Posted on April 02 2015
Some swear you should never machine wash jeans (or wash them at all for that matter), but most of us toss this wardrobe staple in the washer along with other clothes every week. To keep your basic blue and black denim looking as new as possible, be sure to steer clear of these fabric-damaging mistakes.
1. Washing them right side out
No matter the cycle, the very act of machine washing and drying is abrasive to fabrics because the garments rub against each other in the turning, tumbling load. To help minimize the color loss this can cause, turn jeans inside out before placing them in the washer and leave them inside out until you remove them from the dryer. Zip all zippers and fasten all buttons and snaps, too.
2. Cramming too many pair in at once
The more garments you stuff into a load, the faster you'll get done, but the more the more wear and tear your fabrics will endure. Without room to move, zippers and rivets can snag and stitching can break. Your clothes should circulate or tumble freely, so they are thoroughly cleaned and dried and don't emerge from the machines in a tangled knot.
3. Choosing the wrong cycles
The newer you want your jeans to look, the gentler you have to wash and dry them. While hand washing and line drying is safest, it's also costly in terms of time and effort. Unless your jeans are particularly dirty, it's best to wash them in cold water, select one of the gentler cycles, and dry them at a low temperature.
4. Skipping a color-preserving detergent
Special detergents formulated to preserve dark colors really do work. They have ingredients to help fabrics hold onto dyes and to deactivate the chlorine in the water that can fade colors. If you want to keep your dark jeans dark, it's worth investing in a special detergent. We recommend Woolite Dark.
5. Leaving them in the dryer too long
Carolyn Forte is the director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute Home Appliances and Cleaning Products department.
Fabrics shrink when left in the dryer too long to get over-dried and "fried." All fabrics and especially jeans benefit when you take them out of the dryer slightly damp. Simply tug and smooth them into shape and let them finish drying flat or on a hanger. If, even after tumbling on low heat and a delicate cycle, you see lots of lint on the dryer's filter, you may want to switch to line drying your jeans to help preserve the fabric.