7 Things You Never Knew About Washing Your Jeans

by Madewell

A good pair of jeans is — or at least, should be — a staple in every woman's wardrobe. From boot cuts and boyfriends to skinnies and straight legs, there are a ton of styles on store shelves to suit every shape and size. That said, when you buy a good pair, you basically want it to last forever.

Buying denim that's made to last, and caring for it properly, can keep it in top shape. You might start with jeans from Madewell, which take more than a month to make, from cutting the raw fabric to packaging the jeans for shipping, a process involving 47 people on average. Stretch denim and pre-shrinking help to keep the original shape.

But the rest is up to you. Here are seven simple tricks Bustle got from Madewell to help you take better care of your high-quality denim. 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.

Washing Them Too Often Will Make The Color Fade Faster

The good news for anyone who hates doing laundry (or is a college student) is that jeans don't need to be washed often. In fact, they shouldn't be washed often. This keeps the color from fading and will add that certain je ne sais quoi to your favorite pair. "This might scare clean freaks, but natural elements like ozone in the air, a little dirt, and body oil all add beauty and character to jeans," Madewell writes on its blog. "Like how bed-head and dirty hair are a little sexy — it’s the same with jeans."

Case in point:

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

And When You Do Wash Them, it's Best to Do So On Cold

Okay, if the thought of dirty laundry makes you cringe (your butt did touch that grimy subway seat, after all), then go ahead and toss your jeans in the wash. Just make sure they're turned inside out and the water is as cold as possible, which will keep them from fading.

When washing for the first time, toss in two spoonfuls of salt to help set the dye.

If you're washing them for the first time, Madewell blogger Emily Hsieh recommends tossing in two spoonfuls of salt to help set the dye.

Or Even Better, Wash Them By Hand

If you're going to wash your jeans and you've got some time to spare, the best method is to use your own two hands. Start out by filling a sink with cold water and, to that, add just a drop of mild detergent. Really, just half a teaspoon! Then turn your jeans inside out, plop them in the water, and walk away. No scrubbing necessary. Come back in an hour and rinse off the jeans with cold water. Hang dry, and voilà: Good as new. Bet that wasn't as hard as you thought it would be, huh?

Always Air Dry

Air drying is your best bet if you want to expand the life expectancy of your jeans. Hang them indoors and out of the sunlight, which helps preserve the color, and place an old towel underneath your drying rack so the indigo dye won't stain your floors. Your jeans might be a bit stiff afterward, so you can stick them in the dryer — on the lowest possible heat! — for a couple of minutes to break 'em in. But they should soften up after worn for a day.

Hold Off On The Bleach

I love my Clorox Bleach Pen as much as the next girl, but it can cause some serious damage to denim. Not only will it mess with the color, but it could also deteriorate the yarn in denim, according to Madewell.

Instead, let stains dry and, if it's food, scrape off any residue with your finger (that's that earlier je ne sais quoi), or next time put a napkin on your lap. Okay, but seriously, if you've stained a pair of white jeans, go ahead and toss those into the washing machine with some lukewarm water. Still, avoid the bleach, which can even cause your white jeans to take on a yellowish hue. Not a good look.

Save Your Dry-Cleaning Money

Sure, a quick trip to your neighborhood dry cleaners will make your jeans smell and look pretty good, but all those chemicals can take a toll on the fabric by weakening it slowly. It can also result in a shiny finish, which probably isn't what you're going for. An alternative solution to get rid of odors is to steam your jeans.

Spend a few minutes using a steam iron on your jeans. Just don't directly apply the iron to your denim, as this can alter the original finish.

To Get Rid of Odors, Stick Them in the Oven

Yes, you read that correctly. Crank up your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and place your folded jeans on one of the racks for an hour. Let them cool before wearing. And if the mere thought of turning your oven on makes your palms start to sweat, then you can stick your jeans in the freezer overnight. Either way, you'll rid your jeans of any odor-causing bacterias. They might even end up smelling like warm cookies!

Written by Julia Friedman

Madewell is the sponsor of this article.

Images: Getty Images; Madewell; (2)