How and How Often Should You Really Wash Your Jeans?

how to wash jeans
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Karolina Grabowska

Many of us wear jeans every day, so it’s easy to fall into the habit of washing them too often. We’ll explain how to care for them properly and when you should wash your jeans.

Jeans can be found in almost every closet. If you wear them regularly, sooner or later they’ll be in your laundry basket. When it comes to washing jeans, many people do it way more than necessary.

Experts recommend washing jeans only about once a month, some say once every six weeks. In an interview with Fortune Magazin, Levi’s CEO declared that he had not washed his jeans for a whole year. The Swedish eco-label Nudie Jeans recommends putting its pants in the washing machine only about every six months.

The reasoning behind this: the more often you wash a pair of jeans, the faster they wear out. Fibers come loose, color fades and fabric shrinks or gives way. Washing less often increases the lifespan of jeans – which is more sustainable. It also saves water and energy, which are wasted with every wash cycle.

Ways to Keep Jeans Clean and Hygienic

If you think not washing your jeans as often is gross, here are some tips on how to keep them fresh:

  • Wash out individual stains with a brush or toothbrush and mild soap.
  • Air them out regularly by hanging them outdoors. 
  • To eliminate odors: put the jeans in a bag and pop them in the freezer overnight.

If Your Jeans Need Laundering 

laundry jeans
Washing clothes with like colors is a great way to preserve the color for longer. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Annie Spratt )

If at some point you do need to wash your jeans, there are a few things you can do to help maintain shape and color:

  • Wash a new pair before wearing them. This removes any chemical residues created during the manufacturing process. Since every wash wears out a pair of jeans, you should look for jeans made in an ecological (and ethical) way from the very beginning to avoid harmful substances.
  • To prevent discoloration, put your pants in a 1:1 water-vinegar bath before tossing them in the washing machine. (Read more about Washing Clothes With Vinegar here)
  • Pay attention to the care instructions written on the washing label inside your pants.
  • Empty your pockets and turn them inside out before washing as this will preserve the surface.
  • Wash your jeans with similar colors.

How to Properly Wash Jeans

washing clothes with vinegar
You really don’t need to wash your jeans that often. When you do, choose low temperatures and mild detergents. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Wokandapix)
  • Right temperature: Since jeans are a very sturdy fabric, you can theoretically wash them on warm. However, you should only do this if your jeans are very dirty because the color suffers under the high temperatures. It’s better to wash on cold using a delicate or color cycle. 
  • Avoid high spin cycles: To avoid additional strain on the fabric, make sure you select a low or no spin cycle.
  • Choosing the right detergent: Color and mild detergents are best. Avoid using heavy-duty detergents, as many of them contain bleach which causes jeans to lose their color. The washing process is more sustainable if you choose an organic washing powder or even make your own detergent.
  • Don’t use fabric softener: it softens the fibers of the jeans and they break down faster. In general, you should not use fabric softeners too often for any of your laundry.

Post-Washing Care

how often should you wash jeans
To get the most out of your pair of jeans, hang them outdoors to dry – weather permitting of course. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Pexels )
  • Avoid the dryer: clothes driers harm the denim as well as the environment because they consume a lot of electricity. While air-drying is best, avoid placing them in direct sunlight if you don’t want the color to fade.
  • Ironing isn’t necessary: shake your jeans out well after washing them and hang them up. Any wrinkles that remain will disappear when you start to wear them. If you do want to iron your jeans, turn them inside out.

This article has been translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Jeans waschen: So bleiben Farbe und Form erhalten

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