How To Rip Jeans Without Ruining Them in 10 Easy, Illustrated Steps

how to rip jeans

It reminds us of Thanos and the famous quote: dread it, run from it, yet destiny still arrives.

Destiny, in this case, is the curious obligation to try out a pair of ripped jeans. We’ve all seen them be worn. Almost every celebrity has given them a trial, and you’re finally feeling like it’s your turn.

However, buying a brand new pair of ripped jeans can seem like an anti-climax, particularly if you’re not totally sold on a design or a particular pair.

Fortunately, it is more than possible to rip your jeans yourself. We can read your mind from here, and you’re wondering how to rip jeans. Well, that’s exactly why we are making this article.

First of all, we are going to lay out some of the things that you should consider before getting started with making your own rips. Then, we will lay down the 10 tips to ripping your own jeans without ruining them. This will discuss how to rip jeans with a cheese grater and sandpaper, among other items.

Before we begin:

Before we get into the primary tips, we feel that there are some things to clear up when it comes to ripping your own jeans.

Firstly, you are not guaranteed to get the same outcome as someone that you see online or that you see in this article. Even though we are giving you the tips to be successful in ripping your jeans, you have to remember it’s still a DIY job, and it’s often not as seamless as you’d like it to be.

On that note, it is probably worth going for a dry run first on a pair of very old jeans. If you do this, you can test out your equipment and methods, ensuring that you’re confident enough to begin putting rips in your good pair.

There would be nothing worse than ruining your best or most expensive pair of jeans because you hadn’t practiced ripping them beforehand. So, if you’re going to rip your jeans, please at least practice on some old jeans first, or some spare fabric. It’ll be worth it.

If we look at the types of rips themselves, there are a few different styles of rips that you can go for, and they all look slightly different. For example, you’ve got the classic distressed look that you see all over the shops. This is like a ‘netting’ or a spider’s web and contains a lot of fraying.

This is the type of style that you’d expect if you want to rip jeans and leave the white thread. A classic rip, on the other hand, looks more like a knife wound and will often have a bit of fraying, in order to make it look realistic.

Before you get started, you should think about what kind of style you’re looking to achieve; otherwise, you may be in for a shock once you begin and realize that you’ve done something either 10x bigger or 10x smaller than you were expecting.

Rips in different areas of the jeans also are a thing to consider. We’ve all seen that you can rip jeans at the knee, and this is the classic way to go about your ripped jeans.

However, it also is possible to rip jeans at the pocket, and for some styles you should consider looking at how you can rip jeans at the bottom. These are all going to provide you with a different look, and you should be careful choosing which you go for.

Lastly, equipment very much differs from person to person and rip to rip. Just to illustrate this point, it’s very much possible to rip jeans with a cheese grater. By that same token, you could just use scissors or sandpaper.

There are many different methods to the craft, and quite often your pick will depend on what you have in the house and what you feel most comfortable using. Quite often, people won’t want to use a sharp knife for the nitty gritty parts of ripping, because you’re only a small movement from completely taking your fingers off.

How to rip your jeans in 10 easy steps (A simple, illustrated guide)

1. Get your equipment ready

how to rip jeans get your equipment ready

As much as we’d love for it to be that simple, making your own distressed denim isn’t a case of grabbing a tool knife and going to town on the jeans. You’ll end up extremely disappointed, and we’re almost 100% guaranteeing a zero success rate.

Instead, you’ll be looking at a range of different tools that will make your life a lot easier. For the purpose of this article, we will be assuming that you are looking for a few different methods of ripping your jeans, and this will make it easier for you to pick a desired look or method.

As a result, we will be listing all of the equipment needed below. This may vary, depending on whether you are deciding to skip a particular step or if you have decided on using a method that doesn’t require the equipment that we have listed.

  • Jeans – this could be your favorite pair, or this could be an old pair that you are trying to repurpose.
  • Sharpie pen – this is going to be your method of marking out where you want to make your rips. Nothing good comes from just eyeballing it, so make sure you have something that can mark the spot.
  • Chalk – an alternative to a sharpie pen is some chalk. This is preferred by many, because it is easy to wash off afterward.
  • Knife – a knife is often used to cut the rip at the markings that you have made. If you are a danger hazard with a knife in hand, perhaps consider leaving this and going for scissors instead.
  • Scissors – the alternative to a sharp knife is scissors. They are safer, relatively harmless, and still get the job done. You will be using these to cut the slit that you’ve chosen.
  • Razor – if you’d like to score the jean material and make it look naturally worn, then you can use a razor to rip at it a little further
  • Cheese Grater – yep, you’ve read it right. A cheese grater can be used to fluff things up a bit and cause the fraying to occur. This is a necessary step in many methods of ripping jeans.
  • Tweezers –This is a particularly great choice for those wanting to rip jeans and leave the white thread, as you’ll be removing the rest of the denim.
  • A Sharp Pin – If you’re not in possession of tweezers, a sharp pin can do the same job. It can be fiddly, though.
  • Sandpaper – if you’re not interested in taking a cheese grater to your Levi’s, then perhaps consider using sandpaper, instead. Sandpaper is a cheap item that is used to cause a bit more distress and increase the worn look.

2. Mark the spot

how to rip jeans mark the spot

Marking the spot has some serious importance when it comes to ripping your jeans. As much as we’d all love to think that we can eyeball the perfect place to cut them, it’s highly unlikely.

There’s not much worse than doing your cut and then realizing that it’s in the completely wrong place and looks terrible.

With that in mind, we can give you a reminder that going ahead and marking the spots that you want to rip will go a long way in ensuring that you are happy with the final result.

The first thing to consider when marking your jeans is where you want to make them. As we discussed briefly earlier, there are plenty of places on the jeans that you may choose to make your mark. The classic thing to do would be to go for rips in the knees. This is the most common and typically the most desirable look for a man searching how to make ripped jeans.

Even though this is the most typical spot for some distressed style, that’s not to say that it is the be all and end all. You may want to look at getting the distressed style where the pockets sit. Failing that, perhaps the thigh area is where you’d like one. And again, there’s nothing stopping you from getting distressed hems at the bottom for a modern cropped-cut style.

Another thing to consider is how many rips you want in your jeans. This is another thing when marking out where you get them. We recommend that you start low and add more as you go, but this is of course up to you and your personal style.

In terms of actually making the mark, make a mark in chalk or sharpie at the top and bottom of where the rip will be. This is the perfect thing to do if you’re getting a modern, distressed ripped look. You can just make a single mark if you want a classic, singular small rip.

A further note, and a rather important one is that you’ll need to put the jeans on first. This will allow you to know exactly where you want them to be, and it’ll make the process much easier.

This is particularly important if you’re doing the hems at the bottom. To make these marks, you’ll want to roll them up to where you want them to fall on your leg, and then make the mark there. There’s no way to know if this is going to be perfect without trying them on first, so we highly recommend it.

3. Cut where you’ve marked

how to rip jeans cut where you've marked

The next step is just to play it simple and begin to cut where you’ve made your markings. For this part, you’ll either want to rip jeans with scissors or with your knife. Either is good, but we prefer using a knife.

To do this, pinch the jean leg in the middle and begin making a cut at the line that you’ve drawn. This’ll ensure that you don’t cut through the fabric into the back of the leg, and it’ll also ensure that you’ve been accurate with your cutting. Both are equally important.

As you can probably imagine, it is much easier doing this initial process with a knife. It is possible with scissors, but since you aren’t cutting all the way across the leg, you could really do with the sharpness of a bladed object.

Once you’ve made an initial cut or wound in the fabric, bring the scissors out and use them to cut the rest of the mark out. This will give you the best accuracy, and it’ll be easier, too.

4. Use sandpaper or a cheese grater to distress the rips

how to rip jeans use sandpaper to distress the rips

Now that you’ve got some rips in your jeans, you are probably looking at them and thinking that they don’t look anywhere near done. Correct. You’ve got a long way to go yet.

For this next stage, the aim is to make things look a bit less perfect and a bit more like they’ve been ripped and mauled apart.

What’s the best method for that?

Some sandpaper. Being able to rip jeans with sandpaper is easy, and you should have no problems finding it. Your local dollar store will have some, and it’ll do the job perfectly. The sandpaper’s rough exterior will be able to get gritty with the fabric and begin to rip at the thread. This’ll bring out a ragged and distressed look that is difficult to replicate.

The goal here is to bring the blue thread to the surface, as the next step requires it there to continue.

If you’ve got no sandpaper in the house, then you can rip jeans without sandpaper, too. The alternative is the cheese grater. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it does the same job as the sandpaper. The rough exterior and particular style of the cheese grater will rip up the fabric and make it look threadbare – just what we want for a ripped style.

If you’ve got neither sandpaper nor a cheese grater in your possession, then you still shouldn’t give up there. Grabbing your original blade or scissors will be good enough for what you need. Getting in at the corners of the cuts and around the outside in general and scoring it will give things a good, worn look and make things a bit more imperfect.

If you’re going for the distressed, modern look, then you’ll need to really go at it with the sandpaper/cheese grater between each of the marks you had drawn out earlier. This’ll give you the foundations for the next step. If you’re going for a classic rip, then everything is pretty localized, and you should have no issues.

5. Rip jeans and leave the white thread

rip jeans and leave the white thread

The process so far has been straightforward and strangely enjoyable, right?

Well, things are about to change.

Most men hate things that are fiddly, and we are no different. It’s frustrating and can take a considerable amount of time to get everything right.

Now that we’ve sold this step to you and made it sound particularly appealing, here it comes, and so will your tweezers (or sharp pin, depending on your preference)!

The goal with the tweezers here is to get an accurate distressed look that is borderline impossible without them. Denim jeans tend to have two cross-sectional threads – one that is blue and one that is white.

What you want to do is get rid of the blue threads and pull them out or away from the white ones. As we said, this could be monotonous, and it will certainly be fiddly, but once you get the hang of it the results will come.

As soon as you get this on lockdown, your ripped jeans will look so much better, because you’ll have that ‘white thread look’ that is so important when it comes to ripped jeans.

If you’ve got laser hand-eye coordination, then using a pin could be more efficient for you. This is a great option if you don’t have tweezers at hand.

Even though this process is the longest, it’s also the most important. Once you’ve finished this part, you’ll be able to look at your rips and see what is most likely going to be a finished look.

*NOTE: if you’re using black jeans, then be aware that this point can be applied to you, but not with the same colors. You’ll find that you are just leaving the black threads, but that’s fine, and you should still go ahead with this step.

6. Add any extra touches

how to rip jeans add any extra touches

Now that you’ve made a few perfect looking rips, you’ll want to add the extra touches.

The one that stands out to us is grabbing a razor, or something sharp, and just scoring the edges of the rips that you’ve made to finalize the look.

If we pretend that the rips in the jeans are like a bodybuilder’s physique, then those final few reps in a set to sculpt a particular muscle are akin to the final few cuts with the razor, and it’ll bring an entirely new look to the stage.

Go slow and steady at this stage, as it is important to keep reflecting on what you have done and making sure that you are happy enough.

You also can get the sandpaper back out and rough things up a little more. Quite often, a criticism of self-ripped jeans is that they look too perfect, so sometimes it’s recommended to get quite rough and leave no stone unturned.

7. Take a moment to reflect

how to rip jeans take a moment to reflect

Here’s the stage where you’re going to want to sit back and have a look at what you’ve done, and remember to be honest.

If they’re perfect, then no more work will need done. If they’re not, then you need to have a look at why and what can be altered. If they are too perfect and clean and not looking distressed, then maybe you’ve just been a bit too careful throughout the entire process. In this case, you could return to step number 6 and really drill home the fact that they’re meant to be messy rips.

Ultimately, this stage just comes down to what you had envisioned before beginning to rip your own jeans. If they are exactly what you had expected, then you have done well, and if not, then you know that you need to return to one of the previous steps and make some changes to give you the ideal result.

8. Throw them in the washing machine

how to rip jeans throw them in the washing machine

Now that all of the physical, hard labor is done, you can relax whilst a machine takes over. Give them a quick run around in the washing machine, and then hang them out to dry. Once this has been done, you’ll get a finished look that has come from the rips being absolutely battered in the wash.

As soon as they’re out and dry, they are probably ready to be worn. Congratulations.

9. Try on your new jeans, and smile

how to rip jeans try on your new jeans

You made it! You’ve tackled the age-old question of how to make ripped jeans and passed with flying colors.

Try on your newly ripped jeans and feel proud of yourself. You have brought your idea to reality in a way that few people manage. Well, it’s not that deep, but still.

10. Think about a few alternatives

how to rip jeans think about a few alternatives with your jeans

At this stage, you may want to think about what else you can do, or what you could do as a next step.

One style of ripped jeans that we really want to highlight is the raw hem style at the bottom. To achieve this look, you’ll want to make your marks at where you want them to fall and then cut them clean at this location. Once you’ve done that, the rest of the process is pretty much identical to what we’ve already done. You’re going to want the fabric to look distressed and cut as if the bottoms have been mauled by a tiger.

A great explanation for this type of jean style can be found here and could be worth trying out if you’re edgy enough:


Ripped jeans are the new craze, but that’s not to say that they’re all affordable and worth purchasing. Quite often, the only difference is that there’s less total fabric in surface area, yet they are more expensive.

It is this painful reality that causes a lot of men to open up Google and search how to make ripped jeans. For you, we wanted to provide the perfect step-by-step guide.

In this article, we have tried to help you to learn how you can rip your own jeans without any glaring faults. Ranging from the type of equipment you’ll use to detailed step-by-step explanations, we feel that we have done our job.

We’d love to hear from you about whether or not you have ripped any jeans yourself. If you have, did it work, and how did you do it? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll get back to you.


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About The Author

Domen Hrovatin
Domen Hrovatin

Domen—a self-confessed facial hair addict—is a grooming professional, style enthusiast, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about male pattern baldness. His work was mentioned in countless notable men's grooming and style publications, including Beardbrand and AskMen.

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