Care for your denims


Ninoshka Alvares-Delaney

If you’re a denim aficionado, you’d probably never wash your jeans. The reason why most denim lovers refrain from washing their jeans is because they believe that laundering will break down the denim and cause the dye to fade. But what they fail to realise is that the buildup of dirt, skin, natural body oils and environmental grime will also cause the material to break down and wear will cause the dye to fade. So, if you don’t want to wash your jeans, that’s totally up to you – they’re your jeans. However, washing them from time to time will not cause major damage to them. In fact, in many ways you’ll ensure they last longer.

Despite the fact that washing isn’t actually the enemy of your jeans, there are a few best practices to know about.

Although jeans don’t need to be washed often, it is a good idea to wash them after every five or ten wears depending on how much you’ve worn them and what you’ve been doing in them. If they smell, are visibly dirty or have got stretched out or are sagging at the knees, they’re probably due for a wash. If your jeans are not particularly dirty but you’ve stained them in one particular area, then spot cleaning is a good idea. Make sure not to rub the fabric too aggressively though, as this can lead to discoloration. Air out your jeans in a place that has good air circulation between each wear to avoid unpleasant odours and keep them fresh.

Always turn your jeans inside out before washing them. Turning your jeans inside out prevents excessive fading and colour loss. Although faded jeans add character and reflect your personal style, a good fade comes from living in your jeans and not an aggressive spin in the washing machine. Make sure to empty out your pockets, unroll your cuffs and remove your belt, if applicable, before you throw your jeans for a wash.

The best way to launder your jeans is to hand wash them. Hand washing helps to cut back on the wear and tear because it’s a much gentler experience for the fibers. First soak the jeans in a small amount of detergent and cold water for about 15 to 30 minutes, and then rinse well. There is no need to scrub them. Once they’re rinsed, roll them up and press firmly on them to release the excess water but don’t wring them. Wringing will twist and break down the fibers. Lay them flat or hang them to air dry.

If you have to wash your jeans in the washing machine, do so on a cold water cycle. Choosing a cold water spin cycle is added protection against fading and shrinking. Cold water also saves energy, saving you money, which means you’re doing a solid for your jeans, your energy bill, and the environment.

Don’t overload your washer. Wash four to five jeans at a time, and in case you need to fill the remainder of the machine, do it with light weight dark coloured clothing. If your jeans have a lot of destruction like holes and grinding, you may want to wash on the delicate cycle to prevent the holes from expanding.

Wash your jeans with a small amount of mild detergent. It is a common misconception that more detergent equals cleaner clothing. In reality, the overuse of laundry products lead to product build up causing your jeans to appear dirtier. When washing for the first time, toss in two spoonfuls of salt in the washer to help set the dye. Avoid bleaching your jeans at all cost. Even if your denims are white, bleaching them can cause discolouration and damage. Do not dry clean your jeans unless you really have to. Dry cleaning chemicals take a toll on the fabric and weaken it slowly.

Electric dryers can severely damage jeans. The heat from the dryer causes shrinkage and fading and is detrimental to the fibres; especially in the case of stretch denims. In case you do have to use the dryer, choose a low heat setting. Air drying is the best option if you want to expand the life expectancy of your jeans. Not only does it help preserve the fit and avoid possible shrinkage or fabric warping, but is also a cost effective and eco-friendly option. Keep your jeans turned inside out and dry them away from the sun to prevent fading and ensure the interior pockets will dry.

Remember these rules to make your jeans last longer and to keep them looking as good as they did on the day you bought them.

Until next time, stay stylish!

(Writer is a fashion designer. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @ninoshkaindia)