We all love our dear denim. From the office to a night out, our favorite jeans can go with us everywhere. But what about a fresh new pair — Do you need to wash your jeans before you wear them? Before you do anything to your brand new denim, here's the definitive guide to washing jeans.
Designer denim (think, your perfectly ripped skinnies and dark wash trousers) hit the market around 2000, and we haven't looked back. Now, denim is a part of our everyday fashion staples, and washing instructions are as diverse as the labels themselves.
I was always instructed to wash new clothes as soon as I got them home. Beyond that, my washing style is "meh" — totally dependent on how dirty the jeans look and how sanitary I'm feeling that day.
The good news? We don't have to wash denim as often as we think. According to a plethora of denim experts, although we should wash a new pair of jeans, we shouldn't wash our jeans after every wear. In fact, there are tons of alternative ways to freshen up your jeans between wears, including steaming or hanging them in the bathroom while you shower. But for the most part, our denim is tougher than we give it credit for.
Here are three ways to tell whether you should wash your jeans or not.
1. If it's a brand new pair...
The Laundress instructed Refinery 29 to definitely wash them. According to Apartment Therapy, your new duds could be laced with toxic chemicals. Formaldehyde is routinely sprayed on new jeans to prevent mildew and give new jeans a "pressed" affect. Gross. While the chemicals are approved for this use in the U.S., the Consumer Affairs in New Zealand advises “that it is good practice for new, washable garments to be thoroughly washed and aired, preferably outside.”
Every denim maker seems to have a different opinion on water temperature. Your best bet? Go middle of the road with warm water and take your denim out quickly after the spin cycle begins. The spin cycle is the roughest, so if distressed denim isn't your thing, don't leave them in there for long. You can also protect your denim in the washer with a mesh bag, or tie a knot in a pillow case to prevent color run off and snagging in the washer.
2. If it's your go-to pair...
Sienna Surecare Garment Steamer, $120, Kohls
Your biggest fear when it comes to your favorite pair of jeans is that they'll shrink, stretch, or fade beyond recognition, right? To ensure none of them above happen to your baby blues, take it easy on the washing. Your jeans don't require constant washing, and can even benefit from fewer washes by retaining the original color and fit.
According to Robert Schaeffer, founder and owner of Schaeffer’s Garment Hotel, a high-end denim manufacturer, retail shop, and repair service based in Los Angeles, you should go as long as you can possibly stand without washing your jeans. Schaefffer also suggests hang drying your jeans and putting them on when they're 90 percent dry. What's with wet jeans, you ask? “Put them on when they’re 90 percent dry,” Schaeffer said according to Yahoo. “That will allow them to stretch back out since jeans get a little tighter when you wash them.”
If you bought raw denim, Huit Denim suggests waiting at least six months before popping those puppies into the washer.
3. If you aren't sure...
Still not sure if your denim needs suds? When it comes time to washing, Schaeffer and Carl Chiara, director of brand concepts and special projects for Levi Strauss & Co. highly suggests Dr. Bronner's hemp soap will reduce suds and color fading. Hang your jeans to dry on a hook in your bathroom, and let the steam from showers keep them fresh in-between wears and washes.