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What’s the Best Way to Wash Jeans?

A good pair of jeans can go a long way. If you want your favorite pair of jeans to have a long and full lifespan, here are tips on the best way to wash them.

A close look at a pair of jeans inside the washing machine.

Washing cotton t-shirts, socks, and even underwear are pretty straightforward. However, jeans are made out of denim, a material that a lot of us don’t know how to work with. So, if you’ve ever wondered what the best way–or even just the right way–of washing your jeans is, you’re definitely not the only one.

Below, we’ve written out step-by-step instructions on the best ways to wash your favorite pair of jeans. Not only that, but we’ve also detailed the best way to dry your jeans, as well as how often all of this should be happening in the first place.

Avoiding Damage

Ever noticed that your jeans stop looking the way they used to after a few wears? Sometimes, you put on a pair of jeans and its color is suddenly much lighter than it once was.

Even your darkest pairs of jeans can fade lighter, totally changing the look of these jeans. On the same note, your jeans can start to feel different after a few wears, too. The material seems to fade quite quickly, and your jeans just aren’t that comfortable.

If you’ve noticed any of this happening to your jeans, you’re probably washing your jeans improperly. When you take the time to wash your jeans with care and know exactly what to avoid during washing and drying, your jeans aren’t going to degrade nearly as quickly. They’ll stay looking brand-new, beautiful, and feeling just as comfortable as the day you took them off the shelves.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Understanding the right way to wash your jeans is crucial in getting the most wear out of them. The more improperly wash your jeans, the more you’re going to damage the material and wear them out.

Old, worn-out jeans are easy to spot, too: they’re not nearly as bright blue as they once were. Plus, they probably won’t fit as well, either. Here are the three easy steps to take to wash your jeans properly.

A bottle of liquid detergent being poured onto a measuring cup.

Step 1.

First, you always want to ensure that you have the right detergent for your jeans. You don’t want to use just any ol’ detergent, as this can contribute to the degradation of your pants. We always suggest using a detergent that is specifically meant for darker clothing. These detergents aren’t going to contain bleach, which is also a killer in the appearance of your jeans.

If you’re worried about not using the right detergent, you can choose to go all-natural. Instead of detergent, try half a cup of distilled white wine vinegar. This can clean your jeans just as effectively as name-brand detergents, but you don’t have to deal with tricky chemicals or things of the like. White wine vinegar might be stinky at first, but once it goes through the wash cycle of your washing machine, your clothes will smell better than ever, and jeans will stay preserved.

Colavita Prosecco White Wine Vinegar, Special, 34 Ounce

After choosing your detergent, take the time to zip up your jeans and turn them inside out. It is the inside of the jeans that touch your skin and get exposed to sweat and other bacteria. By turning it inside out, this part of the jeans is cleaned well and all of the dye on the denim stays protected. This is a small step in washing your jeans, but turning them inside out is integral in keeping them looking and feeling their best.

Step 2.

After you’ve zipped up your jeans and turned all of them inside out, it’s time to gather them up with other, similar clothing items. You cannot wash your jeans with other, lighter items that don’t have materials similar to your jeans.

When you do this, your other clothing and your jeans are in jeopardy of getting ruined. Dark colors like blacks, grays, and blues are ideal within this load. Black t-shirts and black pants are fine, and so are darker socks and hoodies. As long as you’re washing them with clothes that aren’t completely opposite from your jeans, you should be good to go.

It may seem smart to wash all of your dirty jeans at once, as they’re all the same material. However, jeans are very heavy and even heavier when they absorb water. With the amount of water that denim absorbs, you don’t want to risk throwing a bunch of other jeans in there as well.

Your load will become way too heavy and your jeans will absorb way too much water. It’s just a frustrating situation you should always try to avoid. Wash one pair of jeans with each dark-wash load to help keep your jeans feeling the way they did when you first bought them.

Step 3.

Finally, you want to ensure that you’re washing your jeans–and other dark-washed clothing–on only the most gentle wash cycle possible. Many washing machines have “gentle” or “delicate” sections that are meant for clothing that shouldn’t be tampered with much. Using these settings helps to ensure that all cycles of your washing machine are gentle enough to handle your jeans without damaging their materials or their dyes.

The gentle wash cycle on your jeans is integral in preserving your jeans. While you can safely wash your other clothing in non-gentle settings without worry, your jeans simply require a bit more care than other pieces. If your washing machine doesn’t have a gentle setting, you may want to wash your jeans by hand. Washing jeans by hand can help ensure that they are being treated gently and with the care they need. It takes a bit more time, but it is more than worth it to keep your favorite pair of jeans looking brand-new.

Best Way to Dry Your Jeans

Pairs of inside-out jeans that are hanging on a clothes line.

Air Dry

Air drying your jeans is often the best way to do so. When you air-dry your jeans, there is a much lower chance of them becoming ruined during the drying process.

You can either choose to hang your jeans up on a clothesline or a shower rod if you don’t have a clothesline. Take your jeans and hang them up, ensuring the clips aren’t wrinkling the jeans too much. Or, you can just drape the jeans right over the rod for easy drying. Regardless, leave your jeans hanging up overnight.

TEECK Shower Curtain Rod, 40-73 inch Adjustable Tension Spring, Shower Curtain Rod Tension, Premium 304 Stainless Steel, Anti-Slip, No Drilling, No Rust, Never Collapse, for Bathroom, Easy to use

The next morning, take your jeans down. If they aren’t entirely dry, that’s fine! Keeping the jeans from drying all the way prevents the fabric from getting damaged. After you’ve air-dried your jeans, we suggest putting them on.

When they are dried this way, your jeans can sometimes feel a little tight. Again, they’ll probably be a bit damp, and while this isn’t the most comfortable, it’s the best way to get the fabric feels like it should again.

After you’ve loosened them up just a bit, feel free to take them off. Now, you can fold them up and put them away for the next time you’re ready to wear them. They’ll be perfectly clean, comfortable, and preserved.

Machine Dry

Sometimes, it is just easier for us to rely on our machines to get our jeans dry. To do this, you want to ensure that you’re drying your jeans with other dark clothes, just like how you washed them.

Or, you can even wash your jeans totally on their own if you’d prefer. Then, depending on your machine’s setting, you probably want to set your temperature to low heat. This will take longer for your jeans to dry, but it helps protect their materials and dye. It’s important to note that the thicker the fabric you have, the longer it is going to take to dry.

Nearly the end of your dryer’s cycle, start checking your jeans occasionally. Just like when you air-dry them, you want to ensure they’re still a little bit damp by the time you remove them. They should never be over-dried, as that will damage the dye and even potentially shrink the fabric. Take them out of the dryer when your jeans are still slightly damp and lay them flat out on a towel.

Amazon Brand – Rivet HygroCotton Hand Towel Set - Pack of 2, Ocean

Laying your jeans on a towel helps to soak up the rest of the moisture in the jeans but in a gentle fashion. For quicker drying, you can place yet another towel on top of the jeans, pressing the towels occasionally. Once they’re totally dry, it’s time to wear them.

At the end of the day, regardless of if you choose to air dry your jeans or machine dry is totally up to you. Both of these methods are just as effective as the other; it just depends on your personal preference.

How Often to Wash

We know, we know: washing and drying your jeans now sounds like a total pain. Luckily, your jeans don’t have to be washed in the same way that your shirts or underwear do.

While these items of clothing must be washed every time you wear them, your jeans definitely don’t. Their thick materials block out a lot of regular bacteria, and you often don’t work up a sweat while in your jeans.

If you’re someone who is more active than the everyday person like if you’re in manual labor or something similar, you can get away with washing your jeans about every three wears. But, if you’re someone who works a desk job and doesn’t do a lot of moving around on a daily basis, you can get about ten wears of your jeans before washing them.

So, you can easily go between three to ten good wears of your favorite pair of jeans. Then, you’re welcome to go through the careful washing and drying process.

A pair of jeans being washed in the washing machine.

Keeping Your Jeans Clean

All in all, keeping your jeans clean is easier than you may think. While you do have to be a little bit more careful when washing jeans than other clothes, they’re still easy to handle and preserve.

Don’t let your favorite pair of jeans get ruined just through improper washing and drying. Instead, be careful, pay attention to what you’re washing them with, and handle them while damp. When you do all this, your jeans will stay looking brand-new every time you wash them.

For more advice on clothing, styles, and everything else you want to know about fashion, check out what else ThreadCurve has to offer.