Make Your Jeans Last Longer

by Brandi Savitt – revised March 13, 2014


Tips to Preserve Your Favorite Denim

Six months ago, I invested in a pricey pair of dark denim jeans that I absolutely love.  I thought I was doing everything right when it came to caring for them.  I turned them inside out in the wash to help preserve the color.  I washed them in cold, and I usually – but not always – hung them up to dry.  And while there’s still some life left in them, sadly my favorite pair of jeans has seen better days…

You want to know the worst part?  I only bought one pair, and now I can’t seem to find the same style in my size…anywhere.  So, in effort to stretch out the life of my favorite skinnies, I thought it was time to get educated on the best way to care for denim!

Stop Washing Your Jeans

It doesn’t matter who you ask, all experts say that washing your jeans wears them out way more than wearing them.  In 2010, Carl Chiara, Design Director of Premium Brands at Levi’s, told The Wall Street Journal that throwing your jeans in the washing machine agitates the cotton in the fabric causing it to ‘bloom’ and then tighten up and shorten the fibers.  In fact, Chiara is so serious about preserving his personal denim wardrobe, he only officially washes (or should I say soaks) each pair of jeans in the bathtub every six months.  He fills the tub up with cold water and Dr. Bronner’s soap, and then soaks each pair lying flat for 20 minutes.  Chiara never scrubs the fabric, and after rinsing, he hangs his jeans up by the belt hooks, and let’s them air dry.

–This sixth month rule may sound disgusting and a little extreme for us laundry obsessed ladies.  Of course, these are not the care instructions listed on the Levi’s label, but do take note…  If you want to make your jeans last longer, washing them less is the answer!

Spot Clean & Steam

Keep in mind, Chiara does not suggest that you walk around wearing filthy jeans either.  When you take your jeans off at night do a little spot cleaning to remove any stains or dirt.  Chiara likes to use a damp cloth with a cleaning agent like Windex to blot out the dirt, but a drop of Woolite or Dr. Bronner’s will do the trick too.  Avoid using any chemicals if cleaning up any sensitive areas (if you know what I mean)…

After cleaning any stains, hang your jeans on by the belt hooks (to help keep the shape) in the bathroom while you take a shower.  The steam will help to freshen and restore the shape to the fabric while steaming out creases and wrinkles.

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5 Responses to “Make Your Jeans Last Longer”

  1. Louie says:

    Windex? I like this. Sounds like “My big fat Greek Wedding”.

  2. Carol says:

    Great tips,as usual!! I love to use vinegar to rinse, too. It not only lengthens the life of the denim, it also removes all the soap so you do not need the fabric softener. You can also soak the jeans in water with woolite. Rinse, ring out by hand and hang to dry. Do the soaking in woolite for one wash and the machine for another. This will also prolong the life. I love this website it is always so helpful.

  3. Sue says:

    I just bought a great pair of jeans and was about to throw them in the washer. After reading this article, I positively, absolutely will not. They are good for at least a few more wearings. I am so grateful for this info. I wish I had it many moons ago and I may have saved others. Nevertheless, this new information will preserve the color and fabric of my new pair and I will wear them until I offend! Thanks.

  4. Kir says:

    I am sorry but I really don’t understand the problem with washing jeans. I have several pairs of jeans that I absolutely love and I wash all the time. They all look great and I’ve had them for years.

  5. Jackie says:

    Doesn’t wash his jeans for six months? I knew a guy in college who was famous for wearing his jeans for six weeks straight without washing. You could tell he was in the room. I like the soaking in Dr. Bronners idea. Preserves the jeans and your social standing!

Any Thoughts?