How to Wash Your Jeans Plus Tips to Care for Distressed, Dark, and Stained Denim

You just invested in some perfect-fitting designer jeans. These will be an essential staple in your wardrobe, and you’ve already gotten so much wear from them. As the time is approaching to get them washed, you’re questioning, what can I do to ensure they don’t shrink, fade, or rip? 

I’m going to break down all the ways to care for your new jeans, so they last through the next few seasons of your life. You can shop my favorite cleaning products from here or the links below.


When washing denim, what is the secret to keeping them lasting long? Only throwing them in the washer a few times a season (a season is about 4 months). The less you wash them, the better they wear. Denim is meant to withstand body oils and other environmental elements that come in contact with them. According to denim pro Mary Pierson, “…diehard denim wear have gone TWO YEARS without washing their go-to jeans.” That’s a little much for me, but it shows how well denim holds up when cared for properly.


Because you won’t go 2 years without washing your jeans, let’s talk about how to launder them to make them last. Cool is always best and turn those jeans inside out. When they come out of the wash, hang them to dry on a pant hanger in your bathroom or laundry room. Don’t put them in the dryer; you can shrink them, and that’s a definite no-no, especially if you’ve had your pants tailored to your waist or hemmed up to the perfect spot. You’ll notice that hanging them to dry causes them to harden, but it’s great to break them in again as you wear them, and they’ll quickly soften to your body again.


In this case, please put them in the drier, and it’ll shrink them back to place. This typically doesn’t happen with more expensive jeans. It mainly occurs with lower-end/cheaper jeans options but not always! Women’s KUT jeans hold together really well. Some of their styles are a great mix of soft and rough, which is the perfect combo.

For designer jeans like AG, Paige, Hudson, or any of your other favorite brands, they stretch out because of time. That is totally normal, and it’s part of letting go and replacing them with something new. You know they are stretched out when the front thigh area around the back upper thigh is distorted and out of shape. This typically doesn’t happen for at least 2 years with designer denim. But, it can happen more quickly if you have few pants to rotate through and specifically wear one pair most often.


There’s a huge trend for men and women to get distressed hems or holes and ripped denim options. Sometimes clients get scared of buying them, thinking they’ll pull, and that’s a valid concern because it can happen if you wash or dry them incorrectly. The easiest way to keep your perfectly imperfect rips intact is to stick them in a mesh laundry bag. The parts aren’t pulled or caught in other clothes or the washer. Like regular denim, you want to turn them inside out before putting them into the mesh laundry bag. Use cold water, but in this case, wash on a delicate cycle. Hang them to dry like normal afterward.


If you accidentally stain your jeans, DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE WASHER without pre-treating them beforehand, or else the stain will be permanent.

There are so many formulas online, but my go-to is white vinegar. It’s an at-home product you can find in the pantry or at any grocery store, and it works on sweat, grass stains, mustard, blood, and so on. You want to pour some on and let it soak for 15 minutes, then wash and dry it as usual.

For a grease stain, the best option is to pour talc or artificial sweeteners on your pants and let them absorb the oil. I know it’s messy, but I’m sure you’ve experienced getting grease on a favorite piece. Having a mess on your pants is better than having them ruined forever! After it dries, scratch the talc or artificial sweeteners and pour more on if you can still see it. When you get home if you really want to get it out, use dish soap because it cuts grease. DON’T scrub it hard. You’ll break the fibers and make that part of your pant look faded.


It’s not recommended, especially if you had them hemmed perfectly to your body. But if it comes to getting them ready for the next day, and it really has to be washed and dried, so they’re ready to go, there is an option.

You can put them in the dryer on a low cycle and check them every few minutes. You want them to still be pretty damp, though. Take them out and hang dry them to finish them off.

Again, if your jeans have stretched out, it’s ok to keep them in the dryer longer to bring them back together.


Don’t let the color bleed out in the rest of your laundry! Keep these items you wash separately from the rest of your clothing. You can also use Woolite Darks Defense Detergent to keep the color in them longer.


As you wear in your jeans and wait weeks or days between washes (whatever your preference is), use Febreeze! It’s an easy way to kill odors and have them ready to wear within minutes again. If you’ve never used this before, all you do is spray your jeans and let them air dry. Keep this handy for other clothes from your closet that needs a refresh before the next wash.

Jeans are an essential wardrobe piece, so follow these tips next time they need a wash. Have you tried any of these tricks before? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more styling tips? Be sure to follow me on Instagram @thecloset.edit and TikTok @theclosetedit!

tannya bernadette

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