You did it. Some would even say you achieved the impossible: You found the perfect pair of jeans. The last thing you want is to do something to jeopardize the longevity of your dynamite denim. Follow these rules to make sure you get the most out of your pair and achieve the perfectly worn-in fade of your dreams.
DON’T buy your jeans loose
Premium raw denim is a more complex fabric than you think. When you first don a pair in the store, you’ll likely want to shed them rather than live in them. But they’re supposed to be snug, because as you wear them in, the stiff, tight denim will mold to your body and can actually stretch up to two sizes. Stick with them and soon you’ll love them like an old pair of sweats.
DON’T machine wash
That’s right, step away from the washing machine. This is the first rule of raw denim, and experts actually recommend that you don’t wash your brand new pair for at least four to six months. The idea is that when you wash your new pair, the indigo dye is leached from the cotton, preventing you from attaining an authentic worn-in look. Also, the rough tumble of the appliance just wears on the fabric, adding unnecessary wear and tear.
DON’T use detergent
When you’re ready to give your jeans a little bath (obviously after the four-month mark), soak, don’t wash your precious denim. Let the jeans sit in cold water with a cup of pure, distilled white vinegar added to the mix for an hour. The vinegar will not only help kill odor-causing bacteria, it will help seal in that coveted indigo dye and ensure it doesn’t rub off on your surroundings. If you are not interested in the soaking processes, experts say you can wash your jeans on the delicate or hand wash setting of your machine, but instead of detergent, opt for all-preserving vinegar. (Your machine will get a good cleaning, too!)
DON’T toss them in the dryer
Your delicate denim hates the heat. In fact raw denim can shrink up to 10 per cent in the dryer, and if you’re just starting to get your groove on in your new pair, the last thing you want is to start working them in all over again. Your best bet is to let them air dry outside (weather and season permitting) or at home, hung up by the belt loops. You don’t want to bend or fold the denim, as you’ll have a hard time reversing any creases. Even though it can take up to two days for jeans to air dry, it’s also a good idea to slip them on while they’re still a bit damp to help them stretch into the right shape again.
DON’T be afraid of a little steam
If after a few weeks (or months) of wear, you start feeling like your jeans are getting a little funky, a little steam can do a lot of good. Either give them a good once-over with your trusty steamer, or even easier, hang your jeans up in the bathroom while you shower. The hot, sweet-smelling steam will naturally smooth out some of the creases and also impart a subtle scent. Slip them on once you’ve toweled off to make sure the lingering moisture from the damp air doesn’t cause any shrinkage.
DON’T be afraid to think outside the (ice) box
The latest and perhaps quirkiest denim-do involves a can of Febreze and your freezer. It’s not some strange science experiment, it’s actually thought to be an effective way of refreshing a funky pair of jeans. Simply spray your pair with a dose of Febreze or any other fabric refresher, let them dry (otherwise you’ll end up with a frozen pile of denim — see next step), and then pop them in the freezer overnight. The idea is that the icy blast will actually kill some of the stinky bacteria and also lock in the fresh scent.
DON’T fold your jeans
In the same vein as not laying your jeans on a rack to dry, it’s best to not fold your jeans any more than necessary during your pursuit of the perfect worn-in look. If you’re after body-mimicking whiskering and colour-faded knees and pockets, don’t add the extra fabric distress of folding. So what’s the recommended storage method? Shed and drop. Yup, denim enthusiasts go against everything mom taught you about picking up after yourself.
DON’T soap a stain
If you happen to spill something or get a stain on your beloved jeans, you’ll want to avoid using soap or detergent to remedy the situation. The harsh chemicals can remove excess dye and create an unflattering light spot in the fabric. Instead, blot the area and then dab it with a Magic Eraser or damp towel. And whatever you do, don’t get too creative and start rubbing and scrubbing away — you’ll just end up with a bigger mess than you started with.