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How to wash your jeans
· · 1 comment

How to wash your jeans

· · 1 comment

As someone who's worked in fashion for almost 20 years, I get asked a lot about the proper way to launder and take care of your clothes, particularly denim. When you buy a pair of nice jeans, it's usually because you love the wash (and fit!). The garment goes through quite a few processes to become the jeans you know and love so you should take the time and effort to preserve their unique features.

You've probably received a lot of washing instructions from other sources: the care label, mr. Google or a friend who works in retail. You may have heard "don't wash your jeans," "freeze your jeans" or maybe even "wash them weekly." Let's get to the bottom of all this and see what method is really the best way to maintain your favourite jeans.

Never wash your jeans: A lot of denim-heads never wash their jeans because they believe the laundering process and detergent will break down the denim and cause the dye to fade. The fact that that the buildup of dirt, skin, your natural body oils, and environmental grime will also cause the material to break down is usually left out of the equation. So go ahead and wash your jeans because you'll probably do them more good then bad.

Now to tackle the most interesting of "denim washing urban myths" and that is the use of the freezer to "destroy" the bacteria and germs residing in your jeans. Sounds like science fiction to me...

Freezing your jeans: Take the idea of freezing your jeans and throw it out the myth window. Cold temperatures DO NOT and I repeat do not kill all bacterias. You are literally just freezing most the bacteria and when you take them out and they begin to warm that same bacteria will thaw out and continue to be active. You may be slowing down the rapidly producing bacteria and killing some of it, but it is impossible to kill the majority of the bacteria this way. If you freeze your jeans in a plastic sealed bag and thaw them in that same bag all the bacteria contents will be just about the same as before you froze them. If you do not put your jeans in a bag while in the freezer, you are inviting whatever bacteria is already actively airborne in your freezer onto your jeans. 

If you want to know when to wash them, it'll depend on how worn they are and what you've been doing in them. If they've stretched out, are sagging at the knees or smell, they're due for a cleaning. Just remember that most dirt (skin, body oil, sweat, etc) is invisible so plan to wash your jeans every 5-10 wearings.

Wash your jeans: While I wouldn't wash them weekly (unless you work a dirty job), I do feel that washing your jeans is the way to go, based on the 5-10 wearings rule. There are other rules to follow too as you need to take care of your jeans to ensure they last. Always turn your jeans inside out before washing them. This will help protect the colour of the wash as allow the dirtiest part of the jeans, the inside, to get more exposure to water and detergent. A helpful tool for dark jeans: use a detergent designed for dark clothing and it will also help to preserve the color and prevent fading.

Jeans can also be hand washed, which will help to cut back on wear and tear as it's much gentler on the fibers. The bathtub or a kitchen sink is probably the best place for this operation because of how bulky jeans are. This method uses cold water and a small amount of detergent. Submerge the jeans fully, allow them to soak for 15-30 minutes, and then rinse well. In order to make sure the soap is completely rinsed off, doing a triple rinse by draining the wash water, refilling and draining the tub twice with clean water, and ending with one last rinse under the tap works best. Once the jeans are rinsed, roll them up and press firmly on them to release water but don't wring them, which will twist and break down the fibers. Then lay them flat or hang them to air dry.

If you want to know when to wash them, it'll depend on how worn they are and what you've been doing in them. If they've stretched out, are sagging at the knees or smell, they're due for a cleaning. Just remember that most dirt (skin, body oil, sweat, etc) is invisible so plan to wash your jeans every 5-10 wearings.

Your denim mortal enemy, the dryer: Washing your jeans might be ok but when it comes to throwing them in the dryer, you may want to opt out. In the case of your bang-around jeans, go ahead and dry them. But pricier pairs, especially very dark jeans, are not going to love a high heat-drying experience.

Go ahead and use the medium heat setting for regular old jeans, or for jeans that you want to shrink up a bit to counteract the stretching that happens during regular wear. If you want to avoid shrinkage, or prevent fading, use a low heat setting or air dry by hanging or laying flat. Those who can afford it (or who don't have a dryer), sometimes send their denim to the dry cleaner to help preserve the color.

Last but not least (and probably my most used option) is refreshing your jeans. It's great way to make sure that your denim is fresh and can help you hit that 10th time wearing them out.

Refresh your jeans: There are a lot of reasons you might want to refresh a pair of jeans in between washings. You can buy a commercial fabric refresher or go the "au naturel" route DIY. Just mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 2 cups of water and add 5-10 drops of essenial oil (optional). Just load it into a mister and refresh those puppies. Other options are using white vinegar or vodka and using that as a deodorizer. Just lightly mist your jeans and let them air dry.

 

It's also not a bad idea to hang previously worn jeans that you intend to wear again on a pant hanger in a place with good breeze or circulation—near a window or fan would be great—to help them air out between wearings.

Who knew there were so many words to write about washing your jeans. Don't even get me started on washing t-shirts. That's for another day.

Let me know your thought about these washing suggestions and happy washing!