When we buy our jeans from the store, we try them on, twirl around in them, check our backsides, do the sit test and finally, hopefully, make a decision that they’re the winning pair. With all that fuss, only months later, you’ve got saggy jeans that look years old, have faded significantly and you don’t know why, but I do.
If you walked into a store today to buy yourself a pair of jeans, you’d go in looking for a pair that fit well, felt comfortable and didn’t cost you an arm and a leg because you’d probably have to replace them in a years time. Am I right?
Most jeans you can find in the average shop has a high elastic content in them so that they’re more comfortable from the get-go. They’re a little different to the jeans you had growing up that you had to wear in, they certainly haven’t lasted as long as your parents and grandparents jeans did – but, you remind yourself, quality was different back then – now everything is mass-produced!
I can understand why you think this might be the reason for your jeans not lasting very long, much of what we wear is mass produced and designed for fast replacement – but our jeans aren’t getting the credit they deserve. The issue isn’t always the quality of the jeans themselves, it’s the way we wash our jeans and care for them when we get them home that often cuts their life down significantly.
Today I wanted to share with you a few methods I use to keep my jeans fresh and cared for so that they last years, fitting like a dream, rather than months. But first, there are a few commonly asked questions I get here on the blog and from clients that I want to answer.
Should you wash your jeans?
Yes, you should, but there are multiple ways of cleaning them that are different to how you would clean other garments in your wardrobe.
How often should you wash your jeans?
That all depends on what type of denim you’ve gotten your hands on. There’s dry denim aka raw denim and pre-washed denim. Most of what you will find in stores like Just Jeans, General Pants and even other stores like Country Road, Witchery and Saba is pre-washed denim. Stores like Nudie Jeans (the kingdom of amazing denim) offer both pre-washed and dry denim.
When To Wash Dry Denim Jeans:
When you first buy your dry denim jeans, you should wear them in for at least 5-6 months before washing them. I know, I know. Sounds pretty gross right? You don’t want to smell like a garbage bin for the sake of a pair of jeans – I get it!
If you can refrain from washing your jeans in the first 5-6 months, and rely on my methods in this blog post to keep them fresh and clean between washes, you won’t smell like a garbage bin, in fact, you’ll smell like sunshine. After your initial wear in phase you can wash them when you absolutely have to and use my other cleaning methods below.
When to wash pre-washed denim jeans:
Your pre-washed jeans which you can pick up in most stores can be washed more regularly than your dry-denims. You don’t have to wear them in as much as dry denim jeans and they can be washed once every five wears.
What’s the difference between raw denim, dry denim and pre-washed denim?
Raw denim and dry denim are names used interchangeably as they both mean the same thing. Dry denim is stiff and requires the owner to wear in their jeans so that it moulds to their shape. This is denim that hasn’t been pre-washed, it’s effectively come straight from the mill to the store where you try them on.
Pre-washed denim is softer and is laundered and treated before you buy it, so that it looks as aged and worn in as dry denim does when it’s been worn in.
HOW TO WASH DENIM JEANS | HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR JEANS
METHOD 1: MACHINE WASH
Your jeans, regardless of if they’re dry denim (aka raw denim) or pre-washed denim can be washed in a washing machine:
- Set your machine to cold wash, this is around 30 degrees.
- Avoid using powders and detergents that have bleach in them as this will fade your jeans.
- Wash them, inside out, by themselves on a short cycle.
- Don’t tumble dry your jeans, hang them to dry, inside out, in the sun.
METHOD 2: A QUICK HANDWASH FOR YOUR JEANS
Nothing beats a handwash when it comes to caring for your jeans, this is a great way to wash your jeans without damaging them with harsh movement and it will also cut down on the chances of your denim ripping in high wear areas like the crotch.
- Use cold water in a tub or deep sink.
- Lay your jeans, inside out, in the water with a bleach-free washing solution.
- Add a tablespoon of vinegar, swish your hands around in the tub and ensure the jeans are completely covered.
- Soak them for 15 minutes and dry them inside out in the sun.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR JEANS IN BETWEEN WASHES
I’m regularly convincing myself that I should start a cult because I am constantly converting people from non-steamer users to STEAMER OBSESSED people. A great way to care for your jeans between washes is to steam them, this also helps to get any wrinkles that might have formed around the knee and crotch area out.
I have a stand-alone steamer at home but use handheld versions on photo shoots and they work a charm. I use my steamer every day – I don’t even iron my other clothing anymore, it’s all steamed. If you don’t have a steamer, you can also hang the jeans by their legs while you’re having a hot shower and let the steam remove the wrinkles.
This will freshen up their smell and make them look cleaner too.
WHAT IF THERE’S A STAIN?
Hold up, before you get too excited about cutting down the laundry load, if you happen to spill a little lunch or coffee on your jeans -that’s when they call for cleaning- but not the regular type!
Use a natural stain remover, I use Murchison Humes Garment Groom when I’ve been too energetic with my foot and gotten it all over me. It’s safe to use on denim and won’t harm the cotton or dye. You can also use a damp cloth to dab the stain.
WHEN TRAVELLING WITH JEANS – FREEZE THEM
There’s a lot of uncertainty out there about whether or not you should rely on freezing to clean your jeans. Just last week a shop assistant was telling me to never freeze my jeans, while I’ve got designers who swear by it. It’s a hung jury but in my opinion, if you’re stuck in a bind and travelling and your jeans are getting a little funky, find a large ziplock or plastic bag, loosely fold your jeans into them and put them in the freezer. Let them sit overnight and the cold temperature will temporarily kill any bacteria and help remove the smell.
As always, before assuming you’re ready to throw your jeans in the wash, check the inside tag of them for care instructions. Much of the time they ask you not to bleach, tumble dry, dry clean (more on that here) or hot wash them. This leaves you to cold wash them and dry them on the line.