Should You Wash Your Jeans? Not If You Can Avoid It!

November 05, 2014

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Like Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part, and some people just can’t wait for their jeans to get that faded, worn look. People try lots of things to create that look artificially, from whipping their jeans against the ground to rubbing them with a steel wire brush, but there’s no substitute for the real thing.

When denim fades, it tells a story. Not just any story, your story. Those are your wallet and phone and keys that distress the fabric around your pockets, and your steps that leave faded patches around the knees. Like so many things in life, the faded look is much more satisfying when you’ve earned it.

So, hopefully you’ve heard me out, because I may blow some minds when I say this. I’ve only put my jeans in the wash twice! Yes, I don’t wash my jeans! They’re definitely not going in the dryer–the stuff you pull out of the lint trap is your clothes, or at least it was before it went in there. And I’m not the only one. Levi Strauss, the Godfather of Denim and founder of Levi’s caused quite a stir earlier this year when he said that he doesn’t wash his jeans, and neither should you!

So how do you break in a pair that tells your story and keep your jeans clean?

First you want raw denim

My favorite type of jeans is raw or dry denim. Raw/Dry denim is denim that has not been washed after the dye is applied. If you take care of these jeans without putting them in a washer, they can go years if not decades without being washed. This type of denim picks up all your characteristics. These are fade lines you will be proud of and you’ll want to preserve.

Nudie Grim Tim Original Dry Navy jeans have been my standby for about 9 months. They’re already feeling like something special.

Keep your denim clean without the water

Here's an interesting fact to keep in mind should you wash your jeans: did you know that it’s so cold in much of the Arctic that people can’t get sick—it’s too cold for germs to survive. So if you want your pants to stay clean, put them in a ziplock and toss them in the freezer, this will kill germs and bacteria. Just use the ziplock so they don’t come out smelling like frozen peas!

If you’re trying to get rid of a more general “stank” after a night in the freezer, just hang them outside in non-direct sunlight. The result will be no smell, no germs, just awesome-looking jeans that tell your story.

 

And if you really need to wash those jeans

If the “dry cleaning” above makes you uneasy, wash your raw denim in a tub of cold water with a cup of white vinegar. The white vinegar will set the dye in the denim and prevent premature fading.

If you don’t like hand washing, you can add the cup of vinegar to your wash cycle. I don’t favor this method because the washing machine will beat up your jeans.

Oh and don’t worry about the vinegar smell, after their bath, hang them out in non-direct sunlight and again, the smell will go away!

With a little change in your routine, you can have awesome denim that’s got your story written all over it. It may sound strange at first, but you’ll love the way your unwashed jeans look and feel!




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