Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Don’t Ruin Your Favourite Pair of Jeans With a Wash Gone Wrong

Adriana Aziz
November 27, 2022
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how to wash jeans custom graphic

Originally created in 1873, the blue jeans we know today were manufactured for the purpose of being hardy workwear for miners, farmers, and factory workers. Owing to the sturdy nature of denim, jeans proved to be useful for workers in these industries and from there, they began gaining popularity.

Being a versatile, and comfortable piece of clothing at the same time, it wasn't long before the garment was exported and replicated. Today, jeans can be found almost anywhere in the world, and have more than proven to be a timeless piece of fashion as well. While the denim fabric itself is very durable, the colour fastness of dyed denim isn't as much. Of course, whether this is favourable or not, depends on whether you prefer your jeans to fade quickly, or retain their original colour for as long as possible.

With that in mind, there are a few things to know about cleaning or washing your jeans in order to protect them from damage and wear and tear caused by machine-washing over time. This includes taking measures to address colour fastness when washing, especially if it is a new pair of jeans. To learn all this and more, read on.

How Often Should You Wash Your Jeans?

dirty crumbled blue jeans in a front loader washing machine

One very important aspect of denim is its dyeing process. Most pairs of jeans are coloured with a process called ring-dyeing. This is a process by which the dye sits on the surface of the yarn of the fabric, covering it completely. The problem here is that if the fabric experiences a lot of wear, the dye can get rubbed off the surface of the fabric, and expose the white yarn underneath.

This means that how often you wash your jeans will directly affect how soon the fabric will fade. By that principle, washing your jeans less often, helps preserve the colour. With that said, if you're working in industrial jobs like landscaping and construction, washing them often is a good idea since they'll get dirty very quickly. On the other hand, if you are treating a pair of jeans as casual wear, there is no need to wash them after one or two uses, unless necessary (stained, or otherwise).

IMPORTANT: Never use hot water to wash denim. This creates the risk of shrinking the fabric, and can even make the colour run faster in washes. In the same breath, keep in mind to never use harsh or bleach-based detergents because they will damage the colour much faster.

The Safest and Most Effective Way to Wash Jeans

close up of jeans being washed in a half full front loader washing machine

With all of that out of the way, always remember that before you wash any type of clothing or fabric, be sure to check the cleaning symbols on the care label. Following those symbols/instructions helps to preserve the fabric longer. Besides that, the following guide should help you carefully wash your jeans without risking its construction and colour in the process.

How to Wash New Jeans for the First Time

If it's a new pair of jeans you're working with, it's always a good idea to soak the jeans before using them. This helps get rid of some of the starch, making them a little softer while also ensuring that they last longer. To do this, follow the steps below:

  • Begin by filling a tub with cold water, and mix in a gentle liquid detergent for dark fabrics. 
  • Take the jeans, turn them inside out, and place them into the water. Ensure the fabric isn't folded or bunched up too much when you do this or it will create wrinkles. 
  • Allow the denim item to soak for about 30 to 45 minutes, and drain the water out thereafter. 
  • Once drained, refill the tub with water, and let the jeans sit for another 10 minutes.
  • Repeat this process until the jeans are completely rinsed, and then air-dry them.

How to Wash Jeans (Regular Wash Instructions)

Before you begin, ensure that you are using a liquid laundry detergent that is meant for dark fabrics. These products are generally formulated to preserve dyed fabrics and therefore, do not contain bleach or harsh chemicals. If you wish, you may add 2-3 caps of distilled white vinegar to your wash. The benefits of doing this include preventing the dye from running more than it typically would, and it acts as a natural fabric softener for denim.

Here are the instructions to wash jeans in a washing machine:

  • First off, you will want to set your washing machine to the gentlest cycle it has. Washing jeans on a delicate cycle prevents excess wear from occurring during the wash, thereby allowing the dye to stay intact. 
  • Next, fill the washing machine with cold water. From there, add the detergent to the water. As mentioned earlier, never use hot water on your denim, and never use harsh or bleach-based detergents. 
  • Before you add the jeans to the wash, turn them inside out. Since clothes in the washer rub against each other, zippers, buttons, and even other fabric can be abrasive enough to damage the colour and fabric of clothing. Keeping the jeans inside out lowers the risk of damage to the dye, and helps wash the jeans better.
  • When you finally add the jeans to the wash, ensure that it is being added along with other dark pieces of clothing only. Since the colour could run, having fabrics with lighter shades in the same wash could end badly. 
  • Finally, when the wash is complete, you will need to air-dry your jeans. As you pull them out of the tub, stretch the seams out and hang them up to dry. As much as possible, ensure there are no folds in the fabric as the jeans dry, or wrinkles and creases could form. Tumble drying is not advised since, again, the heat could cause damage to the colour, and even lead to shrinkage.

Remember, although jeans or denims are sturdy and durable by nature, they do have specific cleaning requirements, particularly jeans with persistent stains such as paint. With the instructions above, you will learn how to wash your jeans carefully enough to keep them around longer, and preserve their colour, as well. 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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