Denim jeans can withstand long periods of wear without being washed. In fact, jeans can be worn for several weeks, and in some cases months, before needing to be washed.
The primary reason denim enthusiasts avoid regularly washing their jeans is aesthetic.
Each time a jean is washed, a touch of color is removed from the denim. This change is undetectable between washes but becomes noticeable over time and after several washes.
Maintaining denim’s original color creates fades. Fades appear when there is contrast between the high- and low-abrasion areas of the jean.
High-abrasion areas (seat, hip crease, knee crease, etc.) lose color naturally from abrasion. Infrequent washing allows the low-abrasion areas (thigh, calf) to stay dark, creating contrast of the denim’s natural highs and lows.
Color variation between high- and low-abrasion areas is highly desirable. Color variation, or fades, mark the jean with the owner’s unique stamp. Greater color variation equals greater visual impact.
Color variation is a direct, obvious result of how long the jean has been worn and the discipline in regards to washing.
How to Wash Jeans
There are varying sources of information online for how to wash jeans, from standard washing and drying, to the romantic (wearing jeans while showering or swimming in the ocean).
We recommend simple machine or hand washing methods.
With any wash method it is critical to wash in cold water. Washing in hot water speeds color loss. Agitation and abrasion also cause color loss.
Therefore, the most desired wash method is hand-washing. It is also very important to not over-stuff your washing machine. Garments in an over-stuffed machine experience greater abrasion.
Good method: Machine wash cold. Hang dry.
Better method: Turn inside out (reduces surface abrasion). Machine wash cold. Hang dry.
Best method: Turn inside out. Hand wash in tub or sink. Hang dry.
It will take up to 10 hours for jeans to hang dry. Once dry, the jeans will be stiffer than if tumble dried. They will loosen with wear. If machine tumble dry is necessary, no damage and zero-to-nominal shrinkage will occur.
Fades become obvious within six months when jeans are worn regularly and there is discipline with the wash regimen.
During prolonged periods of wear without washing, abrasion occurs continuously causing unique wear marks on the denim. But the jean’s dingy white cotton fibers can hide wear marks.
The abrasion is distinctively revealed once the dingy fibers are washed. A reward for being discipline.