How to Soften Denim Jacket

Denim jackets have long been a staple in fashion, known for their timeless appeal and rugged durability. However, new denim jackets can often feel stiff and uncomfortable, requiring a bit of softening to achieve that broken-in feel. In this article, we’ll explore various methods to soften your denim jacket and make it more comfortable to wear. From washing techniques to fabric softeners and natural methods, we’ll cover it all. So, let’s dive in and learn how to soften a denim jacket to perfection!

How to Soften Denim Jacket

Denim jackets have become a fashion icon, loved by people of all ages for their versatility and classic style. While they are known for their durability, new denim jackets can sometimes feel stiff and rigid, making them less comfortable to wear. Softening your denim jacket not only enhances its comfort but also gives it a worn-in, vintage charm. In the following sections, we will explore different methods to soften your denim jacket and achieve that desired level of softness and flexibility.

Understanding Denim Fabric

Before we delve into the various softening techniques, it’s important to understand the nature of denim fabric. Denim is a sturdy cotton twill fabric characterized by its diagonal ribbing pattern. It is made using a unique weaving technique that contributes to its durability but also makes it initially stiff and rigid. Denim fabric softens over time with wear and wash, but there are ways to expedite the softening process.

Preparing Your Denim Jacket

Before attempting any softening techniques, it’s essential to check the care label and washing instructions on your denim jacket. Different jackets may have specific recommendations, and it’s important to follow them to avoid any potential damage. Additionally, it is recommended to wash your jacket before softening it, as this helps remove any excess dye and stiffening agents used during manufacturing.

Washing Techniques for Softening

One of the most common methods to soften a denim jacket is through washing. There are several washing techniques you can try, depending on your preference and the level of softness you desire.

Machine Washing:

  1. Turn your denim jacket inside out to protect the outer surface.
  2. Use a gentle cycle and cold water to prevent excessive fading or shrinkage.
  3. Add a small amount of mild detergent and avoid using bleach.
  4. Once the wash cycle is complete, hang the jacket to air dry.

Hand Washing:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with cold water and add mild detergent.
  2. Submerge the denim jacket and gently agitate it.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with cold water until all soap residue is gone.
  4. Squeeze out excess water and hang the jacket to dry.


  1. Fill a bathtub or a large basin with cold water.
  2. Add a small amount of mild detergent and mix well.
  3. Submerge the denim jacket and let it soak for 1-2 hours.
  4. After soaking, drain the water and gently squeeze out the excess.
  5. Hang the jacket to air dry.

Remember, washing your denim jacket may cause slight fading, which can contribute to its vintage look. If you prefer to preserve the original color, consider other softening methods mentioned later in this article.

Using Fabric Softeners and Conditioners

Fabric softeners and conditioners are excellent allies when it comes to softening denim jackets. They work by relaxing the fibers of the fabric, making it more pliable and comfortable to wear. Here’s how you can utilize fabric softeners to soften your denim jacket:

  1. Read the instructions on the fabric softener or conditioner bottle for the recommended usage.
  2. When machine washing your denim jacket, add the specified amount of liquid fabric softener during the rinse cycle.
  3. If hand washing or soaking, dilute the fabric softener in water and add it to the basin or tub before immersing the jacket.
  4. Follow the recommended drying instructions mentioned earlier.

It’s important to note that fabric softeners may cause a slight change in the color or texture of your denim jacket. Consider testing it on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire jacket.

Mechanical Methods

In addition to washing and using fabric softeners, there are mechanical methods that can help soften your denim jacket.

Clothes Dryer:

  1. After washing your denim jacket, place it in the clothes dryer.
  2. Add a couple of clean tennis balls or dryer balls to help break up stiffness.
  3. Use a low or medium heat setting and tumble dry the jacket for approximately 20-30 minutes.
  4. Remove the jacket promptly to avoid excessive wrinkling and hang it to finish drying.


  1. Set your iron to the appropriate temperature for denim (usually the cotton setting).
  2. Place a clean, damp cloth over the denim jacket to protect it from direct heat.
  3. Press the iron over the cloth, applying gentle pressure and moving it in circular motions.
  4. Focus on stiff areas like cuffs, collars, and seams.
  5. Allow the jacket to cool and air dry before wearing.

Breaking In:

  1. Wear your denim jacket as much as possible to help break in the fabric naturally.
  2. Engage in activities that involve bending, stretching, and moving your arms to flex the fabric.
  3. Over time, the repetitive movements will soften the fabric and mold it to your body shape.

Natural Methods

If you prefer natural alternatives to soften your denim jacket, there are a few options to consider.

Vinegar Soak:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with cold water and add one cup of white vinegar.
  2. Submerge your denim jacket and let it soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. After soaking, rinse the jacket with cold water and hang it to air dry.

Lemon Juice Spray:

  1. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and water in a spray bottle.
  2. Spritz the solution onto your denim jacket, focusing on areas that feel stiff.
  3. Gently massage the lemon juice into the fabric and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Rinse the jacket with cold water and hang it to air dry.

Both vinegar and lemon juice work by softening the fabric fibers, making them more pliable and comfortable.

DIY Softening Techniques

If you’re feeling creative, you can try various DIY techniques to soften your denim jacket and add a personal touch.


  1. Use sandpaper or a sanding block to gently rub the surface of your denim jacket.
  2. Focus on areas that are stiff or have a lot of creases.
  3. Be gentle to avoid damaging the fabric or creating visible abrasions.
  4. Once you achieve the desired softness, wash the jacket to remove any sanding residue.


  1. Create distressed or worn-out patches on your denim jacket using sandpaper, a cheese grater, or a small knife.
  2. Focus on areas like the elbows, pockets, and collar to simulate natural wear and tear.
  3. After distressing, wash the jacket to remove any loose threads or debris.

Enzyme Spray:

  1. Purchase an enzyme-based denim softening spray from a craft or fabric store.
  2. Follow the instructions on the product for application and drying.
  3. Enzyme sprays work by breaking down the fibers of the denim, resulting in a softer feel.

Remember to wear protective gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when using sanding or distressing techniques.

Maintaining Softness

Once you have successfully softened your denim jacket, it’s important to maintain its softness for long-lasting comfort. Here are a few tips:

  1. Avoid washing your denim jacket too frequently, as excessive washing can cause the fabric to lose its softness.
  2. When washing, use mild detergents specifically designed for denim or gentle fabrics.
  3. Turn your jacket inside out to minimize friction and protect the outer surface.
  4. Air dry your denim jacket whenever possible to prevent shrinkage and maintain its shape.
  5. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach when cleaning your jacket, as they can damage the fabric.

By following these maintenance tips, you can enjoy the softness of your denim jacket for years to come.

Styling Tips for Softened Denim Jackets

Once you have achieved that perfect level of softness in your denim jacket, it’s time to show it off with style. Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate your softened denim jacket into your outfits:

  1. Pair it with a simple white T-shirt, black skinny jeans, and ankle boots for a classic and effortless look.
  2. Layer your denim jacket over a floral sundress and complete the outfit with sandals for a chic and feminine ensemble.
  3. Create a casual yet stylish look by wearing your denim jacket with a striped shirt, denim shorts, and sneakers.
  4. Dress up your denim jacket by wearing it over a blouse, tailored trousers, and heels for a sophisticated touch.
  5. For a more edgy vibe, combine your denim jacket with a graphic tee, leather leggings, and combat boots.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to styling a softened denim jacket. Let your creativity shine and experiment with different combinations to express your personal style.


Softening a denim jacket is a rewarding process that enhances both its comfort and aesthetic appeal. By using washing techniques, fabric softeners, mechanical methods, natural remedies, and DIY techniques, you can transform your stiff denim jacket into a soft and flexible piece of clothing. Remember to take care of your softened denim jacket by following proper washing and maintenance instructions to preserve its softness and durability.

So, go ahead and soften your denim jacket to enjoy the ultimate comfort and style that it brings to your wardrobe!


  1. How long does it take to soften a denim jacket? The time it takes to soften a denim jacket varies depending on the method used and the fabric’s initial stiffness. It may take a few washes, multiple rounds of mechanical methods, or a combination of techniques. Patience and persistence are key.
  2. Can I use a fabric softener sheet instead of liquid fabric softener? Fabric softener sheets are designed for use in dryers and may not be as effective in softening denim jackets. Liquid fabric softeners or conditioners are typically more suitable for achieving desired results.
  3. Is it possible to soften a denim jacket without washing it? While washing is a common method for softening denim jackets, there are alternative techniques mentioned in this article that don’t require washing. However, washing is often recommended to remove excess dye and stiffening agents present in new jackets.
  4. Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the softening process? Using a hairdryer alone is not an effective method for softening a denim jacket. It may lead to uneven results and potential damage to the fabric. Mechanical methods like the clothes dryer, combined with other softening techniques, are more suitable.
  5. Will softening my denim jacket cause it to shrink? Softening techniques like washing and drying can cause minimal shrinkage, especially if high heat is used. To minimize the risk of shrinkage, follow the recommended care instructions and opt for gentle cycles and air drying whenever possible.

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