How To Soften A Stiff Denim Jacket

When walking or looking outside it would be nearly impossible not to spot somebody wearing a pair of denim jeans. Denim fabric is very popular because of its iconic look (nothing else looks like Denim as compared to other fabrics), everybody knows what Denim is from just the mention of it as opposed to other types of fabric. But more than in any country in the world Denim fabric has become a cultural symbol for the American populous. You can imagine that people would want most of their clothing made from Denim fabric; the most popular being Denim shirts, Denim jackets, Denim jeans and so on. However because Denim is essentially intensely dyed cotton fabric, it is very stiff to begin with. But there are proven ways to soften a stiff Denim jacket to feel comfortable whilst you wear this most beloved fabric.

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What Makes Your Denim Jacket Stiff In The First Place?

Denim fabric is very stiff from the beginning because the cotton fabric it is made from goes through a plethora of washes, dyes and treatments to change and enhance the properties of the cotton fabric into what then becomes Denim fabric. This is why your Denim jacket is stiff from the very beginning, in fact all Denim fabric has this problem. Denim fabric is woven with a warp-faced style that helps create durability (in addition to the dye – which is responsible for the iconic blue Denim look or the equally iconic black Denim. Denim fabric can be dyed in almost any color but blue and black are the most popular.)

Ways Of Softening Your Stiff Denim Jacket

  • White Vinegar – This commodity is recommended by fabric experts because of its naturally softening capability, it is very good at doing so as well. Make sure to have a clean bucket and/or plastic tub, you then pour one full cup of white vinegar with eight full cups of hot water into the bucket (you can adjust this depending on the size of your Denim jacket.) Turn your Denim jacket inside out to help the solution penetrate into the Denim fabric a lot easier. You can then place your Denim jacket into the white vinegar and hot water mixture. Then let it soak overnight or for 12 hours to soften it.
  • Most of the time when you wash your Denim jacket repeatedly (with laundry detergent) the Denim fabric’s dye will start to fade or “bleed out”. This will then make it look pale and unattractive. The white vinegar not only softens the Denim jacket but it will also keep it from bleeding out its dye or color thus making it last a lot longer.
  • Drying – After soaking the Denim jacket, you can then remove it from the solution. With the jacket still inside out, put it into a tumble dryer and make sure that it is at its lowest heat setting to avoid any risk of shrinkage to the Denim jacket which it is very prone to if handled neglectfully.
  • When removing the Denim jacket from the tumble dryer it will have some heat to it, you should roll the jacket up into a ball or spherical shape such that when the heat condenses, it moves or disperses all around the Denim jacket. This is an important part of the process.
  • After this you will need to place the jacket into your washing machine (using absolutely no laundry detergent.) The water temperature should at best be warm.
  • When you’ve washed the Denim jacket, you can then place it in the dryer again and this time add four clean tennis balls into the dryer’s drum. The tennis balls will be hitting against each other and the Denim jacket when the tumble dryer’s drum is spinning causing it to soften considerably in the process. It is important that the dryer is kept at a low heat setting.
  • Wearing – Although this relatively takes a lot longer than the above method, you can also soften your stiff Denim jacket by wearing it regularly. Exposing it to various elements whilst it stretches over your body will definitely soften it up.
  • Steaming – You can also steam your Denim jacket in order to soften it. This can be done with either a steaming iron or leaving your Denim jacket close by whilst you take a hot shower that produces a lot of steam. Steam is great for loosening fibers without the risk of burning damage which an iron may incur.
  • Baking soda can be used as a substitute or in addition to the vinegar solution to soften your Denim jacket.
  • Using a tumble dryer may result in shrinkage for your Denim jacket, so you may want to air dry it for the first couple of times.

More Information For Your Denim Jacket

  • The methods listed above help speed up the softening process, however simply washing your Denim jacket can help a lot with softening it.
  • When you want to “break in” to a raw Denim jacket you can use methods of intense physical activity like biking, lunges, etcetera, whilst you’re wearing the Denim jacket. This will also help to soften it up.
  • One of the best types of Denim fabric is Japanese Denim fabric. It has unique shuttle looms with a natural indigo dye. This is one of the softest and most premium types of Denim fabric. So when looking for a Denim jacket that doesn’t need any form of softening, look for one made of Japanese Denim fabric.
  • You can also add a few drops of fabric softener to a sink or bath of cold water (not too much) and then soak the Denim jacket for 15 minutes. This will also make the Denim fabric softer.


Denim is popular for good reason, it simply looks good, it is a form of cotton fabric that lasts for a very long time and that is one of the reasons it is so beloved. The methods of softening a stiff Denim jacket are as simple as those of any other fabric. But part of why Denim is so loved is because of its stiffness which is also where some of the fabric’s strength comes from. If this were to be removed, by washing or otherwise, the Denim jacket may not last as long, as is the case with white Denim.