The 10 Commandments of Washing Your Jeans

Abide by these truths...or risk ruining your nice denim

You just spent $200 on premium denim and now you’re going to chuck your jeans in the washer? Some free advice: bad idea. There are rules (or as we like to call them, commandments) for proper denim care if you want your jeans to maintain their shape and color. Hear ye, hear ye.

1. Thou Shalt Not Wash Jeans After Every Wear. Ideally, you should wash jeans every other month (providing you have no stains). Nowadays, most fabric blends come with enough Lycra to hold their shape--meaning you don’t have to worry about stretching them out. What you do have to worry about is laundry detergents causing the color to fade…fast.

2. Thou Shalt Remember to Air Jeans Out. Now that you’re not technically washing them as much, you do still need to give your jeans room to breathe between wears. A trick: Hang them outside the shower and let them absorb the steam to kill unpleasant odors.

3. Thou Shalt Always Use Cold Water. When you do get around to putting these puppies in the wash, see the above note about color fading. Setting the temp to cold helps the fabric retain the dyes. (It also doesn’t hurt to toss in a teaspoon of black pepper for residue exfoliation.)

4. Thou Shalt Always Turn Jeans Inside Out. Again, it’s for fabric (and color) preservation. It’s important. It’s also a good rule of thumb if you’re worried about dark denim rubbing off onto other clothes.

5. Thou Shalt Always Wash Jeans with Like Colors. Denim bleeds. It’s a fact. Do yourself a favor and separate your whites and darks.

6. Thou Shalt Splurge on a Color-Safe Detergent. Your favorite pair doesn’t come along every day. Treat it with the respect it deserves.

7. Thou Shalt Never Wash Too Many Pairs at Once. We’re all for efficiency, but over-stuffing your washer load can cause seams and stitching to break down and zippers to snag.

8. Thou Shalt Never Put Jeans in the Dryer. In a perfect scenario, denim should always be smoothed out and laid down on a flat surface to dry. Worst case, you can use a drying rack or clothing line but avoid the dryer…or risk uneven shrinkage.

9. Thou Shalt Never Get Denim Dry-Cleaned. It breaks down the fibers and wears off any pre-washed coatings. Enough said.

10. Thou Shalt Always Honor Thy Care Instructions. We’ll admit that sometimes (sometimes) there’s an exception to the rule. Read all labels first, and then take our commandments into account.