When it comes to denim maintenance, there's always a huge debate on whether or not they should be washed. There are two main camps: (a) denim aficionados that view washing as a cardinal sin, (b) hygiene devotees are all for rinse, cycle, and repeat after every wear.
I have been sitting on the fence for many years, being tormented by the logic of both camps. To me, denim that comes out of the wash never seems to fit the same exact way as when I first bought them! So confession: I rarely ever wash my jeans, unless I have stained them.
Here are two main reasons behind not washing them for as long as possible.
1. It shrinks the jeans
Washing agitates the denim, which makes the fibers on the cotton fabric swell and bloom. That causes the yarns to tense up and get shorter, shrinking the jeans.
2. The colour fades
When you wash them, the abrasive actions of rubbing (especially if it's tumbled against other clothes in a machine) and wringing them dry can erode the dye and discolour your jeans. The brighteners in laundry detergents might also alter the colour of your jeans.
Fun fact: A study conducted by a University revealed that the bacteria levels on a pair of jeans not washed for over a year with a pair that's washed after 2 weeks of wear were practically identical!
But of course, we are just talking about bacterial levels. In Singapore's humid tropical weather, it's very difficult to feel clean in denim that hasn't been washed because of all that sweat and dirt that gets onto the jeans- through accidental spills and us cleaning our hands on our jeans!
Our recommendation: Wash your jeans after every 8 wears, and wash them with care.
If you are worried about ruining your jeans, you can also follow these tips when you're washing your denim.
1. Tub wash them with cold water If you are really concerned about the harshness of the machine, try tub washing.
You basically run cold water into the tub (or pail if you don't have a tub) and add soap.
Wait for the soap to be completely dissolved in the water and and completely submerge your jeans in the tub. Agitate your jeans a couple of times under the water and leave them in the tub for about 30 minutes.
Agitate your jeans one more time before you drain the soapy water out and refill it with cold water. Leave your jeans in for another 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the remaining soap out and you can let your jeans hang dry!
2. Turn them inside out
To prevent abrasion throughout the wash cycle, turn them inside out. This is the key to extending the life of colour and material, especially if the denim is dark.
3. Always air dry
The dryer is the biggest nemesis of jeans! Putting them in the dryer tends to be the cause of fading, shrinking and unwanted distressing.
Also, fabrics shrink when left in the dryer too long, so they end up looking over-dried and "fried". Best way to dry them? Hang them inside out (this helps preserve the colour) on a clothing pole and let it air dry.
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