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How to Soften Stiff Denim Jeans

Have you ever bought a new pair of jeans that were so stiff they could practically stand on their own? I love buying Levi 501 jeans that aren't pre-washed or pre-shrunk so I've learned a thing or two about softening stiff jeans.

It takes a bit of time, but it's pretty easy once you figure out what works best for your favorite type of jeans. I strongly recommend purchasing dryer balls if you don't already have some and liquid fabric softener.

I used to run the jeans through the wash and dry cycle as many times as it took to get them reasonably soft. I've since learned that you want to start with just fabric softener and the smallest load size setting on the washing machine and finish with four dryer balls in the dryer.

Steps to Soften Denim Jeans

  1. Set the washing machine for the smallest load size and most aggressive agitation setting.

  2. Use ½ to 1 cup of liquid fabric softener depending on the machine's size. Avoid pouring the softener directly on the jeans. Let the water fill, then either add the softener to the water and stir it up or let the machine start agitating to mix it with the water, then add the jeans. Do not add any laundry detergent or soap.

     
  3. Let the machine run through the wash cycle and when that cycle ends, and before it starts draining for the rinse cycle, reset it to start the wash cycle again. I usually do this three or four times depending on the stiffness of the jeans. I set a kitchen timer so I don't have to worry about missing it.

  4. (Optional) After the third of fourth time, let the the washing machine complete it's cycle. At this point I run them through a regular wash and rinse cycle, this time restricting the liquid fabric softener to the rinse cycle.

  5. Dry the jeans with dryer balls, I recommend using four of them. I usually set the machine on high and hot because I need them to shrink down. If you're trying to avoid shrinking the jeans, go ahead and use a low setting. One of the benefits of the dryer balls is that you'll still get a softening affect, without having to dry on high. I've heard that tennis balls work as well, but I've never tried them.

That's it! Softening those stiff jeans takes some time, but it's well worth it if you love the jeans!




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