To wash or not to wash? How to properly care for your denim

To wash or not to wash?

How to keep your beloved pair of jeans in tip-top shape has long been debated by experts. While some have advised denim lovers to simply freeze their jeans instead of throwing it in the washing machine it turns out that's a complete myth. In fact, that’s like never showering from the waist down! 

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How to take care of your denim jeans
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How to take care of your denim jeans
General denim washing tips to remember:
  • Turn your denim inside out; this helps to protect the outer surface and prevent fading

  • Sort by color into whites/lights, brights and dark colors. This is important because many dyes are not stable and can transfer onto other clothes in the wash

  • Wash in cold water on delicate cycle (lightly soiled jeans) or regular cycle (moderately soiled jeans). This helps preserve jean’s finish and helps minimize shrinking

  • Zip up all zippers and button all buttons, because these can rub against fabrics, damaging them

White denim (Get these PAIGE Skinny Jeans here)

  • With white denim, it’s important to wash with other white garments, and nothing too delicate as denim becomes quite heavy in the wash.

  • Washing on cold with a detergent like Tide PODS Plus Downy to both clean and condition your denim in one step.

  • Air dry or tumble dry on the lowest heat setting to preserve the fit on your denim.

Black denim (Get this FRAME Skinny Jean here)

  • With black denim, it’s important to wash with other dark garments, and nothing too delicate as denim becomes quite heavy in the wash.

  • Washing on cold with a detergent like Tide PODS Plus Downy to both clean and condition your denim in one step.

  • Maintaining the integrity of the black wash is important – adding Downy Fabric Conditioner to the rinse cycle helps maintain the original look of the black denim.

  • Air dry or tumble dry on the lowest heat setting to preserve the fit on your denim.

Deep indigo denim (Get this Madewell pair here)

  • Indigo dyes are notorious for losing color or bleeding onto other close fabrics. To preserve the color of your favorite deep indigo wash denim, turn them inside out and wash on cold with like colors with a detergent like Tide PODS Plus Downy which contains ingredients to protect from chlorine fading in the wash.

  • Use Downy Fabric Conditioner during the rinse cycle because it can further help prevent fading.

  • Lay flat to dry

Distressed denim (Get this Citizens of Humanity pair here)

Machine Wash Instructions:

  • To preserve denim’s finish, it’s best to wash denim in cold water on the delicate or hand wash cycle using a gentle detergent like Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent.

  • Place denim in a mesh bag for delicates (like these) to prevent any snags during the wash cycle.

  • Add Downy Fabric Conditioner to the rinse cycle to protect the fibers and maintain the soft, “broken-in” feeling of your favorite jeans

  • To extend the life of your jeans, skip the dryer and lay them flat to dry

Hand Wash Instructions:

  • Fill a tub or sink with water (recommended temperature on label) and add 1 teaspoon of Tide Free & Gentle detergent (use more if washing multiple items). 

  • Submerge jeans in soapy water. Gently stir until denim is clean. 

  • Empty tub or sink and refill it with cool rinsing water. Add clean jeans to water. 

  • Dissolve 1 tablespoon of Downy Fabric Conditioner (or enough to cover the bottom of the cap) in 1 cup of water. 

  • Move jeans to the side of the tub and pour the fabric conditioner solution directly into the rinse water.

  • Stir the fabrics in the rinse water several times, then soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the jeans several more times.

  • Gently wring, and lay flat to dry.

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Clothes can actually be dirtier on the inside than on the outside as a result of body soils and environmental odors. This is especially true of jeans since the body areas they cover include a lot of skin -- which adds up to a lot of soil just on the inside of your jeans.

Jennifer Ahoni, Tide's go-to scientist, advises people to wash their jeans after 3 wears to prevent odor buildup. With that said, it’s a common misconception that you should go as long as you can between washes to extend the life of your jeans.

Looking for more expert-back tips? Check out the slideshow above for the ultimate guide to taking care of every single type of denim in your closet. 

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