How to Actually Take Care of Your Denim
So your 501s stay with you forever.
Using the word “trend” to describe anything to do with denim almost seems wrong—it’s hands down the most perennial item in our wardrobe. But recently, more than ever, denim has been having a massive resurgence—especially in the luxury space. And if you’re going to shell out a paycheck on a pair of reworked and re-imagined jeans, or just discovered the unicorn that is a perfectly-fitting vintage 501, you’re going to want to make them last forever. Which is exactly why we’ve laid down some ground rules for caring for your denim.
Before We Go Into The Rules:
What kind of denim do you have?
It’s the raw vs. pre-washed debate. Scratch that, it’s not really a debate, we’re just going to tell you how to know the difference. First, raw denim is uniform in color; it’s a dark wash and very stiff upon purchase. It’s the kind of denim you can’t wear a white tee with, or sit on any light-colored surfaces, but they get better and better with age. On the other hand, pre-washed denim is the worn-in, sometimes distressed pair already broken in for you.
1. Don’t Wash
This is not a PSA per se, because at this point, you’ve heard endless tales on why you should avoid throwing your jeans into the wash. Here’s the thing, putting your dark denim in the machine is only going to cause it to fade…fast. Another thing: your distressed denim is already a bit vulnerable, so the tumbling and rubbing action is only going to promote more fraying (unless that’s what you’re after). It’s also better for the environment—less wash = less water used = less detergent being flushed into our water. Hold off washing as long as possible—at least 10 wears—we’re about to give you a few insider tips as to how to get away with it.
2. Spot Clean
If you’ve spilt a little something-something on your jeans, just use a super mild detergent and small cloth to dab it away. Do. Not. Wash.
3. Freshen up in the dryer, freezer or steamer
So you’re on wear 12 of your denim culottes, and they’re in need of a little refreshing. Throwing them in the dryer on low with a dryer sheet works wonders for the just-wash smell—but use caution with raw denim. Or, toss them in the freezer to neutralize any odors, just warn your roommate first. Lastly, use your steamer to kill any odor-causing bacteria.
4. Wash mild and cold
When you’ve felt like you’ve reached peak-wear and it’s time to finally give them a wash, make sure to use the mildest soap you can find, turn your denim inside out and put it on a cold, gentle cycle. Cold water not only uses less energy, but it also makes the fibers and dyes of your denim less vulnerable to wear and fade. Better yet, hand wash them. Don’t scrub or wring them out or you’ll disturb the natural color and fibers. Always hang to dry. Editor’s tip: if after hanging to dry they get too stiff, throw them into the dryer for a few minutes to soften.
5. Store them properly
We’re not sure if you’re trying to be extra adult or something when you decide to hang your denim in your closet, but don’t. Just fold them, stack them, then admire them.
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