How Do You Keep Your Favorite Jeans From Wearing Out?

Couple wearing jeans looking over bridge, both wearing Jelt elastic stretch belts.

Ahhh… the look and feel of your favorite jeans. There’s nothing quite like it. Since jeans were invented by Levi Strauss in 1873 as men’s work pants, humans have seen the utilitarian use for owning a pair or two of perfectly fitting jeans.

The hard part is not wearing them out, getting rips awkward places or gaping holes that you push your feet through every time you put them on. We want our jeans to look exactly like the way they fit a few times after pulling the tags off from the store.

After researching some ideas from large scale clothing manufacturers and asking various circles of friends their ideas for maintaining “dream jeans”, I have narrowed it down to five simple suggestions:

DON'T WASH YOUR JEANS

This seems like an obvious answer, but many people really do not understand how washing clothes in a machine literally breaks down the fibers of the material. It’s not only the detergent, but also the mechanisms within the machine that stretches and deteriorates the cotton and other materials within your clothing. Therefore, spot cleaning is the best option until you’ve worn your jeans several times—some jean “experts” even recommend wearing your jeans ten times before washing, but for me that seems excessive.

NEVER PUT YOUR JEANS IN THE DRYER

I rarely put any clothes I care about in the dryer. Heat kills. Heat shrinks. Heat destroys. Seriously, though, even dryers on low heat can shrink the fibers of your jeans, so that when you first put them back on, they will be so tight, you will invariably stretch and rip them somewhere. Instead, hang to dry in a well-ventilated area so that you don’t get that mildew smell in your room and in your jeans.

FREEZER METHOD

What is the freezer method, you ask? Admittedly, the freezer theory is new to me. I read about it recently in a Patagonia blog about their new denim line and have been curious ever since. You basically deodorize your jeans in the freezer overnight to get them fresh again. First of all, you need to have freezer space to adequately shove your dirty jeans into, but also, lack of care for how that might affect the food stored within the freezer. I included this idea because it is backed by Patagonia denim experts and because I asked a few friends who also said it works. I recommend trying it for yourself. At the very least, it will be a great cocktail conversation.

FIND JEANS WITH A LITTLE BIT OF STRETCH

Jeans that are 100% cotton sound comfy, but are actually stiffer and can be more prone to ripping and not holding their shape. Jeans with a blend of cotton with some Lycra or other stretching fabric allows your jeans to move with you and hold their shape a little better. Sadly, all jeans get a little saggy, resulting in a less flattering look. This can be moderated by wearing a Jelt, a belt designed to keep your dream jeans in place. It will also keep you from having to wash them too many times. Jelt belts are game changers for that purpose alone.

DON'T PLAY SPORTS IN JEANS

I had to add this recommendation at the end. Most people would never consider playing any sport in their favorite jeans. There are so many other options like leggings, sport shorts and athleisure these days, so there is no reason to wear jeans for any physical activity. This is all well and good until you invariably find yourself in your favorite jeans at a backyard BBQ playing cornhole, horseshoes, frisbee or beer pong and hoping that your beloved jeans will not tear under the pressure. You are at the mercy of the Jean Gods on this. I just hope you are wearing a Jelt, so that those jeans don’t slip down and cause you to rip them at the knee, or heaven forbid, the crotch. I’ve seen it happen again and again.