Blue Jeans: Wash or Don’t Wash?


Denim, a staple in just about every wardrobe, can be a sizeable investment. Whether you pay up for a $200 pair of jeans or go the budget route with a $40 find, it’s important you take steps to make your clothing last. You may have heard, then, that it’s not necessary to wash your jeans every time you wear them, but is there truth to this popular advice? What other tips should you be following to get more wears from your favorite pairs?

Wash When Needed

Unless you wear your jeans for a dirty job, there’s no reason to give them a complete wash every time you wear them. Small spills or smudges can be spot cleaned with a mild detergent and a toothbrush, leaving your laundry load lighter and your jeans to suffer less stress over time. Be sure to follow the care instructions for your jeans, according to their color and fabric. All tints should be washed on cool, which prevents colors from bleeding and saves money and energy, too!

Avoid harsh detergents and never use chlorine bleach – even on your whitest pair. This harsh chemical can cause fabrics to deteriorate over time. Jean manufacturers insist that you can get a good ten wears out of an average pair of jeans (under normal conditions) without requiring a wash, but your mileage -- and the cleanliness of your environment and activities -- will vary.

Inside-Out is Best

You may have heard that flipping dark rinse jeans inside out preserves the dye, but this trick works for all other tints, too. Not only does it keep your pants from fading prematurely, but this method also gives an added bit of protection against the hardware of your machine. Top-loading washers have agitators that can be rough on your softest blues; turning them inside out helps protect the part that everyone will see the most!

Easy Does It

You don’t need an aggressive amount of laundry detergent to get most jeans clean. In fact, many jean aficionados wash their pairs together in one load, on a gentle cycle with a dye and color-free product. If you’re just wearing your jeans out and about, there shouldn’t be much dinge to contend with in a typical day. Be sure to empty pockets to keep a stray marker or pen from ruining your wash load, and unfold the bottoms of any pants to keep dirt from getting trapped.

Drip Dry if Possible

A favorite pair of jeans should not look great but fit perfectly, too. Preserve that amazing feel by hanging up your pants to dry – rather than tossing them in the dryer. Using a clothes rack prevents awkward shrinkage and ensures that the fabric of the denim doesn’t lose its shape. This is especially important for any jeans that are purposely distressed or torn, as dryers can cause these effects to get bigger and your pants to fall apart! If you don’t like the feel of air-dried jeans (which can be a bit stiff when first putting them on), allow them to fully dry and then toss them into a “tumble-dry” dryer cycle for five minutes to soften them up a bit. 

Protect your denim investment with these extra steps that don’t take much time or effort to put into place. If cared for properly, your jeans can last years – or even decades! While the styles of jeans come and go, proper maintenance is never out of fashion.