So, What’s the Deal? How Often ARE You Supposed to Wash Your Jeans?

No doubt, in your quest to learn more, look sharp, and be informed (you clever ManMaker, you ), you’ve come across the advice: you should never wash your jeans. Like, ever. For many, that’s a welcome recommendation. It’s nice when wisdom confirms your natural habits, cause you weren’t washing ’em anyway. For others, that’s the most digusting thing you’ve ever heard, and it makes you want to strip down to your shorts and toss your pants in the machine before even finishing reading this sentence. Or perhaps you’ve heard that you should forgo the soap and wash with vinegar, or in a bucket, not the washing machine.

So…what do we do with all this information? What’s the best way to take care of your denim?    

First, let’s get this out of the way – here, we’re talking about a regular pair of jeans — that is, pre-washed jeans. These are different than raw denim. If you don’t know whether you have pre-washed jeans or raw denim… you have pre-washed jeans. If you sought out and paid for raw denim, you’d know it. Okay? Great…moving on.

1. It is not unsanitary to not wash your jeans.

Worried about germs and stuff growing in your pants? Don’t be. Studies have shown that there are comparable amounts of normal, healthy bacteria in jeans that have been worn for days, a few weeks, and over a year.

2. Spot cleaning is better than a full laundry cycle.

If you spill a bit of your lunch on your jeans or wipe your hands on the side of your denim without thinking, don’t toss them in the washing machine. Unless it’s a serious sticky substance that will stain your jeans for the worse, just spot clean them with a rag, cold water, and mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly, and allow to air dry.

3. If they smell, air them out.

Before tossing a pair in the washer, trying hanging them up outside and let them breathe a little. The shade works best for this, but one day in the sun won’t cause them to fade. A clothesline is great if you have one…or just drape them over your deck/balcony/fire escape. None of those? Place them on a chair, and weigh them down with a book or other heavy object. Turn them occasionally to promote airflow.

4. When they’re dirty, wash them.

At last, when it’s time, you gotta wash your jeans? How often? That’s up to how you wear them but shoot for anywhere from two to five times a year.

But don’t simply throw them in the hamper to go through a spin cycle with your socks and t-shirts. Follow these steps:

  • Turn the jeans inside out. Be sure to empty all pockets.
  • Start a cold/cold cycle, with gentle agitation. Place a mild detergent in the water before adding your clothes, and allow it to combine. (You should do this on all loads of laundry, anyway.)
  • Place in the washing machine by themselves, or with other very dark items.
  • One rinse. Two spin cycles.
  • Allow to drip dry fully extended. Use your shower, or hang directly over the washing machine.

Done. No chemistry, no magic mumbo jumbo. Just clean-as-they-need-to-be pants.

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