This Is How Often You Should Really Be Washing Your Jeans, Experts Say

Allie Hogan
·4 min read

After breaking in a new pair of jeans over a couple of wears, you dread throwing them in the wash and risking the chance of them shrinking, fading, or dyeing your other clothes blue. It doesn't seem like there's a hard-and-fast rule about how often you should wash your jeans, and all you have to go off of is the tiny faded tag inside your denim. We have some good news for the lazy launderers and jean purists out there. As gross as it may seem, most experts advocate for the smell test. When it comes to washing your denim, your sniffer should have the last say. Keep reading to learn why you don't need to wash your jeans weekly, and for more laundry tips, This Is How Often You Should Really Be Changing Your Sheets, Experts Say.

While abiding by the smell test might sound like taking the easy way out, studies have shown that denim doesn't collect germs and dirt the way other fabrics do. In 2011, Josh Le, a student at the University of Alberta, conducted an experiment about the durability of jeans, as ABC News reported. Le wore the same pair of jeans for 15 months, sporting the jeans about 330 times without washing them. Le's professor tested the bacteria levels of the jeans throughout the study and found that they contained the same amount of bacteria at the end of the 15 months as they did at under two weeks of wear.

And jean designers warn customers against washing jeans too frequently. While on CNN Business' Markets Now, the CEO of Levi's, Chip Bergh, said he went over a decade before washing his jeans. However, it seems the company isn't quite as conservative with their washes as their CEO. A report published by Levi's in 2015 suggested washing your jeans after every 10 wears, which is good for the environment and your denim.

"You can perform a smell test on your jeans to check whether they require washing," says Natalie Barrett, quality supervisor at Nifty Cleaning Services. How often you should clean your jeans varies from person to person.

"The reality is that the frequency of jeans washing depends entirely on how often you use them and for what purposes," says Barrett. "If you're doing heavy-duty tasks or live in a hot climate, you may be more inclined to wash your jeans more often. However, if you wear them after showering to do daily tasks, they don't warrant as much attention."

To keep your jeans in perfect condition, here are six expert tips on washing your denim, and for items that need to be washed more frequently, This Is How Often You Should Be Changing Your Towel.

1

Soak your jeans in soapy water.

Soaking jeans
Soaking jeans

Opting out of the washing machine will help your denim last longer. "Fill a tub with water, pour in a tiny bit of detergent, and let them soak for up to 45 minutes," instructs Barrett. "Remove the water from the tub and refill with fresh water. This time, let the jeans spend 10 minutes with the clean water, and then gently rinse them."

Barrett says this is a 100 percent safe and results-proven method for cleaning your jeans that is better than tossing them in the machine. And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

2

If you do put your jeans in the machine, choose the right cycle.

Washing jeans in machine
Washing jeans in machine

Barrett suggests avoiding a heavy-duty cycle if you're throwing your jeans in the washing machine. "Select a delicate washing cycle designed for more sensitive materials," she notes.

3

Use the right detergent.

Washing machine and detergent
Washing machine and detergent

Just as important as when you wash your jeans is what you choose to wash them with. Barrett recommends selecting a mild detergent that's suitable for the color of your jeans. And for more laundry guidance, This Is How Often You Should Really Be Washing Your Pillow.

4

Always use cold water when washing your jeans.

Hand washing jeans with brush
Hand washing jeans with brush

Whether you're washing your jeans by hand or in a machine, be sure to stick to cold water to avoid shrinkage, advises Barrett. And for more essential hygiene advice, discover The Grossest Thing You're Definitely Doing After a Shower, Experts Say.

5

Turn your jeans inside out when washing them.

Jeans turned inside out
Jeans turned inside out

Barrett suggests turning your jeans inside out before washing them in a machine to protect the fibers from friction and mitigate the potential of the color fading.

6

Don't put your jeans in the dryer.

Line drying jeans outside
Line drying jeans outside

"Avoid drying your jeans in the dryer as the heat can cause them to shrink and can amend their original form," says Barrett. "Furthermore, it can harm the spandex or Lycra of your jeans, influencing their stretching abilities. " Hang or lay your jeans flat to dry to help preserve them. And for washing machine uses that will stun you, check out these Surprising Things You Can Clean in Your Washing Machine.