicals and always read and follow the care instructions on the label of your jeans.
  1. Wear-and-Tear Methods
    This is the most simple but can take some effort and time.

    Other than just regular wear, there are instances you can wear your jeans to break them in faster, like wearing denim when biking or wearing the jeans in the water (e.g., swimming, showering). 

These methods can take some time but can effectively soften the fabric.

Some methods work better than others, depending on the specific pair of jeans, personal preference, and desired outcome.

Note: Always check the care label on your jeans before attempting to soften them, as some denim may have special care instructions or may not be suitable for these methods.

Natural Methods

An infographic featuring how to soften jeans using natural methods such as baking soda, vinegar, salt, and freezer with their instructions

Now that you know the various means of softening your jeans, let’s learn more about each method. 

The natural method revolves around using natural means to soften your jeans, including baking soda, vinegar, and more.

Washing With Baking Soda

Did you know that baking soda can help soften denim? 

Close-up of baking soda on spoon and bowl

Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can break down the fibers of the denim, making them feel softer and more comfortable to wear.

If you want to use this method, follow these simple steps: 

  1. Fill your washing machine with warm water.
  2. Add one cup of baking soda to the water.
  3. Place your jeans in the water and let them soak for at least an hour or overnight for best results.
  4. After soaking, wash your jeans in the washing machine on a regular cycle with a mild detergent.
  5. Once the wash cycle is complete, dry your jeans on a low heat setting in the dryer.

Alternatively, you can also add half a cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water and soak the jeans for an hour or overnight before washing them in the machine.

Soaking in Vinegar

Thanks to its acetic acid, vinegar can soften your denim jeans as it breaks down and weaken the stiff fibers in the denim. After vinegar treatment, your denim jeans should feel softer.

But keep in mind that repeatedly soaking jeans in vinegar may lead to significant fading of the color of the jeans, so it’s best to limit their use for softening.

Here’s how you soften your jeans with vinegar:

  1. Fill a large tub or bucket with warm water.
  2. Add one cup of white vinegar to the water and mix well.
  3. Place your jeans in the water and let them soak for at least an hour or overnight for the best results.
  4.  After soaking, wash your jeans in the washing machine on a regular cycle with a mild detergent.
  5. Once the wash cycle is complete, dry your jeans on a low heat setting in the dryer.

You can also add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine instead of soaking the jeans first.

Remember that some darker-colored jeans might not react well with vinegar.

Moreover, it’s best to use a mild vinegar solution or test a small area before trying it on the entire garment.

Using Salt

You can also use Epsom salt to solve your stiff jeans problem. 

Salt can help to soften jeans by reducing the stiffness of the fabric because salt attracts moisture and can cause the fibers of the denim to expand and become more pliable.

It’s one of the best natural ways to soften jeans, as it does not involve harsh chemicals or high temperatures. 

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Turn your jeans inside out.
  2. Sprinkle some salt on them.
  3. Fill up a large bowl or tub with warm water. Make sure it’s big enough to soak the jeans.
  4. Add a generous amount of salt to the water and mix it in.
  5. Soak your jeans in the mixture.
  6. Wait 30 minutes to 1 hour to let the jeans absorb the salt water.
  7. Lastly, rinse the jeans with cool water and dry them.

Freezing Jeans Overnight

Freezing jeans overnight is an alternative method that is sometimes used to soften denim fabric. 

The idea behind this method is that the extreme cold of a freezer can cause water to turn into ice. 

And as the water freezes into ice, it’ll expand the denim fibers and help stretch the jeans out, creating a more relaxed and softened fabric and fit.

Here’s how you can freeze your jeans:

  1. Clean your jeans with a mild detergent and air dry them.
  2. Fold the jeans neatly and place them in a plastic bag.
  3. Seal the bag and ensure no air is in it.
  4. Place the sealed bagged jeans in the freezer and leave them overnight or for at least 12 hours.
  5. Remove the jeans from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  6. Once the jeans have thawed, put them on and wear them for a while. The denim will mold your body and conform to your shape, which will help to soften the fabric.

Repeat the process as often as you need to achieve your desired level of softness.

Remember that this method will only work for some types of denim. It’s more suited to very stiff or treated denim. The results may vary depending on the type and quality of denim you use.

Moreover, don’t leave the jeans too long in the freezer to avoid damaging the fabric.

Chemical Methods

An infographic featuring how to soften jeans using chemical methods such as fabric softener, denim softener, and hair conditioner with their instructions

Aside from natural methods, you can also use chemicals to soften your denim.

Using Fabric Softener

Fabric softener is a commonly used household product designed to make clothes feel softer and more comfortable. 

Stack of folded towels and detergents on white table in bathroom

The softening effect is achieved by depositing a layer of

conditioners and fragrances onto the fibers of the fabric.

Here’s a guide on how to soften jeans with fabric softener:

  1. Make sure your jeans are clean and dry.
  2. Prepare a solution of fabric softener and water according to the instructions on the fabric softener bottle
  3. Soak the jeans in the solution for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the jeans from the solution and wring them out gently.
  5. Wash the jeans in the washing machine on a regular cycle with a mild detergent.
  6. Once the wash cycle is complete, dry your jeans on a low heat setting in the dryer.

This method can soften the fabric and make your jeans more comfortable.

However, it’s important to be mindful that fabric softener can affect the color and finish of the jeans, so it’s recommended not to overuse it.

Applying Denim Softening Sprays

Aside from fabric softeners, you can also use softening sprays. These sprays are specifically designed to soften and improve the feel of denim fabric. 

They typically contain a combination of softeners, conditioners, and fragrances that penetrate the fabric’s fibers and make it feel softer and more comfortable to wear.

Using these sprays can be a convenient way to soften denim without soaking the fabric for an extended period.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to soften stiff jeans using denim softening sprays:

  1. Clean your jeans with a mild detergent and air dry them.
  2. Lay the jeans on a flat surface, such as a table or an ironing board.
  3. Spray the denim softening spray evenly over the jeans, covering all the areas you want to soften.
  4. Use your hands to massage the spray into the denim, working it in by rubbing the fabric in circular motions.
  5. Leave the jeans to dry completely.
  6. Once the jeans are dry, put them on and wear them for a while. The denim will moto your body and conform to your shape, which will help soften the fabric.
  7. Repeat the process as often as you need to achieve your desired level of softness.

Be mindful of the amount of spray you use because too much of it can leave a residue on the fabric and make it sticky.

Treating Jeans With Hair Conditioner

Did you know that hair conditioners can soften not just your hair but your jeans as well? Yes, it’s true! 

Hair conditioners can soften jeans by moisturizing the fibers in the denim fabric and reducing stiffness. 

The conditioning ingredients in hair conditioners, such as glycerin, panthenol, and cetyl alcohol, help hydrate the fibers and make them feel smoother and softer. 

Additionally, the oils and emollients in the conditioner can help to reduce friction between the fibers, reducing stiffness in the fabric.

Here’s how to use conditioner to get softer denim:

  1. Fill a tub or basin with lukewarm water.
  2. Add a generous amount of hair conditioner to the water. The amount will depend on the size of the jeans you are trying to soften, but for a pair of jeans, about a cup or more of conditioner should suffice.
  3. Mix the water and conditioner until the conditioner is evenly distributed.
  4. Place the jeans in the water and use your hands to ensure they are fully submerged.
  5. Let the jeans soak in the mixture for about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove the jeans from the water and gently wring out the excess liquid.
  7. Machine wash the jeans on a gentle cycle with mild detergent.
  8. Tumble dry the jeans on a low-heat setting or air dry them.

Wear and Tear Method

And last but not least, the most traditional, tried and tested way to soften jeans is to break them by wearing them regularly. 

Wearing jeans often allows the fibers to stretch and soften.

This method can take some time, but it can make the fabric more comfortable to wear.

Here are three ways to do it:

  1. If your jeans are new, try to wear them every day or as frequently as you can. After constantly wearing your jeans for approximately a week, you’ll see they have softened.
  2. Another method of doing wear and tear faster is wearing your stiff jeans while riding a bicycle. The constant stretching and bending motion that riding a bike needs puts extra stress on the jeans. 

As a result, it breaks them in faster, making jeans softer quicker than just wearing them without biking.

  1. Wearing jeans in water can help to soften the fabric by breaking down the fibers in the denim. It’s because when denim is wet, the fibers in the fabric become more pliable and easily manipulated. 

Wearing jeans in water makes the denim fibers agitated and move around as you move. This helps break down the fibers and create a softer, more comfortable fabric.

Tips To Remember When Doing Wear and Tear:

  • Start by wearing the jeans for a few hours at a time, gradually increasing the time as they start to feel more comfortable.
  • Move around in the jeans as much as possible. You can try sitting, standing, and walking with the jeans on.
  • Avoid washing the jeans too often, as this can cause the fabric to stiffen again.
  • If you plan to sit for a long time, try to sit on a soft surface, like a pillow or cushion.

That’s How To Soften Jeans Effectively!

Softening stiff jeans is easy if you’re willing to put in the time and elbow grease. Most of the softening methods don’t even require any expertise! 

Plus, you can do it in the comfort of your home. You just need the right materials and a lot of patience. 

After all, anything worth having is worth putting the time in, and once you get that level of softness and comfort you want, it’ll make all the effort worthwhile.

We hope our tips and techniques on making jeans soft can help you break in that gorgeous denim you are dying to make your ultimate go-to pair of blue jeans.

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  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

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