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How to wash jeans: A complete guide

We all have that one pair of jeans: the one that fits just right, goes with everything, and can be worn day or night. Jean denim is a durable, versatile material that’s built to last. However, without the proper care, our favorite pair of jeans can fade and shrink, and the material can fray. When it comes to caring for jeans, less is more. Here, we’ll go over how to wash denim jeans so you and your favorite pair of jeans stay together for years to come.

Are you supposed to wash jeans?

To keep your fabric fresh, jeans should be washed after a few wears. However, it is up to you whether you want to gently handwash the item, spot clean, or machine wash. The appropriate lauindry care will differ garment to garment, so always be sure to check the label.

How often should you wash jeans?

Jeans shouldn’t be washed after every wear. The less you wash your jeans, the longer they will last. Often, spot cleaning your jeans or washing them by hand is enough. Of course, if your jeans are dirty from working all day outside, feel free to throw them in the washing machine. If your jeans aren’t visibly dirty or smelly, however, wear them a few more times before washing them. Wash your jeans every 5-10 wears or so, airing them out between wears. It’s better for the environment and better for your favorite jeans too!

Washing jeans for the first time

Many jeans manufacturers recommend that you wash jeans separately for the first few times. That means before the first time you wear them and for the next few washes afterward. This is because some of the dye will bleed out of the jeans and stain any other clothes that are in the wash with them. As always, check the care label on your jeans. Dye bleeding is more of a problem for some jeans than for others.

Spot cleaning your jeans

Spot cleaning is the best way to care for your jeans in between washes. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Immediately wipe up any small spills that get on your jeans.
  2. Working from the inside of your jeans, dab the spot with a damp cloth
  3. Put a clean cloth on the outside to absorb the stain while you blot from the inside.

How to wash jeans by hand

Despite the extra effort, some people prefer to wash jeans by hand in order to be gentle to the fabric.  Here’s a common method for hand-washing jeans or denim:

  1. Fill a tub with cold water. Due to the bulkiness of jeans, a bathtub is usually the easiest place to hand wash them.
  2. Mix in detergent. A small amount of detergent goes a long way.
  3. Turn the jeans inside out and lay them flat in the tub. Try not to bunch or wrinkle them and make sure they are fully submerged in water.
  4. Agitate the jeans in the water, then let them sit for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Drain the tub and rinse. Run the jeans under water until the water is clear.
  6. Squeeze out excess water by rolling the jeans up and pressing firmly. Don’t wring or twist them, as doing so can damage and break down the cotton fibers.
  7. Hang them to dry.

How to wash jeans in the washing machine

Every so often, your jeans will need a deeper clean in the washing machine. Turning your jeans inside out will prevent fading and will clean the part of the garment that’s actually in contact with your skin better.

  1. Sort your laundry into lights and darks. You can wash most jeans with other dark-colored clothes, though some manufacturers will recommend washing jeans separately. Follow the care instructions on your jeans. Never wash jeans with whites or other light colors.
  2. Turn them inside out and zip up any zippers, which can snag onto other clothes. Turning them inside out helps preserve the jeans themselves by keeping the outside from rubbing against the machine agitator and other clothes in the wash.
  3. Use the gentlest cycle on your washing machine this may be called delicate, gentle or hand wash, depending on your washing machine model and manufacturer. Washing your jeans on a gentle setting reduces the wear on the fabric and helps them keep their great look.
  4. Use cold or lukewarm water. Hot water can cause jeans to fade (especially darker jeans) and shrink. Besides, all Persil® ProClean® get your clothes squeaky clean even in cold temperatures.
  5. Remove from the washing machine as soon as the cycle has ended. Clothes left in the washing machine for too long can start smelling musty and may need to be washed again.

Drying your jeans after washing

This is where things can go wrong after washing denim jeans. Most manufacturers will recommend steering clear of the tumble dryer and line drying your jeans after washing them instead. This helps prevent fading, shrinkage, and other damage that can happen in a tumble dryer.

To line dry your jeans, take your jeans out of the washer as soon as possible (or out of the tub, if hand washing). To avoid wrinkles and creases, fold your jeans at the knee and smooth them out as you place them on a hanger or rack to dry (hanging them over your shower curtain can work as well).

You can, of course, dry your jeans in the dryer. Especially if your jeans stretched out during wear, throwing them in the dryer for a few minutes will help them regain their shape. Just don’t dry them for too long or at too high of a temperature. Choose a more delicate dryer cycle and low heat to reduce any potential damage that a dryer may cause to your jeans.

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