Washing your jeans: If you’re doing it, you’re doing it wrong.

Categories Care, Premium Jeans

Drops updated

Jeans don’t need to be washed.

I actually heard you gasp out loud but hear me out…

To preserve your Redenim jeans’ unique character and ensure that their fit and color hold up, we recommend washing them only once every 60-90 days, if that.

Seriously.

But why? It may seem counterintuitive, but your jeans will actually fit better and last longer if you don’t wash them. Think about it. Your favorite jeans are your favorite because of how they fit YOU. Your jeans are designed to take your shape as you wear them and a single wash can wipe away all that progress and alter them permanently. But that doesn’t mean you can’t clean your jeans. You just have to know how to clean them properly.


Why Regular Washing is Bad.

Anytime a garment is washed, it breaks down a little bit. This is especially true for jeans. Let’s break it down in the wash:

  • Detergents are designed to remove stains. Incidentally, they will also strip away the dyes that make your jeans’ color unique. Bleach (obviously) and other laundry additives (think anything with “oxy” on it) will also wreak havoc on your jeans’ color.
  • Fabric softener is the silent killer of garments. Softeners are designed to break down fabrics to make them feel softer. With regular use they will literally disintegrate your denim or any garment you use softener with for that matter.
  • Hot water and agitation (the spinning motion of a wash) rinses out dye as well, but the real kicker is it will warp, shrink, and stress the cotton fibers of your jeans.

If you think that’s bad, drying your jeans in the dryer is even worse. Heat, even low heat will have some pretty bad effects on jeans:

  • Shrinkage. Even “pre-shrunk” denim will almost always shrink more in the dryer causing unpredictable changes in fit. Some jeans that are made with stretch material are less likely to shrink, but that very stretchiness can be broken down by heat resulting in a baggy, slouchy fit.
  • More color loss. Just like washing, drying also results in color loss.
  • Weakening of the fabric. See that lint? That used to be cotton fibers in your jeans. Drying weakens the fabric making you more likely to wear through your jeans faster especially if they are destroyed-style.
  • And dry cleaning? Unless the care tags on your jeans say “dry clean only” it’s best to just save yourself the cash.

Freshen your jeans instead.

For a little pick-me-up jeans can be quickly and easily freshened in a way that causes no damage and kills all odor-causing bacteria, I promise. This is a good technique to follow spot cleaning (more on that below). We recommend freshening every 5 or so wears though a spritz or two of Febreze will almost always do the trick. For a little extra fresh…

  • Chill out. Throw your jeans in a plastic bag with a dryer sheet and put them in the freezer overnight.
  • Warm up. Remove your jeans from the freezer and plastic bag and toss them in the dryer with the dryer sheet. Tumble for 5 minutes. That’s it!

That’s not to say you shouldn’t wash your jeans. You should… just very rarely and the RIGHT way. 

Did you make it to 60 days without a wash? 90? Good! Now you can wash your jeans properly if it’s driving you crazy.

  • First, spot clean any areas that need attention, such as small stains. Soak a washcloth in cold water with a drop or two of mild detergent and dab (don’t scrub) areas that need to be cleaned. Let your jeans air dry.
  • Real talk: you can spot clean the inside crotch, upper inseam, and rear of your jeans. I know you were thinking it…
  • If you still must wash your jeans after spot treatment turn them inside-out and wash them using the coldest water setting of your washer and the gentle cycle. Use only a small amount of mild detergent and if your jeans are destroyed or otherwise embellished, use a garment bag.
  • Or hand wash your jeans by soaking them inside-out in a sink full of cold water with a drop or two of detergent. No need to scrub, just let them sit for an hour, rinse with cold water and gently wring out.
  • Hang and air dry your jeans after smoothing out any wrinkles. If they are a little stiff after completely air drying, you can tumble your jeans in the dryer with a dryer sheet for 5 minutes to soften.

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Some special circumstances to consider…

  • If you’ve just purchased new dark wash jeans with one of those nifty warning tags about dye transfer, you may want to give them a quick wash early on (using the proper wash method) with two teaspoons of salt added to set the dye.
  • This is the ONLY time I will recommend using a dryer on damp jeans so… take a seat. For jeans that have gotten baggy or slouchy with wear, you can wash them with cold water — don’t use detergent if they don’t need to be cleaned– and toss them in the dryer on a medium or low setting. This is risky business because shrinkage is unpredictable, but if your jeans have become unwearable and you’re between getting rid of them (ugh, never keep jeans that don’t fit) or trying a spin in the dryer, then try this. Medium or low heat might prevent over-shrinking, but this is case by case.

Are there any other special circumstances you might have questions about? Ask in the comments!


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