Do You Need to Wash Your Jeans?

Universally flattering and widely embraced, jeans are undoubtedly the holy grail of fashion. A versatile wardrobe staple that’s stylishly comfortable, they go with almost everything. With endless options for fits, washes, and styles available, there will always be a perfect pair of jeans for every body type and shape. Now here comes the hotly debated topic: Should you wash your denims? If yes, how often? If not, how do you keep your jeans looking and smelling fresh? Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Levi’s CEO, Chip Bergh famously urged consumers not to wash their jeans frequently, as he believes that it makes them last longer. Bergh himself merely spot cleans his denims with washcloth. If they are too dirty, he will hand-wash and then line dry them. Bergh added that keeping denims out of the washing machine helps in saving water and energy. According to Chip Bergh’s The Dirty Jeans Manifesto, Levi’s research team did an extensive “lifecycle assessment” on an average pair of denims. Their discovery was compelling: After only 2 years of use, the jeans consumed about 3,500 litres of water – just from washing it once a week. In addition, half of the water consumption (1,6000 litres) is the consumer using a washing machine to clean the said jeans. That’s approximately 6,700 glasses of drinking water!

Here’s the thing: Whether you’re on Team Wash or Team Never-Wash, that’s your prerogative. The latter group believes that washing jeans will break down the material and fade them. However, these folks didn’t consider the fact that dirt buildup, environmental grime, and natural body oils can cause the denim material to break down too. Furthermore, prolonged wear makes the dye fade as well. And no, freezing your jeans to clean them doesn’t work.

We all know that jeans don’t stay stain-free forever. Your favourite denims gotta come into contact with water at some point, especially when they are visibly dirty and smell funky. So how to keep your denims looking great without ruining them? Check out our jean-nius tips:

  • Hand-wash: Use cold water and a small amount of liquid detergent. Mix well before adding your jeans. Soak them for 15-30 minutes before rinsing well. Don’t wring your jeans – roll or fold them and squeeze to remove excess water.
  • Using the washing machine? Turn your jeans inside out, with the zippers zipped and buttons/snaps fastened before throwing them in to avoid snagging other clothes. This also helps in keeping your denims in shape.
  • Go easy on the laundry detergent and fabric softener. Excessive usage leads to product buildup. When combined with sweat and body oils, they produce unpleasant sour smells.
  • Avoid putting your jeans in the dryer to prevent shrinkage. Instead, air dry by hanging or laying them flat. Lack of space at home? Get them dry-cleaned at the laundry.
  • Clean light and dark-coloured jeans separately. The dye that rubs off on light-coloured fabrics may be tough to remove.
  • To refresh your jeans between washings, air out by hanging them on a hanger and place them near a window or fan.

A great pair of perfect-fitting jeans is hard to come by. When they do, don’t take them for granted. Give your jeans the TLC they deserve.