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Denim Care 101

Denim Care 101

DENIM Care 101

So you’ve splurged on some premium denim that perfectly accentuates that booty (that’s the whole point of jeans, right?) and now you’re wondering how to maintain that beautiful indigo sheen of your spanking dungarees without compromising a fit that feels like a cozy bear hug around your legs.

You have heard all the crazy things: put your jeans in the freezer, they say! Never wash your clothes, they exclaim! If you’re skeptical about shoving those pantalones in with your ice cream or you’re squeamish about smelling faintly of unwashed hippie, all is not lost. If you’re careful, you can most diligently guard the shape and feel of your jeans, extend their life, and preserve the color without losing your mind or sacrificing your hygiene.

The people telling you not to wash your jeans aren’t wrong.

Okay -- maybe a tiny hygienic sacrifice, but bear with me. This doesn’t mean that you have to walk around smelling like shoe insoles. Think of it more as a getting-out-of-doing-laundry card.

Washing your jeans too often will cause the color to fade more quickly and you’ll lose that blue-bird allure. While there’s no magic number for how frequently you should cleanse your baby blues, washing after every use is too much. In fact, Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh urges denim lovers never to wash their jeans. Personally, I’m not a fan of that idea, but some denim aficionados swear by it!

A good rule of thumb is to throw them in the wash after every 5 wears or so. If your jeans are on the more rigid side (100% cotton with no Lycra), try every 10 wears.

Care in between wash cycles

You can -- and should-- gives your jeans some TLC in between washing them, especially if you’re one of those people that will go for 6 months without giving them a good washdown. If you’re serious about preserving the color of your jeans, you can try a few of the following nifty tricks:

  • Give ‘em a steam bath. Try hanging up your denim in the bathroom while you shower. The steam can freshen them up without fear of shrinkage and fading.
  • Spot clean. There are two mantras to keep in mind when spot cleaning. Firstly, less is more. Only use a tiny amount of detergent, or better yet, try a Magic Eraser. The second rule is blot, don’t scrub!
  • Freshen up. Your denim is bound to pick up some, erm, odors along the way. Commercial fabric fresheners are readily available. You could also throw together a DIY spray using your favorite essential oil. Just dilute it in water with some baking soda. Check out a recipe here

  • Okay, so how should I wash my jeans?

    When it IS time to give your blues a nice bath, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Heat is your sworn enemy! When you send your favorite pants through the wash, be certain that your machine is switched to its “cold” setting.
  • Turn them inside-out. This will better expose the “dirtier” part while protecting that sacred indigo.
  • Use white vinegar. Detergent can be harsh on your denim garments and could contribute to faster fading. Some denim junkies swear by sending the goods through the wash with a cup of vinegar. If you’re more about detergent, Woolite Darks Liquid Laundry Detergent is a popular go-to.
  • Air drying is your friend. Avoid sending your jeans through the dryer if you can help it. Allowing them to air-dry can help extend their lifespan, as the dryer heat can weaken the fabric over time. Or, tumble them on the lowest heat and take them out while they’re still slightly damp.

  • These are just a few nifty hacks for extending the life of your fav pants. Experiment and see what works best for you. If all else fails, you can follow my mom’s sage advice: Keep ‘em in a heap on the floor, wear ‘em too many days in a row, wash ‘em willy nilly and then repeat.

    Oh, and you can put your jeans in the freezer if you really want to, but according to Smithsonian, that myth is busted.



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