How to wash jeans

One of the most common questions after getting a new pair of jeans is whether you should wash them before wearing. The answer is YES, with the exception of raw denim. Washing jeans before wearing them the first time helps to prevent dyes from bleeding onto your skin and other clothes. 

We advise washing jeans as seldom as possible to maintain fit, shape and color. Plan to wash your denim no more than once or twice a month, or after five to 10 wears. Use a mild detergent with cold water on a gentle cycle for blue jeans, or warm water on the same cycle for white denim. If you have a front-loading washer…you’re in luck. These washers are even more gentle on your jeans. Do not use hot water to wash your jeans, as the fibers may shrink. 

Hand washing

Our preferred method for cleaning denim is hand washing in the tub using cold water and a mild detergent. Denim is a sturdy, absorbent, and forgiving material, but it loses integrity with every cleaning. Hand washing is the gentlest way to wash your jeans and keep them in good condition over time. Stay away from anything that contains bleach, since this can damage the fabric and even cause white denim to yellow over time.

Follow these simple steps to hand wash your jeans:

  1. Fill your bathtub or sink with cold or lukewarm water, and add a teaspoon of gentle detergent.
  2. Allow jeans to soak for 45 minutes, scrubbing initially to remove any dirt or stains that have built up over time.
  3. Rinse with cold water.
  4. Lay them flat to dry.    

 

machine washing

The safest way to machine wash denim is to launder it inside out on a short, gentle cycle. Aside from hand washing, washing jeans on gentle is the best way to preserve their original color and appearance for as long as possible. Always wash your jeans with cold water, unless you're washing white denim, in which case you can use warm water on the same short, gentle cycle.

Don't ever use high heat to wash or dry denim unless you're actively trying to shrink your jeans.

 

Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning your denim can actually diminish the overall look of your jeans by creating an inconsistent wear pattern and uneven appearance. Instead, our denim experts recommend leaving small stains to fade on their own, as they typically improve over time with regular wear. For larger stains, hand wash or machine wash as usual on a short, gentle cycle.

 

Dry cleaning

Dry cleaning your denim is not usually recommended, but if the care instructions include dry cleaning as an option or requirement, do so sparingly. To preserve your denim, only wash or dry clean as needed. 

 

Tips to control fading or bleeding

To minimize fading, we suggest washing jeans inside out. This is especially important when cleaning new or darker dye jeans, such as indigo or black denim. Wash your jeans in cold water with other dark colors by hand, or select a gentle cycle that will help preserve the original color of your denim for the long haul.

Our tried and true trick to reduce bleeding: Add a half cup of white vinegar to the water the first time you wash a dark pair of jeans to help set the dye. The vinegar odor will dissipate after your jeans dry.