Jeans are the heart and soul of your wardrobe. They’re versatile, comfortable, and durable. But they get dirty just like the rest of your clothes—and that means they need an occasional trip to the washing machine.
Most jeans only need to be washed every 4-5 wears, and some denim experts say you only need to wash jeans every other month (unless they’re obviously dirty, smelly, or stained ). In fact, washing your jeans less often can help the denim last longer and look new for years.
Nevertheless, you’ll need to wash your jeans at some point, and it’s essential to follow the proper protocol. Knowing how to properly wash your jeans doesn’t just make them look (and smell) clean—it maintains the integrity of the denim.
In this article, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to wash and dry jeans the right way.
Pro tip: Always read the care label on your jeans before washing them.
1. Turn Your Jeans Inside Out
Always turn your jeans inside out before putting them in the washer. This protects the outside fibers of the denim from agitation during the wash cycle, which helps maintain their color and prevent fading.
Turning your jeans inside out also helps preserve the zipper, buttons, studs, and embroidery from agitation.
2. Choose the Delicate Cycle On Your Washer
When you run a wash cycle with jeans, select the delicate or gentle cycle on your machine. This minimizes the amount of agitation, which protects the denim fibers, preserves their color, and prevents excessive wear and tear.
3. Set the Water Temperature to Cold
Jeans (and all denim) should be washed with cool or cold water . This is essential to prevent the dye in your denim from bleeding or fading. Cold water also prevents your jeans from shrinking and preserves their natural structure.
Bonus: Doing laundry with cold water is more eco-friendly and can even lower your energy bill.
4. Use a Gentle Laundry Detergent
The best detergent for washing jeans is a mild, enzyme-based laundry pod with no artificial dyes. (You don’t need a specialty denim detergent). Just place a laundry pod in the back bottom of the wash drum, then toss your jeans in and let it work its magic.
Washing jeans with liquid detergent can increase the risk of stains and detergent buildup, which may appear as white streaks. Laundry pods , on the other hand, dissolve when they’re submerged in water, ensuring the detergent disperses evenly during the wash cycle.
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5. Air Dry Your Jeans
Once your jeans are clean, give them a quick shake to remove any creases, then hang them in a well-ventilated area on a drying rack. In addition to preventing shrinkage, air drying will help your denim last longer and maintain its shape.
If your jeans are super-stiff after you air dry them, toss them in the dryer for about 10 minutes on a no-heat setting with a couple of wool dryer balls .
Common Questions About Washing Jeans
Now that you know how to wash your jeans the right way, let’s cover some questions.
Can You Wash Jeans With Other Clothes?
Ideally, you should wash jeans by themselves, or with other similarly-colored jeans. This eliminates the risk of dye transfer onto your other items.
If a dedicated wash cycle for a pair of jeans isn’t an option, at least wash them with similarly-colored clothes, and make sure you use cold water, mild detergent, and a gentle cycle.
How Often Should You Wash Jeans?
Jeans only need to be washed every 4-5 wears, or every couple of months—whichever comes first. The exception is if your jeans are stained or they have a funky smell.
It might seem weird to not wash your jeans as often as other clothes. But minimizing the amount of wash cycles can maximize the lifespan of your denim.
Is It Better to Hand-Wash Jeans?
Although some people prefer hand-washing their jeans to protect the denim from the washing machine, it's not mandatory. Hand washing might be necessary for certain jeans, especially those with numerous embellishments or delicate decorations. However, for the majority of jeans, machine washing on a gentle cycle is perfectly fine.
Can You Use Fabric Softener On Jeans?
It’s best to avoid using fabric softener on jeans and other denim clothing. Denim has a sturdy and rugged texture, which is part of its appeal. Fabric softeners coat those fibers, making the denim feel softer but also potentially diminishing its original texture and durability.
Your Denim Deserves Laundry Sauce
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