Jeans are a staple of every wardrobe: they’re durable, comfortable, and they can be a part of almost any casual outfit. When properly cared for, they can last for many years without wearing out or losing their color. Here are seven tips for washing and drying your jeans to ensure they have the longest lifespan possible.
Wash jeans every 5-10 uses. If you largely wear jeans during sedentary activities or social gatherings, you can go longer between washes. However, if you wear your jeans in hot or humid weather, or during strenuous activities (such as landscaping or cleaning up the yard), you will need to wash them more often. Additionally, you should always wash jeans right away if they begin to have an odor or become visibly dirty.
Turn jeans inside out before placing them in the washer. This ensures that the part that has the most contact with your skin—and therefore dirt, oil, and sweat—has the most exposure to soapy water, and the side with the most blue dye as the least exposure. It may seem like an inconvenience to stop to turn them inside out every time, but this simple step helps the color of your jeans last longer without fading.
Zip up your jeans completely before putting them in the washer. This prevents the zipper’s teeth from tearing or fraying the fabric. You should also button them to ensure the zipper doesn’t come undone while the washer is running.
Use cold water. High temperatures can damage lycra and spandex, materials commonly used in stretch jeans. Hot water can also cause colors to fade more quickly. It is best to wash jeans in cold, or at least lukewarm, water at all times.
Use a Delicate cycle. Although denim is regarded as a sturdy fabric, it is best to wash it using the machine’s “Delicate” cycle to ensure your jeans last long, retain their color, and hold their shape. Keep in mind that denim typically shrinks after the first wash or two, but it should stay the same from then on.
Air dry jeans rather than putting them in a dryer. Like wool sweaters, heat causes jeans to shrink significantly. You should put them on a hanger or dry rack in a well-ventilated area instead of putting them in a dryer. If you must put them in a dryer, use a “no-heat” setting. Even a low-heat setting like permanent press can cause jeans to shrink enough to become unwearable.
Wash jeans with like colors. You may be nervous about washing new jeans with other clothes, but it is safe to wash them with similar colors, such as black or dark blue. However, be careful not to wash them with clothes or items that will shed lint, such as towels or sweaters.
Use a clip to keep fraying edges or holes from worsening. If your jeans have holes, rips, or frayed areas—whether from wear or a fashion choice— a washing machine will make them worse. Fortunately, there’s a simple trick you can use to avoid taking a trip to the tailor before washing them. Use a clip to hold the edges together. Sock clips, created to keep matching socks together in the washing machine, will do the job well. In contrast, clothespins will come off in the wash cycle, so you should not use these to prevent tears from growing.