9 Key Tips to Make Your Jeans and Denim Last Longer

Good denim isn’t cheap. When you spend a good bit of cash on a pair of nice jeans, the last thing you want is for them to wear out quickly.

Thankfully, you have the power to extend the life of your favorite pairs of jeans. If you follow these simple tips and tricks, the denim you spent your hard-earned money on will last longer (and be more comfortable) than you ever thought possible.

1. Wash Infrequently

jeans pocket

This is the most important tips when it comes to wearing jeans (and it applies whether you’re talking about raw denim or basic jeans): don’t wash your jeans after each wear. Every time you run your jeans through the wash, more dye washes out and the material breaks down even more. The colors will fade and your denim won’t last long.

2. Only Wash in Cold Water

laundry room

As much as you want to avoid it, sometimes you do need to wash your jeans. How long you choose to go between washes will vary depending on what you’re doing when you wear your jeans (if you went sightseeing all day and sweated a lot) and if they’re physically dirty (like if you spilled something on them). When you do wash them, make sure to do it in cold water. This will prevent the jeans from shrinking and help keep the color from fading.

3. Hand Wash

If you really want to keep your jeans lasting forever, start washing them by hand instead of throwing them in the washing machine. This is the most gentle way to wash your jeans and will help keep the threads tight, the colors in place, and the dye locked and loaded.

4. Skip the Spin Cycle

washing machine settings

If you’re going to use the washing machine, pull your jeans out of the machine before the spin cycle, as this is the most violent portion of the wash. As soon as the rinse cycle ends, shut off your washer, pull out the jeans, and let them dry (more on how to dry them down below).

5. Wash Jeans Inside Out

denim close

Regardless of how you wash them, you should always wash jeans inside out. This will minimize the chance that they get damaged and will go even further towards making sure the color doesn’t fade. It takes just a couple of seconds to flip the jeans, and it’s totally worth the extra effort with what you’ll save in the long run.

6. Hang Dry and Air Dry

hanging jeans

With waterlogged jeans in hand, your first inclination may be to throw them in the tumble dryer. This is a bad idea! Tumble drying is rough and will cause damage to threads, and the heat will warp or even shrink the denim. Always take the time to hang your jeans up and let them drip dry. If you can’t hang them, lay them flat across a drying rack. The patience will pay off big time here.

7. Never Use Bleach

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This should seem like common sense, but it’s worth reminding you that jeans should never come in contact with bleach of any kind. It’s one thing to intentionally use bleach for certain designs and fade patterns, but if you want your jeans to retain their crisp new look for as long as possible, keep bleach far away.

8. Never Dry Clean

Dry celaner

You might think that since your jeans were expensive, dry cleaning is the way to go. However, the harsh chemicals used in dry cleaning have been shown to be bad for denim. Instead, follow the washing instructions we outlined above, and you’ll end up with cleaner jeans that last longer (and for cheaper, since dry cleaning can be expensive).

9. Wash With Table Salt the First Time

table salt

This is a cool trick for when you get a new pair of jeans. Throwing two tablespoons of run-of-the-mill table salt in the wash with a new pair of jeans can help set the dye, which may prevent color bleeding and fading over the long haul. And as an added bonus, the salt will even soften the jeans, making the break-in process more comfortable.

Dave LeClair

Dave is a staff writer at Modern Ratio. He's a long-time geek who turned on to style late in life, and now writes to share what he's learned with those who are just starting their own style journeys. He's based in Pennsylvania.