When to wash your jeans

Buying director for Levi SA Oliver Pywell chats to us about why you shouldn't wash your jeans as often you may think

Pywell says people have varying opinions about how often you should wash your jeans. “Most people want to wash their jeans more often than they should, mostly after every wear, especially the female consumer,” he says.

But he says it’s in fact better to wash denim as few times as possible. “Obviously people like to wear clean clothes, but the less you wash denim, the better it will end up wearing,” he says.

He adds that if you were to wear a pair of jeans every day for a week, then wash it, you’d find that your jeans start to create a natural wear pattern and the colours start to blend well. “Washing your jeans too often will strip the colour, resulting in them fading really quickly,” he says.

While it depends on the person, what they prefer and their lifestyle, Pywell recommends giving your jeans a wash after three to four wears. “This is for the average South African consumer, and purely from a hygiene perspective, he says. But denim generally shouldn’t be washed too much.”

He says that the frequency with which you wash your jeans also depends on the quality and type of denim. With stretch denim, you may want to wash your jeans more often because they stretch every time you wear them, especially if you’re wearing skinny jeans. “When you wash stretch jeans, they shrink to their original fit, which may cause you to want to wash them more because you want that perfect snug fit.”

On the other hand, some people feel that you should never wash denim, especially if you’re wearing an original indigo jeans. “Some of those should never be washed; they should be dry-cleaned instead.”

Pywell discourages tumble-drying because heat is damaging. “If you have to tumble-dry, then do so at a low temperature.”

Why do jeans lose their shape?
Denim stretches because the cotton fibre is natural so it has its own natural stretch. “That’s all it is – the actual yarn is stretching rather than breaking. That’s the beautiful thing about denim; it can stretch on its own and accommodate extra weight but can pull back again after a wash.”

Should you iron your jeans?
Pywell says it’s a personal thing. However, he maintains that jeans don’t need ironing, even though ironing may give them a nice sheen. “I don’t ever iron my jeans. Once they’re dry, I lay them flat on the table then fold them,” he says. “The only time you should iron your jeans is if they have a permanent pleat, and that would only be for fashionable denims.”

He also explains that when you flat-pack your jeans (the way they’re packed at the shop), they end up pressing themselves because the weight of the fabric tends to remove creases.