7 Cleaning Tips: How to Wash and Dry Jeans & Denim
Some people swear you should only handwash your favorite pair of jeans. Others say you shouldn't wash them at all. But most of us just toss this wardrobe staple in the washing machine along with the rest of our laundry without thinking twice. So does your denim really need soap and water? Does the old tale of freezing jeans actually work? So what's the best thing to do?
Here are some simple tips that will help you learn how to wash jeans so your favorite pair looks better and lasts longer — because once you finally find the perfect pair, you really do want it to last forever.
1. Keep things gentle.
Denim may seem like a tough fabric, but that doesn’t mean you should choose a heavy duty wash cycle. Instead, opt for a delicate or gentle cycle, and use cold water to avoid shrinking or fading. Opt for a mild detergent, especially one made specifically for dark clothes if your jeans are blue or black.
2. Turn jean inside out.
Turning jeans inside out helps protect the fibers on the outside of the jeans from friction and direct exposure from detergent, which helps prevent fading. However, it’s not rare for jeans to bleed dye, especially if they’re new. Before you toss your jeans in the laundry, read the care instructions to see if you should wash them separately at first. If you must wash your jeans with other clothes, try to wash them with similarly colored jeans or clothing.
3. Don’t get spun out.
Heat can shrink, fade or yellow denim, and it can also cause damage to stretch denim fabrics that contain spandex or Lycra. The best way to dry jeans is by hanging them up to air dry. If you need to use a dryer, select a low or no heat cycle and use dryer balls to keep your jeans tumbling. Remove the jeans while they’re still slightly damp, then stretch the seams and hang them up to finish drying.
4. Make a splash.
For new or lightly soiled jeans, you can use the soak cycle on your washing machine. Let the tub fill with water then mix in a gentle detergent made for dark fabrics. Turn your jeans inside out and lay them in the water – you can fold them to fit if need be, but don’t bunch them up. Let your jeans soak for 30-45 minutes, then drain the water, refill it and let your jeans sit for 10 minutes to rinse. Repeat the rinsing steps until the water is clear. If you don’t want to use your washing machine, you can also repeat the same steps with your bathtub, kitchen sink or a large basin with a few inches of cold water.
5. Wash white jeans properly.
Unlike blue or black denim, white jeans are more likely to show stains. When it comes to washing white jeans, wash them separately or with other white clothes. Use cold water for a lightly soiled pair and warm water for more heavily soiled ones. In addition to using a gentle cycle, choose an extra rinse option to make sure that all detergent is thoroughly removed. While it seems counterintuitive, you should actually avoid using bleach – it can cause yellowing or even damage the fabric. Fabric softener should also be avoided, since it can cling to the fabric and cause a dulling effect. As with other jeans, let them air dry or put them in a low/no heat dryer cycle.
6. Prevent shrinking and bleeding.
To prevent shrinking or bleeding, only use cold water to wash your jeans, and wash them separately or with similarly colored denim. If you decide to handwash your new jeans, don’t wring them out when you finish rinsing them. Instead, fold or roll them before squeezing out the leftover water. Once they are damp, hang up your jeans to finish drying.
7. The best way to dry jeans & denim.
When it comes to drying jeans, be sure to turn your pair inside out and tumble dry them on a delicate cycle and low heat setting, unless the care label directs otherwise. Toss in a few dryer balls to help keep them tumbling, so they’ll dry more evenly. Plus, jeans will actually last longer and stay in shape better if you take them out of the dryer when they're slightly damp. Simply tug them into shape, smooth out the wrinkles, hang your jeans and let them air dry.