Guide: How to Destroy your Jeans!


Many of us love the destroyed look to our denim, like Drew Barrymore pictured here.

I tried my hand at making a pair of homemade destroyed denim jeans. I used an old pair of James Jeans I had lying around. The color wasn’t very modern. Made me think of Mom Jeans. Here’s what I did to spruce them up (or rather tear them up!) for a destroyed denim look.

Items you will need:

  • Dremel or Angle Grinder – The dremel will give you slow and easier to control tears. The angle grinder can give small tear but you must not press hard or else you’ll tear right through the denim. I had that issue….ooops. Ha ha.
  • Sand paper
  • Scraps of material for and patches you may want (or need as was in my case) and a needle and thread.
  • Bleach and/or dishwashing detergent
  • Piece of wood that will fit inside a pant’s leg
  • Scissors

Bleach will break down your jeans much quicker than dishwasher detergent so use caution if that is your choice. Dishwasher detergent straight or bleach diluted (1 part bleach 5 parts water) should be applied to anywhere you want to “age” for anywhere between an hour to two.

Here’s the process for my jeans:

  1. First, if your jeans are too long, you can use scissors to cut the bottom hem off, or make some light cuts in the hems to give some frayed edges. I washed them AND dried mine with a couple pairs of shoes, tennis balls and my downy balls to beat them up a bit, and then rinsed them 3 times in fabric softener. This gives the denim a softer fluffier look.
  2. Rub on a mixture of half and half detergent and bleach water. (You can do either or I just could not decide which.) I let it stay on for an hour. I also took a spoon and spattered the bottoms of my jeans with just bleach water.
  3. After they’re dry, take them outside and place a piece of scrap wood in the leg. Get your trusty dremel or angle grinder and go at it where ever you want your tears – more if you want them super destroyed like I did, less if you just want a bit of distressing, like Drew, above. Be careful though! Don’t press too hard until you learn how much pressure you need to put or else you’ll make boo-boos like I did which needed a patch. (Hint: Showing too much of pasty thighs is not cute.) If you do make a boo-boo, just use your needle & thread and stitch in a quick patch behind the hole. Just makes them even more “vintage” looking in my opinion!
  4. Voila! Destroyed denim! You can wash them again to get any wood bits off and fluff them up in the dryer once more and you are ready to go!







Me in my new destroyed denim:


(Editor’s Note: Props to writer Jessie for this great guide! Readers, if you do something special to your jeans, feel free to document it, photograph it, and send it to the Editor and we may feature it here as a denim guide!)


  1. I’m sorry, but why would you want to look like a bum?

    Just not my thing I guess. I’m into the classy denim look, not trashy.

  2. denim lover 03, Thanks for the complement! xxx Jessie

    I enjoy many different looks. I am a multi-faceted fashionista.

    dieselsmomma, (cute name btw)
    Go hit one of your upscale consignments. You can usually find a pair of designer denim jeans for $20 to $30 bucks. We have one here called Plato’s closet. I have found quite a few steals in there. I even found a pair of True Religion Joey’s at good will. If all else fails. Get some Levi’s! they are after all The Original Denim Jeans!

  3. Michelle, Thanks for your opinion.

    My dog has chewed up pants before. Although it wasn’t her this time. Definitely no accident.

    I fed them to my angle grinder instead.

    I’ve been told 11 times now on 2 occasions out that my jeans look awesome.

    Thanks for your complements. =D


  4. greenfairie , I was not allowed to style my own clothing in the 80’s. LOL I had to be in bed at 8pm then. But cool glad to see you have had a pair of shredded jeans. Everyone should have a pair once in their life right?

  5. Were those 11 people bums?


    I’m sure there are people out there who like the look, but they might be dirty hippies.

    Unfortunatley, you are always going to have lovers and haters, no matter what you wear.

  6. denim lover 03, I love homeless chic it’s all the rage. ;D
    I only hang out with Dirty hippies to tell you the truth.

    You really are right about lover and haters. There a quite a few lines that came out for spring that I just did not get.

    I am not concerned if you like my pants or not. Just thought I’d share my tutorial because some people must like the look like myself. I like them and that’s really all the matters.

    Reality tells me that if you all think my dog ate my pants and they look like something a bum wears that you probably are a class act in your Lovestory jeans and intuition shirts. That’s my uniform at PTA meetings and and charity events. But sometimes I WANT to look like a heavily-tattooed, hippie-dressing, laid-back individual.

    a prevailing custom or style of dress
    to give a particular shape or form to; make
    to accommodate; adjust; adapt
    the make or form of anything

  7. Jessie,
    You are right about not caring about what others think. I certainly don’t care about what others think about the way I dress. I dress for myself and to make myself feel good. That is all that matters.

    I know what Fashion is. I never said you were not in fashion. Just simply stating that I do not like that look. From what I see on this site, there are plenty of people commenting on what they like/don’t like. Was just sharing my honest opinion. 🙂

    FYI – I don’t own any JBrand denim or any Intuition. Funny thing is I think I actually have that same exact pair of James jeans. But since they are 2 sizes too big I leave them in my closet and save them for maternity jeans.

  8. denim lover 03, we are totally cool. I’m not offended at all. This has been fun. It’s the classiest, trashing I’ve ever gotten. LOL.

  9. Jess, Thank you so much for the giude on destroying denim. Q:how did you get the tears just right without being a straight cut? I’ll tell you that I’m a personal trainer here in Arkansas with a bachlors in exercise science so I may be college educated but the destroyed look is my style….and most of my friends here close to Memphis too. Remember, its not what you wear or what you look like……….its who you are and how you present yourself.

  10. I don’t care what Denim Lover 03 and these other attention starving wastes of time have to say, your beautiful sweetie. If I saw you walking my way I’d comment how much I liked your jeans and take another look when you passed me by. Wow.

    I’m not even into this type of stuff but I couldn’t resist when I saw the picture pop up on google. Wow.

    By the way, D L 03- Your jeans are prob. distressed enough just from walking to the fridge from the couch, cow.


  11. First off I would like to say thanks for taking your time to post this guide. I realize you did this a while back, but I just found it. As for the people who have left negative feedback, could you just find another site that you do like? Honestly, all that you are showing people is that you are looking for a fight/arguement, and that you have an unfulfilled and unhappy life. Anyhow, I would like to make one suggestion. I don’t know if it’s your style, but I would shred those jeans more, and perhaps add some bleach stains. For some ideas check out or try Christine Dolce’s site at also I first seen her stuff when she appeared on the Tyra Banks show, and have been a fan ever since. Hope this helps. God Bless!

  12. Thanks for doing this guide, considering the 80s are all back in (see Current Elliot, Balmain, Acne, Jbrand….the list goes on!)
    just sitting at home now with a blade in one hand and my skinnys in the other nd wasnt sure where 2 begin!!!!
    THANK YOU xxx
    ps for those with the negative comments… if its not your cup of tea thats fine but let us enjoy fashion in peace if your not brave enough to join in.

  13. LOVE THIS GUIDE and REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY love the way the jeans turned out! Fabo. Will try it today. Thankssssss.

  14. Thank you for your step by step guide…I was lookin for a way to turn my 9 year old boys jeans into something much ‘cooler.’ He is a drummer and wanted to rock the ‘look’ of a rocker….His jeans turned out great…and I’m glad I hnow know how to do this to my own, rather than donating the ‘un-modern’ color jeans away….Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  15. p.s. who are these wierdos that comment negatively? If you dont like destroyed denim, how did you get to this website? Maybe y’all need to do a search for Mom jeans .com for your elasticized waist, pulled up to the ribs, tapered leg, safe colored-denim look. Otherwise leave the more fashion forward and creative people alone.

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