How-to care for distressed and/or frayed denim

by Michael Cyns on June 02, 2021

How can you get the longest life from denim?

1. Consider carefully whether the jeans really need to be washed. Jeans are designed to be washed infrequently; the less you wash jeans, the better. Try spot cleaning (don't scrub though, as this weakens denim fibers).

2. Airing out your jeans by hanging them up before storing can help them to stay fresh without washing.

3. Read the label before cleaning your ripped jeans. This will ensure you know what to do for this specific pair of jeans. Even if you're familiar with washing denim, ripped jeans need special care and the designer or manufacturer may have additional requirements, depending on how they made the jeans and what attachments are on them.

4. Consider washing the jeans by hand rather than using a washing machine. This is the gentlest means for washing ripped jeans and allows you to take extra care around the ripped areas.  Do not wear jewelry if washing the jeans by hand, in case it gets caught on the ripped sections.

5. Do not scrub jeans, as this weakens the denim fibers.

6. Do not wring the jeans. Let them drip dry while being air dried; you can pop them into a salad spinner and whir them around a bit to remove extra water.

7. To dry, hang them over several rungs of a clothes line to give plentiful support to the jeans. The airer can sit in the bathtub, or outside under a covered balcony or porch. Don't dry in direct sunlight, if possible.

8. Before washing, turn your jeans inside out to reduce fading. This will help to retain the color and protects trims and distressed areas.

9. Avoid using bleach or anything else that might fade the jeans. Bleach also weakens denim, not just fades it.

10. Wash the jeans separately from other clothing that might catch on the distressed parts of the jeans. This includes being careful about hooks, metallic buttons, zippers, etc. on other clothing that might catch on the ripped jeans when being washed.

11. using a front loading washing machine or top loading without an agitator is ideal, if possible.

12. Wash on the gentlest or delicates cycle of the washing machine, using cold-only water. This will help to keep the dye in the jeans and provides a gentle wash.

13. Another possible form of support for keeping ripped jeans intact is placing them inside a lingerie wash bag. Use a large one and be careful not to catch the distressed parts when zipping it up.

14. Take care not to spill any food or drinks on your jeans if you can help it. If something does happen to spill on them, take time to spot treat the stained area 'before' you wash them in the washing machine.

15. Take precautions when storing your ripped jeans. Fold them away neatly and store them in a safe place that isn't near any sharp items such as jewelry, hair accessories or belt hooks - these sorts of items can catch on the distressed areas and pull more.

16. Fold the jeans neatly or hang them up on pant hangers to keep them neat and organized.

17. Prepare your jeans ahead of next-day wear, to avoid last minute mishaps from rushing about. Fold the cuffs, iron them, and make sure all buttons and zippers are working properly. This will avoid any temptation to wear them even if something isn't right with them, which can cause damage.