How to Keep Your Denim Jeans Clean Without Washing Them

Caring for denim jeans is something of a hot topic in the fashion world – each person seems to have their own method that they swear by, whether that’s never washing them, or wading into the sea while you’re wearing them and trying to pretend that that’s a totally normal thing to be doing.

The CEO of Levi jeans, Chip Bergh, said that he hadn’t washed his favourite pair of jeans in a year. “I know that sounds totally disgusting. I know it does.” he said; “[But] I have yet to get a skin disease or anything else.” Quite a lot of other denim extraordinaires agree with the technique of not washing your jeans, with Huit Denim Co saying that “the longer you can go without washing your jeans, the more beautiful [they] will become.” The company does think that you should pop them in the machine every once in a while, but have written a post on what they call The No Wash Club, which promotes the idea that “raw denim is best given a good six months before washing. The indigo will have worn off in places where you make natural creases.” Daniel Corrington of Simon Miller says that “wearing raw denim consistently and not washing them will give you a more interesting pair of jeans down the road.” Everyone seems to agree – the way forward with raw denim in particular (more on what raw denim actually is down below) is to let them take the form of your body before you wash them for the first time, and only wash them when they really need it thereafter.

What’s Raw Denim?

Ah, the question that you didn’t even know that you needed the answer to. Raw denim is denim that’s just been cut off the loom, sewn into jeans and sold right on to you. This kind of denim hasn’t been washed or gone through any kind of distressing technique – you can usually identify it by how stiff it is. It’s up to you to wear the jeans in so that they take on your personal shape – Hence why you’re usually encouraged to avoid washing them until they really need it.

Pre-treated Denim

Most jeans nowadays are treated to give them a certain look before they’re sold, so don’t need to be broken in – but that doesn’t mean that you should be washing them willy nilly! Try to leave them as long between washes as you can – every time they’re thrown into the laundry or dryer, you’re going to be damaging the fibres a little more and washing away the dye. Not only that, but staving off a full on wash for as long as you can will save both money and water – a plus for the environment! Try to only wash them if they really need a deep clean or have gone particularly saggy and need a little bit of a shrink. I’ll write a post on how to wash your jeans next week.


Spot Cleaning

A lot of the time, you’re jeans aren’t actually going to be so dirty that you can’t just give them a little spruce up. Using these methods rather than giving them a proper wash will avoid changing their shape, so that they continue to fit you like a glove!

Instead of popping your jeans in the washing machine, you can just spot clean them as and when you need to. Grab an old toothbrush (probably best not to swipe your sisters’ one really) and whatever you might want to use for the stain, and do a little bit of scrubbing! Don’t use bleach for this method though – if it lightens the fabric, it’ll only be in that one spot.

Hang Them Out in the Sunshine

The sunshine isn’t entirely necessary for this one, but outside is much better than in a room where the air isn’t able to circulate. If you want to take that lovely fresh air-dried feeling to a new level, spray your jeans a little bit with some water (mix in an essential oil if you fancy, so that they smell lovely too) and leave them out in the breeze. By the time you next put them on, they’ll have that lovely fresh feeling without having been washed

Steam Them While You’re In the Shower

This one’s for when your jeans are looking clean, but need a little refresh. Next time the shower starts up, sneak your jeans into the bathroom so that they can soak up some steam – unless you don’t know whoever’s showering well enough that seeing your arm appear to hang up your jeans won’t scare them. I’ll let you use your own common sense with that. Make sure that your jeans aren’t folded in any way, because that won’t be as effective; either hang them from the waistband or upside-down using a skirt hanger with clips (read this post on which hangers you should be using in your wardrobe if you’re not sure what I mean by that) and let them get nice and steamy! The steam from the shower will freshen them up without causing them to change their shape – just make sure to hang them in open air until they’re completely dry before you put them back in your wardrobe.


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