The Best Way to Wash Jeans, According to Cleaning Experts

Some individuals insist that you should only hand wash your favorite pair of jeans. Others argue that you shouldn’t wash them at all. Most of us, though, chuck this wardrobe staple into the washing machine with the rest of our clothing without thinking twice.

So, what’s the best course of action? Teeanime have tested many types of denim fabrics and detergents in our Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning and Textiles Labs, and we recommend washing denim every three to four wears to keep your basic dark blue and black jeans clean, fitting properly, and looking new for as long as possible.

The Best Way to Wash Jeans

Whether your jeans are new or old, always turn them inside out before putting them in the washing machine. This helps to reduce abrasion, which promotes fading, as well as wear at the hems, pockets, fly and waistband edges. It’s also crucial to zip zippers and fasten buttons and snaps – this keeps the jeans in shape and keeps other things in the load from snagging.

Clip the openings or edges of shredded jeans with frayed hems or holes together with a clip like Sock Cops. These smart clips, designed to keep socks paired up in the wash, can also help protect denim from fraying more than you want it to. (Hand cleaning is preferable if your jeans are severely shredded.)

Use a color-safe detergent, such as Woolite Darks Liquid Laundry Detergent or Tide Studio Darks and Colors. They contain chemicals that help fabrics retain hues and neutralize chlorine in water, which can fade colors. Finally, it is recommended to wash jeans in cold water on a gentle cycle.

The Best Way to Dry Jeans

Unless the care label says differently, tumble dry jeans inside out on a gentle cycle at low heat. Add dryer balls to keep them swirling and uniformly dry.

When removed from the dryer slightly damp, jeans endure longer and retain their shape. Pull them into shape, smooth out the creases, hang your jeans, and let them dry. Overdrying jeans in the machine can shrink them and harm the stretchy spandex or elastane. Line dry jeans with over 3% spandex.

More Tips for Washing Denim Fabrics

Avoid overfilling washers and dryers. More clothes in a load means faster laundry, but more wear and tear on your clothes. Zippers, rivets, and stitching break without room to move. To avoid tangles, your clothes should tumble freely.

Remove stains quickly. Spot clean stains to get more uses out of your jeans and reduce washing time. Win!

Sort jeans. If you wash all your jeans in one load, the additional dye used to make dark denim dark can transfer to light-colored materials. Wash and dry separately. Carry light-colored purses and sit on light upholstery with new black jeans with caution. Rub-off color may be permanent on these things. Check for color loss by wiping a white cloth on new ultra dark or black jeans (this is called crocking). Before wearing, wash them twice.