How To Wash Jeans

Written by Dan | 22/02/2023




The age-old question: how to wash jeans? Jeans were initially designed to withstand the rigorous workday but today, they are also high fashion. This means you need to treat your designer jeans with care if you want to keep them looking the best.

Some denim aficionados swear that machine-washing jeans is a big no-no. Some recommend not washing them at all for that matter. With the busy lifestyles that many modern-day people lead, most of us toss this wardrobe staple in the washer along with our other clothes every week.

The biggest rule to keep your new pair of blue jeans or black denim looking as new as possible is to steer clear of these fabric-damaging mistakes

A man wearing designer jeans


Wash Jeans Inside Out

Whichever cycle you wash jeans on, the very act of machine washing and drying is abrasive to fabrics. Garments rub against each other in the turning, tumbling load – even on a delicate cycle.

To help keep them looking pristine, turn your jeans inside out and zip the fly. This will help limit the wear caused by friction in the washer and especially during drying.

Emporio Armani J45 Regular Fit Jeans

Emporio Armani J45 Regular Fit Jeans


Choosing a Cycle

The biggest aspect of keeping your designer jeans looking new is the cycle you wash them on. Remember the gentler you wash and dry them the newer they will keep. While it’s safest to hand wash and air dry, it’s also very time-consuming.

Unless your jeans are particularly dirty it’s best to wash denim in cold water, select one of the gentler cycles, and dry them at a low temperature.


Avoid Using Standard Detergent or Fabric Softener

Detergents contain harsh chemicals that can break down fibres, fade colours and cause fabrics to pill, while fabric softeners can leave a residue that dulls the colour of denim – especially dark jeans.

If you do choose to wash your jeans in the machine, make sure you only use a small amount of gentle detergent and skip fabric softener altogether. Specially formulated detergent designed for jeans is an even better option.

A man dressed smartly in jeans and a jacket

Remove Jeans from the Washer Immediately

When the cycle is done, immediately remove your jeans from the washer to avoid wrinkles. Hang them on a clothing line or lay them out flat, then once they are dry give them a gentle tug and shake to get rid of any harsh creases or folds caused by washing.


Don’t Dry Too Long

Drying jeans can be tricky. When fabrics are left in the dryer too long, they become over-dried and “fried” and then end up shrinking. Most fabrics, especially jeans, benefit when you take them out of the dryer slightly damp. The best thing to do is simply tug and smooth them into shape. Remove any excess water and let them finish drying flat on a hanger.

Once your clean jeans are nearly dry, you can put them in the dryer on low heat for a few minutes to soften them up and help keep the shape.

Levis 501 Original Fit Jeans

Levis 501 Original Fit Jeans


Add Salt & Vinegar to the Wash

A handy trick to learn is to put salt & vinegar in the washing machine this prevents jeans from bleeding and keeps the fabric the “true” colour for longer.

When you have got your pair of jeans in the washing machine, add a cup of white vinegar and a quarter of a cup of salt to the cold washing water. Both natural ingredients provide some protection against jeans bleeding.

This is a great trick to learn and you can repeat it as many times as you like, this will only improve the jeans’ lifespan. Don’t worry about having a vinegary odour as the smell will disappear as soon as the fabric is dry.


Washing Raw Denim Jeans

Raw denim is totally different when it comes to washing. As a rule, avoid washing raw jeans for at least 6 months after first wearing them and then only by hand. Washing with cold water helps the fabric last longer and stay vibrant.

When you wash raw denim, use no products of any kind: just your hands and a bit of mild soap and water. Avoid putting them in the washing machine or dryer as they will no doubt shrink, lose their colour and become misshapen.

G Star Raw Triple A Straight Jeans

G Star Raw Triple A Straight Jeans


Wash White Jeans Separately

This one almost goes without saying but it’s worth mentioning. Wash white jeans separately from other garments to prevent dye transfer and discolouration. Denim fabrics pick up colour from other fabrics, so make sure to wash separately in cold water and on a gentle cycle.

Lastly, when it comes to drying white denim hang them up or lay them flat to avoid fading.


Spot Clean Isolated Stains

If your jeans are otherwise clean it’s a good idea to remove stains from them instead of throwing them into a machine wash. This will reduce the wear and tear on the fabric from frequent washing cycles. You’ll keep them looking newer for longer.

To do this simply apply a stain-removing product directly to the isolated stained area on the dry jeans, wait a few minutes then clean off with a damp cloth.

Diesel 1979 Sleenker Jeans

Diesel 1979 Sleenker Jeans


How To Wash Jeans – A Summary


– Use only a small amount of gentle detergent when washing jeans in a machine

– Remove jeans from the washer immediately to avoid wrinkles

– Don’t dry jeans for too long as they can shrink and become over-dried

– Add salt & vinegar to the wash cycle to prevent colour bleeding

– Raw denim should be washed by hand in cold water every 6 months or longer

– White jeans should be washed separately in cold water. Do not tumble dry

– Spot clean isolated stains with stain remover product and a damp cloth



Follow these denim care steps, and you’ll prevent fading. Your jeans will look as good as new even after repeated washes. That way, your new jeans will last much longer.



Check out the full range of designer jeans from Mainline Menswear

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