How Often Should You Wash Jeans? A Practical Guide

Published March 16, 2021
How often to wash jeans

As you slip into your favorite jeans for the third time this week, are you questioning whether you should wash them? Learn how often you should wash jeans. Find out why you shouldn't be washing jeans as often. Get tips for making your jeans fresh between washes.

How Often Should You Wash Jeans?

When it comes to how often should you wash your jeans, you'll be surprised to find out the answer is "it depends." Some experts believe that you can go as long as six months before washing your jeans. At the same time, Levis Strauss suggests washing jeans after about ten wears. This might seem like a long time for an article of clothing, but in fact, a study done by a Canadian student who wore their jeans for 15 months found that the bacteria on the jeans were at normal levels, even after 15 months of wear.

Should You Wash Jeans: Things to Consider

Since the answer to the question about when you should wash your jeans is anything but cut and dry, there are a few things you might want to take into account before throwing your favorite blue jeans into the wash.

Smell Factor

Do your jeans smell? If the answer is yes, then they need to be washed. Smell means that yuck and bacteria have built up on your favorite pair of skinny jeans, and you need to throw them in the hamper. If in doubt, wash it out!

Yuck Factor: Spills

Smells are one thing, but spills are a different ball game. If you dropped a glass of red wine on your jeans, you need to pretreat the stain and get them in the wash, so the stain doesn't stick. Letting the stain go could mean that your favorite faded blue denim is now slightly pink.

Material: Denim vs. Polyester

You might not realize this, but the material your jeans are made of can help you determine how often to wash them. Classic denim pants are meant to be worn several times before washing. That faded and broken-in look of your favorite jeans is lost once you wash them. Therefore, you can go longer between washes for 100% denim. However, jeans with polyester or spandex can lose their shape after several wears. Washing them can help bring them back to their original shape.

Activity Level

You might want to think of the activity level as the sweat factor. If you are wearing jeans in a humid climate or working outside, you can guarantee you are sweating in them. High levels of activity in your jeans mean they're going to get dirty faster. So, it would be best if you washed them more often, sometimes daily. Typically, the sniff test can tell you just when.

Why You Should Wash Jeans Less

Many times, it's naturally ingrained into your brain to wash clothing after you wear it. However, jeans are a different type of beast. Unlike your favorite T or blouse, they make jeans out of a heavier material. So, they stand up to multiple wears. Old and worn jeans are typically your favorite because, over time, they have molded your body. When you wash them, the fabric shrinks and degrades. So, when you put them on the next time, they are tight, and you spend a few days breaking them back in.

Caring for Jeans Without Washing Them

Your favorite jeans can fit you like a glove and be the most comfortable clothing you own. To avoid having to re-break them in, you should be caring for jeans without washing them.

Vinegar Soak

When it comes to getting rid of chemical smells on new jeans or cleaning jeans, white vinegar can be your best friend. Rather than throwing your jeans in the wash, you can soak them in cold water and vinegar to eliminate bacteria and lock in the dye.

Hang Jeans Outside

You might not realize it, but hanging your jeans out on the line is one of the best ways to kill bacteria without washing them. Not only that, but the fresh air works to air out any funky smells. Just make sure to turn them inside out to avoid fading.

Drying pair of blue jeans on clothesline

Shower Steam

While you can use a steamer to steam your jeans, you can also keep them in the shower with you. The steam works to freshen up the denim and get rid of the wrinkles.

Spot Clean

Most of the time, you just need to get rid of the yuck and stains between cleaning. Grab a bit of detergent and spot clean your jeans to keep them smelling fresh and lasting forever.

Vinegar Spray

If you are looking to freshen up your jeans and kill bacteria or get rid of smells, spray them down with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water. The vinegar works to kill not only smells but germs too.

Should You Dry Your Jeans?

If you do wash your denim, pay attention to the care label and opt for air drying. While you can technically dry jeans in a dryer, they can shrink and fade. To keep that worn feel and comfort you're used to, let them air dry. And after they are completely dry, shake them out or beat them on a porch to soften them up.

Should You or Shouldn't You Wash Your Jeans?

When it comes to the jean washing debate, you eventually should wash them. But how often you clean jeans depends on your lifestyle. If you are active in your jeans and sweat, then probably daily. However, under normal circumstances, they can last about ten wears. Just make sure you launder your jeans properly to make them last longer.

How Often Should You Wash Jeans? A Practical Guide