Softening Stiff Denim?

July 1, 2007

The back pocket of blue jeans.How to soften stiff blue jeans? I bought some new Levi's and they could stand on their own! I've tried washing them several times, but they are still stiff as a board... fabric softener doesn't help


Jay from Blaine, WA


July 2, 20070 found this helpful

It's been a long time since I've bought a stiff pair of jeans, but as a teenager we would wear our new jeans in the bath so that they would take our shape and add a cup of salt to the water to help soften them.

It still would take a good few washes before they were really softened though.

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Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 87 Requests
July 3, 20070 found this helpful

i have heard that you can wash your jeans with bath towels. the roughness on the towels are supposed to soften the jeans. i dont know but i think i read that on here actually.

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July 3, 20070 found this helpful

Not sure on softening except for washing and wearing them...

1 cup of salt in the wash is used to set the color in the jeans to stop them from fading...



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By debbie (Guest Post)
July 4, 20070 found this helpful

Try using vinegar instead of fabric softner next time you wash.

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By Barbara (Guest Post)
July 4, 20070 found this helpful

I read this long ago and used it a few times with good results. Put the jeans in the washing machine by themselves. Use the smallest size load. Put the water into the machine on the wash cycle, then add about a cup of liquid fabric softner. (no soap) Let the machine agitate. When that cycle stops, before the water drains out, move your machine control back and repeat the agitating cycle. Do this three or four times. Then allow the jeans to stay in the machine as it completes its wash.

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July 6, 20070 found this helpful

It takes a few washings to really soften up stiff jeans. One time I bought a pair if Levis that had a pumice stone that had been left in the pocket (apparently from when they were 'stone' washed).


I guess this is how they are softened commercially, but I sure wouldn't try it in my dryer at home.

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By Allan. Glasgow, UK (Guest Post)
May 5, 20080 found this helpful

Leave them in a bucket of water with a good bit of Proctor and Gamble fabric softener overnight. Rinse the next day. Works well.

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July 6, 20080 found this helpful

Wash them with Coke. The really stiff ones that are dark blue will soften up nicely. Fill the washing machine with water, pour in a can of Coke, agitate it to mix it up, then throw in your jeans. I have even used diet Coke and it worked (it's all I had).

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March 19, 20091 found this helpful

To be really frugal don't worry about it. They'll soften up themselves after a few washes, and meanwhile enjoy the new jean smell and feel experience while it lasts. Wash new jeans together with old ones to brighten up the color of the old ones.


Wash and dry them inside out, then turn them normal side out and steam iron with hot iron. (But avoid line drying or they really will be stiff as boards.)

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October 20, 20091 found this helpful

I have to agree with SnowyFilly. Not only does salt preserve the color, the jeans came out so soft.

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March 2, 20111 found this helpful

To soften stiff blue jeans wash them in a washing machine with your favorite detergent and add 3/4 cup of plain white vinegar to the rinse cycle. You might have to do this twice but once usually works great. Don't worry they won't smell like vinegar and they also won't have any soap residue.



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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 122 Feedbacks
March 2, 20110 found this helpful

I would try vinegar in the rinse water, and tennis balls, or dryer balls in the dryer.

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April 20, 20171 found this helpful

Sleep in them every night for a month...

Also wet them in cold water inside out and rub them down inside out with a pummy stone twice a week

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4 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

September 13, 2019

How would I soften a denim jacket?

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August 20, 2019

I got a new denim jacket as a gift recently and it's really stiff and very uncomfortable so if you have any tips on how to soften it please help a girl out.

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June 18, 2009

I bought two pairs of denim shorts recently and after I washed them they became too stiff and scratchy to wear. I looked to see what materials were in them and noticed they contained a fabric called "ramie". So I was wondering if anyone knew of a way to soften them up a bit? Much appreciated.

By Emma from GA


June 18, 20090 found this helpful

Ramie is cotton. Stick them in the wash a couple more times using cold water and use a softener. Dry them with a softener sheet but take them out when they are just a little bit damp.


Like the original, hard as a board, Levi jeans they will soften up eventually. good luck!

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June 19, 20090 found this helpful

Turn them inside out and iron them on a high setting with steam. You may have to do this for the first couple of times you wash them, but it will help break down and soften the fibers. Works on denim shirts with scratchy collars and cuffs too.

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June 19, 20090 found this helpful

Hi here is the info on Ramie fabric. What is Ramie Fabric?
Ramie, also known as "China Grass", is a flowering plant native to eastern Asia. For centuries, ramie fiber has been used for making fabrics and clothing. In fact, ramie has been used for clothes since at least 5000 - 3000 BC in Egypt.

Ramie fibers are one of the strongest natural fibers. Ramie can be up to 8 times stronger than cotton, and is even stronger when wet.

Ramie Fabric
Ramie as a fabric, can be a great eco-friendly alternative to using synthetic fibers or non-organic fibers. It is also very comfortable to wear and is highly absorbent. This makes it a great choice for warmer climates or summer months. Ramie fabric also has good stain resistance. It's great in the wash too. It doesn't shrink, can withstand high water temperatures, and it's lustrous appearance actually improves with washing.

Ramie is low in elasticity and it does wrinkle easily. It is also quite costly to produce compared to other textile fibers, so this tends to raise the price of the end products.

Ramie can be used in a wide range of applications, including:

Dresses and skirts
Bed sheets etc
Table cloths and table towels
Sewing threads
Fire hoses
Ramie is often blended with other fibers such as cotton and hemp to produce fabrics with different characteristics.

Companies selling products made with ramie include:

Australia's The Earth Collection (who also have a distributor in the UK and Ireland)
Chinas Sichuan JTC Garments Co.Ltd (a subsidiary of Sichuan Cotton and Ramie Group)
I also found some ramie apparel and ramie bedding at
Tags: eco-friendly clothes, fabric, ramie, Sustainability

From Patrival Boucherville Quebec Canada

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July 11, 20100 found this helpful

Try soaking the denim shorts in a solution of vinegar & water (1:10), in a bucket. The solution should just cover the clothes, so no need to fill the bucket all the way to the top. This will help to breakdown the starch in the fibres all through. Next day wash them as usual. They should be softer. I live in a region where we have only hard water and most of our jeans and jackets turn stiff in the regular wash. I have tried this and it works.

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April 16, 20170 found this helpful

Ramie is a plant fiber, but it is not cotton. It is a grass and I would be careful about using a hot iron

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September 27, 2013

How do you soften a denim skirt?

By Janell J


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September 28, 20130 found this helpful

Be sure to check the skirt laundering label for the hottest wash this garment will tolerate according to the manufacturer before trying the following advice - denim likes to shrink as much as 2 full inches every direction in the first two-three washings so if you don't want shrinkage you may be stuck with the stiff fabric.

If you are OK with some shrinkage, you can try washing it several times - the stiffness may be an over application of sizing at the fabric mill and then in the garment factory.

Run the skirt through the warmest possible wash without soap. If you see suds in the water you know you've not added soap to, what you are seeing is the sizing being rinsed out of the fabric. Repeat the washing as many times as is needed until the water is clear during the last minutes of the wash AND rinsing cycles.

If you don't see suds during the last rinse cycle, next try soaking the skirt in warmest possible water with a large amount of vinegar poured in - as much as a gallon of distilled white to a full washing machine tub. Then wash-rinse until you can't smell vinegar anymore. This should soften the fibres and set the indigo dye at the same time.

Either way, then tumble dry the skirt on a low setting if you have a dryer (remember that tumble drying will also shrink your denim a little). Line drying will leave the denim somewhat stiff (but not as stiff as the sizing does!) but if you have no dryer, you can soften the line dried skirt by rolling into a sausage shape several times until softer.

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