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How to Wash & Dry Jeans for Longer Wear
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How to Wash & Dry Jeans for Longer Wear

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Once you’ve found the right pair of jeans, you never want to take them off. It can be a constant struggle to find the right fit, the right color, and the right style—so it’s natural to cherish a pair that does the trick.

You may know the pain of putting those same jeans back on and finding that they’ve shrunk,  faded, or developed a large bleach stain. Just like that, your quest for the perfect pair of denim jeans has to start all over again.

With the right care and washing tips, you can prevent this from happening again. Learn how to wash and dry your jeans to get longer wear and preserve your favorite pieces.

Discover our Denim collection with unique fits, prints, and hardware to elevate your look. Shop now!

Basics of Washing Jeans

As with any clothes, jeans need to be washed on occasion. Jeans in particular benefit from minimal washing to maintain their shape, fit, and color. In general, the rule of thumb is to avoid washing them until it becomes absolutely necessary. Believe it or not, different types of denim can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months without being washed. If you’re unsure, rely on the sniff test. 

When that time comes, the first step before you get to washing is to read the care label on your jeans. This is key. Every pair of jeans is designed differently, thus requiring different care. For example, while some light-wash jeans might be fine in warm water, dark-wash is best washed in cold. You’ll also see drying instructions on the care label—crucial to ensure jeans spring back to the right shape and size when they’re clean.

There are two main strategies for washing jeans: machine washing and hand washing. Be sure to check your care label for each pair of jeans to ensure you’re choosing the right wash method. 

Machine Washing Your Jeans

We all live busy lives, so this is probably the most convenient and efficient way to clean your jeans. If you’re wondering how to wash jeans properly in a washing machine, here’s how:

  1. Check your care label for water temperature and cycle instructions, and set your washing machine accordingly. 
  2. Wash your jeans with like colors and gentle detergent on the designated setting. (Be sure to clean the wash basin of any bleach from previous loads beforehand, if necessary.) 
  3. Tumble dry or hang to dry, depending on the care label’s instructions. When in doubt, hang them. You’ll avoid shrinking them or warping their shape. 

Hand Washing Your Jeans

Hand-washing your jeans is a gentler option than using a standard washing machine. It provides control over the exact amount of detergent you use and minimizes the friction and agitation from a washing machine that might cause your jeans to fade or deform. We recommend this method for cargo jeans since they have button and strap details.

  1. Fill a clean sink or tub with warm or cold water, depending on the jeans’ care instructions. While it’s filling, add about a teaspoon of gentle detergent to the water.
  2. Submerge your jeans. If they’ve acquired any stains, scrub those first. Then, gently agitate the jeans with your hands to work the soapy water through them. 
  3. Let the jeans soak in the water for 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Drain the sink or tub and refill with clean, cool water. Rinse your jeans and rid them of excess detergent. 
  5. Hang to dry. 

Tips for Preventing Fading and Shrinking

The two main concerns when washing jeans are maintaining the color and the fit. Dyed denim fabric like black jeans or dark blue jeans can fade over time. There are strategies to wash and dry your jeans without compromising the desirable look and shape.

Fight the Fade

The single biggest tip for preventing fading, whether you’re hand washing or machine washing, is to wash your jeans inside out. This way, the exterior of your jeans is less exposed to the color-sapping effects of detergent and running water.

This applies to both machine washing and hand washing but is especially important to keep in mind if you’re using a shared machine. This will minimize the risk of other users’ harsh detergents or bleach residue from harming your jeans’ wash. 

Shirk the Shrink

We haven’t yet talked about how to dry jeans without risking shrinkage. To keep your jeans fitting you just right, avoid machine drying your jeans. It’s convenient and quick, but commercial dryers can shrink your jeans. Instead, use a drying rack or clothespins.

If you absolutely need to use a dryer to dry your jeans, make sure you use the coolest setting on your machine. No matter what drying method you use, it’s best to dry them inside out as well. 

How to Remove Stains

You’ve been trying to keep your jeans like new, but now getting the stain out is your prime concern. No need to put them through a whole wash cycle. Here are a few ways to target a stain directly:

  • Run cool water directly through the fabric at the site of the stain to force the stain out. Many argue that club soda or seltzer works even better. You can give it a try, but water often does the trick.
  • If that doesn’t work, soak the stained fabric in water overnight.
  • For tougher stains, spot-treat your stain with a mix of water and distilled vinegar, or water and detergent. To target the stained area, use a toothbrush or small scrubbing brush for focused application of the solution. Keep this scrubbing to a minimum, as too much agitation can harm the jeans’ color or finish.

Severe stains might tempt you to use bleach. Resist the temptation if you want to keep your jeans’ uniform color.

How to Make Jeans Last Longer

You want your favorite pair of jeans to last forever as you build your capsule wardrobe. Here are a few time-tested tips for keeping your jeans looking like new from wash to wash.

  1. Don’t wash your jeans after every wear – It might not feel like the most socially acceptable thing to admit that you’re not washing your jeans every time you wear them, but that doesn’t change the fact that denim does its best when it’s washed minimally. If your jeans start to smell or sport a collection of stains, that’s your sign to give ‘em a wash. Otherwise? Hold off.
  2. Use a high-quality detergent – Detergents composed of clean, naturally derived ingredients will take less of a toll on your jeans’ well-being than traditional detergents full of synthetic chemicals. 
  3. Always hang, never fold – Hanging your jeans in your closet, as opposed to folding them, preserves their shape and prevents the development of creases you might get from folding.

Maximize Your Jeans’ Lifespan with mnml

At mnml, we offer designer-quality streetwear at reasonable prices. Our online retail model cuts out the overhead of brick-and-mortar stores and brings you the best jeans (and other streetwear staples) at a fraction of the cost of comparable competitors.

By choosing high-quality denim from mnml, you’ll add a long-lasting pair of jeans to your wardrobe that you can show off for years to come—provided you treat them well. Use the above tips for washing and drying your mnml jeans to keep their look fresh without sacrificing shape and color. 

For a well-fitted pair of jeans, you’ll want to keep in tip-top shape for a while, check out our selection of denim pants, including straight, skinny, bootcut, flare, color, and more.