How to Wash Jeans

If you want your favorite jeans to last a long time, don’t just treat them like any other article of clothing. A little extra care when washing your jeans can go a long way in extending their life and good looks.

What you need

  • Washing Machine
  • Woolite Laundry Detergent
  • Pants hanger
  • Clothes line or Clothes rack

Washing Jeans; The Process

  1. First, read the care label inside your jeans. If any of the directions for washing contradict what is contained in this article, opt for the manufacturer’s directions as listed on the tag.
  2. Empty the pockets of your jeans.
  3. Turn your jeans inside out.
  4. Set the washing machine for “delicate cycle.”
  5. Add the recommended amount of Woolite for your size load (NOTE: Jeans should only be washed with other jeans, and no more than five pair per load, with the washer set on it’s largest load setting).
  6. Using the cold water setting (cold water wash and rinse) and start the washer.
  7. When the water has started to fill and the Woolite is dissolved, add the jeans.
  8. If you like your jeans to have a softer feel, add fabric softener during the rinse cycle, as per the fabric softener directions. Always use the fabric softener dispenser as pouring the fabric softener directly into the wash water may cause staining and discoloration of your jeans.
  9. When the wash cycle is complete, remove your jeans promptly.
  10. Turn the jeans right side out and hang them by the waist on the pants hanger.
  11. Hang them on a clothes line or clothes rack to air dry (if indoors, make sure you place a towel underneath to catch the drips). Drying time will vary, but may take as long as two days, so plan ahead if you intend on wearing your jeans soon after washing.
  12. If you prefer, you may put your jeans in the dryer on the lowest temperature setting. Keep in mind that jeans that are air dried are less likely to shrink and fade than jeans that are dried in a dryer.
  13. When dry, we recommend that you hang your jeans rather than fold them to avoid wrinkles and creases.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Hot water and jeans don’t mix. If you wash your jeans in hot water, they may shrink and fade!
  • NEVER dry your jeans on anything but the lowest setting of your dryer as it may cause irreversible damage to the denim fabric and color.
  • NEVER use bleach when washing your jeans as this will cause fading, discoloration and uneven blotches.
  • To avoid fabric dye transfer, wash your jeans separately, apart from other types of clothing.
  • Wash light blue jeans and dark blue jeans separately to avoid dye transfer and color blotching.
  • If your jeans are too big, don’t try to shrink them to your size by placing them in a hot water wash or hot dryer. They will shrink unevenly. Instead, have them professionally altered.
  • If the waist of your jeans seems to have shrunk or is a little too snug, try stretching the waistband while the jeans are still wet—button the fly and place a stiff board in the waist band to hold it in a stretched position. Some stores have products for this purpose. If you can stand the feeling, you might even try wearing the jeans around while they are wet so as to achieve a better fit.
  • Black jeans tend to shrink and fade faster than blue jeans. Try adding some regular table salt to the wash water (about ¼ cup), especially the first few times you wash, to lessen fading and shrinkage.


  1. I have washed a new pair of blue jeans several times, but still get blue hands when I wear them. The dye is still coming off on my hand and sleeves of my shirt. What can I do to stop this? (They were expensive jeans.)

  2. Miley,
    If they were really expensive, chances are the jeans used natural indigo dye. The color will naturally fade with constant wear and washes. To minimize fade, wash in cold water, light detergent, and hang dry. The cheaper jeans use a synthetic dye, which is more colorfast. If you want the jeans to “say” who you are by the custom fades that come from natural wear patterns, you’re doing fine (just don’t sit on white fabric sofas and the like). If you don’t want the blue dye all over you when you wear them with whites or bright color tops (underwear), you need to look at buying less expensive jeans.

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