Most of us own at least one pair of jeans, but are you looking after them properly? Here are our tips for looking after your jeans so they last longer and potentially save you some money!
Why is it so important to keep your jeans for longer? Research showed that extending the active life of clothes by nine months could save around £5 billion a year and reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each.
To wash or not to wash?
That is the question. There is an ongoing debate about how often you should wash your jeans, especially if they are made from raw denim. The longer you leave them between washes, the more the denim softens, moulds to the shape of your body, and shows wear marks that make the jeans look unique. Some people go up to six months between washing their jeans – see The No Wash Club.
Freeze cleaning jeans
If your jeans need refreshing, why not try the freeze cleaning method? Fold your jeans and put them in a sealed plastic bag, then put them in the freezer for 24 hours. Freeze cleaning doesn’t remove dirt or stains, but it does kill the germs that cause jeans to smell.
According to a student-professor team that tested a pair of jeans at the University of Alberta, wearing raw denim jeans for 15 months without washing them does not pose any health risks. (Source).
How to wash your jeans
When you do need to wash and dry your jeans, there are some easy ways to make sure you keep the colour looking great and avoid any shrinking disasters.
- Read the label on your jeans for specific laundering instructions. NB: Some jeans should be washed on their own as the dye can run.
- Close zips, fasten buttons and turn jeans inside out before you wash (this reduces colour loss and fabric abrasion on the right side).
- Wash the jeans on a gentle cycle at a cool temperature (30°C) with similar colours.
- Avoid over-loading your washing machine to reduce creases and ensure a more thorough wash.
- Use a gentle (no bleach) washing detergent, or one designed for dark colours, to help prevent colour fade. Avoid using too much detergent - a little usually goes a long way.
- Fill a bath with approx 15cm of cool water and mix in a gentle washing detergent.
- Submerge your jeans in the bath, stretched out flat, and leave them to soak for 30 minutes.
- Rinse well, squeezing out as much water as you can, then dry.
- Turn the jeans the right way out and pull them into shape whilst damp. Either line dry or, if possible, dry flat to reduce the need for ironing.
- Avoid tumble drying as this can cause shrinkage, extra wear and tear and it also costs more.
Ironing your jeans
- Turn your jeans inside out.
- Set your iron to a high heat (cotton) setting using steam (please ensure you refer to the jeans care label – your jeans may need a cooler iron setting if not made from pure cotton).
- Use a soft cotton pressing cloth between the iron and the jeans.
- Iron the pocket bags first.
- Lay one leg at a time flat on the ironing board matching your seams (side to side). Iron the seams flat and then iron the inside of the leg. Flip the leg over and do the other side. Repeat this process for the second leg.
- Iron the waistband.
Mending your jeans
You can extend the life of your favourite jeans by mending or altering them.
If you don’t want to mend your jeans yourself, there are plenty of high street clothes repairers that could do it for you. There are also more specialist jeans repair/alterations services, such as The Denim Doctor.
If the colour has faded and there is still a lot of wear left in your jeans, consider dyeing them. Machine dye or hand dye is available in many colours from high street stores and online. It will cost approx £3.50 - £5.50 to dye one pair of adults jeans. You can also buy fabric paint to do a creative design on your jeans.
If your jeans really can’t be worn any more...
- Donate them to a charity shop (they can sell the jeans for the fabric to be reprocessed even if they can’t be worn).
- Re-make the jeans into something else – there are lots of really creative ideas available on the internet. Take a look at our collection of denim upcycling ideas on Pinterest to get you started.
- Alternatively, consider buying or leasing your jeans from a company such as MUD Jeans – they take back the jeans you have bought from them at the end of their life and re-use the materials.
And if you ever wondered where denim comes from and how it's made, try our Fabric focus blog on all things denim.