The secret to making denim last longer

This tough wear needs gentle handling

Believe it or not, I have all types of denim in my closet: mom jeans, high-rise jeans, jacket, jumper, button-up, bell-bottoms—name it, I have it. None of them is new though.  Most are hand-me-downs from my mom and older sister. Some are from the late ’80s while others are from the Y2K era. Yup, denim is that timeless. It didn’t and won’t go away anytime soon.

Now how did I manage to make my collection last for decades? Well, hold on to your buttons as I present some hacks.

Get away from the washing machine

Denim in different shades
Four shades of denim jeans by Dickies

This can go two ways. One, limit washing your denim to avoid breaking the fabric. In other words, wear it for as long as the smell and stains permit.

Two, don’t use a washing machine—especially for jeans. Denim is very delicate. Soak in cold water with a little amount of soap and handwash instead. Never scrub or wring the fabric. Use a damp cloth or old toothbrush to gently remove stains.

Now if you badly want to use your washing machine, make sure not to put too much denim per load. It will be a total mess if it gets too crowded in your washer. And make sure to wash denim inside out.

Try freezing

Distressed denim vest
Distressed denim vest

Some selvedge acolytes never wash their denim. To remove smells, they store their denim in the freezer periodically. It’s a controversial technique that has its share of advocates and critics.

According to some experts, “As bacteria culminates and grows in humid and warm environments, clothing that is worn tight to the body, exposed to sweat, and for long periods of time (i.e. raw denim) makes for the perfect breeding grounds. The simple logic then with ‘clean freezing’ is that it ‘shocks’ and kills all bacteria that may be accumulating.”

This is how to do it: Brush dirt off your denim, store in a bag and leave it in the freezer for at least a few hours.

Let it dry naturally

Colored denim shorts
Colored denim shorts

Okay, so you can use the washer occasionally. But for the love of God, never ever put them in the dryer as it may cause fabric warping or shrinking. What you can do is turn it inside out to prevent fading, hang, and let dry on its own.

Don’t fold, just hang

Buttoned denim shirt
Denim button-up

Use s-hooks to hang jackets, button-ups and dresses, and hangers with clips for jeans and jumpers. Folding your denim may leave creases that will be very visible once you wear it.

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