Jeans are the world’s favorite choice of apparel, any day, any time, and on any occasion. There are many reasons we love to slip into a pair of denim jeans – comfort, price, versatility, or just to match our own personal style. Did you know that 25% of our carbon footprint comes from how we take care of our clothes. So, once we have our pair of favorite blue jeans, we must take care of them properly to make sure they last us a lifetime.
The numbers are in the ‘jeans’ 👖
- In an Aytm survey, 20% of participants said they wear jeans daily. While jeans or pants were the favorite choice of denim clothing for 86% surveyed.
- To grow enough cotton to produce a pair of good old blue jeans, 1,800 gallons of water is required.
- With about 7.5 billion feet of denim fabric manufactured annually, every American owns an average of 7 pairs of denim jeans.
Now, imagine what will happen if all those denim jeans are getting washed, on the same day! The amount of water wastage – Oh, the horror! 😱
The denim deliberation
Most pieces of clothing require to be washed after a single use (like underwear or gym clothes, for instance), while denim jeans – not really. However, most people who own and love denim jeans can never agree on how often we should, or should not, wash denim.
Most denim experts tell you ‘never wash your blue jeans;’ but never say never!
“If you’re trying to preserve the appearance of denim, you should only wash jeans—and I know this sounds gross—when they start to smell,” said Lana Blanc, a personal fashion stylist in NYC.
Yes, we’ve all heard the usual arguments: not washing helps your jeans look as good as new; it saves time and money on laundry. But perhaps the most significant reason, the one we really should focus on: it is good for the planet to not waste water by over-washing your jeans.
Consider this: If one regularly washes denim in the washing machine, it uses 19 gallons of water per load. With 5-6 loads of laundry per week per household, this amounts to over 5,000 gallons of water wasted each year.
And that’s where you should stop, think, and make this simple change: Stop over-washing your jeans.
How to make jeans last longer
These golden tips will guide you on how to take care of jeans and make them last much longer:
1) Avoid over-washing, unless necessary
To ensure your jeans stay in shape, look good, and last longer, don’t wash them too often. If they’re stained or smell, then, of course, go ahead. But, there’s no hard-and-fast set of denim laundry rules. Just remember that over-washing your jeans will cause the color to fade away and dim thread quality.
2) Reduce the wash cycle. Use cold water, always!
Whenever you wash denim, check the tags. It will specify how to take care of jeans while being washed. For brand new jeans, pre-soak them in cold water and scented vinegar, to prevent dye transfer and bleeding; wash separately. Chose the delicate setting on your washing machine. With lower speeds and a shorter wash cycle, your jeans are less likely to get stretched out or torn.
Remember: always use cold water — never hot water — when washing denim jeans.
3) Use less detergent. Turn jeans inside out.
Go easy on the detergent! Many detergents have harsh, brightening agents. So, if you use a softer detergent for darker jeans, the color of your jeans will last longer.
Always turn jeans inside out and wash them in cold water with a high-quality detergent (maybe one with fabric conditioner & color-guard technology.)
4) Try home alternatives while washing denim
Of course, there are simple home hacks while washing denim. Use two tablespoons of household vinegar/ rubbing alcohol and a spoon of salt. The vinegar kills odor-causing bacteria, while salt softens water to avoid damaging your denim fibers. Worried about discoloration? Throw in a few coffee grounds to help remove stains without damaging the collar of your jeans.
5) Air-drying is better; easy on the tumble dry
Hanging jeans out to dry is the simplest and most natural method of how to make jeans last longer. Air-drying keeps jeans softer, reduces wrinkles, and prevents them from shrinking. If you’re short on time, however, go easy on the spin cycle (while keeping it on its lowest setting) if you have to tumble dry your jeans.
6) Don’t wait around when the wash cycle ends
Don’t procrastinate. Get your jeans out of the washing machine right after the wash cycle ends. This will help prevent those horribly faded wrinkles. Then, gently squeeze off any excess water and leave it to dry.
7) Freeze your jeans overnight
Well, freezing your denim might sound like an old wives’ tale. While storing jeans inside a freezer won’t really make them cooler (pun intended), it can actually make them adequately cold to kill any odor-causing bacteria. Place your jeans into a ziplock bag before keeping it in the freezer, overnight. It will help to deodorize your jeans and make them last much longer.
8) Reuse old jeans with a distressed look and dyed colors
If your jeans are torn, stretched, faded, or lost their original snug fit, don’t give up! You can use your creativity and craft skills to upcycle old jeans, so you can reuse them for much longer. Make a few extra rips with a pair of scissors. Fray the edges by teasing the denim fibers with tweezers. Use washing machine dye to restore old jeans to their original color; or even better, dye them a different shade altogether. You won’t believe the number of people (and brands) who are paying big bucks, to get a pair of redesigned old jeans with a distressed look nowadays. And your customized old blue jeans will be your very own masterpiece!
The denim decision
Microbiologists say that not washing denim jeans doesn’t pose any health risks. A study by the University of Alberta showed that ‘even after using jeans for 15 months straight without washing, the bacteria count was surprisingly low.’
So, after reading this article, if you have decided to wash your denim less frequently, there are simple ways to keep them fresh and long-lasting. Don’t roll jeans up or keep them folded in a stuffed drawer; hang them up by their belt loops. If your jeans aren’t quite ready for a wash, let them breathe and air out, before you have to use them next. And read this guide to declutter and organize your home, for useful tips on keeping the clothes in your wardrobe fresh and long-lasting.
Check out these nine sustainable jeans brands that you can use much longer, using the tips above.