Once you’ve found the perfect pair of jeans, there’s no way you’re giving them up. Whether they’re trusty blue bootcuts or white skinnies, your jeans need proper care so they’ll look great no matter how often you wear them. You might feel a bit nervous caring for your jeans, though. After all, you’ve heard that washing denim too often can cause the color to fade. How can you ensure that your go-to pair stays clean?
Look no further than this handy denim guide. We break down everything that goes into caring for denim so you can make sure your jeans last as long as they’re in style—and a good pair never goes out of style.
Raw vs. pre-washed
Knowing the difference between raw and pre-washed will help you take better care of your denim.
Pre-washed denim: Just as the name suggests, this type of denim has been washed before you bought it. This is to help the denim maintain its original shape. With pre-washed jeans, you’ll run into fewer problems when cleaning, but it’s still a good idea to use the washing machine sparingly.
Raw denim: Darker in color than pre-washed denim, raw jeans can take months (and even years) to break in. After repeated wears, they’ll develop natural creases and snugly fit the contours of your body. This type of denim hasn’t been washed before, and may shrink slightly in water.
Avoid washing too often
Contrary to popular belief, jeans don’t need to be washed after every wear. In fact, as long as your jeans aren’t stained, you can wear them multiple times before they need to be cleaned. Generally, you should wash your denim after five wears.
Be sure to turn your jeans inside out before you throw them in the washing machine.
For blue denim: Use cold water on the gentle cycle.
For white denim: Use warm water on the same cycle and avoid bleach, which can cause your denim to turn yellow over time.
Always air dry After washing your jeans, make sure to air dry them. This will prevent the denim from shrinking and fading in color. While you’ll want to dry your blue denim away from sunlight, the reverse is preferred for your white jeans. Sunlight serves as a natural bleaching treatment so air dry your white denim out in the open.
Freeze the bacteria away
Raw denim hasn’t been exposed to water before, so soaking it can cause the material to shrink. As a cleaning workaround, you can kill any bacteria by placing your raw denim in the freezer. Follow these instructions for a crisp, clean feel to your jeans:
- Fold your jeans and place them in a large ziplock bag.
- Seal the bag and store it in the freezer overnight.
- After you’ve removed them from the freezer, let your jeans warm up a bit before you wear them—unless you like feeling chilled.
Keep in mind that the freezer treatment isn’t intended for cleaning stains. If you find that you’ve spilled something on your favorite pair, rub a small amount of water and liquid detergent onto the stain. Leave it for a few minutes, then wash it out and let your jeans air dry.
Spot clean stains
Here’s how you can remove common stains from your jeans.
- Mud and grass: Wait until the stain dries, then wipe away any excess dirt. Mix some water and soap, and use a toothbrush to scrub the cleaning solution into the stain.
- Grease and oil: Blot with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Wipe the stain with a cloth dipped in soapy water.
- Red wine: Pour a bit of white wine over the stained area and then blot with a clean cloth.
Afterward, be sure to rinse with cold water. These stains are likely to happen while you’re on the go—have a stain remover on hand so you can pre-treat right away.
Keep these DIY denim care tips in mind next time you’re cleaning your favorite pair. Taking proper care of your jeans means you can wear them as long as you’d like.
Photos: Unsplash, PDPics, Chay Talanon / Shutterstock.com