Let me start by saying there’s really no right time or wrong time to wash your jeans. Raw denim is a personal journey that only you know when the right time is for your favorite pair of pants to take the plunge.
That being said, we’re here to offer you a few guideposts of when your jeans could probably use some soap and water. And when you do, think about using our Denim Wash to do the trick.
1. You’re starting to get blowouts
Not washing your jeans can lead to premature damage for two reasons. First, your jeans absorb some of the dirt, oil, and grime they encounter over the course of their life. This becomes embedded in the fibers and will slowly start to abrade against them, causing the fabric to break down more quickly than usual. Second, denim fibers become dried out, compacted, and brittle with extensive wear and no exposure to water.
Luckily, the solution to both of these problems is as simple as washing your jeans. Either a tub soak or a machine wash will remove the excess dirt and crud that’s built up as well as revitalize the denim yarns, making them more pliable and resilient.
2. You crapped your jeans
I’m just going to get this one out of the way early. Some people are such slaves to that mythical six month mark that they seriously consider wearing their jeans after they’ve crapped their pants. I know this because they email me and ask me if it’s okay to keep wearing them. It’s not. You’ve turned your jeans into a very expensive Japanese diaper.
If you have a bio-hazardous bodily fluid on your pants (blood, feces, vomit, etc.) they need to be washed, and they need to be washed in a machine. Any potential indigo and crease loss will be more than made up for by the lack of skid marks on your couch.
3. Your jeans are constantly damp
Maybe you live in a humid climate, maybe you have hyperactive sweat glands, maybe you keep pissing yourself and need to revisit point number two, but the fact remains that you can never seem to get your jeans dry. You may have also noticed that they smell strangely like bread…CONGRATULATIONS, THAT’S MILDEW.
Your jeans are literally rotting from the crotch out because they’ve never had the chance to dry off. But don’t worry, there’s still time to wash before you start to see mushrooms grow from your back pockets.
4. You can smell them at arm’s length
Pick up your jeans and hold them out as far as you can from your face. Can you still smell them? Now you know that anyone you’ve ever shaken hands with has too!
Eau de ballsweat might very well be the aroma you’re trying to broadcast, but if it’s not, consider giving them a wash because that’s currently your signature scent.
5. You just did an ocean wash
Ocean washes are a great way to make your friends uncomfortable during an otherwise pleasant day at the beach. They can speed up fading and provide a memorable ritual between you and your jeans (see our full guide to ocean washes here), but they are NOT an acceptable way to clean your jeans.
In accordance with popular opinion, seawater is dirty. Your jeans will smell like low tide plus the salt in the saltwater will stick around after they dry and act as an abrasive, making your jeans blowout faster. If you decide to ocean wash, do yourself a favor and wash them again in freshwater afterwards.
6. Evidence on your jeans links you to a crime scene
This one’s in a bit of a moral grey area, but we like to look out for our readers here at Heddels because you probably couldn’t read as much in jail. So if you happen to find yourself in a situation where the only thing tying you to the scene of a crime is baked into your jeans, you should probably wash them.
It might sound crazy, but the FBI has used unique denim fade patterns to identify suspects more than once. Whatever put you in this situation is most likely an important memory you want to keep on your pants and the fades might not end up as impressive, but high-contrast fades are just one of those sacrifices you’ll have to make to pursue a successful life of crime.