Congratulations on your new pair of jeans! Now it’s time to break in those bad boys until they look like they were created just for your body by magical denim elves. Over time those jeans will become stained, scraped and otherwise scarred, with each mark adding character and a new story to tell your friends.
And then, over a little more time, those jeans will become downright disgusting and worn down, because you are an animal who doesn’t understand the nuances of proper clothing care. Listen up, gents: just because your denim can take a beating, doesn’t mean it should. It deserves just as much TLC as the rest of your wardrobe to keep it fresh and fighting fit. Here’s how to wash jeans and denim.
The Lowdown: How To Wash Jeans & Denim
Caring for your denim takes 5 steps: breaking in, storing, washing, drying and repairing. Let’s break it down, boys.
Breaking In Raw Denim
There’s no quick-fix for breaking in a new pair of jeans, so prepare yourself for a long process. The outcome and timeline of the breaking-in period depends on your lifestyle. Your denim will feel the effects more if you’re active than if you spend the day at a desk. To be on the safe side, expect to be perfecting your new denim for six months. Afterwards it will be well faded, full of interesting scrapes and scars, and ready for its first wash.
Resist the urge to fold. By folding your jeans (or worse, balling them up and tossing them in the corner), you create creases where they aren’t meant to be, effectively erasing any effort you’ve put into the fades forming in the thigh and back of the knee. Hang your jeans by their loops instead, which keeps your hard work intact, helps your jeans maintain their natural shape and airs them out after wear.
Don’t do it too soon, but don’t be afraid to do it when it’s needed either. It doesn’t matter how great they look, when your jeans start to smell, no one is going to be impressed by your style (or hygiene). Wash them inside-out, separately, in cold water, using a mild detergent. This is your best bet for keeping the dye intact and avoiding unwanted crinkles. If you’re really worried about preserving the colour, have them dry cleaned.
Air dry. Air dry. Air dry. Did we get the point across? Popping them in the dryer is a cardinal denim sin. Hot air causes shrinkage (and we all know that’s never a good thing), while naturally letting your denim dry won’t destroy your jeans’ shape. Turn them right side out after washing, shake them out, then smoothed them with your hands to get rid of creases. Hang them in the shade to dry so the sun doesn’t cause fading.
Repair your damaged denim early to prevent its wounds from getting worse. Take care of frayed hems and crotch blowout at the earliest signs, before minor issues become full-blown emergencies. The essential skill to learn is “darning,” which weaves denim threads back into a beat-up pair of jeans to repair rips, tears, holes and other injuries with a natural look.