How to wash your jeans?
If you’ve invested in a great pair of Japanese, American or Italian selvedge denim, then you have gone to the trouble to buy the very best there is. Now you have to look after them.
But before we talk about washing them. A small caveat. We believe, the longer you can go without washing them, the more beautiful your pair of jeans will become. To read a lot more on the benefits of the ‘No Wash Club’ click here.
But, lets assume for this post, that you have abstained from washing them long enough, and finally you have reached the point of, well, where your jeans are ready to be introduced to a new substance that goes by the name of water.
10 Essential tips to washing a pair of jeans.
1, Turn jeans inside out.
This will help to prevent bleeding. And give a more even fade. It will also allow more exposure to water and detergent to the dirtiest part of the jeans, which are, counter- intuitively, the inside as they are closest to the skin.
2, Wash alone.
Somethings in life you have to do alone. Washing jeans is one of those things. Quite simply, denim bleeds blue blood. And will ruin anything that is lighter in colour that you wash it with. This is a mistake you will only commit once.
3, Fill your bath with cold or lukewarm water.
It is best to hand wash your jeans. This will help to cut back on wear and tear as it’s a much gentler experience for the fibres. Also, hands are good thermometers, they won’t allow you to have the water too hot.
4, Add a mild detergent. (see list below).
Wait for it to dissolve before putting jeans in.
Use a mild detergent. But don’t overuse it. It’s always tempting to think that more detergent = more clean. But this can lead to a build up of detergent that will oddly make your jeans more dirty.
That’s because when all that detergent meets body oils and sweat, it doesn’t end well. It can produce an odour which follows you around the room.
Alternatively, you can also just use 1 cup of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt, this method is also believed by enthusiasts to help the indigo stay in the fabric better.
5, 45 minutes should do it.
Submerge the jeans fully. If the jeans float, use something heavy to hold them down. Allow them to soak in the water. Nothing to see here. Move along. Go and make yourself a cup of tea.
6, Triple rinse.
If you refill and drain the bath three times with clean water, this will give you the best result. The first one will get rid of the dirt. The second will get rid of the grime. And the third one is just to make double sure.
7, Don’t wring ‘em.
There is always a temptation to take your wet jeans and wring them. Don’t. It will twist and break down the fibres. Just roll them up and press firmly on them to release water.
8, Drying ‘em.
There are a few ways to achieve this. Lay them flat. Lay them on a towel so it absorbs the water. Or hang them up in the shower and let them drip dry. Or even better, put them outside. Let the wind do the work. Avoid direct sunlight.
9, Put them back on when 90% dry.
Don’t let them dry out 100%. A little dampness supplies a little give. That will allow you to stretch them back to as they were before washing. This is all part of the ebb and flow of a washing a pair of jeans.
10, Always iron damp jeans inside out.
Nearly there. For a selvedge denim that is 100% cotton, then set your iron to a high heat (cotton) setting using steam. If your selvedge has any stretch in it, you will need a cooler iron setting.
To protect your jeans use a tea towel cloth between the iron and the jeans. A good rule of thumb is to iron the pocket bags first. Then lay one leg at a time flat on the ironing board matching your seams (side to side).
Iron the selvedge seams flat and then iron the inside of the leg. Then swop the leg over and do the other side. Repeat this process for the second leg. Lastly, iron the waistband. And then you’re done.
11, Store on a hanger.
Find a good wooden hanger. And fold them over at the knee so that the waist hangs down facing the floor. There. A clean pair of super high-quality selvedge jeans just waiting to be worn.
3 No No’s.
1, No tumble dryer.
This is the worst thing you can do for a pair of jeans.
2, No bleach.
A close second.
3, Too much detergent.
More detergent doesn’t mean more clean. Use sparingly.
1, Dr. Bronner Castle hemp soap doesn’t create suds
2, Mr Black’s Denim Wash
3, Mr Black’s Denim Refresh Spray
4, The Laundress Denim Wash
5, The Laundress Fabric Fresh Classic Spray
"My washing machine overwhelms me with its options and its sophistication."
Tips for Machine Washing.
If you don’t have an area to hand wash you jeans, this is not a problem. There is nothing wrong with popping your denim in the washing machine. There are a few tips though to get the best results if using this method. We wouldn’t recommend to wash anything else with your jeans as the indigo will bleed.
1.Turn Jeans Inside Out.
Turning your jeans inside out will help stop the indigo from running too much. This will also stop and buttons and rivets hitting against the drum.
2. Add denim friendly detergent.
Use a denim friendly detergent, The laundress, Mr Black or Dr Bronner Castile soap are widely used. These detergents also help to preserves the colour, fades and quality of your precious jeans. You can also used the ratio of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt to use instead of a detergent.
3. Cycle Setting.
You want the washing machine to replicate the gentlest factors of a human hand washing. If you can stop your machine before the spin cycle it would be better for your jeans to be taken out before this stage. Vertical crease lines can be create from the spin cycle. If you can’t stop your machine before the spin, set the washing machine on the lowest spin and temperature setting. Nothing hotter then 30 degree celsius. Once the machine has finished the wash do not leave your jeans in the drum, this will create wash lines. If you have taken you denim out before the spin cycle, you will need to wring the water out. Roll your jeans up and realise the water. Do not twist the jeans.
Hung over a shower rod overnight is the best option as its indoors and away from sunlight. When they are still slightly damp, put them on to stretch them out. You can also let them dry laying flat. Do not tumble dry. The dryer is denim kryptonite, the dryer damages the cotton and weakens the fabric.
"I was more ashamed that I couldn’t work the washing machine than the fact that I was taking drugs."
This method has mixed outcomes. Some like it because they think it prevents the indigo from fading, with an all over even wash. On the other hand people like it because the sand and salt is abrasive. You can rub sand on your jeans to create a uniquely faded pair of jeans.
By wearing your jeans in the sea while still wearing them can also make your jeans stretch. Sea water is also not clean so you will need to do yourself a favour and wash your jeans in clean water afterwards, the sea salt will also contribute to blow outs.
If you have no way of cleaning from the options above, or haven’t got time or a space to dry your jeans. Dry cleaning will be your best option, if you trust the dry cleaners enough. The professionals can go over specified areas and stains, with out hopefully not ruining your jeans.
Freezing Your Jeans.
There is no proven theory that putting your jeans in the freezer will clean or freshen up your jeans. It is true the freezer will capture the bacteria so it will take away the smell for a while, but once you put them on again your body heat will re activate the bacteria, and your back to square one.
If you do want to put your jeans in the freezer to give it ago, or believe it does work, just pop your jeans in a zip bag and put them in. Again, there is a no recommendation on how long to leave them in for. Some leave them overnight and others a week. Freezing your jeans is acknowledged on being a eco friendly technique.
Freshen your jeans between washes.
If you don’t mind wasting precious vodka, experts recommend mixing 50/50 of vodka and water in a spray bottle to mist over your jeans. You can also use vinegar instead of vodka if you prefer.
Another DIY jean mister is, dilute 1 Tablespoon of baking soda, 2 cups of water and 5–10 drops of any essential oil of your choice. Hang your worn jeans on a sturdy hanger and let them air in a place with good circulation.
Too much Detergent?
If you follow the steps above you shouldn’t expect this problem. By chance your jeans haven taken a milk like smell, this may mean you have been a little heavy handed with the detergents. With a mix of product build up, body oil and sweat this is what causes the off smell. Using more detergent does not mean cleaner jeans, it oddly means the opposite. If you are experiencing this issue then all you need to do is run your jeans through the washing machine, with 1/2 cup of vinegar. Use the washing machine instructions above, the machine cycle will get rid of the sudsy build up. The vinegar will illiminate lingering odour and acts as a natural softener.