If I’m going to be dropping $150+ on a pair of denim, you can best believe I will be doing what I can to prolong the life and dye of those jeans. For my inexpensive, beat-up pairs, I would regularly wash those in the washer and yes, the dryer. However, for those designer jeans, it is highly recommended we ditch the dryer. According to the founder of denim repair service Denim Therapy, Francine Rabinovich, the heat of the dryer damages the cotton and weakens the fabric. While I have also read some people would dry their jeans for 10-15 minutes, then take them out to air dry, or just set the dryer on low heat, personally I just don’t want to risk ruining a nice pair. I also don’t have enough freezer space to freeze my denim either (supposedly bacteria can be frozen off). With any new premium pairs, I would typically wait about 6 months before it gets treated to a nice cold white vinegar bath. Yeap. Why vinegar? For one, vinegar neutralizes any unpleasant odor. Two, since majority of my denim are dark, vinegar seals the dye within the fabric to prevent any further bleeding. Salt is supposedly another natural ingredient that further protects the color. While there are by no means any fixed rules in washing denim, I’m sharing below the steps on how I wash my jeans:
- Fill bathtub with enough cold water to fully submerge jeans.
- Add 1 cup of household distilled white vinegar and 1/2 cup of salt to the tub.
- note: you can easily find distilled white vinegar at your local grocery store, nothing fancy.
- Turn jeans inside out and submerge in tub.
- Let soak for 45 minutes.
- Take denim out and let it drip-dry over the tub.
And that’s basically it! I don’t wring the denim, I literally just clip the jeans with a hanger over the tub and let it drip-dry. I do have to admit, my bathroom usually smells a bit like vinegar after the bath and the denim will smell like vinegar too, but once it dries, the smell goes away. I would also recommend opening the windows to your bathroom to air out any vinegar smell.
I wish I could commit to the “don’t ever wash your jeans” advice, but I just can’t. I think about all the places I would sit at – greasy restaurant booths, airport terminals, benches…coupled with our natural body oils and environmental grime. I’m too self-conscious and hate the idea of my jeans giving off any foul stench.
If you have any other tips on washing premium denim, please let me know!