Your jeans’ lifespan is largely determined by how they fit and their fabric composition. However, the right care can help extend their life expectancy.

My stylist friend often laments the poor appearance of handsome men,” I wish they knew that all it takes to look good is a pair of jeans and a white shirt”, he says.

This look is a tribute to Marlon Brando who loved his jeans so much that Lucinda Ballard, the costume designer, said that he had them sewn and taped to him during the 1947 Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Jeans may never wear out, but they do need to be cared for.

man in black jacket sitting on white concrete bench

Wash with cold water and care

Clare Henson is the product development manager at Nobody Denim. To help jeans keep their colour and shape, you should turn them inside-out before washing them. Use cold water and a small amount of detergent. Dry them in the sun. Henson says tumble dryers are “the enemy”, as heat exposure can “damage the fibers, shrink your jeans, and accelerate the ageing process.”

George Chan, a technical specialist at RMIT University’s School of Fashion and Textiles, agrees. He recommends waiting as long as possible between washes, hand-washing in coldwater to prevent “agitating denim too much” because you don’t want to wear it out.

Pure cotton is best

Martin Kirby, the owner of Urahara in Melbourne is a specialist denim shop with an on-site repair service. Jeans made from 100% cotton will last longer than jeans made with synthetic fibres like elastane. He says that synthetic jeans can split easily and are more difficult to repair.

Jeans made from 100% cotton, heavy and rigid denim will last the longest. He recommends jeans with twin needle stitching and branded hardware such as rivets and zips. Selvedge jeans, which have self-finished edges that don’t fray, are another option.

Find jeans that fit you

Chan says that jeans often split when people buy stretch denim in a smaller size so they appear tighter. He says that this puts more pressure on the fabric, particularly where it rubs against your legs as you walk. Jeans can quickly deteriorate due to friction and tension in weaker synthetic-blend jeans.

Chan suggests trying on different brands of jeans to ensure you find the right fit. Chan suggests performing a bend test, which involves sitting down or bending forward to check that there is enough rise in the front and back for a comfortable fit.

Kirby also recommends a fit that has a higher rise, and a longer leg. This fit is more comfortable than skinny jeans. “When you stretch your legs, you don’t feel the pressure in the crotch. Also, because there’s room on the thigh you won’t have to split them constantly.

Tears can easily be repaired

Henson suggests that you don’t throw away jeans that are worn to the thighs or have holes from time to time. Henson recommends “a good alterations shop… can do wonders for making them look like they were never repaired at all”.

This requires specialized equipment. To do invisible repairs, Urahara uses a Singer 47w70 darning device. Kirby claims that the machine can access areas that aren’t possible to reach with a traditional sewing machine. You can move the fabric in any direction to recreate the original weave.

Chan says that invisible repairs need professional intervention but it is possible to DIY mending with patchwork and embroidery to cover marks and holes.


women sitting on appliance

Is it better to freeze your jeans instead of washing?

Chan says that there is a myth that the freezer kills bacteria in jeans and eliminates odour. Although it might work the first time you take them out, it will not last. Despite this popular rumour being spread online, and even repeated by some denim producers, scientists repeatedly refute it. They have proven that household freezers don’t kill bacteria.

You can shrink your jeans by wearing them in the bath.

You should not shrink your jeans by putting them in the tub. This myth arisen because of shrink-to-fit fabrics from the 70s and 80s that shrunken after first water exposure. All modern jeans have been prewashed and preshrunk so this method is not necessary.

Is it a good idea to wash your jeans at the coast?

This is a “process used by certain extremely hardcore raw denim enthusiasts to create a distinctive pattern in the natural fade and crease areas on jeans,” according to Henson, but it’s no longer necessary because these techniques are now employed “in our denim laundry to offer an authentic or worn look.”

It is okay to wash your jeans once in 6 moths.

Ineed, experts recommend infrequetn washes. Betwee the washes, you can do spot cleaning, hanging jeans outside, or applying an organic fabric spray like this one from Tangent.

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