Let’s cut to the chase. If you’re regularly putting your jeans in the washing machine, please stop. There’s really no need. The main reason being is they’ll last longer if you keep them away. At the very least you won’t love them as long as you would have otherwise, they’ll shrink somewhat, and lose their shape and the colour or the fades won’t be as striking. They’ll be rigid and tight to put on and certainly won’t be comfortable meaning sooner rather than later, they end up in the Vinnies bin, or the back of your wardrobe, or worse, in the rubbish.
Have you noticed that after a year of washing jeans in a machine, suddenly everyone can see what colour socks you’re wearing even when you’re walking? It’s not because you’ve grown a couple of inches.
The same is actually true for all clothes. But thinner fabrics such as your tees, shirts or undies can take it, not to mention the fact they also need it a lot more, considering they directly cover your more pungent regions.
They’ve also undergone different dying processes designed to withstand as many washes as possible. The light fabric soon stretches back to its regular shape even if it does shrink, and the comfort and fit barely changes at all. Besides, you don’t expect to get as much life out of these items. If you think jeans aren’t any different, you’re wrong. You should be getting at least 2 or 3 years out of them, ideally 4 or 5.
So how do you get your jeans to last longer and what’s the alternative to using your machine?
Time between washes
Believe it or not you don’t need to wash your jeans after every few wears. Jeans can actually go months without desperately requiring a dunk. Any kind of smells or odours can be eliminated with an airing outdoors or using some fabric odour eliminator spray which can be picked up from most supermarkets for a few dollars.
At Comoditi we don’t even find that necessary. Australia has the best natural odour eliminator available for free - the sun. Hanging your jeans inside out for a few hours in direct sunlight will do the trick and you can go on like this for at least 4 to 6 months. This is actually the ideal waiting period to wash your jeans, especially for raw denim.
Time for a dunk
When it’s finally time to give your jeans a wash, here's how we do it. At this point it goes without saying, stay away from the machine. Instead, half fill a large sink or bathtub with lukewarm water and add a little bit of napisan. That’s right, napisan, not regular detergent. Napisan is just a touch gentler on fabrics than the other stuff and this will increase the lifespan of your jeans further.
Turn your jeans inside out and submerge under the water. You can give certain areas like the pocket linings and groin area a bit of a scrub as these will likely be dirtiest. Having them inside out will reduce the friction externally and minimise colour loss.
Leave to soak, then rinse
About 45 minutes in the tub is great. By this point the water will probably look like a billabong after a herd of cattle have trudged through it, so a few rinses are in order to wash this out of the fabric. You may even want to repeat the soaking process with a bit more napisan and then rinse out.
Hang to dry, not spin
Once the napisan has been rinsed out, give the jeans a good twist and squeeze to get as much excess water out as possible, then find a nice shady spot outdoors with a bit of breeze. Reshape the jeans into their former glory and place some old newspaper under them to catch any diluted indigo dye that may happen to drip down.
Repeat this process every 4-6 months and you might still be doing it to the same pair after 3 or 4 years, even longer. Your jeans will love you more, and in turn you’ll love them more. A match made in heaven and for very little time and effort.
How long do you usually wash your jeans? If you have any other methods you prefer to ours then let us know too.