Most people consider denim the “catch-all” of pant wear but don’t try to put denim in a box. It has range! From designer labels to ranch coveralls or daisy dukes to culottes, denim is diverse – all the way from high fashion to workwear. Just like the denim garments themselves, denim care varies. How you take care of your denim is directly correlated to how your jeans maintain their look, feel, and shape.
Denim is a strong cotton fabric made using a twill weave, which creates a subtle diagonal ribbing pattern. The cotton twill fabric is warp-facing, meaning that the weft threads go under two or more warp threads, and the warp yarns are more prominent on the right side. The diagonal ribbing is what makes denim fabric different from canvas or cotton duck, which is also a sturdy woven cotton fabric.
Here are a few tips to help you preserve the look and feel of your favorite denim jeans.
Did you know there are 6 different types of denim?
1) Indigo denim is achieved by dying the warp threads with indigo dye and white threads are used as the weft. As a result, most blue jeans are blue on the right side, as the fabric is warp facing, and the interior is lighter blue, almost white.
2) Stretch denim weaves spandex or another elastic component to give the fabric some added give and flexibility. Stretch denim is often used for skinny jeans.
3) Crushed denim has been treated so that it has a wrinkled look.
4) Acid-wash denim: Acid washing is a process of partially bleaching jeans with chlorine bleach. Many people like the style of acid-washed jeans, but buying them from a store can be expensive. You can make homemade acid-washed jeans with a bleach mixture, an old pair of jeans, and a ventilated area.
5) Raw or dry denim is fabric is that is not washed after it is dyed. This creates a rougher and stiffer texture. It also bleeds a lot in the wash cycle!
6) Sanforized denim is treated so that it doesn’t shrink in the wash. This applies to almost all kinds of denim except for raw denim.
Always Check the Label
Both washing and drying instructions should be on most denim care labels and are specific to each piece of clothing. Some dyes used in denim production are water-soluble, and traditional washing can cause damage depending on which dye was used.
Denim is made primarily of cotton and spandex in various amounts, giving the otherwise rigid fabric a little stretch. This blend is what gives denim that iconic figure-hugging appearance. Even though it’s only partly made of spandex, this material is sensitive to heat and doesn’t stand up to long-term heat application.
This is another reason designers and manufacturers of denim products customize the care labels for individual pieces. Drying instructions may also be adjusted based on the amount of spandex woven into your garment. Checking the label is critical to the lifespan of your denim clothes.
Wash Denim Inside Out
Before every wash, make sure you turn denim clothes inside out. This reduces the friction on the dyed areas of the garments, ultimately preserving the color. Turning denim inside out will also protect any grommets or buttons that are attached from banging around in the washer or dryer, either causing or sustaining damage.
Assuming your jeans are made of raw denim — as opposed to washed denim — turning them inside out before will preserve their original color. Raw denim jeans are defined by their use of raw, unwashed denim. They are made of denim that hasn’t been washed during production. This is in stark contrast to washed denim jeans, which as the name suggests, are made of denim that is washed during production.
Both raw denim and washed denim jeans can fade. Fading, though, is more common with the former type of jeans. Raw denim isn’t washed during production, so it contains more loose dye than its washed counterpart. Turning your raw denim jeans inside out before washing them will help to “lock in” the dye. Less dye will be released from your raw denim jeans if you wash them inside out. As a result, they’ll be better protected against fading.
The CEO of Levi’s says that “a good pair of denim doesn’t really need to be washed in the washing machine except for very infrequently or rarely.”
His argument is based on the fact that washing a good pair of Levis actually causes damage to the material, and is a waste of water.
He isn’t the only denim expert to come out with this advice. Hiut Denim’s website says: “Raw denim is best given a good six months before washing. The longer you can leave it, the better your jeans will look.
“The reason for this is that the indigo will have worn off in places where you make natural creases. Just by sitting down, putting your phone in and out of your pockets, your hands in your pockets. All these daily little things will make your jeans look great.
Of course, you have to wash your clothes to keep them clean. However, there is such a thing as washing too often. For the best results, denim should only be washed in moderation. Most experts recommend infrequent washes to preserve color and style integrity.
Denim Specific Laundry Detergents We Recommend
Choosing the right detergent is a simple way to stretch the lifetime of your denim garments.
Railcar Denim Detergent
Formulated to prevent fading while cleaning. Little softener to keep denim ridged like new. Formulated to prevent fading while cleaning.
The Laundress – Denim
The Laundress laundry detergent for denim uses Color Guard technology prevents denim from fading and keeps color vibrant
Treat Stains Immediately
If you let a stain soak and sit on denim for too long, it could set and be very difficult to remove.
You will have much better chances at full restoration if stains and smudges are treated immediately. When a stain is set, more friction is required in order to get it out, which can result in additional dye loss and unnecessary wear and tear.
How To Keep That Denim Fit
If that perfect body-hugging shape is important to you, skip excessive heat exposure and long drying times. Always launder your denim in cold water and hang dry to prolong that perfect fit.
Preserve Denim Color
If color preservation is your primary goal, most denim dyes are water-soluble and should be dry cleaned. Dry cleaning doesn’t use water at all and cleans with a non-water-based solution. This keeps dye loss to an absolute minimum, compared to traditional laundering.
Try a Laundry Service!
Premium laundry services like The Folde help you execute the best possible care for each denim piece in your wardrobe and do all the heavy lifting for you. Take the time and frustration out of denim wash and get your freshly cleaned items delivered right to your door! Need some help? We’re here to make laundry day easy!
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