In a word: Don’t. That’s the advice proffered by your average denim snob. But while members of the Cult of Selvage may turn their noses up at those who would dare to disrespect the fabric’s provenance by washing it, what they ought to turn their noses up at is the scent of a pair of jeans that’s been worn every day for a year and never cleaned. Here’s our take on how to wash your jeans while doing as little damage to them—and to your style cred—as possible.
Step 1: Fill a sink, tub, bucket or other jean-sized vessel with lukewarm water and a small amount of ultra-mild detergent. Woolite Dark is a good bet, but it’s very concentrated, so start with just a couple of teaspoons. Take a deep breath, ignore the anticipated slights from the hip police running through your mind, and put your smelly-ass jeans in the tub. Make sure they’re fully submerged (this may require you to weigh them down).
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Step 2: Soak them for about an hour, giving them a stir half way through to loosen any dirt that’s worked its way into the denim.
Take a deep breath, ignore the anticipated slights from the hip police running through your mind, and put your smelly-ass jeans in the tub.
Step 3: Remove the jeans, drain the tub (of course), and rinse them thoroughly with cold water to remove detergent residue. Roll them up in a dry towel that you don’t mind staining blue to remove some moisture.
Step 4: Hang them out to dry. (Note: Make sure you hang them in a place that has good air movement, as you don’t want your jeans to mildew. Also, take care to hang them somewhere that won’t be ruined by a steady flow of indigo-infused water.) Do not tumble dry, as all that heat will undo your good work. Once your jeans are dry, pull them on and proceed to beat the hell out of ‘em till they need a bath again.