How many wears (not months) before you wash selvedge jeans?
June 17, 2022 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Everything I've read so far says not to wash them for 6 months. Which I assume means when you're wearing them once or twice a week. But what if you're wearing them every day? (And a lot of full days with exercise and effort) So what's the minimum number of days actually worn you want to do before you wash the jeans?
posted by rileyray3000 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wash them when they’re stinky. If you don’t do too much to make them stinky, that could be quite a while.
posted by rd45 at 1:09 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]

I think you have to think about it like, "These jeans have X number of washes in their life; if I wash them every 6 months, they will last me six years; if I wash them every month, they will only last me one year; if I wash them every two weeks, they will last about six months; etc."

So, yeah, as rarely as you can get away with. (I find I am too stinky to baby trousers this way.)

(If you're willing to hand wash, that's probably a lot less stressful on the jeans and you can do it more often.)
posted by mskyle at 1:18 PM on June 17

"Wear your jeans for at least a full week, preferably two to three weeks before the first soak or wash."

This is from Blue Star Selvedge.
posted by soelo at 1:19 PM on June 17

Are they selvedge jeans - which denotes a particular way using the width of fabric cut off the roll - or raw denim? If they aren't raw denim/a dark, relatively unfixed dye, then it doesn't really matter.

If they are raw denim, and your goal is fades, then go as long as possible without washing them, until you have some visible creasing/fading. Washing them will a) wash out some of the dye and b) slow down the high-contrast creasing going forward.
posted by sagc at 1:38 PM on June 17

There are a bunch of reasons for these wacky washing instructions, and you should decide for yourself whether they make a difference when you'll wash them or not:

1 - Washing them makes your cool fade marks less contrasty, because (see next)
2 - Some of the denim dyes used are not very colorfast and will wash out, making your dark denim look less dark
3 - Some jeans are non-sanfordized, and they will shrink when washed (and stretch when worn) - washing them can conceivably make them not fit anymore

Public opinion toward washing has softened somewhat, especially since there is now the belief that dirty jeans actually fall apart faster (embedded dirt, etc.) They're clothes, wash them when they get dirty. Unless you want to look dirty, which is a possibility.

There are also ways to make the washing process less damaging, like handwashing, drycleaning, hanging outside in sunlight to kill bugs/bacteria, and spraying with Febreze (sort of a cheap drycleaning process).
posted by meowzilla at 1:40 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]

You can put them into the freezer between wears to hopefully minimize some of the crotch funk. Wrap in plastic as the iciness from the freezer is water which could leave spots.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 1:51 PM on June 17

I always understood the 6 month time period to account for wearing them every day. At least, that's what I did years ago.

But lately, as meowzilla says, the 6 month recommendation has started to get replaced with just washing them as needed. The super contrasty no-wash fades that were trendy a few years ago are falling out of favor for a more vintage look that reflects how people wore and washed raw denim back in the '50s, '60s and '70s (that is, washing them pretty frequently).

You can also check out r/rawdenim for lots of denim pics, which typically include wears/age and number of washes. Good way to get a sense for how wash frequency will affect the fades.
posted by TurnKey at 2:07 PM on June 17

Back before we had washing machines, didn't people 'air out' their clothes, i.e. hang them up in the sun? That's what I do with work clothes, hang them up to dry out, so I can wear them again without needing to wash them. I do that with wool shirts in winter, too.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:04 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

falling out of favor for a more vintage look that reflects how people wore and washed raw denim back in the '50s, '60s and '70s (that is, washing them pretty frequently).

I’ve got some raw selvedge denim and I was a kid in the 70s when new jeans were a mark of shame. The modern obsession with maintaining that look cracks me up. I’ve done a preliminary soak for all of my raw denim (the water turns yellow or brown, not blue) and I wash my raw denim jeans when they’re dirty, when they’re smelly, or when I’m otherwise doing laundry. They’re not that pure indigo dark wash anymore, but they look like jeans. Note: I hang them to dry when I remember because our washer/dryer unit twists them and ties them in knots. If I had a normal dryer I’d probably dry them in it, because I am a monster.
posted by fedward at 3:18 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

They're clothes, wash them when they get dirty.

This. Just wear ‘em and wash ‘em when they need it.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:43 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

At very minimum 100 days of daily wear according to the jeans I’m wearing currently but probably closer to 3-400 as long as nothing disgusting happens.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 5:50 PM on June 17

My kids (girls) used to wash them every other day to make them fit as tight as possible. I say do what you want and ignore these rules.
posted by Rad_Boy at 9:12 PM on June 17

Hiut Denim’s No Wash Club - encouraging people not to give their jeans a first wash for six months - implies wearing them every, or most, days: “7th Rule: Rest days are allowed.”

I have done this, just about, wearing them most days, but now I would wash them once they were noticeably dirty or smelly. Which takes a while but, for me, is sooner than six months.

I think back to when I was at college, long ago, and marvelling at a fine art student who didn’t wash his jeans for a whole month of daily wear! It seemed absurd. How ahead of his time he was.

As others have said, these days I’ve seen the counter-argument to “not washing makes them last longer”: that not washing them allows dirt to build up which degrades the cotton more quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s zero solid evidence for either argument though.
posted by fabius at 5:46 AM on June 18

I dry most of my clothes on a rack, inside in winter, outside in summer. They last so much longer, so maybe don't use a dryer. Direct sun will fade stuff depending on dyes, so don't forget that the laundry is outside for days, like I would, of course, never do.
posted by theora55 at 7:35 PM on June 18

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