Can You Really Stretch Out Tight Jeans by Showering in Them?

Can You Really Stretch Out Tight Jeans by Showering in Them?
Photo: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

We’ve all been there. You watch one viral TikTok, and before you know it, you’re sitting in your tub while wearing a pair of jeans, because, well, even though those jeans definitely fit you before the pandemic, they are now too tight. They’re also soaking wet because, again, you are wearing them in your bathtub.

On the off chance that you’ve somehow never found yourself in this situation, let me fill you in. In the viral TikTok in question, creator Lily Schoknecht claims to have discovered the “sustainability hack of the year” after telling her grandmother that she had given up on a pair of too-tight jeans. Apparently her nana responded: “Have you showered in them yet?”

Now you’re all caught up: A viral hack alleges that showering in your too-tight jeans is one way to get them to actually fit, and I had to try it out. I’d hop in the shower wearing a full-fledged Canadian tuxedo in the name of journalism, so soaking in my jeans didn’t seem too big a sacrifice. Plus, if the hack worked and I was able to reshape an old pair of jeans back into my wardrobe, I’d score a much-needed victory over my pandemic weight gain. (Note: I’m not mad about the weight gain. I just want to wear these jeans again, OK?)

Here’s how bathing in too-tight jeans worked for me.

First off, a soak-your-jeans hack has been around for years

Showering in your jeans has some legitimacy outside of viral TikToks and Tobias Fünke on Arrested Development. Paul O’Neill of Levi’s Vintage Clothing told GQ in 2015 explained his process for breaking in new denim: “First, I buy my jeans the correct size in the waist (rather than size down) and a little longer in length (one or two inches). Then, I’ll wear them for a few days before climbing into a warm bath in them and soak for 20 minutes. Once soaking is over, I slip out of the jeans and let them dry in the sun.”

According to O’Neill, this method “shrinks the jeans to your body shape.” And because you were wearing them while shrinking them, “they should not shrink smaller than your waist. I tend to check them when nearly dry and put them back on and stretch the waist out by squatting in them if needed.”

The combination of TikTok virality, Levi’s legitimacy, and “Never Nude” solidarity was all I needed to get in the tub and get to the bottom of this hack.

Trusting the process

I picked out an old pair of skinny jeans about one size too small. Buttoning them was technically possible, but would be too uncomfortable to wear throughout the day.

I decided to follow O’Neill’s method of soaking in a warm bath for 20 minutes — jeans on, of course. I was lucky enough to conduct this experiment on a sunny day, so I let them air dry.

So, did the experiment work? Did soaking in your jeans make them fit?

Nope!

Can you elaborate?

Sure.

Elaborating on the process

Although plenty of videos on TikTok claim that this hack worked for them, my jeans did not noticeably fit me better after drying out. I did some squats in them, as advised by O’Neill, but to no great success. Maybe the water wasn’t warm enough, or the jeans in question were too small to be saved. I’m sorry. No one is more disappointed here than me.

Hey, I may not have salvaged my too-tight jeans, but at least I had a disgusting bath on company time.

The final verdict

Enough people online are providing video evidence of this hack that I’d believe my failed experiment is an anomaly. Further research is needed. For now, the emotional toll of soaking in a pair of jeans is not worth the modicum of stretchiness I got out of them afterwards.

It’s like my grandma always said: “Manage your expectations before you hop into the shower to reshape your denim.” Also: “Maybe don’t trust everything you see on TikTok.” Oh, grandmas.

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