10 steps to wash raw, selvedge or black jeans
I have been providing laundry tips to my customers in store for 10 years but i never got the idea to put them in an article. It could not last anymore, so I'm gonna give you 10 really simple pieces of advice to take care of your favorites jeans, to make them grow old well and get a nice washed effect.
"Jeans will never preserve their original colour"
Update 21/08/2017- After having done many researches on different fibres and discussed about it with several weavers I realised that cotton doesn't have the right properties to retain the dye.
Today, cotton is the basis of more than 90 % of the jeans you find in shops, and as this one does not hold the color that we can have beautiful gradations of blue or vintage-looking jeans.
Now that you know that jeans with cotton must get old and fade : how do we delay the term and get a beautiful patina? To give you this advice, I based myself on the most "complicated" kind of jeans to maintain: selvedge denim.
Before reading my guide.
To wash your jeans you'll need :
Advise n°10 / Forget to wash them and avoid dust.
The simplest piece of advice is to say my customers: "The less you wash your jeans, the better they go".
I recommend not to wash your jeans for simple reasons. At first because if you have just bought them raw they are brand new !
Then because they have to fit themselves to your morphology. Washing them too often in a washing machine would risk to wear out them prematurely, transforming them into uniform color jeans and it is definetely not the purpose of the operation.
Here the goal is to have, eventually jeans with a beautiful patina and « amazing » shades of blue.
Before the first wash and to see the marks of living jeans, wait at least 6 - 12 months.
To avoid dust to accumulate inside your jeans, do not hesitate to cross a blow of self-adhesive brush or to shake them outdoor. Dust takes place between the selvedge border and the sewing of the leg. If I am not very clear, I invite you to look at the photo below.
9 / What about the smells ?
The best way is to turn your jeans inside out and to hang them outdoors during a night. With this method, you will wear some very fresh pair of jeans.
For the most skeptical customer, know that smells are caused by bacteria and that jeans worn 15 months without being washed contain the same quantity of bacteria as brand new jeans. It is not me but a Canadian study which says it.
8 / Plunge them into lukewarm water with some vinegar or salt.
For the most worried customers concerning hygiene and before wearing your jeans, I recommend a first bath of lukewarm water in a bathtub / basin mixed with some vinegar or salt.
It is going to help cotton to hold the color. Personally, I have been able to test the mixture i.e lukewarm water + vinegar on several jeans, it permits to fix the color and to limit the effects of passing time on black or raw blue jeans. Let soak your jeans between 1 and 2 hours. Take them out, drain the excess water, then let them dry hung above a basin in an airy place.
As for salt, I read that this one had the same properties as the vinegar, but that it was necessary to add salt : half the weight of the product to be plunged into the water.
A pair of jeans weigh approximately 700 / 800 grammes ( 1,54 / 1,76 lb) so count about 350gr (0,8 lb) of cooking salt or two mustard cups of white vinegar to fix the color and disinfect your jeans of possible germs. I have never tried the mixture salt + vinegar, I would not advise you to do it for the moment, I prefer to try it myself first. Finally, for the lucky ones who live by the sea or of the ocean, why don't you go have a dip with your jeans ! (Sea water is salted right ?)
7 / Always wash inside out.
Denim is a warp and wefts kind of fabric. It is woven with an armor called the twill. In the case of blue jeans, it consists of having a warp yarn of blue colour crossed with a weft yarn of ecru colour. When you wear jeans, the blue thread is placed over the ecru thread.
Thus the blue thread is the first one in touch with abrasive elements (your hands, wallet, keys, cellphone, etc.) that's why your jeans lose their color and that's why your objects leave marks of wears. These marks are also the reflection of your everyday's life then do not hide them.
To avoid it, during the washes, simply turn your pair of jeans inside out. Same thing for the ironing, still on it and never with an iron that's too hot.
6 / No need to rub.
It's useless to rub your pair of jeans on itself, so will avoid premature abrasions on parts which should no be watered down. Let it soak quietly on the bottom of the water. To remove spots, a wet cloth with some soap can do the job before a wash, but rub gently.
What selvedge jeans are ? Why are they more expensive? I explain it all here.
5 / Detergents and fabric softeners.
Some detergents and fabric softeners can leave marks and/or white lines on raw/black jeans. To clean them up, make them soft and flexible some products attack the fiber and its colour. It could ruin your attempt to have THE pair of jeans with beautiful shades of blue. Nevertheless, I know that few blogs recommend to wash it with a liquid detergent for dark / black products ( the black woolite) and it seems to work well.
4 / Alone or only with its counterparts and without wringing.
If you don't have time to hand wash your pair and if you want to machine-wash it (under cold conditions or 30 degrees, no more), wash it alone or with other indigo jeans. Watch out : do not load the machine too much it could cause unexpected marks of wears (as explained earlier).
The point of washing those jeans together is to preserve their colour, jeans are gonna mutually tint each other (Here i washed my selvedge jeans together, and they look even more beautiful). Use the the softer spin mode and let them dry hung over your bathtub or a basin to avoid turning your home into a pool !
3 / Have several "Steph Curry".
Your jeans, you adore them, you wear them often, but sometimes as in a NBA team, it is necessary to know how to grant your good elements a break or holidays. That's why, to avoid wounds, it's necessary to have good substitutes to rely on.
To operate a little turnover you need to have in your locker room not only one good pair of jeans, but at least 2 or more. So if you want your Steph Curry to last more than a regular season, be sure to add a Kevin Durant or a Klay Thompson to your team ! Well, for these second jeans you don't need to have the Golden State Warriors budget so let's go !Take advantage of it to be curious and discover new brands.
If you want to discover what I make in my workshop, I am a craftsman and I make them by myself and it's this way.
2 / Tint (only for black jeans).
Here, I'm speaking to black jeans addicts, there is a way to give back your favorite pair a second life : tint !
You only have to buy dye ( you will find it in hardware store, cobbler's workshop if you wanna keep local trade on it's feet or else in internet). Then, just put all of your black jeans in the machine or in a basin. For any further information just check the indications on the product.
1 / Wear your jeans and move !
Finally, for me the most important piece of advice : wear your pair of jeans and accept that this one can age with you.
Please remember one thing, garments are just about pleasure. Never worn jeans is a useless one, it is like forgetting that you spent 150€. A pair in this price list, it is a "mini-investment ». So make the best of it and make it live with you, look after him and see new shades appear, then you will give it an extra measure of harmony. (Well, I may be getting ahead of myself here, but you get the idea?)
For a faster ageing, do not hesitate to move with your jeans. My customers who often travel by bike obtain fast results and visually very interesting ones.