How to Soften Stiff Jeans – (Simple and Easy Way)

Last Updated on February 22, 2024

We’ve all been there – excitedly purchasing a new pair of jeans, only to discover they are as stiff as a board. The struggle is real, and while some might claim that never washing your jeans is the secret to maintaining their shape, we’re not all trying to set fashion trends. We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for a quick and straightforward way to soften those rigid denim pieces.

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  • Soften stiff jeans inexpensively to rigid denim into a comfortable wardrobe staple without breaking the bank.
  • Use Scotch-Brite pads from Home Depot to scuff up and soften your jeans effectively.
  • Enhance color retention by adding vinegar and salt to the wash, preserving the vibrancy of your denim.
  • Double up on fabric softener during the rinse cycle to ensure your jeans come out of the dryer irresistibly soft.
  • Skip the pretentious methods and enjoy the softness of your jeans with a straightforward, DIY approach.

How to Soften Stiff Jeans

To soften stiff jeans, cut Scotch-Brite pads into strips, add them to a wash with vinegar and salt, run multiple cycles, add extra fabric softener during the rinse, and dry with dryer sheets for surprisingly soft results.

How to Soften Stiff Jeans

Forget the pretentious methods, and let’s dive into a simple, cost-effective solution that won’t break the bank.

Materials Needed

Step 1: Acquire Scotch-Brite Pads

Head over to your local Home Depot or Amazon and grab a pack of Scotch-Brite pads. These general-purpose scouring pads are nine by six inches and come in packs of 10. Perfect for our denim softening mission!

Step 2: Cut Into Strips

Once you have your Scotch-Brite pads, cut them into strips of three two-inch pieces. With a 10-pack, you’ll end up with 30 strips, each measuring two inches by nine inches.

Step 3: Prep Your Washer

Fill your washing machine with warm or cold water. Add a cup or two of vinegar to the wash water – this not only aids in softening but helps preserve the color of your jeans. Optionally, you can also add salt for an extra color-preserving boost.

Step 4: Turn Jeans Inside Out

Before tossing your jeans into the wash, turn them inside out. This will protect the color and ensure the abrasive Scotch-Brite pads work directly on the stiff fibers.

Step 5: Load the Washer

Place your turned-inside-out jeans into the wash water with vinegar and/or salt. Throw in all 30 Scotch-Brite strips. Now, you’re ready to kickstart the denim softening process.

Step 6: Wash Cycle, Rinse, and Repeat

Run the wash cycle about three times, resetting it after each spin to drain the wash water. This thorough washing ensures that the Scotch-Brite pads do their job of softening the denim.

Step 7: Fabric Softener Boost

Once the wash cycle is complete, add two portions of fabric softener on the denim (double the usual amount) to the rinse water. Remove the Scotch-Brite pads before starting the rinse cycle and let them drain separately.

Step 8: Dryer Time

Transfer your jeans to the dryer, throwing in about half a dozen dryer sheets for good measure. Dry them thoroughly, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how soft your once-stiff jeans have become.


Will using Scotch-Brite pads damage my jeans?

No, if used correctly, Scotch-Brite pads can soften your jeans without causing damage. Cutting them into strips and ensuring your jeans are turned inside out during the process protects the fabric from any potential harm.

Why add vinegar and salt to the wash water?

Vinegar helps soften the denim and preserves the color of your jeans, while salt provides an additional color-preserving boost. Both ingredients contribute to achieving softness without compromising the integrity of the fabric.

Can I skip the fabric softener in the rinse water?

While the fabric softener is optional, adding it enhances the softening effect on your jeans. Using a double portion in the rinse water ensures a soft and comfortable result.

How many times should I run the wash cycle?

Running the wash cycle about three times allows the Scotch-Brite pads to effectively scuff up the denim, resulting in a softer texture. Resetting the cycle after each spin ensures thorough softening.

Can I use this method for other types of denim clothing?

Yes, you can apply this method to various denim items such as shorts, jackets, or even denim shirts. Adjust the number of Scotch-Brite strips based on the size and thickness of the garment.

Will the color of my jeans fade with this method?

The combination of vinegar and salt in the wash water helps preserve the color of your jeans. However, it’s always a good idea to check the colorfastness of your denim before using this method, especially for brightly colored or treated fabrics.

Can I use a different brand of scouring pads?

While Scotch-Brite pads were specifically mentioned in the method, you can experiment with other brands of similar scouring pads. Just ensure they are of good quality and won’t cause damage to the denim.

How long does the entire process take?

Considering the multiple wash cycles, the washing and softening process may take a couple of hours. Drying time will vary depending on your dryer settings, but you can expect soft, comfortable jeans at the end of the process.


Say goodbye to stiff jeans and hello to a wallet-friendly, no-nonsense method of softening denim. This simple DIY approach using Scotch-Brite pads, vinegar, salt, and fabric softener ensures your jeans come out soft and comfortable without the unnecessary frills.

Enjoy the newfound softness of your denim and rock those stylish jeans with confidence – without spending a fortune.