Jeans Wash Guide and Why Can’t You Put Jeans in the Dryer

Jeans wash guide
Photo: Lucas Lenzi / Unsplash

Whether or not you are a fashionista, a pair of jeans is an essential wardrobe staple. You need to own a pair of comfortable jeans made of good quality material and versatile.

They do go with anything you wear, but that is why they require more attention than you think. Therefore, you need to know how to wash your jeans and why you can’t put your jeans in the dryer.

How to Wash Jeans

Jeans Washing Basics

Jeans have such a long history. They are considered basic garments and are usually made of blue denim. However, nowadays you can find many different jeans styles and colors. Therefore, they all require special care.

RELATED: The Complete Guide to Renewing Your Old Jeans Easily

Here are some crucial things to know to get your jeans washed properly. Let’s begin. 

Read the Garment Care Label

Jeans care labels (Photo:

You should read the garment care label before washing your jeans (in fact, it applies to all clothes). Get to know those symbols for washing and drying before putting your jeans in the machine. 

For example, here are the descriptions of signs from the label from the photo above:

Garment care label meaning (Illustration:

If you want more, here is a good illustration of all the laundry labels and their meaning.

One of the most common advice that you can get on care labels is to wash your jeans separately from other staples. That is how you will avoid stain and color transfer. Therefore, wash the jeans alone or with clothes of similar colors.

Turn Jeans Inside Out Before Washing and Drying

After reading the instructions, you can turn the jeans inside out before putting them into a washing machine. Turning jeans inside out will protect the fibers on the outside from friction and also prevents direct contact with detergent. 

Respect the Colors

As mentioned, jeans tend to bleed dye, especially when washing them for the first time. To prevent that and protect the color of the jeans, you should wash them with similar colors and low temperatures. 

Washing Jeans for the First Time

You have brought that perfect pair of jeans. Comfy, stylish, and dark – now what? How to wash them and not let them bleed the color onto your sweater, T-shirt, or other jeans? Believe it or not, some simple tips make jeans wash more than a pleasant experience. 

When you wash your jeans for the first time, make sure to use cold water and turn them inside out. To be sure they won’t do color transfer, wash them entirely alone – just for the first time. 

Another trick that can help with first-time wash is white vinegar.

Yes, we usually use it in the kitchen, but white vinegar has many properties and can be pretty helpful. Since it contains acetic acid, vinegar will lock in the color and protect the fabric from bleeding. Plus, vinegar will seal in the dye within the fabric, therefore reducing the chance for color transfer in the future. 

Spot Cleaning Your Jeans

If you notice a spot on your jeans, don’t throw them immediately in the washing machine. Instead, try spot-cleaning them. Use a laundry stain remover directly to the area. After a few minutes, use a clean and damp cloth to scrub away that stain.

All this will save you some time, and at the same time, it helps your jeans from washing out.

How to Wash Jeans by Hand

Pairs of jeans
Photo: Claire Abdo / Unsplash

Some women aren’t happy when purchasing jeans with the ‘hand wash only’ tag. 

Don’t fear hand-washing. With some advice, this can be simpler than you think. Maybe not as convenient as throwing your jeans into a washing machine, but similar. 

  • Step 1: Fill in the tub or sink where you will wash the jeans with cool or warm water (according to the label). Make sure to have enough water in the sink to submerge the jeans. 
  • Step 2: Add a small amount of (preferably) liquid detergent to the water. Add the jeans in and move them in water for around 2 minutes. 
  • Step 3: Leave your jeans submerged in water for 15-30 minutes. That is enough to give them a proper clean. 
  • Step 4: After 30 minutes, rinse that dirty water and fill the sink or tube again. This time, let your jeans soak in clean water for about 5 to 10 minutes. Move them in water to get rid of dirt or detergent. 
  • Step 5: Now, it is time to remove the excess water. Do that by squeezing the jeans, twisting them, or rolling them. Now you can dry your jeans according to the instructions on the label. 

How to Wash Jeans in a Washing Machine

If you’re lucky enough to buy jeans that can be washed in a machine, here are some basic steps you need to follow when you are machine washing your jeans: 

  • Step 1: Make sure to check the label on your jeans before putting them in a washing machine. The label contains info like the allowed temperature or separating your jeans from other clothes. 
  • Step 2: This step is also something you need to do before putting jeans into the machine. Turn them inside out to protect the fabric and the color. 
  • Step 3: Set the machine cycle with cold or lukewarm water and add laundry detergent. Set the spin cycle to 900 rpm or less.
  • Step 4: Get the jeans out and turn them right side out as soon as your machine is done. Straighten creases and lay them on a flat surface. It is not recommended to tumble dry your jeans.

How to Wash Jeans Without Shrinking Them

Jeans tend to shrink in both washing machine and dryer. You need to be careful about it and have that in mind when you wash your jeans for the first time. Cotton is one of the materials that shrink the most, but that shouldn’t be the reason not to wash your jeans at all. 

Instead, try some of these methods. They are simple yet can prevent shrinking jeans even when you wash them in a washing machine. 

Reduce Shrinkage Using Cold Water

Even though many people think they should wash their jeans at a high temperature, it is usually the opposite. Your jeans need cold water and a gentle cycle to be cleaned and protected from dye bleed and shrinkage. 

Since denim doesn’t absorb dirt and debris, you can wash it in cold water and prevent shrinking. Also, don’t forget to reduce the spin cycles. 

Using White Vinegar instead of Detergent

If your jeans are not too dirty and do not smell too funny, you can skip the detergent. Instead, try white vinegar and see the change it will bring. Regular detergent can cause your jeans to fade, so switching to vinegar can be pretty helpful too.

Add a cup of white vinegar to your wash. White vinegar should protect the denim from shrinking and colors from fading. 

Hand Washing Instead of Machine Wash

One of the best things you can do to prevent shrinking is to hand wash your jeans (as well as other clothes). Soak your jeans in white vinegar, and expect to see no shrinkage at all!

How to Dry Jeans

Woman wearing jeans
Photo: cottonbro / Pexels

If you are confused about drying your jeans, you are not alone. Should you air-dry them, and why can’t you put jeans in the dryer? These are the two most asked questions. Well, guess what: we have the answers. 

First of all, should you dry your jeans? According to the fashion pros, definitely – yes. However, this is not an easy process, so it is good to know some tips and tricks. 

Why Can’t You Put Jeans in the Dryer?

While it is not entirely forbidden to put your jeans in the dryer, the best option for drying your jeans would be to air-dry. However, we are aware that air-drying can take a lot of time. Sometimes you need your jeans fast, and we get it. These are some tips to follow if you decide to dry your jeans in the dryer. 

Choose the Lowest Dry Settings

The key to dyeing your jeans is to do that at the lowest temperature possible. If your dryer has multiple options for drying, choose the one with the lowest temperature, as well as a gentle cycle. Denim won’t heat up so much, so you will also avoid shrinking. 

Dry Until Damp

Instead of thoroughly drying your jeans, make sure to dry them until damp. Before your drying cycle is finished, take the jeans out and air-dry them completely. 

Many people wonder when they should take their jeans out. It all depends on the dryer. For instance, if your drying cycle lasts for two hours, you should take jeans out after one hour of drying.

Jeans Shrinking

What About “Shrink to Fit”? 

Even though skinny jeans are not in style as they were, straight-fit jeans tend to get a bit baggy after many wears. Even if you follow the instructions about washing and drying them, they can quickly morph into misshapen. So, if that is the case with your jeans, then ‘shrink to fit’ is something you need to know about. 

The best way to shrink your jeans is to wash them in warm instead of cold water. However, warm water can also ruin the color of your jeans, so you need to turn them inside out before putting them into a washing machine. In the end, you should air-dry the jeans instead of putting them in the dryer. 

How Much Will Jeans Shrink? 

Denim is a woven fabric that tends to shrink. The amount your jeans will shrink depends on the material. Traditionally, denim is made of 100% cotton, but you can usually find some additional fabrics as well. Polyester is one of those materials that tend to shrink in warm water. When the fabric is washed, it can be pulled together more tightly and shrink. Sometimes jeans relax again when you wear them. 

Generally, jeans shrink up to 4%. A pair of 30 inches long would shrink about 1 – 1 ¼ inches in length.  

Do Jeans Shrink in the Dryer? 

Shrinking of your jeans in the dryer depends on how you dry them. Even though denim appears as a stiff fabric, you shouldn’t wash it at high temperatures. On the contrary, low temperatures, gentle cycles, as well as low drying cycles will protect your jeans from shrinking. The more heat your jeans are exposed to, the more likely they will shrink. The best option is to air dry them.  

What Happens If you Put Dry Jeans in the Dryer? 

Putting dry clothes, including jeans, in your dryer can bounce the wrinkles and refresh them. However, be advised that some fabrics, especially jeans, can shrink. 


How Often to Wash Jeans?

Only wash jeans when necessary. Fashion experts agree that the less you wash the jeans, the better. If there isn’t visible dirt, you can wash your jeans after wearing them around 10 times. However, if you wear jeans every day while working or running errands, you can wash them after 3-4 wears.

Agitation from your washing machine and detergent can only wear the fabric down over time. 

How Often Should You Wash Jeans to Prevent Them From Shrinking?

The same rule can be applied when you want to wash your jeans without shrinking them. As less as possible, on the lowest drying cycle. If you are not sure about putting them into a dryer, then make sure to air dry them after gentle wash.

Can I Freeze My Jeans?

One of the biggest myths about jeans is that freezing them will kill the bacteria. In fact, bacteria come from our skin, and as soon as body temperature warms the fabric, the germs will come back.

How to Keep Jeans From Fading?

The best way to keep your jeans from fading is to turn them inside out, use the suitable color-preserving detergent, and wash less. Protecting your jeans from fading is why can’t you put jeans in the dryer.

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