Washing and drying jeans: wash and care tips for denim.

How to wash jeans

Denim is undoubtedly one of the most popular fabrics in the world and it is hard to imagine a wardrobe without it. In general, cotton is robust and durable, but still requires careful care just like a pair of jeans that contain spandex. At what temperature should you wash jeans? What should you be aware of when choosing a laundry detergent? Can you tumble dry denim? In this article we will give you some handy tips on how to wash and care for your jeans so that you can get the most out of them.

Washing jeans: it’s best to wash at a low temperature with a colour laundry detergent.

Tips and advice on how to wash jeans

Jeans were originally produced as durable clothes for work before they became a fashionable everyday item of clothing. Denim is durable when it is properly cared for and this is why it is important to look after your jeans to ensure they maintain a good fit and they are long-lasting. What is the best way to wash your jeans and to avoid any discolouration?

Washing jeans at a low temperature

As a rule, you should always wash jeans at a low temperature. Depending on the material composition, 30 or 40 degrees is sufficient to clean your jeans and at the same time protect the fibres. In order to avoid damaging the fabric in jeans you should select a spin programme with a maximum speed of 1000 to 1200 revolutions and for stretch jeans 800 revolutions are advised.

Choosing the correct washing machine program

Most jeans can be washed in a washing machine on a normal wash program. It is advised to wash bling jeans or any items of clothing made out of denim with a high stretch content or intricate designs and anything with embroidery on a delicates wash program.

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The right laundry detergent for denim

It is recommended to use a colour laundry detergent for blue and black jeans as this will help to stop the colours from fading. Jeans with a high spandex content can also be washed with a mild laundry detergent if you want to make sure that the fibres don’t get damaged. However, you should not use any heavy-duty detergents to wash jeans as they contain bleaching agents, which can cause the colours to fade.


Make sure to check the fibre content label on your pair of jeans before washing them. Lots of jeans are mostly made out of cotton, but some types of jeans have been made with mixed materials such as polyester or spandex. The care label, therefore, gives you precise instructions on how to wash and care for your jeans so that the properties of the materials remain intact.

Drying jeans: it’s best to leave jeans to dry in the fresh air.

How to dry jeans

It’s best to wash jeans at a low temperature, but the important question is can you tumble dry your jeans? Check the care label as this will tell you if you can put your jeans in the tumble dryer. In many cases, the garment care label will say tumble drying jeans is acceptable.

Generally, it is best to leave your jeans to air dry. The heat in the tumble dryer can damage both the cotton fabric of the jeans and the elastane fibres in pairs of jeans that are stretchy. As a result, this will shrink your favourite pair of jeans or they may not fit as well. Therefore, it is best to put your jeans on the clothesline outside to dry. However, keep in mind that dark denim in particular should not be exposed to direct sunlight, as this can fade the colour.

How to freshen up your jeans without washing them

Washing items of clothing made out of denim too often can damage the material. There are a couple of ways to fresh up your denim clothes as listed below, which will ensure that they stay fresh and you can enjoy them for longer:

  • Airing jeans: if you have a balcony or garden, you can simply hang up your worn jeans and leave them to air overnight. This method is gentle on the materials, easy to implement and saves energy.

  • Cleaning your jeans with steam: if your jeans have an unpleasant smell such as from smoke or food you can give them a quick steam clean. Simply hang up your jeans in the bathroom before you take a shower and the steam from the shower will help to get rid of any unpleasant odours.

  • Freezing your jeans: pop your jeans in the freezer and leave them there overnight. The next day take them out and leave them to defrost and dry lying down. The cold will kill any of the bacteria which is causing the unpleasant odours and this will make your pair of jeans smell fresh again.

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Washing jeans – a close-up photo of a pair of jeans.
FAQs on how to wash your jeans
What should you keep in mind?
How often should you wash jeans?

Jeans need to be washed less often than other types of clothes. If you wash your jeans too often it can damage the fibres and over time the fabric will become thinner and they may also end up not being a good fit. Therefore, you only need to wash your jeans after you have worn them about five or six times. Alternatively, you can leave them out overnight to air and clean any small stains per hand instead of washing them in the washing machine.

Can you wash jeans with other types of clothes?

It's advised to wash jeans with other items of clothing that have a similar colour and are made out of denim. Blue jeans and dark jeans can also be washed on a colours wash. Make sure to do up all the zips and fasten any buttons and then turn your pair of jeans inside out so that they don't damage any other clothes in the washing machine. You could also put your jeans in a large delicates laundry bag to stop them from catching or damaging your other clothes.

Will jeans shrink after you have washed them?

If you wash jeans at a high temperature there is a risk they could shrink and this will make them feel tighter. Jeans that also contain cotton will shrink if they are washed at 60 degrees or above. They will become shorter and they will no longer have a comfortable fit. Stretch jeans should also not be washed at a high temperature as the heat can damage the stretchy materials.

Can you wash jeans with fabric softener?

Don’t use fabric softener when you wash your jeans. Especially for jeans that contain stretchy materials as the fabric softener can attack the fibres and cause the jeans to lose their elasticity or make them quite baggy.

Should you wash jeans before wearing them for the first time?

When you buy new clothes including jeans it is recommended to wash them before wearing them for the first time. This ensures that any dust particles and residues from the production process are removed. In addition, it is often the case that dark jeans can initially stain other items of clothing or even furniture. Therefore, it is important to sort your laundry before washing and to not mix darks with lights especially when washing jeans. In addition, before washing your jeans for the first time you can leave them to soak overnight in a bath of vinegar (1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water). This will help to stop the colour in your new jeans from running onto your other clothes in the wash.

How to wash jeans: the most important questions about denim care.

Conclusion: washing jeans the right way

Denim is a tough material that needs gentle care. Fortunately, it's not difficult to wash and care for your jeans. Avoid washing jeans at a high temperature and avoid any laundry detergents that contain bleaching agents and don’t forget to double check the care label on your jeans for the exact details of how they should be washed. This will help you to wash your jeans correctly so that they don’t shrink and you can enjoy your favourite pair of jeans for longer!

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The image sources in this text are in chronological order:

Cover photo: C&A

1. Image in text: iStock.com/Damian Lugowski

2. Image in text: iStock.com/July Ko

3. and 4. image in text: C&A