While a lot of jeans now come with some built-in stretch, if you’re a fan of more traditional denim — you know, the kind you have to work at to break in — you’ve probably found yourself in a situation where a section of your jeans starts to sag.
But instead of getting rid of the denim you’ve invested all this time and money in, here are a few ways to bring them back to form, courtesy of tips from Hedy Phillips in an article for In Style.
Pop them in the dryer
As you probably already know from episodes from 1980s sitcoms, certain items of clothing can shrink in the dryer. The results aren’t usually as comically drastic in real life, but it is a thing that happens. To shrink your jeans, Phillips recommends this washing and drying process:
Grab the jeans you want to shrink and put them in the washing machine on the highest heat setting it has. You might as well add detergent so they get washed in the process. The key, though, is the dryer. Put those jeans in the dryer with the heat blasting. Run it for a full cycle so the heat has time to tighten up the material and shrink the denim.
Take a bath wearing them
Of all the wet fabrics, wet denim has to be one of the most uncomfortable, like when you get caught in the rain or accidentally fall into a body of water. This technique shouldn’t be as bad, because you’re wearing your jeans in a bathtub full of warm water. Again, the idea is using heat to shrink the jeans. Ideally, Phillips says once you get out of the tub, you’d continue to wear the jeans until they’re dry, but that’s a big ask. So from there, air dry them the rest of the way.
Iron your jeans
The iron isn’t as effective at reshaping as hot water, but it can help. Plus, it allows you to target the areas of your jeans that you want to shrink most, like the waistband or knees. Here are some instructions from Phillips:
Turn your iron on really hot and go for it with your jeans…You can apply the heat directly to the fabric you’re hoping to shrink without affecting the whole garment.
If none of these at-home methods work, you can always take your jeans to a tailor who’ll make the alterations you need.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.