Why Does My Jeans Feel Like Sandpaper?

Your jeans feel like sandpaper because it is probably made from 100% cotton denim which is supposed to be naturally stiff, rough, and crispy.

Another name used for this material is raw denim. The difference between your stiff pair of jeans and the softer ones could be the blend of materials like spandex and polyester used in its production.

Also, other jeans may feel softer from the first touch and this might be because they are pre-washed even before being put on the rack for sale. This causes the distinction between “raw denim” and “washed denim”.

There are different ways to make your scratchy jeans feel softer and more comfortable from the first wear and all of these processes will be carefully explained below.

Why Does My Jeans Feel Like Sandpaper

How do I make my jeans less scratchy?

Another reason why your jeans probably feel so scratchy might be because you have inadvertently gotten denim that is made with low-quality cotton.

In this case, there is not much that can be done to make your jeans any more comfortable.

Keep wearing it

Time is one of the easiest ways to achieve this. Age has contributed majorly to the softness of your older pairs of jeans. Content wear and wash with time softens the cotton fibers and makes wear more comfortable.

Have it in mind that some of these processes listed below might end up affecting the durability of your jeans and shorten their lifespan.

Soak in the Vinegar solution

To make your jeans feel less scratchy, you can add vinegar to your wash water or just soak the denim for a few hours in a vinegar solution.

White vinegar has softening properties that will make your jeans less scratchy and more comfortable.

Add a cup of vinegar to 8 cups of water and mix properly. Put in your denim wear in this solution and allow it to soak for some hours or overnight.

This helps you take the itchiness and roughness out of your jeans. One advantage of this method is that the color and dye of your jeans will not be affected.

There is no need to worry about your denim smelling like vinegar, the scent evaporates once dry.

Why Does My Jeans Feel Like Sandpaper

Do jeans get softer after washing?

Yes, jeans do get softer after washing. Some of your worn and more comfortable jeans feel that way because they have gone through the washing machine and the motions one too many times.

That said, you should not wash your denim too frequently so the material does not get weak and damaged.

How to soften stiff jeans?

Raw denim does not have the two vital qualities that make your old denim easy to wear. Softness and comfort are qualities of jeans that have been truly broken in, making them the second most comfortable pair of pants apart from sweatpants.

These are the different ways to soften your stiff denim and make them more comfortable to wear. 

Tumble Dry after washing

Raw denim stiffens when hung to dry. This is one of the causes of stiffness. Hanging denim out in the sun takes the softness out of it and keeps it the way you don’t want it; stiff.

Instead of hanging dry, make use of the dryer if you hope to soften the denim material. The bouncing of the clothing in there is what is responsible for the resulting softness.

If you are concerned about shrinking your denim, then you should turn down the heat of the dryer a notch or stick to a heatless cycle.

Roll heated jeans in a ball

This sounds a bit strange but is another effective method to soften your jeans. Roll your jeans once they are out from the dryer into a very small and tight ball from the hems up to the waistline.

Tie up this ball of jeans with a rope or longer, clean cloth, and let it cool out. This method lets the heat spread through the fabric, loosens the cotton fibers of the denim, and makes your jeans softer.

It also stretches your jeans and is not advisable with slim fit or skinny jeans that are meant to fit snugly.

Make use of fabric softener

Using fabric softener for your jeans works if you are hoping for a quick fix. While fabric softener can solve your problem in the short term, the build-up from chemical additives will in the long term create a stuff surface on the materials it has been used on including denim and other materials.

Sand your denim

Soaking denim for long hours does not sound quite right to you? There are other alternatives you can look into and one of them includes sanding your denim to scrape the interior of the jeans.

To do this, make sure you turn your denim inside out. You don’t want to sand the exterior surface and ruin your jeans best features.

Proceed to rub the sandpaper across the surface of your jeans in horizontal strokes beginning from the top to the hems. Do this gently so as not to ruin the material of the jeans.

Stonewash it

This is quite an intriguing way to soften your stiff jeans. Some companies who manufacture denim put stones into the industrial washing machine together with the jeans they plan to wash.

These stones pound the denim material during the washing process, softening them and giving them a nice fade.

The downside to this procedure is that you would be damaging your washing machine at the expense of softening your jeans.

Wash it regularly

Apart from constant wear, washing your jeans constantly is a quicker way to soften stiff jeans. To wash properly, make use of cold water.

It is important to note that hard water has the potential to further stiffen your jeans and achieve the opposite result because of the minerals present in the water.

If you live in a hard water region, consider mixing washing soda and borax into your wash water. Adding salt to the wash water is another option you can try if you dislike using the fabric softener.

Wash your denim inside out too with gentle detergent. Turning denim out before washing, especially when you are going to be hard on them helps to preserve them and avoid changes like fading and abrasion.

You can either choose to hand wash or stick to machine washing. While hand washing, you could use a pumice stone to rub or pound out the stiffness from your jeans. Continue doing this frequently till you achieve the desired softness.

Why are my jeans so tight after washing?

Why do your jeans suddenly fit too snugly, to the point of discomfort after washing? There are a few reasons why this could be possible. Continue reading to find out why.

You bought the wrong size

Firstly, if your jeans feel too tight after being washed, that might be the first indication that you got the wrong fit.

Except they are pre-washed or made from blends of fabrics, there is a possibility of your denim shrinking after washing and this makes the jeans tighter and uncomfortable if you bought sizes that fit too snugly.

Getting the right size of jeans is as important as the style you buy. Make sure to walk out of the dressing room with the right fit.

It is made from raw denim  

They are raw denim made from 100% cotton and it is only natural for cotton to shrink after washing. The level of shrinkage depends however on the gram per square meter of the fabric.

Why Does My Jeans Feel Like Sandpaper

How do you break in rigid jeans?

Originally, raw and stuff denim were made to fit a purpose. Cowboys, miners, and other workers had a need for stiff and rigid jeans that could stand the test of time.

You have to understand that it is more difficult and takes longer to break in jeans that are made from raw denim.

Apart from the texture of raw denim contributing to this, the use of low-quality denim material is another factor that could make breaking in a pair of rigid jeans a Herculean task

With the revolutions in the fashion industry, jeans now serve different purposes for different people and if you happen to be one of the people that want nothing to do with rigid jeans, here is how to break it in.

Give it time

Wearing them around for some time is the oldest and most effective way to break in rigid jeans without any side effects being done to your clothes.

Repeated wear and wash of denim breaks down and stretches the fibers till they are worn and mold comfortably against your body without any scraping or scratching.

Engage in vigorous activities while wearing them

Riding is another way to break in rigid jeans quickly and this explains why cowboys go through more pairs of hard-wearing denim faster than normal.

The constant stress that is put on the denim while riding stretches the denim and softens it in no time. You don’t have to be a cowboy to be able to break in your rigid jeans or jump on a bike if a horse is not available.

How do you break in soft jeans? 

Denim should feel soft and there is no logic to breaking in jeans that are already soft due to the fiber combinations.

However, if your already soft pair of jeans feels rough against your skin even though they are flexible, there are a few things you can do to improve the feel.

Soak in baking soda

Soaking in baking soda is a trick you can employ while breaking in soft jeans. Apart from being a stain removal agent, baking soda can be used to further soften and make jeans more comfortable.

You would have to turn your jeans inside out as usual before washing in a washing machine. Make use of cold water and detergent.

After this, soak these jeans in a baking soda solution that is made with cold water and a cup of baking soda.

Don’t forget to stir this solution before submerging your jeans in it. Leave it in for at least thirty minutes and then rinse in cold water.

Repeat the wash cycle again before air drying on a lime.


Finding the perfect denim fit and shade takes a lot of trouble. Giving up the right size of jeans because they do not feel as soft and comfortable as you would have liked is a pain that you don’t actually have to go through, not when there are lots of ways to effectively break in your denim.

Note that these processes might permanently alter the features of your jeans so you should only try this with cheaper denim wear till you have gotten the hang of it.


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