Your family loves their blue jeans. And who doesn’t? Since the mid-1950s denim jeans have consistently been favorites with the youth culture. But now, because jeans are so durable and comfy, they have become a wardrobe staple for every member of the family with the average North American owning seven pairs. So how do you choose and care for your most versatile wardrobe staple?
Denim is made from tightly woven cotton twill. Lengthwise, yarns are dyed with indigo or blue dye; while horizontal yarns remain white. The tightly woven yarns make the jeans more durable and produce the distinct denim color.
Prewashed vs. unwashed
There are two general categories of denim blue jeans: prewashed and unwashed denim. Prewashed denim, also known as preshrunk or distressed denim, is achieved through bleaching or several mechanical treatments like stonewashes, sandblasting and scraping. Unwashed denim is stronger and most durable but is also much stiffer.
Nearly all of the jeans sold today are prewashed, or what is now called garment washed. Prewashed jeans are washed and treated in different ways to give them a worn and used look. The treatments give a second-hand look that is comparable to jeans having been worn for many years.
Reducing fading and shrinkage
Even if your jeans are prewashed, they can still fade and shrink over time, especially if you do not follow the care label instructions. There are certain precautions that one can take to maintain color*and fit:
- Always turn the jeans inside out for laundering.
- Wash in cold water with Tide Coldwater.
- Never use bleach.
- If the care label instructions recommend drying in a dryer, be sure not to use hotter than recommended dryer temperatures and take the jeans out of the dryer while they are still slightly damp. Then lay your jeans on a towel to dry or, if possible, hang them so that no part of the jean is folded over.
Caring for unwashed denim:
- Wear your unwashed jeans as much as possible before the first wash. (They will have a tough surface, almost like they are water resistant.)
- Do not try to clean local stains, as rubbing can remove the indigo and you may get a bleach spot.
- The longer you can keep them unwashed, the longer they will stay in good shape.
- When you absolutely have to wash them, turn them inside out so they have some resistance to unwanted crinkles from the machine.
- Use Tide Liquid in your favorite scent.
- To encourage fading and natural worn-in effects, wash in warmer temperatures.
- To help prevent fading, wash in cold water using Tide Coldwater.
- Once out of the dryer, turn them back to normal and shake them flat, otherwise they might get an unwanted crease or fold. When they are still damp, you can stretch the inseam as much as needed. Let them dry naturally by hanging, not folded.
Washing tips from Cotton Inc.:
1. Be sure to read the care label on the garment carefully. The manufacturer is the expert about their clothing and how to care for them.
2. We strongly suggest sorting by color. You don't want lighter garments picking up the dye from darker clothes. This can occur particularly with jeans, as indigo dyes tend to wash out.
3. Lastly, to minimize shrinkage or wrinkling, take clothes out of the dryer when just a tad damp and either lay flat or hang to completely dry.
Tips for getting the right fit
Because washing your jeans can cause additional shrinkage, it is important to remember some simple things when shopping for jeans. Try to:
- Buy jeans that are a little longer than necessary.
- Try them on with the shoes you wear most often.
- Wash your jeans before you hem them.
Saving your favorite jeans
Ripped jeans made their way into fashion in the 1980s, and are still very popular today. But if you prefer a more polished look, you can salvage your favorite jeans by patching them. Here's how:
- Make repairs to denim before the rip, tear or hole becomes too large or the edges become too frayed. Patches can be applied as reinforcement to high-stress areas before worn spots turn into holes.
- Cut any loose threads from the edges of the rip, tear or hole.
- Use the zigzag setting on your sewing machine to make a satin stitch along the length of a very clean cut or tear. This option is a good one if appearance is not important.
- Position an iron-on denim patch on the underside of the fabric. The patch should be large enough to completely cover the damaged area. Press the patch with an iron to fuse it to the fabric.
- Look for products that let you fuse your own fabric patch to the damaged area. With these products, a denim patch is cut from similar fabric. The patch is then fused to the fabric via a liquid or powdered substance and an iron.
Use liquid and powdered substances for a stronger bond than that provided by an iron-on patch.