Keep your trusty pair of jeans looking fabulous for longer with our essential denim care tips from the experts at one of our favourite denim brands – Outland Denim, and the Eco-Age textile consultants.
Skinny, straight, cropped or flare, denim jeans are a wardrobe staple to carry you through the seasons – and most of us have at least one pair hanging in our closets. Versatile, reliable, comfortable – you can throw on a pair with a woollen jumper and your ethical sneakers for a casual look, or dress them up for a night out on the town. But for all denim’s merits, this everyday staple comes with a hefty impact on both people and the planet, requiring significant water, chemicals and energy during production and a staggering 3,600 litres of water over the lifecycle of a single pair. And with an estimated 6 billion new pairs of jeans produced each year – that very quickly adds up.
One of the best ways to mitigate some of this impact, aside from investing in jeans from one of the growing number of ethical denim brands, is to keep your jeans for as long as possible – and to do that requires an appropriate level of care.
Here are our top tips for how to protect your denim’s longevity and keep your jeans looking fresher for longer:
- Pull up by the waistband: never pull up or readjust your jeans by tugging at the belt loops, unless you are prepared to stitch them up again when they rip! Instead, pull up via the waistband, which is much stronger.
- Wash Less: “wear well and wash less: You can save over 2,000 litres of water per year by washing once a month as opposed to once a week (and spend less time in the laundry),” say the Outland Denim experts. “Denim ages better when it is washed less – win win!”
- Fasten up: always close zips or buttons and turn your denim inside out before washing.
- Spot clean in between washes: if your jeans don’t need a full wash but have picked up a dirty mark or two, you might be able to use a damp cloth or even an old toothbrush with mild detergent to remove small stains in between washes – helping to keep your jeans looking fresh while avoiding unnecessary washing cycles. However, if your denim is raw finish or no finish then this should be avoided, as spot cleaning can remove the dye completely to create white spots.
- Freeze to remove odours: if your jeans are not visibly dirty you can freeze them to kill the odour- producing germs.
- Don’t wash too hot: make sure you aren’t washing your jeans on too high a temperature, ideally at 30°C maximum. “Over time, heat can cause fading or damage to your jeans,” says Outland Denim. “Up to 90% of the energy consumed in washing can be attributed to water heating. Save energy (and your electricity bill) by reaching for your machine’s cold cycle.” However, if your jeans are particularly dirty or you are using an enzyme detergent, you may need to increase the temperature slightly to ensure they are properly clean and will last until the next wash.
- Prefer to hand wash? Use cold to lukewarm water, a mild detergent and leave your jeans to soak for a maximum of 45 minutes. Then rinse three times with clean water.
- Air dry: flatten, reshape and hang to air dry post-wash, saving energy and your denim in the process by skipping the tumble dryer, which both uses a lot of energy, contributes to indoor air pollution, and can damage the fibres of your denim.
- Dry in the shade: take care to avoid direct sunlight, as this can fade denim. Instead, lay out to dry naturally in the shade or indoors.
- Skip the iron: “any creases will iron out naturally after a few minutes of wear,” says Outland Denim.
- Hang carefully: fold at the knee and hang through a wooden hanger to store in your wardrobe.
Read our guide on how to care for wool.
FInd more tips in our guide on how to care for your clothes to make them last longer.