Skip links
Denim Jean Jackets

How to Properly Wash & Care for Your Denim

You’ve invested in a great pair of denim jeans, and now you’re wondering how to keep them looking their best. It’s not as straightforward as tossing them in the washer. Denim needs more TLC to maintain its shape, color, and overall quality.

Understanding how to wash your denim correctly can extend its lifespan and keep you looking sharp. Whether it’s your favorite pair of high-end designer jeans or your go-to denim jacket, these washing tips will help. We’ll guide you through the process, ensuring your denim stays in top-notch condition.

Preparing Your Denim for Washing

When washing your denim, prep before thinking about a heavy-duty wash. After all, you’ve spent good money on those jeans or that jacket. Make sure that you follow the next steps to prep your denim for washing properly:

Inspect your Denim

Life can be messy, and stains are unavoidable. Your first action should be carefully examining your denim for any stains or spills. Treating these areas before washing is always best to ensure they’ll come out in the wash.

Empty your Pockets

Remember to empty the pockets of your denim jeans or jacket. You’d be surprised how many forgotten items end up in the wash, potentially ruining your precious denim. Pens, tissues, money—they all need to come out before the wash.

Invert your Denim

An insider tip for maintaining the vibrant color of your denim is to turn it inside out before washing. This reduces the dye’s direct exposure to water and detergents, slowing down the fading process.

Remember, prepping your denim for washing is as vital as the washing process. It’s worth taking the time to do it right if you want to maintain its quality, shape, and color.

Now that your denim is ready for washing, let’s move on to the washing process.

Choosing the Right Washing Method

After prepping your denim, it’s time to focus on the washing method. Now, you may be thinking, “Washing is simple. Just toss them in the washer.” But remember, your denim is not a regular clothing item, and treating it as such could lead to early wear and tear.

Manual Washing is the safest way to clean your denim, especially high-quality or raw ones. Fill a large tub or sink with cold water and add a mild detergent. Submerge your denim and gently agitate with your hands. Rinse thoroughly, ensuring no detergent remains, as it can degrade the denim fibers. Don’t wring it; instead, press the water out gently.

Machine Washing: If you opt for convenience, machine washing is acceptable for most denims. However, adhere to certain practices for the best results. Use a gentle cycle with cold water, avoid harsh detergents, and never overfill the machine. The friction generated by overcrowded Washing could harm your denim.

Dry Cleaning: Some individuals swear by dry cleaning, which eliminates the risk of shrunk denim. However, this method can be costly and exposes denim to harsh chemicals, which could affect its lifespan.

With these methods, unique factors such as denim’s color and quality should be considered. Also, always read the care label; some may require specific washing approaches.

Handwashing Your Denim

Handwashing is considered the gentlest method for washing denim and one of the best ways to wash clothes, according to the George Mason University’s historical archives. Here are a few steps to follow to ensure the longevity and quality of your favorite denim items.

First up – preparation. Fill a tub or sink with lukewarm or cool water; hot water can cause denim to shrink and fade. Next, add a small amount of mild detergent. You don’t need a lot; a little goes a long way. And if you’re washing dark-colored denim, consider using a detergent specifically designed for dark colors to help prevent fading.

Next, the cleaning process itself. Submerge your denim in the water and lightly agitate with your hands. Avoid scrubbing or twisting, as this may distort the denim fabric’s shape and cause unwanted creases or fades. Treat any stain with a remover or gently rub the soiled area with a soft brush.

After cleaning, drain the water and fill the sink or tub with fresh water for rinsing. Rinse thoroughly until all soap is removed. It’s crucial not to leave any soap residue as it can damage the denim over time.

Another noteworthy tip: don’t wring out the denim to dry. Instead, lay it flat onto a towel and roll the towel up to absorb the excess water. Then, unroll and leave your denim to air dry.

There we go. That’s the basics of handwashing denim. Although it may seem a bit intimidating at first, you’ll find it quite straightforward once you get the hang of it. With proper care and attention, you can keep your denim items looking their best for years to come. Now, let’s move on to the next topic—drying denim. It’s just as crucial as washing and requires similar careful handling to maintain the optimal condition of your garments.

Machine Washing Your Denim

If handwashing isn’t your speed, machine washing can do the trick, but it requires extra precautions. Before getting started, it’s important to understand your machine settings and consider the type and color of your denim.

Always check the care label before tossing that treasured pair of jeans into the washer. This small label carries crucial information that’ll guide your washing process, preventing your denim from turning into a different shade or, worse, a different size.

When you opt for a machine wash, remember to:

  • Turn your denim inside out: This step is crucial as it reduces the risk of color bleeding and prevents your denim from experiencing excessive wear.
  • Use a mild detergent: It’s better for your denim and the environment.
  • Select the right program: Use a gentle or delicate wash cycle – typically a setting with less agitation and a slower spin cycle.

Be mindful of the load size as well. Denim is heavy when wet and can cause an imbalanced load. To balance things out, add some towels or other heavier items of similar color.

It’s always tempting to buzz that dryer after a good wash. Stop right there. Your denim loves air more than heat; giving it a nice, natural dry can help it retain its original shape and texture. However, there are some precautions and steps that need to be followed while air drying your denim as well. Let’s look into the dos and don’ts of air drying your denim.

Drying and Storing Your Denim

So, you’ve carefully washed your denim. Now what? Undeniably, careful drying and effective storage methods are crucial parts of denim care.

Let’s start with drying. Do not, under any circumstance, throw your wet denim into a machine dryer. The high heat can cause the fibers to break down, shrink, fade, and lose shape. Instead, opt to air dry.

First, gently squeeze out excess water. Avoid wringing or twisting your denim—it puts unnecessary strain on the fibers. Shake them out gently to restore their natural shape. Lay the denim flat on a clean towel. Roll up the towel, pressing it to help absorb extra moisture.

Once the denim is damp, hang it up to air dry naturally. Straight legs or skinny jeans can hang long. Secure cuffed or pleated styles so the detailing stays in shape. Make sure all zippers and buttons are done up. This holds the garment’s shape and reduces the chance of creasing.

Next, let’s talk about storing your denim. Overcrowding your closet can result in wrinkles and undesired crease lines. Each denim garment needs enough space to breathe, so keep them folded and avoid stacking too high.

Denim jackets and distressed denim are best hung up – folding can damage the distressed areas. Jeans, however, are happiest when folded. To prevent creases:

  1. Try the “file fold” method.
  2. Fold your denim in half from left to right.
  3. Grab the stacked legs and fold them in half so the hems align with the waistband.
  4. Do a third fold so your denim fits like a filed document into the drawer.

For extra special pieces that aren’t worn often, consider storing them in a breathable fabric garment bag. It’ll protect them from dust and other potential damages. You’ve invested in your denim, so treat them right, and they’ll return the favor.


So there you have it. You’ve learned how to give your denim the TLC it deserves. Remember, the longevity of your denim relies heavily on how you care for it. So, opt for hand washing or dry cleaning over machine washing. Use mild detergent and lukewarm water, and avoid harsh scrubbing. Rinse well and allow your denim to air dry naturally rather than using a machine dryer. For storage, keep your denim pieces from overcrowding and use the ‘file fold’ method. For those extra unique pieces, consider a breathable fabric garment bag. Following these steps will keep your denim looking its best for years. Happy washing and caring for your denim!

Clotheslyne: A Professional Laundry Solution

For those who prefer professional laundry care, Clotheslyne provides an ideal solution. Through the app, you can hire Clotheslyners for expert laundry services, including washing, drying, and folding of clothes and bulky items.

Choosing Clotheslyne ensures your laundry is handled with care and expertise. It’s convenient for those who value their time and prefer professional laundry services.

To use Clotheslyne, download the iOS Apple App or Google Play Store Android app to schedule your laundry pick up.

You can also schedule your laundry pick up through our web portal.

Fill up a tall kitchen bag full of clothes. A Clotheslyner in your community will pick it up and deliver it back to you washed, dried, and folded in 48 hours. It’s that simple.

Got a question for us? Head over to our contact us page and make a custom request by email or by phone! We’re here to help.

FREE pickup and delivery laundry services for less than drop-off at your local laundromat!