Denim Featured

Washing jeans: a myth?

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Does Machine Washing Ruin the Look of Unique Jeans?

When you have purchased a pair of unique jeans, should you really avoid washing them for months on end? That seems to be the message coming straight from the top of the jeans world. According to Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh, there’s no need to machine wash denim regularly. In his opinion, regular machine washing makes it impossible to achieve the well-worn look common to all raw denim jeans.

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The thinking behind his claim is simple. If you wash indigo-dyed denim jeans every few weeks after first starting to wear them, you will remove indigo uniformly across their fabric. Instead of allowing creases to appear where the indigo has worn away, regular washing erases those creases, resulting in much less interesting and unique jeans.

Machine washing also gives jeans a washed out appearance as the rich indigo of their original appearance (the reason you bought them in the first place) is steadily replaced by a murky blue. At the same time, their texture degrades. They lose the crisp stiffness that they had when you felt them in the store, becoming soft and limp – ruining their fit and making them much less enjoyable to wear.

How Should You Wash Your Jeans?

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For Bergh, the answer is to pay incredibly close attention to the state of your jeans. Whenever he notices a stain, he zooms in on the problem and washes the affected area with a toothbrush. Others say that the solution lies among your ice cream containers and popsicles. By freezing jeans for up to a week in a zip-lock bag, you can remove most of the bacteria that cause them to smell without compromising their well-worn look.

However, there’s not much evidence that freezing really does freshen up your jeans and the odor of unwashed denim will often return almost overnight. But what if there was a compromise between wearing jeans for years on end and keeping them clean and odor free?

Actually, there may well be. According to the jeans maker Tellason, after six months of regular wear, the unique appearance of raw denim jeans should be established. After that point, it’s usually fine to start washing them, but do so carefully. Tellason recommend that you wash them by hand or on delicate washing settings that use cold water, and try to dry your jeans in the open air.

Respect the Special Properties of Raw Fabric

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However, denim purists like Bergh would argue that even cold hand washing is too risky. The fact is that raw fabric is an unusual material and requires special care and attention to enjoy it at its best for as long as possible.

If you decide to purchase a pair of raw denim jeans, always bear in mind that washing them too soon will degrade their texture and color – and make it much harder to achieve a unique look. It takes a little courage to deal with the smell of well-worn jeans, but for real denim fans, it’s a price worth paying for beautiful, comfortable and completely unique jeans.