For the next article of our ‘How To’ series, we will be helping you care for the denim pieces in your wardrobe.
Denim is one of the most distinctive and versatile fabrics in fashion today and staple clothing pieces like jeans, denim shorts and denim jackets will always have a place in your wardrobe simply because they never go out of style.
As the weather starts to turn colder, we have found ourselves starting to reach for our denim pieces more and more. Ever wondered how to look after them to keep them looking great and make them last over time? In this article, we’re sharing our expert tips on how to care for denim clothes... and for those of you who are in the market for a new denim piece, we have compiled a list of ethical, sustainable denim brands to check out!
How denim is made
First things first - let’s find out more about this well-known material. Denim is a cotton warp-faced textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This twill weaving process creates a diagonal ribbing that distinguishes it from cotton duck.
The most common type of denim is ‘Indigo denim’ - in this instance the warp thread is dyed, while the weft thread is left white. As a result of the warp-faced twill weaving, one side of the textile is dominated by the blue warp threads and the other side is dominated by the white weft threads. This causes blue jeans to be white on the inside, blue on the outside and can provide a ‘faded’ appearance if desired.
A distinguishing feature of denim is its strength and durability. When cared for properly, the fabric can wear very well over time, making it a perfect material for hard wearing clothes.
The indigo dyeing process can, unfortunately, be very toxic. Synthesizing indigo dye requires a number of toxic chemicals, as does the dying process itself. The use of such chemicals raises a lot of health concerns for the workers and the residents who breathe them in. Alongside this, exceptionally high water consumption is required in conventional denim manufacturing (up to “1,500 gallons of water to manufacture one pair of jeans”- according to DL1961) and dyes are often released into the rivers untreated.
That’s why it’s important to look for denim brands using environmentally-friendly processes. Choosing the right brand, with preservable quality products and ethical methods can be your way to contribute to a more sustainable society - take a look below for some of our favourite sustainable denim brands. You can also take a look at our guide to shop more sustainably for more ideas and tips.
How to care for Denim
Ideally, you should look at washing your denim clothes about every 3 to 10 wears to keep a great fit. This will allow the denim to wear in a beautiful and unique way, not to mention that it helps save time, water and energy too! To help you prolong the period of time between washes, you can also use the Attirecare Denim Spray to help kill surface bacteria and odours between washes, all without damaging the cotton fibers of your denim.
Has your denim picked up a small stain? Try tackling it directly instead of washing the entire garment. Use some mild detergent such as our Tangent GC Denim wash on a clean, damp cloth and apply to the affected area of the garment to help remove minor stains in between washes - this helps to keep your denim fresher for longer whilst minimising washing cycles.
Note that you should avoid spot cleaning if your denim has a raw finish or no finish, as it could remove the dye and create white spots.
As mentioned above, try to make sure you're not washing your jeans at too high a temperature, ideally at 30°C maximum. Depending on how dirty your jeans are you may need to increase the temperature to 40°C to make sure they are thoroughly cleaned and all stains are removed from the garment.
The spin cycle for your denim should be no more than 800 RPM and the entire washing cycle from start to finish is ideally 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Hand washing denim
If you opt for hand washing, turn your denim inside out, fill up a large container with lukewarm water, and add a mild liquid detergent in the water. Submerge the garment and gently agitate to help remove stains and bacteria. Leave your jeans to soak for up to 45 minutes, rinsing them thoroughly with clean water before hanging them out to dry.
Jeans hate dryers! Instead, hang them up. Line-drying preserves the fit and helps to increase your denim lifespan by eliminating the heat and frictions, as well as the risk of shrinkage. Not to mention tumble dryers require a lot of electricity so you’ll be saving energy at the same time!
Flatten, reshape and hang to air dry in a dark shady space remembering to turn your jeans inside out to prevent fading and avoid soggy pockets.
When you have finished washing and drying your denim, it’s time to carefully place them away. We recommend hanging them up in your wardrobe, folding them at the knee on a wooden hanger. The majority of creases should drop out after a couple of minutes wear, so there’s no need to iron!
Common mistakes when washing denim
Don't forget to zip up and fasten buttons!
Securing buttons and zips helps the denim maintain its shape and prevents other items from snagging in the laundry load. If your favourite denim piece does rip or tear, we’re here to help! Here at BLANC, we are strong believers that clothes that are worth buying and wearing are worth repairing too, so we offer a bespoke tailoring and repairs service. Whether you prefer to send your items & instructions via our online app or visit one of our stores, it's never been easier to repair and rewear!
Separate your light wash denim from your darker colours
Just because it's the same fabric unfortunately doesn’t mean the colour won't run. Darker indigo dyes on denim can transfer onto lighter fabrics, changing the colour in the wash, so try to separate your colours to avoid this.
Our favourite sustainable denim brands
According to DL1961, a standard pair of jeans requires “up to 1,500 gallons of water to manufacture”. DL1961 jeans use less than 10 gallons as they recycle and treat 98% of the water they use. They make the entire garment in-house from fabric to finish and have beautifully classic styles.
Designed and produced in East London, E.L.V supports the local community by using local ateliers and factories. They use discarded denim which gets “transformed into modern, sophisticated designs, where the material has ZERO impact on the environment.”
This major company in the sustainable fashion sphere has built an ethical supply chain that creates high-quality, low-impact, long-lasting products. All of the denim produced at Everlane uses 98% recycled water and renewable energy to create a great range of reasonably priced denim pieces.
RE/ DONE jeans are made from repurposed Levi's for a truly vintage feel. They hand pick and cut the denim in their downtown Los Angeles atelier, creating one of a kind designs from pre-loved pieces.