For most clothes a ‘How to Wash’ article would be a predictably straightforward affair – you wait until they’re dirty, then throw them in the washing machine at 30 degrees. Or you give them to Laundrapp instead and let us take care of them for you.
With denim or raw selvedge jeans however, that’s not the case. In fact, there’s some disagreement about whether you should ever wash jeans at all. Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh has boldly claimed that he hasn’t washed his jeans in more than a year, for example.
The reason denim aficionados prefer not to wash jeans is due to the way the fabric is dyed, which means the dye is easily faded by detergents. Putting your jeans in a washing machine won’t cause tears, but it will affect and hasten how the denim looks.
While some experts advise you to never wash your jeans though, that advice just isn’t practical or realistic for everyone. Sooner or later you’re bound to spill something that won’t be solved with a bit of warm water and a thorough airing out.
So, what can you do?
Wash Your Jeans in Vinegar to Stop Them Fading
More of a preventative step than a solution, washing your jeans in vinegar when they’re brand new will help cement the dye into the fabric and prevent future washes from causing as much fading. All you need to do is add one cup of distilled white vinegar – not the fish and chip shop variety – to the washing machine, then you can wash them as normal.
Freeze Your Jeans to Kill Smelly Bacteria
If your jeans have started to get a bit funky then one of the easiest quick fixes is to fold them up, wrap them in a plastic bag, push all the air out and leave them in the freezer for at least 24 hours. The cold temperature will kill nearly all the bacteria and neutralise the remainder for a short period – as well as making your jeans icily refreshing!
Dry Clean Your Jeans Once for Best Results
French jeans specialist A.P.C. suggests dry cleaning your jeans instead of washing them – but only for the first time they need to be washed. Then, whenever you need to wash the jeans in the future, soak them in warm water and wool detergent instead. The idea is to make sure the denim is treated as gently as possible, while dry cleaning will help preserve the dye.
Clean Your Jeans with the Beach Wash Method
Undoubtedly a method that’s only for true denim extremists, the so-called beach wash method is supported by a growing number of fashion bloggers – and is exactly what it sounds like. Basically, go for a swim in the sea with your jeans still on, then rub them with dry sand before rinsing with fresh water. We promise this isn’t a joke.