how to wash your jeans.

Posted by smol on


How often should we be putting our denim jeans in the wash? 

According to Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi’s… not at all.

If I drop some curry on my jeans, I’m gonna clean it. But I’ll spot-clean it. And if they get really gross, you know, if I’ve been out sweating or something, and they get really gross, I’ll wash them in the shower…” Levi’s CEO, Chip Bergh

And by washing them in the shower, the President of Levi’s means he soaps up his jeans just like he cleans his body. It’s unclear if he is still wearing them at the time…

no-wash washing.

We’re all for saving on energy and carbon here at smol; only running your machine when it’s full and only washing your clothes when they need it. In fact there are some really great ways to ensure your laundry gets done without doing the laundry! 

But for most of us, taking our clothing into the shower with us for a scrub is simply not going to happen.

so, how often should you wash denim jeans?

The thing to remember about denim is it doesn’t tolerate machine washing as well as other fabric so it’s a good idea to only wash when necessary.

But how many times can you wear your denim jeans before washing?

The official Levi’s recommendation is to wash your jeans after every 10 wears which sounds like a sensible rule… but it’s not hard and fast. If you think your jeans are dirty before their tenth wear then pop them in the wash! Equally, if after 10 wears they’re still looking great… keep on trucking til they don’t. 

NOTE: this advice does NOT apply to raw denim. This fabric isn’t pre-washed or pre-shrunk and so it needs to shrink or stretch to fit your body. It will also probably lose dye when it is first worn because it hasn’t been rinsed. Raw denim jeans should be washed 3 x per year maximum.

a smol guide to washing your jeans. 

Time to check out our 4 denim do’s and 4 denim-don’ts. 


1. spot cleaning. 

If you’ve spilt a little something down your jeans don’t panic (and don’t automatically throw them in the laundry basket).  All that needs cleaning is the spill.

Wet the stain, apply a few pumps of smol stain gel and gently rub it in with an old toothbrush or clean cloth. Leave it to act for 2 minutes then rinse with cold water. 

This denim-do will work on pretty much all stains, saving you many a washing machine cycle.

2. spray away.

Pop a couple of pumps of our animal-fat free fabric conditioner into an empty spray bottle filled with water. Give it a shake and spritz onto your jeans. 

They’ll smell fresh and fabulous again in no time and this also encourages any creases to fall out. All from a product that you already have under your sink. We love this denim-do and there’s more great fabric conditioner know-how here.

3. wash wisely.

When it finally comes to how you should wash your denim jeans in a washing machine there are 3 denim-do’s to remember. 

Wash your jeans inside out.

Use a quality detergent like smol laundry capsules (they’ll protect your coloured clothing).

Choose a wash temperature that is below 30°C.

4. just hang out.

If you’ve washed your jeans… let them line dry outside. 

And if you haven’t washed your jeans… hang them out anyway.

Fresh air and a little sunlight can transform smelly denims and if you don’t have access to an outside space, simply leaving them by an open window works just as well. 


1. wash after every wear.

Instead of washing your jeans each time you wear them, try some of the denim-do’s above.

Constantly washing your jeans will wear them out much faster, they will fade more quickly and may shrink so much they stop fitting. 

2. tumble dry.

The heat from a tumble dryer will also shrink your jeans and weaken the denim fibres over time. 

Luckily, there are so many ways to dry your jeans indoors without having to resort to the tumble dryer. 

De-humidifiers and an indoor clothes rack work well together and should cost much less to run than a tumble dryer.

3. just chilling.

Heard the one about freezing your jeans to get rid of smelly bacteria?

Don’t bother. It’s true that some germs will die off in the freezer, but all the tougher types of bacteria will survive. And once you’ve put your jeans back on and warmed them up… they’ll be with you just as before.  

4. heavy duty cycles.

Denim may seem like it’s a tough fabric, and it is in lots of ways, but that doesn't mean you should be using heavy duty wash cycles in order to get your jeans clean. 

Hot water is going to damage your denim, shrink the fabric and remove the dye. Always opt for a colder, more gentle cycle. 

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