WHY YOU SHOULD CUT DOWN ON JEAN WASHING
Unfortunately for our wallets and our wardrobes, most jeans aren't made to withstand weekly or even monthly washing, which is why you might have found that your jeans tend to stretch and sag too quickly or just fall apart.
The first thing to know about your jeans is what quality they are.
The average pair of jeans today are made with a higher elastic content, which means more stretch in them. With regular weekly washing, you'll probably need to replace or at least slim these at the tailors within twelve months to two years. If you cut down on washing, you could very easily get three years out of them.
RAW OR SELVEDGE JEANS
This is the classic stiff denim we used to have pre-2000's, think of your dads or even your grandads trusty denim jeans. With regular weekly washing, these jeans will need replacing within 2-3 years, because the colour would have faded and they would have stretched too much. With irregular washing using some of my methods below, you should be able to get about 4-8 years out of them.
Long story short, if you refrain from washing your denim jeans often, either versions of these jeans will last much longer and you won't have to go out anytime soon and buy a new pair!
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR JEANS - DIFFERENT CLEANING METHODS I USE
You might have heard denim enthusiasts tell you, very passionately, to never wash your jeans. That's a bit yuck, we sweat, you sit on things and you might look good but no one will want to go near you if you smell like a bin. So let's debunk that 'never wash' myth and get on to the juicy washing details.
Steaming your jeans as opposed to washing them in a machine will nourish the fibres of your jeans and make them last longer and retain their shape. It also helps to prevent your jeans from losing too much colour and it gets rid of any odours they may have contracted from regular wear. The steamer is the best option for cleaning your jeans and keeping them fresh between washes. As the only time you should ever put your jeans in a washing machine should be when you have a stain on them, or if they haven't been washed for about 6 months. In between those times, a steamer (mine is Tefal and I picked it up from David Jones) will work wonderfully.
A good, gentle hand wash is always a winner for me. Fill up a bucket, tub or bath with cold water and place your jeans inside with something to weigh them down. Add a tablespoon of salt, a cup of white distilled vinegar and a tablespoon of washing detergent to help keep the dye in. On your first wash you'll have a little colour run off, so wash them by themselves to keep accidental run off on to other clothing to a minimum!
A cold, short cycle wash with a very small amount of detergent for dark colours is best. If you have coloured or dark jeans, they'll fade much faster in the machine than blue jeans. Add a tablespoon of salt and a cup of white distilled vinegar to the wash to help retain the dye. Make sure your dry all of your jeans in the shade, especially if they're a denim with a high elastane quality, the sun will eat through the elastic and make them loose. Drying them in the shade means they're likely to last longer.
The freezer method when mentioned is something that shocks people. 'You put your jeans in the freezer?! Why?!' Because it preserves the dye and gives your jeans a little refresh. I think it's fantastic as a between-washes option, but it's not effective as a complete cleaning solution. To some people; it's odd to bag up your jeans and stick them next to your frozen veggies - I can understand that. What you need to do is loosley fold your jeans up, place them inside a plastic bag or A4 zip lock bag and let them sit in the freezer overnight. Bring them out in the morning to air and your jeans will smell and feel a little more fresh.
THE NON-NEGOTIABLE RULE OF JEAN WASHING:
Never is a strong word, but never - ever, ever, ever put your jeans in the dryer. They'll shrink and you'll cry. The fabric will be damaged and I'll cry.
WHEN TO WASH YOUR DENIM JEANS:
Your jeans should only be hand or machine washed when they're visibly dirty, or they smell. Between these times the steam or freezer methods work best.
Wash your regular stretch denim jeans every two to three months and steam or freeze between washes.
RAW OR SELVAGE DENIM
For the first wash, wait about 6-8 months, the next machine or hand wash after that should be every 4-6 months.
Alarna Hope is a personal stylist and blogger based in Sydney, Australia. She loves makeover movies like Crazy, Stupid, Love and Devil Wears Prada and she's very good at talking about herself in the third person. You can find her on instagram @alarnahope or searching through clothing racks in Sydney City's shopping precinct.