Like all garments, denim jeans require regular washing to preserve their appearance and structural integrity. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to wash jeans. If you want your jeans to last (hint: you should), consider the following tips when washing your jeans. While you may already follow some of these practices, chances are others will surprise you.
#1) Wash Less Frequently
Although washing is important, there’s no reason why you should wash your jeans each time after wearing them. Assuming they aren’t visibly stained or otherwise dirty, go ahead and wear them another time or two. In 2016, Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh revealed that he rarely washes his jeans. You have to remember that each time you wash them, it degrades the denim fabric. And if you wash them enough, jeans will eventually shrink and become stiff. To prevent this from happening to your jeans, try to get into the habit of washing them less frequently.
#2) Use the Right Detergent
Not all laundry detergent is made equal. If you’re worried about your indigo jeans fading in the washing machine, try using a liquid detergent that’s designed specifically for dark-colored garments. Woolite offers a Darks Liquid Laundry Detergent that’s perfect for this purpose. While it costs a little more than traditional laundry detergent, it will protect your indigo jeans from fading, thus making it a smart investment.
#3) Gentle Cycle
Hand washing is arguably the safest way to wash denim, but it’s also the most tedious and time consuming. But if you’re going to wash jeans in the washing machine, choose a gentle cycle. Some people assume that a normal or heavy cycle will clean their jeans more effectively. In reality, though, a gentle cycle is just as effective while protecting the denim fabric of your jeans from damage in the process. You can still hand wash your jeans, but stick with a gentle cycle when using a washing machine.
#4) Turn Inside Out
One of the most common concerns consumers have when washing their jeans is the potential for color fading. Whether they are indigo, light blue, red or even white, jeans contain dye within the denim fabric. When washed, some of this dye will leak out of the fabric, resulting in a dull, faded color. You can protect your jeans from fading, however, by turning them inside out before washing them. Normally, only the exterior denim fabric is dyed, with manufacturers leaving the interior denim in its original condition. Therefore, turning your jeans inside out preserves the dyed denim and reduces the risk of color fading.
#5) Wash Before Having Them Tailored
If you plan on having your jeans tailored, wash them beforehand. This is because new jeans will always shrink to some degree after washing. And if you wash them after they’ve been tailored, they may no longer fit. Regardless of what type of adjustments your jeans require, always wash them beforehand. Of course, you can avoid the need for professional tailoring by choosing the right size jeans in the first place. Here at MakeYourOwnJeans, we offer custom sizing on all denim jeans at no additional charge. This means you’ll get the perfect fit every time, saving you big bucks on otherwise expensive professional tailoring services.
#6) Wash in Cold Water
It’s a common assumption that hot water is more effective at washing and cleaning clothes than cold water, but this isn’t necessarily true. Granted, it can help to remove stubborn stains, but it also exposes the fabric to hot temperatures that can damage the fabric and cause fading. To preserve and protect your denim jeans from such damage, wash them in cold water. Cold water is more gentle on the denim fabric, and it won’t cause the colors to fade. Furthermore, washing clothes in cold water saves energy since there’s no need to “warm up” the water. These are just a few reasons to wash your jeans in cold water instead of hot water.
#7) Limit Time in the Dryer
Washing your jeans is only half the battle. The other half is drying them. Unfortunately, tumble-style clothes dryers are aggressive and can degrade the denim fabric. Therefore, it’s recommended that you limit the amount of time your jeans spend in the clothes dryer. Don’t hit the “restart” button on your dryer out of habit. If your jeans are finished drying,
#8) Consider Air Drying
An alternative to drying your jeans in a clothes dryer is to hang them on a line to air dry. Whether you use an outside line or your bathroom curtain rod, this is a safer way to dry your jeans. It allows jeans to dry naturally from exposure to the air. When your jeans are hung on a line, the moisture content within the denim fabric will evaporate. This takes longer than using a traditional clothes dryer, but it’s also safer for the fabric, as it doesn’t expose denim to the aggressive beating of a clothes dryer.
#9) Check the Care Label
It’s important to look at the care label on your jeans when washing and drying them. Different jeans are manufactured with different materials and methods. As a result, some jeans may require different methods for washing and drying than others. You can find the manufacturer’s recommendations by checking the care label on your jeans. In most cases, this label is found inside the waistband. If you don’t see it here, check inside the leg around the ankle. The care label is almost always hidden from plain sight.
#10) Add Vinegar
Vinegar has hundreds of uses, one of which is to preserve the color of your clothes and protect them from fading. If you’re worried about your jeans fading in the washing machine, add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar along with the laundry detergent. In addition to protecting your jeans from fading, vinegar will also eliminate bad odors. And considering that a bottle of vinegar costs just $1 to $3, it’s an inexpensive and easy way to protect your jeans from fading.