Step 1: Prep
You’re going to need a bathtub and lukewarm water for an exceptional soak. Unsanforized denim will shrink in the conditions outlined below; about 2” in the waist and inseam, and ½” in the rise, thigh and leg opening. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a page out of the denim buffs’ guide and sit in the tub with your jeans on. This will allow the denim to shrink to your body, creating an ideal fit. If that’s not for you, ensure all the buttons are closed before you place them in the tub. If you want to go one step further, try tying a rope through the belt loops for a little more control.
Step 2: Soak
Temperature and soak time are the greatest factors affecting the shrink and fade of your denim. Too hot, and your denim will shrink more than intended. Too cold, and achieve minimal shrinkage. This is why lukewarm water is the temperature of choice. Not to mention, this temperature also limits the amount of indigo dye lost in the process.
Typical soak times lie around 30 minutes. Feel free to adjust this depending on how much you want your jeans to shrink. However, please be aware that an increase in soak time will result in a greater loss of indigo.
Keep a few things in mind during your soak. You want the water to penetrate your denim, so try to move your jeans around the bathtub every so often. If you’re not soaking with your jeans you may want to try weighing your jeans down to prevent them from floating to the surface.
Step 3: Dry
The key to drying your soaked jeans is letting them do so naturally. I highly recommend drying your denim outdoors and in the sunlight. This method minimizes the fall of the indigo dye and prevents undesirable creases and fades you may notice with machine drying.
Pull your jeans out of the tub and turn them inside out without wringing the fabric. Then decide how you would like to hang your jeans. A few options include running a rope through the belt loops on one side of the waist band, or clipping a hanger to the outer corners of the waistband. While taking your denim from the tub to your outdoor hanging spot, you might want to protect your floors from dripping indigo dye. Tie or hang your jeans so that they are not touching the ground, and again, you may want to cover the ground beneath your jeans. Now sit tight, because these bad boys will take several hours to fully dry.