How Often Do You Really Need To Wash Your Jeans?

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
When it comes to our washing our jeans, many of us are stumped. When designer denim took over our closets some 10 or 15 years ago, we heard we were only supposed to wash them on occasion — but definitely not after every wear. Some labels cautioned us to turn them inside out before they hit the wash cycle; others warned to wash before wearing lest we be the victim of blue palms and fingertips temporarily dyed from touching the fancy denim's surface.
Since plenty has changed in the world of denim (though certainly not our adoration of it), we turned to the experts at The Laundress to get the scoop on caring for our most-worn item of clothing. Ahead, everything you need to know about keeping your denim in great shape and around longer than ever.
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So, what's the deal: Do we need to wash a new pair of jeans before first wear?
Washing newly purchased denim is always a good idea, not only for sanitary purposes, but to prevent dye transfer on clothing, accessories, yourself! If you’d prefer not to launder beforehand, steaming will help to freshen them up and make you more comfortable about wearing a freshly minted pair straight off the store's clothing rack.
Please note, however, that we always recommend laundering denim prior to making any alterations. Use hot water and a hot dryer cycle to ensure there will be no further shrinkage. And then, if you still want to get them shortened or taken in, you can do knowing they've probably already shrunk a little.
What is the proper way of washing different colors (white, black, blues, gray)?
Only launder like colors together. Always wash dark denim alone, in cold water to slow dye transfer; wash white denim in hot water to keep it looking like new. We recommend a pretreat solution to remove old and new stains — paying close attention to the hem. Machine wash to clean, soften, and preserve color with The Laundress Denim Wash. We strongly recommend avoiding the dryer altogether — line drying will prevent fading, shrinking, and extra wear and tear.
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Is it really necessary to wash our jeans inside out?
Yes! Washing denim inside out will prevent abrasion throughout the wash cycle, extending the life of color and material, especially to keep denim dark and vibrant.
What about ripped jeans that are so popular right now — is there a special way to care for those?
Ripped jeans should be cared for like a delicate item. We recommend using The Laundress Mesh Bag or similar type bag to contain items in this category.
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When machine washing, we always recommend using a mesh washing bag to protect items that are ripped, distressed, embroidered, or that contain hardware. Doing so will eliminate snagging and unwanted tears.
Is there any truth to the oft-believed idea that you don't have to wash jeans often? And, how often is often?
This idea or concept is truly a personal preference. With our clients, we’ve noticed that men are much more inclined to avoid washing, in an effort to prevent fading and protect their “perfect, worn-in” feel. While women are also concerned with color and preserving their investment, laundering becomes imperative to redeem the fit/stretch of the jeans.
If you prefer not to wash your denim regularly, we suggest a quick steam. Steaming will help to freshen denim and coupled with The Laundress Fabric Fresh, will work to eliminate odor causing bacteria. However, with the appropriate knowledge and the right care products washing regularly is ok— and is the preferred method by many!
Ultimately how you wash your denim jeans, jackets, and shirts is up to you, but as with any article of clothing, if you want to get the best and most wear out of your things, it's important to consider what special care is required or recommended.
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