What Does Denim Feel Like? (Why do Jeans Feel Uncomfortable)

Softness and comfort are two of the words often used to describe the feeling one gets when they slip into their old jeans. Those are the reasons many people wear denim over other fabrics. It is true, once broken in, denim feels great and can be the best fabric to wear outside of formal events.

What does denim feel like? When denim is new, especially raw denim, it can feel like cardboard, stiff, hard to move in, and sometimes like sandpaper. Sometimes there is a crispy feel to the fabric that makes one think twice about wearing the clothing made from this material.

To learn more about what denim feels like just continue to read our article. It gives you the best description possible outside of feeling the fabric for yourself. Take a few minutes and remind yourself of what your denim clothing felt like when they were new.

What Does Denim Feel Like?

There is a difference between raw and washed denim. One of those differences ins in how the two fabrics feel when you are sliding your hand across the material. Raw denim has a crispy feel that is stiff to the touch and not exactly what one would call comfortable.

Washed denim is a bit different. It is soft to the touch and that feeling makes one not want to take the pair off once they are on in the changing room. Raw denim takes longer to break in and that is one reason they do not feel like washed denim jeans.

That rough nature of raw denim can be discouraging when one is looking for a great pair of new jeans or denim clothing to replace their old worn-out clothing items. Washed denim is comfortable and almost broken in when you buy them.

Why do My Jeans Feel Like Cardboard?


Generally, that texture comes from the raw denim that is not washed before becoming available to the consumer. This style of denim is very stiff requiring a longer break in period to get them soft as denim should feel.

But there is some good news. Not all denim products feel like cardboard. Some are pre-washed and have a softer more flexible feel to them. Of course, the quality of the denim will play a small role in how the fabric feels like cardboard.

If the maker is using a lower quality of denim fabric or cotton fibers then that construction will keep the material as stiff as and felling like cardboard. Do a little research to see which brands make the lesser quality cardboard type denim clothing and avoid them. The higher quality will last longer as well.

Jeans Feel Hard After Washing

One of the sources for that hardness is line drying. Letting the denim materials hang in the wind and sun, tends to take the softness out of the material and leave them feeling like low grit sandpaper.

Then washing the denim items in different laundry aids will produce the same hard, stiff feel that comes after washing. Those washing aids can be fabric softener which builds up over time creating a surface that is rough and scratchy.

Finally, if you live in a hard water region, the minerals in that water can contribute to the hard jean result after washing. To solve this issue, mix 1 cup of washing soda, 1/2 cup borax, and 2 quarts of water in a large container and add a cup with every load.

Getting the stiffness out only takes a little time and a little effort.

Jeans Feel Like Sandpaper


The above sources would be part of the problem here as well. Fabric softeners may soften your denim clothing in the beginning but that chemical additive will also build up over time and create a sandpaper-like surface on denim and other fabrics, including towels.

Then you may be afraid of shrinking your favorite denim clothing and avoid using the dryer. The one good thing about drying your denim clothing in a dryer is because the tumbling action helps soften the material.

Hang drying your denim removes that action and stops the fabric from becoming softer. If you are afraid of shrinkage, turn the heat down on your dryer or go to a no-heat cycle.

Finally, your jeans are just getting old. Age has a lot to do with the softness ability of fabrics including denim. The older they get, the harder it is to keep them soft.

Jeans Feel Rough After Washing

Any of the issues already mentioned will contribute to this situation. It seems that the cardboard stiffness is rarely without the roughness that some denim get when washed.

One solution to this issue would be to add some vinegar to your wash or to make a vinegar soak. To do that latter solution, you will need 8 cups of hot water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Once that is mixed together, place your jeans or other denim inside the bucket, etc., and let them soak for several hours.

That will help take the stiffness and the roughness out. Also, you may want to consider using your dryer on the no or low heat option to get that roughness to disappear. The tumbling action helps soften the material and gets that roughness to go away.

Why do My Jeans Feel Itchy?


One reason is that you have sensitive skin and your legs are reacting to the dyes used in creating the denim blue color. You may be allergic to the dyes or your legs get irritated because the fabric is rubbing against your skin.

Or you may be reacting to the chemicals used to create the denim fabric. These chemicals are not healthy when coming in contact with skin and you may have had too much of the bad stuff and your skin begins to itch.

Then if your jeans were made from synthetic fibers as well as denim ones, you may be reacting to the synthetic material in your jeans. Other sources can include the laundry detergent, the quality of the fabric, allergies to pets, and those pets have made a bed of your jeans.

Jeans Feel Greasy

This is not going to be good news for you or anyone who waits 6 months or more to wash their jeans for the first time. That oily, greasy feeling you get when you pick up your raw or other jeans comes from bacteria build-up.

Not washing your jeans may preserve the ‘fade’ or the ‘crispness’ of the fabric, it also makes your denim clothing a prime real estate location for germs, pollution, dry skin, and even sweat. That is not a good feeling.

The solution is not difficult as you need to spray them to get rid of those bacteria generating items. There are special sprays you can use to do this, then once sprayed let them sit for about 10 minutes. The spray should not harm your ‘fade’ or other desired denim looks.

Jeans Feel Baggy


This is not a complicated problem to solve. When your jeans or other denim clothing feel baggy, they may have stretched out of shape over time or through constant wearing. Denim will stretch no matter what and if you do a lot of physical activity in them, the clothing will get bigger.

On another front, baggy feel to your jeans is just their way of telling you that they do not fit. This is evidence by the crotch having a bunched look when on your body. Yes, you want to look your best and pretend you are a size smaller than you really are but ill-fitting jeans are not the way to go.

Make sure you get your denim at the correct size and leave vanity at the door of your changing room.

Jeans So Uncomfortable

The first reason that comes to mind is that the jeans are new and have not been broken in yet. There is that breaking in a period that helps the denim mold to the shape of your body. Until that happens, they may be uncomfortable to wear.

Then the jeans just may be the wrong cut for your body style, especially skinny jeans. You have little maneuvering room when you select that cut to wear. Also, you may have inadvertently picked up a low-quality denim fabric.

Denim does come in high and low-quality material and picking the wrong quality may result in a lot of days feeling uncomfortable. Those reasons are not the only ones that make you feel uncomfortable.

There is the possibility that they just do not fit. This could be due to the rise or the yoke or any number of clothing issues. The simplest being they are the wrong size. Another reason would be that the tags are rubbing you the wrong way. Remove the tags to find the comfort you want.

Jeans Feel Tighter After Working Out


This is a common event and if you feel this you are not alone. So many other workout enthusiasts experience the same thing and do not understand why. The answer is fairly simple in one way and complicated in another.

When you work out your muscles tend to bulk up a bit and lose their sagging look and feel. That firming up tends to reshape your body and make your jeans feel tighter. Then there is the fact that muscles retain water.

That and the fact that working your muscles tends to make them sore and swell up. That inflammation requires more water to calm it down. The extra water also makes your body bulge out a bit and help you outgrow your clothes in one workout session.

There are other reasons why you outgrow your clothes after a wok out but they tend to be technical in nature. Suffice it to say your jeans conformed to one shape your body has and after a short period, you changed that shaped making the jeans not fit.

Feel Tight When Sitting Down

This is another problem that is not hard to figure out and solve. If you have to suck in your breath when trying to sit down it means that your jeans are way too tight. Skinny jeans may make you look like you have a top figure but they are also dangerous to your health.

Then if you can’t pinch an inch when sitting then again, your jeans are too tight. We mentioned that skinny or too tight of jeans can be a health hazard. The tightness can cut off your circulation, causing numbness and temporary paralysis.

The tight feeling you get when trying to sit is your jean’s way of saying, get a larger size. On a side note, skinny or tight jeans do not make you look thinner. They tend to make your body look bigger than it really is.

Jeans Feel Tighter Before Period


This is not always a go-to topic when you are with your boyfriend. But it is a common experience for most women above the age of puberty. Those jeans used to fit one week but the next week they are tighter than ever.

The reason for this is that women can bloat before receiving their monthly friend. At the same time, women may be retaining a bit of water before the start of their time of the month which would also contribute to the tightness of your jeans.

Then you may actually gain 3 to 4 pounds at this time and that weight change may affect the way your jeans fit. There are numerous reasons why you have trouble getting into your jeans just before this time.

Not all the reasons will apply to you as every woman is different and have different reasons why they can’t fit into their jeans. Usually, the change is temporary.

Jeans Feel Tight 5 Weeks Pregnant

For most women, pregnancy is a time to celebrate and be happy. That is until they look into the mirror or try their jeans on at the 5-week mark. The good news is you are not putting on that extra weight just yet.

Usually, at this time in your pregnancy, you are just experiencing bloating and this is very common at this stage of your life. Many women who feel this tightness either start unbuttoning their jeans or switch to maternity clothes to stay comfortable.

When you get pregnant make sure you do not try to fit in your pre-pregnancy clothes until after you have regained your figure.

How Should Jeans Feel?


Denim is made from cotton and that fiber gives you the first clue in how jeans should feel. Cotton is soft and your denim jeans should feel soft as well. It doesn’t always happen, especially right away, but over time and using the right methods, you should achieve softness in your jeans.

Next, they should feel comfortable. Denim can conform to the shape of your body, so you should not feel any discomfort. Unless you decided to go a size or two smaller.

Also, your jeans should feel strong and durable. You get to check that feel out by participating in many different physical activities that test the limits of the denim material.

The softness should not overwhelm or replace the toughness of jeans. Then they should not feel tight. That is they should not feel tighter past the point of feeling snug and secure. Going too tight is playing a dangerous health game, one which you won’t win.

How to Make Jeans Feel Comfortable

The first option to be mentioned is going to be a natural method. Use 1 cup of vinegar in your wash load and your jeans should turn softer. Next, use your dryer. Not the high heat setting as that may shrink the denim but use a no or low heat setting and let your jeans bounce around for a while.

Next up is your washing machine. Machine washing regularly will help the denim go soft. The key is not to over wash your jeans and do it too frequently. While you are using the washing machine, try adding some fabric softener or some salt.

The latter ingredient will act as a natural fabric softener and only 1 cup is needed. Finally, find a pumice stone and rub your jeans with it. This may take more effort but people swear by this method.

Some Final Words

Denim is supposed to feel soft, comfortable, and not like a board or sandpaper. Unfortunately, to get that former feeling you need to do some work. Denim, especially raw denim, does not come soft and cuddly.

If you do not care about ‘the fade’ then wash your jeans from the start and get them softer faster.

Leave a Comment: