How to Wash Your Jeans

by Welcome to Outsons

There’s a long standing debate about the best ways to wash jeans. While some people believe you shouldn’t wash jeans at all, others dread to think of never having that freshly cleaned feel again. When you think that the jeans in your wardrobe are probably the hardest working pieces in there, it’s important you find the right balance. So what is the answer?

For most people, wearing an item of clothing once or twice is enough reason to chuck it in the wash. When you’ve gathered enough dirty washing to justify putting it in the machine, you’ll separate only by lights, darks and delicates. Don’t worry, we all do the same. If you treat your jeans in the same way, however, you could actually be doing more damage than you think.

Jeans are more hardwearing than most clothing items, and can therefore go without full washes for some time. You might have a pair of jeans that you’ve never washed, and if you’re dealing with expensive raw denim, you probably haven’t needed to. However time goes on and sometimes you just need to give your jeans a good scrub. We’ll show you a few ways on how to wash your jeans, while keeping them looking in tip top shape as well. 

how to wash your jeans mens-denim-jeans

How to Wash and Dry Your Jeans

So how often should you wash jeans? The best way to wash jeans, as well as how often you should wash them has become a debated topic, with various people giving different opinions on what to do. Some suggest washing them once a month, others every six months, and some people say that the height of washing them should consist of spritzing them with Febreze. Different types of denim also add an element of change to your washing instructions for jeans, and cheaper jeans are usually washed differently to raw denim jeans.

Raw denim is best given a good six months before washing. The longer you leave it, the better your denim will look. The reason for this is that the indigo will have worn off in places where you make natural creases. Just by sitting down, putting your phone in and out of your pockets, your hands in your pockets. All these daily little things will make your jeans look great.

Chip Bergh, CEO and President of Levi’s 

For many, this six month approach isn’t realistic as we live and die in our favourite pair, unfortunately meaning they have to be washed before you walk out the door in them (or all of your friends will). You can wash and dry your precious denim in a few different ways depending on your jeans and preference, so read on for a few tips and tricks to keep yours looking their best.

How to Hand Wash Jeans

For something like T-shirts, where you need to wash them after each wear, hand washing isn’t really practical, unless you want to spend all day crouched over the washing basin. However for jeans, where the occasional wash will do the job, hand washing is probably the gentlest way to clean them, and is a good way to prevent them from fading. Whether you want to know how to wash blue jeans, or you need to clean your favourite white ones, the way you hand wash them is the same. For hand washing, all you really need is a bath or tub, a gentle, colour preserving washing detergent, and, if you have sensitive skin, some rubber gloves to keep your hands protected from the cleaner. The basic washing instructions are:

  1. Fill the tub or bath with cold or luke warm water. Anything too hot could compromise the fit of the jeans.
  2. Add the detergent depending on the brand instructions.
  3. Turn your jeans inside out and allow them to soak for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Rinse them off under running water to wash out the detergent.

If you’re washing jeans for the first time you might notice that the water become murky with some of the dye, however this is totally normal for the first time, and won’t leave you with faded jeans. Most brands expect you to wash your jeans at least once, so they take this into consideration when completing their dyeing process.

Lab Series Daily Moisture

How to Wash Your Jeans in the Machine

The best way to wash your jeans is by hand, but that isn’t always practical. If you’re looking up how to wash black jeans, then it’s probably best to stick to hand washing though, as anything more intensive could leave to fading, which is that much more noticeable with something as dark as black. If you’ve got a washing machine or a good laundrette there are ways to clean up your denim without causing damage to it. Here are the basic tops on how to wash your jeans in the machine:

  1. First off choose a delicate cycle to avoid any abrasive damage to your jeans. If you can, wash it on a setting as low as 30. Even if your jeans are dirty this is should do the job.
  2. Next use a mild detergent and avoid anything with bleach in.
  3. Turn your jeans inside out. This will help prevent friction that can cause your jeans to fade.
  4. If you can try and wash your jeans on their own, but if you want to mix up the load, make sure you only put clothes in in a similar colour to your jeans.

how to wash your jeans washing machine

How to Dry Clean Denim

It’s not always the most money friendly way to wash clothes, but if you’re only going to clean your jean once every six months then it’s probably possible to give your jeans the dry clean treatment. The chemicals used in dry cleaning are great at preserving the colour of your jeans, while keeping them in shape. French jean specialist A.P.C suggest this method, but only for the first time you want to wash your jeans, and recommend sticking to hand washing afterwards. So basically, dry clean jeans to make sure the dye stays in tact, and then keep them fresh with a few hand washes when they need it.

How to Sand Wash Jeans

Yep, you read that right. There is a technique to wash jeans in probably the most natural way possible, by slipping on your jeans and having a little swim in the ocean. The natural salts in the sea help cleanse your jeans and get rid of bacteria, and as the sea is usually freezing, you don’t have to worry about your denim shrinking. A lot of people leave it at that, and leave them to air dry, but other take it one step further and rub sand from the beach into their jeans, creating a natural textured look that also helps dry off your denim. It’s not the most conventional way of cleaning your jeans, but it’s a good option if you’re wondering how to wash raw denim jeans.

How to Wash Jeans Without Shrinking Them

Ever had the moment where you’ve held up a shrunken pair of jeans fresh from the wash and asked yourself, ‘how do jeans shrink so small?’ Whatever you decide on when it comes to how to wash denim, there are still a few things to keep in mind when it comes to preventing the dreaded shrinking. Whether you’re hand or machine washing your jeans it’s important to never wash them in hot water or dry them in a dryer.

Clothes are made up of small fibres, and materials like cotton are made from curled fibres. Over time they stretch out, but when they’re washed in hot water, or shoved in the tumble dryer, things change. Heat creates energy, which causes the fibres of your clothes to curl, but too much heat curls them too much, shrinking them permanently.

how to wash your jeans raw denim

How to Hang Dry Jeans

The only option for drying jeans, without causing them to shrink, is to air dry them. This ensures that the heat of a dryer doesn’t affect their form, and helps give them a fresh scent. When you hang up your jeans, try to peg them on the seam, like the waist. This will prevent lines and creases from being embedded in the material. It’s also best to avoid drying them in direct sunlight, as this can fade the denim and possibly warp the shape of them.

how to wash your jeans dry

How to Keep Jeans from Fading

Whenever you wash your jeans, however careful you are, you run the risk of fading them. Before you take the the plunge and give your jeans a good scrub, make sure you’re using a specialised detergent. Most detergents will slowly strip the colour out of your denim, but colour wash products are designed to protect garments from fading and colour bleeding, as well as giving that freshly cleaned smell and feel. Whether you’re learning how to stop black jeans from fading, then you’ll be relieved to know there’s nothing different about the way you

Brands such as Dylon also offer dyes for extreme cases of fading. If you are thinking of dying your denim to restore the colour, it’s key to follow the instructions to prevent ruining the garment, or any others it may come into contact with.

If you’re not a fan of regularly washing your jeans, then there are a few handy ways to keep your jeans smelling fresh without committing them to a full wash.

  • Suffered a spillage? Pick up an old toothbrush and and a bit of soapy water and attend the stained area only. This will remove the stain without needing to throw them in the wash.
  • Air dry them. Letting them hang out with mother nature can help naturally freshen your jeans.
  • Freeze them. Placing your jeans in the freezer can help destroy the odour causing bacteria. Just remember to place your jeans in a breathable bag, like a canvas bag, to make sure your jeans don’t get stifled.
  • Brands like Mr Black produce freshen up sprays that help help preserve your jeans and destroy bacteria.

how to wash jeans preserve

How to Soften Jeans

So it’s a pretty common tale. You grab a pair of, typically raw, jeans and find that you’re actually having trouble moving your legs. Stiff jeans are the bane of a fashionisto’s life, and despite the fact that they look great, a stylish look isn’t worth it if you can’t sit down. Luckily there are a few ways you can soften your jeans without too much trouble.

One simple way is to turn your jeans inside out, throw them in the washer with a good dose of fabric softener. You can skip the detergent as we’re not looking to wash them, just loosen them up a bit, and if want to make sure that your jeans are properly shaped to your body, try slipping them on when they’re slightly damp, allowing them to dry while you’re wearing them.

How to Loosen Jeans

Loosen – soften, they’re kind of in the same ball park, but making your jeans that little bit baggier, in order to move around more freely, requires some more work on your end. Yoga is one of those activities that you either get or you don’t, but the odd lunges and stretches are perfect at loosening out your jeans and making them that little bit more comfortable.

Your Quick Guide on How to Wash your Jeans

  • If possible, try and avoid washing your raw denim jeans altogether. This will help preserve their shape and texture.
  • When required, do a ‘spot clean’ with a small brush or a garment spray.
  • If you do wash your jeans, try to hand wash them over machine washing them, remembering to turn them inside out to prevent friction and fading.
  • Avoid tumble drying your jeans as this can lead to shrinking. Instead air dry them to preserve their shape and colour.

On That Note…

If you find the perfect fit jeans, you shouldn’t need to wash them too often to get them back into shape. Cheaper denim can tend to lose its shape after a few wears so buying a good pair of jeans will definitely be a wardrobe investment.

How often you decide to wash your denim is completely up to you but if you can hold off for at least a few weeks/months at a time, you will reap the benefits. Remember, jeans were originally made for coal miners and outdoor workers so they’re designed for a rough and ready lifestyle. If these workers could get away with not washing their jeans everyday, so can you.

Feature image from Pinterest

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