How to Prevent Jeans from Wearing Out in the Inner Thighs

A reader reached out asking for advice on how to prevent jeans from wearing out in the inner thighs. A portion of her email:

Hi Alison – One thing I have struggled with is wearing my jeans out in the inner thighs. I had purchased some expensive jeans that looked and felt great, however since they were so “washed” they wore through so quickly. Embarrassing and annoying! I did iron some patches in to get a little more life out of them. Any tips? At first, I was thinking it was sizing, but I just noticed that a pair of jeans I got in the fall are 14's which is a good size for me are also starting to wear.

Jeans wear out between the inner thighs because of friction. Whether you're a size 4 or 24, there's a good chance your thighs touch and rub together when you walk. Thighs touching is a completely normal, healthy, and downright beautiful aspect of a woman's body. But it's annoying when it blows out your favorite jeans. Below are some tips on how to prevent denim from wearing out at the inner thighs or at least prolonging the time before it ends up happening.

How to Prevent Jeans from Wearing Out in the Inner Thighs

The more you launder your jeans, the more you break down the fibers, causing the denim to get thinner and more likely to break. Jeans do not need to be washed after every wear, and should never be placed in the dryer. With stains, consider spot treating them and letting it air dry. The less time your jeans are in a machine, the longer they will last. Consider using the gentle cycle and washing your jeans inside out to reduce friction in the machine on the outside inner thighs.  The company The Laundress creates a detergent specifically for cleaning and preserving denim. Railcar Denim Laundry Detergent is a low-sudsing wash just for jeans and is a cult favorite for denim enthusiasts. Some readers have shared that Clorox Dark not only keeps the color of their denim, but cleans them without wearing out the fibers.

If your jeans are smelly only, no need to wash them.  Though studies have proven otherwise, many still swear that if you place your jeans in the freezer; the cold will kill the bacteria that cause odor.  If you don't want your jeans touching your frozen foods, place them in a large Ziploc bag; the process will still be effective.  There are also products specifically created to refresh denim.  This product from Mr. Black will clean, refresh and prevent stains from settling in and has antibacterial properties and even comes in a travel-friendly size.

Make your own fabric refresher: Mix three parts water with one part vodka and add a few drops of your favorite scent of essential oil and pour into a spray bottle.  As the solution dries on your jeans, it will take away the odors!

Shop The Best Detergents and Refreshers for Denim:

If you find a pair of jeans you love but they are made of a soft, weathered, or lightweight denim, you can fortify them before wearing them. It doesn't seem to make sense, but what's on the inside of the jeans will help preserve the outside.

  • Denim patches applied to the inside of the jeans at the inner thighs before wearing will protect that area and lower the chances of having your jeans blow out.
  • Men find that wearing boxers keep their jeans longer; the same holds true for women. Wearing hosiery, slip shorts, or control shorts under your jeans will make them last longer. Slip shorts or pettipants are a great choice if you don't want to feel constricted.

Shop Pettipants and Slip Shorts:

Over the years, many readers have suggested prepping jeans with Scotchguard. Yep, that spray you use to prevent stains on your couch can also prevent holes in your denim. I haven't tried this and don't plan to but I wanted to share if you're comfortable with this product. Do note, it will need to be reapplied after each washing, but spray it on the outside of the jeans in the thigh region, let dry (it will be virtually invisible), and you're ready to go.  I have also heard of people rubbing a bar of clear glycerine soap on the inner thighs of jeans to also prevent friction.

More denim, fewer problems. We often have a favorite pair of jeans that we wear multiple days in a row. Thing is if you don't give your jeans a chance to cool off and bounce back, they are more likely to wear out. Moisture and bacteria from your body can cause fibers to become brittle and break down. If you find a pair of jeans that are awesome, it's a smart investment to buy a second pair. Don't save them for when the first pair wears out, vary between the two (and if possible have a few days between where you wear other things) and both pairs will last longer.  Also, instead of folding your jeans up and placing them in a drawer at the end of the day, consider hanging them to provide ventilation so they can properly dry out.

Many men hitch up the knees of their pants before sitting. This provides more space in the knee, thigh, and crotch area for comfort but it also prevents the fabric from being stretched. Doing this before sitting will put less strain on the thighs of your jeans, reducing the chance of a denim blowout.

Even if a certain size seems to fit, consider sizing up and getting jeans tailored. If your denim is too snug on the thighs, rear, and hips, the strain especially when sitting and squatting will over time wear down the denim. A little bit more room in the jeans can provide months even years more life without even noticing a difference in the fit and final effect. And a perfectly tailored jean can make you look taller, thinner, and feel like a million bucks!

Do Expensive Jeans Hold Up Longer than Cheaper Jeans?

Neither the brand name nor the price of the jeans will determine how long a pair of denim will last before a blowout. What usually is the determining factor is the weight of the denim. In the reader's original email, she mentioned a brand name that I also wear. I've had denim from that brand last for years, and others not make it through a single season. Same brand, same price, but different wash. Soft denim, denim infused with Lycra, linen, or another fiber, and any denim with weathering or a vintage finish is more likely to wear out than heavyweight or “rigid” denim.

How to Patch Torn and Worn Jeans

Don't wait until an actual hole has formed in your jeans.  As soon as you notice thinning, patch the area to fortify the space and elongate the life of your beloved denim.  As mentioned above, denim patches are sold and make it easy to make a thin part of denim more sturdy.

If a hole has formed in your jeans, there are many online tutorials that offer tips on how to patch jeans:

  • Simplest Method: This link from WikiHow offers a way to mend by hand, one by sewing machine, and even video instruction on how to apply a patch.
  • Relatively Easy Method with a Sewing Machine: This tutorial from GQ offers tips that can be achieved with even the most elementary sewing skills.
  • Complicated but Least Obvious Mending Method: This post from Closet Case Patterns is great for those more familiar with a sewing machine as the mending focuses less on a patch and more with the stitching as the solution.

If you are not sewing-savvy or have a treasured pair of jeans you would do anything to keep, Denim Therapy is a company that focuses on repairing denim.  They state they can fix any hole or tear, and can even reinforce a weakened area with their reweaving service.

Shop Products to Prevent and Patch Worn Denim:

This post was originally published in 2018 and updated with 2020 advice and links.

43 Comments

  1. 05girl
    January 17, 2020 / 3:14 pm

    I end up wearing a lot of Gap and Loft jeans because they fit better on my thick-waisted apple-shaped body. (sidenote, I just tried everlane and was so sad that the size 30 jeans fit everywhere BUT my waist, where it was too tight.)
    My main gripe is that once worn, the jeans develop creases, so on the second/third/fourth wear they just look like they need a wash.

    I recently started throwing them in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes, and found great success. BUT now I read this and see I shouldn’t be putting jeans in the dryer at all! LOL FML.

    Any solutions to making jeans look fresh on second/third/fourth wears?

  2. Ruth Slavid
    January 8, 2020 / 11:09 am

    I have no idea why my jeans have never worn through at the thighs – I certainly have ‘generous’ thighs, but they haven’t. However, and this is my warning, I have bought lovely cool linen trousers for the summer. Often quite loose. And I have, every time, thrown them away at the end of the summer with holes in the thighs. I have now learnt that a linen/ cotton mix is much stronger. They don’t look or feel very different to pure linen, but they last. You’re welcome!

  3. N
    January 8, 2020 / 10:07 am

    Stay away from denim that has rayon and/or tencel in the fabrication! This fabric is so fragile (esp when damp) and should not be part of denim fabric. I believe it is often the culprit in jeans that get holes or rips.

  4. whoever
    December 23, 2019 / 6:54 pm

    Another article that does not answer the question – there is a tear, what can be done about it? Completely useless.

    • CantDealWithIncompetentPeople
      December 30, 2019 / 12:46 am

      The title literally said “How to prevent jeans from wearing out in the inner thighs” meaning how to avoid it from tearing. If the tear already happened, then go look at another article. It’s very unnecessary for you to reply with a comment and having to state that it’s “completely useless”. Don’t ruin an article for other people because you’re too incompetent to read the title.

      Also thank you Alison. Your advice did help. Sorry you had to see this. Cheers

  5. Crystal
    November 12, 2019 / 4:00 pm

    I find the more spandex etc they stick in women’s jeans now, the faster they wear out. I got about 4 months out of my last pair before I wore the thighs through. So disappointed as the jeans were a splurge (new vs. thrift store).
    I never used to have this problem with my jeans in the ’90s and early ‘2000s when jeans were good solid cotton, not all of this “stretch” crap in the fabric too. And I used to horseback ride and wash the crap out of them!

  6. October 4, 2019 / 2:12 am

    I love reading through a post that can make people think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

  7. SarahMc
    June 8, 2019 / 8:34 am

    I used to sew a piece of salvaged pantyhose ( those ’80s!) inside my jacket elbows to keep fraying at bay. Done before even the first wearing and it kept them looking unstretched out and schlumpy for a long time. Betcha it would work on jeans, too. Just cut out a piece of stocking a bit bigger than the area you want to protect, turn article inside out, hand stitch with a small needle that barely catches one or two outside stitches so that its almost invisible. Its soft so you don’t feel it rub. It’s skin color so it doesn’t show through light colored sleeves. It’s easy to yank out if you don’t like it.
    Of course, I also used to wear Joan Collins’ shoulder pads and still think I looked great in them so take this advice with a grain of salt!

    • June 8, 2019 / 8:45 am

      Oooh, genius idea thank you for sharing this!

  8. Tori
    May 24, 2019 / 10:31 am

    Thanks so much for this post! This is definitely a problem I’ve struggled with.

    After reading this post, I realize I wash my jeans way too often. But I’m a sweater. Can I really get away with washing them less often? Even if I put them in the freezer and they don’t stink, won’t they still feel gross?

    • Leticia
      May 30, 2019 / 7:59 am

      Let your clothes – not just your jeans – dry between wears. Have a designated place where they hang for a day before storing – hooks behind the door or on the wall work well. I hang all clothes I intend to wear again – not lingerie or shirts, that is. After a day or when the hangers are full, I put the clothes away again. Not wearing the same item two days in a row helps too. They dry and air. I get so many wears from my jeans before they start to smell it is embarrassing to tell.

      • Tori
        May 30, 2019 / 5:10 pm

        Thanks!

  9. Christine
    May 23, 2019 / 7:37 pm

    This has been a lifelong issue for me, even when I was a size 6. I’ve learned the hard way to spend time finding decent, plain, high-cotton-content jeans from less expensive brands. My heart doesn’t break when my Gap True Straights (or whatever) break down in that area while the rest of the jean still looks pristine. Double-ditto for linen pants.

  10. May 23, 2019 / 10:00 am

    These are great tips! I also love those iron-on denim patches for the inside of my son’s jeans. Iron on the patches on the inside of the knees of new jeans and they last twice as long!

  11. Debbie
    May 23, 2019 / 9:35 am

    I learned in microbiology class freezing doesn’t kill bacteria – it just goes dormant but reactivates when thawed. So freezing jeans won’t really help.

  12. Susan L
    May 23, 2019 / 9:22 am

    Our local YMCA Thrift Store takes clean damaged (torn, holes, worn out, etc) clothing to resell for textile recycling so please find somewhere in your local area to recycle worn jeans instead of trashing them.

  13. RoseAG
    May 22, 2019 / 8:08 pm

    Have you tried those cotton knit petti-pants you show? Do they ride up? Even though the tricot ones might be hotter it seems like they’d be less prone to bunching up.

    • RoseAG
      January 8, 2020 / 6:52 am

      If the pants are loose enough the cotton knit would stick and ride up I wouldn’t think you’d have problems with rubbing. I have tricot petti-pants I wear with my pencil jean skirt and it’s not bad. I wear cotton or wicking panties and stay cool.

  14. Vicki
    May 22, 2019 / 3:23 pm

    I had a pair of Athleta jogger-style pants where the seams in the upper inner thigh were wearing through. My seamstress said it was due to the poor quality of the fabric, not thigh rub or my care. She repaired it but the fix didn’t last because it was as if the material just started going to pieces. They were destroyed about a month after the fix and I had to throw them out.

  15. Ange
    March 20, 2019 / 2:13 pm

    I’m stumbling upon this article just now, during my Google search to see if I was just a really bad jeans owner. I don’t have the thighs-wearing-out problem, but the fabric on the seat of my jeans is so thin that holding it up to the light, you can almost see right through it around the back pockets. So far they haven’t ripped yet and my underwear isn’t showing through the material (thank goodness!), but I think I definitely need new jeans because these ones will be done for after a few more washes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  16. Menon
    August 31, 2018 / 12:58 am

    No matter..how expensive the jeans i buy..it is wearing out on inner thigh..

  17. Mariah
    June 21, 2018 / 6:02 pm

    Get higher quality jeans! If your jeans are constantly stretching out, that is not good quality material. It’s more expensive, but invest in jeans that are a step up. And if you never dry them from the start, they won’t need shrinking over and over again. 🙂

  18. Letícia
    March 14, 2018 / 6:01 pm

    You left the first tip for last. At least here in Brazil women seem to understand that if a piece of clothing can be buttoned up it “fits”. Go one, two, however many sizes necessary up. I find that sometimes it’s not the size, but the cut – skinny pants are tight on the knees when I sit down. I end up having to take in all pants on the waist – I buy for my hips and take in at the waist. My tights don’t seem to complain much, but the knees said “no more skinnies, K?” 🙂

  19. Julie
    March 14, 2018 / 4:13 pm

    I always find it weird when people say not to dry your jeans. I mean, don’t your jeans stretch out? I have to wash my jeans every 3-4 wears not because they’re dirty but because they’re at least a size bigger, regardless of style or brand. If I wash and then just hang dry, they stretch out even quicker than when I don’t put them in the washer.

    • March 14, 2018 / 4:57 pm

      My jeans stretch out, and I used to put in the dryer to shrink them back. When I started air drying I found my jeans didn’t stretch out as much and I didn’t have as much of a need to dry them to shrink them back. I have no idea why, but it’s like the denim got used to not being dried.

    • Valeria
      August 1, 2018 / 7:36 am

      It’s because the first time you machine dry anything with stretchy fabric you damage it’s ability to return to it’s original shape.

  20. Zaeobi
    March 13, 2018 / 1:23 am

    Am I the only one who doesn’t get thigh thinning (despite having thunder thighs & suffering from chub rub) but the seat of my pants like to disappear instead (usually around the crotch seams)? Am I just shaped weirdly, lol?

    • March 14, 2018 / 4:58 pm

      Nope, completely normal. Some get the wearing at the crotch seams, some lower in the thighs, some even get it closer to the knees. We’re all built differently and jeans affect us in different ways! 🙂

  21. Alison
    March 13, 2018 / 12:07 am

    Good to krep in mind as I feel my favorite pair of Jag jeans thinning…

    • March 14, 2018 / 4:59 pm

      My favorite JAG jeans just blew out and Im sad. They don’t make that style any more either.

  22. Ruth
    March 12, 2018 / 2:29 pm

    I have been fortunate enough not to have this problem with denim (despite having ‘thunder thighs’) but I did buy pairs of linen trousers in the summer for a few years. They only ever lasted one summer before going into holes on the thighs. If you fancy the look and feel of linen for the summer, I strongly recommend a linen and cotton mix which is much more durable.

    • March 12, 2018 / 3:10 pm

      So true, the fabric can really make a difference. I’ve had this issue even with leggings, and it’s all about quality and durability!

    • March 12, 2018 / 3:09 pm

      Thank you for sharing this link Gillian!

  23. Andrea
    March 12, 2018 / 10:47 am

    For really special jeans, you can get the hole repaired. Check out indigo_proof on instagram for some photos of repairs. I was amazed at how good the repairs looked. Of course, this works best if you get the repair earlier rather than later.

    • Laura
      March 13, 2018 / 2:20 am

      The photos on Indigo_proof are sheer alchemy. Bloody hell that’s impressive. Really impressive.

      My husband has this problem particularly with his work pants. Just binned 2-3 pairs because they’ve worn through. Obviously need to haul out the sewing machine and practice, practice, practice.

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