Denim Care 101
HOW TO KEEP BLACK JEANS BLACK
You already know we love black jeans. Well––to be honest, we love all jeans––but black jeans are certainly no exception. We love everything about these versatile staple pieces. We love the versatility, we love that we have cuts for every kind of girl and every kind of occasion like bootcut, wide-leg, straight, and skinny. And most importantly we love love LOVE the color.
But keeping this deep, saturated black the true tone we know and love is a little more complicated than it seems. ‘Cause even though we love gray jeans (we love all jeans remember?) we hate to see jeans treated poorly and cared for improperly. So without further ado, let’s dive into some of the rules to care for your black jeans and keep them from fading.
Alright, let’s dive in.
So before you even hit start on that washing machine there are a couple of things that you should do.
Pick Your Washer Buddies
This is kind of laundry 101, but it’s worth saying for anyone who needs to hear it. Separate out your colors for each load and wash like with like. So don’t put your crisp white T-shirt in the same load as your black jeans. Your shirt will get dingy and light and white color clothes need different care and procedures than your dark-colored clothing. So separating out light and dark is really our first official recommendation.
Turn Your Jeans Inside Out
This is an easy one that we actually recommend doing in all instances whenever you have any denim with a wash that you want to preserve. This is especially important for black jeans, though, because it prevents all that soapy water in the washer from coming in direct contact with the rinse on the outside of the jeans. Why do we want to do this? The soap in laundry detergent is designed to strip away stains and dirt, but sometimes it works a little too well and strips away color too. Which is truly no one’s fault, it’s just doing its job. But to prevent that soap from causing unintended fading directly to the surface of the jeans, we turn them inside out. Of course, water still comes into contact with the rinse of the jean but it’s in a much kinder, gentler way––so that soap strips away wash from the inside of the jean instead of the dark outside you want to preserve.
Pick Your Detergent + Additives
There is a lot of buzz about what you should wash your black jeans with. To start, we truly can’t recommend you use your normal detergent pod or whatever. As noted typical laundry detergent can strip and fade the color from your jeans and no one wants that. This calls for something a little bit more specific and believe it or not there are literally detergents that are specifically made to wash and preserve dark colors. Woolite makes a good one if you’re looking for recommendations.
But detergent is just the start. This is where we delve into the weird 1950s cleaning advice column kind of stuff. Ok, the first thing we hear is to throw a cup of vinegar in with the wash. We know. Super weird right? But apparently, distilled white vinegar helps work with the chemicals in the dyes to seal the color into the fabric. There is one caveat and we’ll get into this in a bit, but you do need to make sure you select cold water in your wash cycle (which tbh you should be doing anyways).
What else? Adding a teaspoon of salt can also help preserve color. Similar to the vinegar salt will help set the dye and lock it in so that it runs less in the wash and stays in the fabric where you want it to be. What kind of salt? Whatever kitchen salt you have on hand will work. Just toss it in with the detergent before the wash. Now for the final question. Should you use both vinegar and salt at the same? As far as we’re concerned it couldn’t hurt.
Now we’re getting down to it. You’ve turned your jeans inside out, you’ve added the appropriate detergent and add ons so now what?
Choose Your Setting
Do not just shut the door and press start on whatever your normal cycle is. You need specific settings to help get the most out of your machine.
First up, water temperature. When we dyed the material that goes on to make your dark or black jeans, we used hot water so when you wash them with warm or hot water in the washer they’re more prone to bleeding and fading since the fibers are expanding in the same way as they originally did. Cold water keeps the fibers closer together and the dye more intact so that it bleeds less and doesn’t fade as much after the wash. So that’s really just a long-winded way of saying that you should wash your black jeans in cold water as opposed to hot or warm.
Next, the wash type. In an ideal world, we’d all handwash our jeans. But let’s be real, we’re busy people and that’s not always in the cards. So we recommend when using a washing machine to use the gentle cycle. It’s easier on the fabric so it doesn’t cause as much wear and tear. Which really means it doesn’t cause as much fading, which is the main thing we’re trying to avoid here.
Ok, cold water, gentle cycle, and you’re good to go. Let the washing machine do its thing.
AFTER THE WASH
After the washing machine, there are a couple of additional things you need to know.
Do not, and this is super important, put your wet jeans in the dryer after they’re done in the washing machine. That is a huge no-no. Why? You know all that lint you pull out of the dryer after it’s done? That is all little pieces of the laundry from that cycle. For obvious reasons, you wanna avoid doing that to your black jeans because they will fade and they will fade quickly. Instead of drying simply hang your jeans and let them air dry. Preferably away from the sun.
When To Wash Again
It may be tempting to wash your jeans a lot, but because of the stress the washing process puts on them we highly recommend going as long as you can between washes for your denim. Instead, spot-clean any accidents with a little bit of gentle detergent to hold you over between washes. By washing less frequently and when you do washing with care you can ensure your black jeans stay true to their original tone for as long as possible.
But enough about care, let’s get a new pair of black jeans to try this all out on. Shop our assortment of black jeans.