How to wash a pair of dry jeans
How do I wash my jeans?
It’s the question that’s plagued the denim world since the dawn of yarn - especially when it comes to dry denim jeans. Lucky for you, Kaine and textile engineer Jonas from Nudie Jeans are our resident jean-washing experts, ready with a wardrobe-full of handy tips and tricks to make your denim last longer.
Join them as they take this pair of jeans from soiled selvage to perfect fades.
You might've heard washing dry denim jeans in the washing machine is a big no-no. To us, that’s only half true. You see, when it comes to dry denim, it’s all about developing that one-of-a-kind character over time. How you get there is up to you – whether that’s washing your jeans more frequently, or never washing them. Your jeans, your way.
If you’re on the hunt for a gentler alternative to the washing machine, you can soak your jeans in water in a suitable container, like a bathtub or sink. It’ll mean a lower loss of dye, but won’t get your jeans particularly clean…
With that said, this guide is all about how to use the washing machine to your advantage, giving your denim a gentle refresh that’ll keep them looking and feeling fresher for longer.
First off: Let’s answer some burning questions
When is a good time to wash your dry jeans for the first time?
The longer you wear your jeans, the higher the contrast of the wear marks will be. Our recommendation is 6 months of daily wear before the first wash as the aging over this period of time ensures that much of the surface-bound indigo is abraded off the jeans and the creases have rendered a worn-in look. You can always go longer if you want to push for even more contrasting wear marks.
In contrast, if you wash earlier, and more frequently, you’ll have lower contrasting wear marks, but the fabric wash characteristics will render faster. To us, there is no right or wrong way to go, but it’s good to know that the different routes produce different results. Both are beautiful in their own way and whichever path you choose, you’ll end up with a pair of uniquely worn-in jeans.
What should I keep in mind when washing my jeans (or any clothing)?
These are the 4 main things you need to dissolve and disperse dirt from your clothes. We’ve put together this handy step-by-step guide – it’s gentle, but will still get your jeans clean.
Bear in mind this gentle method of washing is only for aesthetics - mechanically your jeans can withstand much tougher treatments. So, once your jeans have aged enough, e.g. when they’ve lost most of the surface-bound indigo, you can tweak this process (we’ve made notes below). This is roughly after a year of daily wear, but it all depends on the denim – if it’s still dark and appears saturated with indigo, opt for a gentle wash.
Don't forget these things before you wash:
Empty your pockets (a chewed-up tissue all over your denim is never a good look).
Un-cuff your jeans.
Use detergent for colored clothes.
Don't use stain removers or detergent that contains bleach. Refrain from using fabric softener if you are washing stretch denim.
The 7 step guide to washing jeans
Turn the jeans inside out
Fold or roll the jeans.
Pre-soak - especially if the jeans haven't been worn too much. This will soften them and minimize the risk of getting bad wash effects.
The washing machine should be set to a 40°C (cold wash) cycle. If possible, set the spin cycle, or centrifugation, to low.*
*The lower the spin, the gentler the wash. This will, however, leave the jeans wetter at the end of the cycle, affecting the drying time. When the jeans have aged enough, a regular spin is fine as the dye on the denim is now unlikely to be affected by mechanical movement.
Remove the jeans promptly when the washing cycle is done. Leaving the jeans crinkled and wet in the washing machine can cause uneven distribution of dye.
Flatten the jeans and stretch both the out and inseams. If the jeans were tight at the waist prior to washing, stretch the jeans at the waist too.
Hang to dry.
When the jeans have aged - e.g. lost most of the surface-bound indigo - tumble drying will work well. (Please note that you should always refrain from tumble-drying stretch denim to a completely dry state as it can deteriorate the elastane fiber over time.)
That's it! Don't forget to share your results and tag us @nudiejeans.
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