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Denim Care

If there's one article of clothing most of us own, it's a pair of jeans.  If you're like the majority of guys I know, you have several pairs and for good reason.  Jeans are the ultimate pant.  They're comfortable, versatile, rugged, and easy to maintain... as long as you know the simple rules of denim care.

However, this article is not about jean care,   but denim care in general. Denim is an excellent fabric, whose use goes beyond jeans.  Once synonymous with cowboys and the dungarees they wore to tame the Wild West, denim has made its way into the worlds of coats, jackets, shorts, overalls, vests, hats, and even wallets.  Its comfort and durability make it an excellent choice for many casual styles of garb.

Despite all denim has going for it, today's fashion doesn't embrace denim the way it did years ago, or even as recently as the 1980s.  Don't get me wrong, denim use is still in full gear; however, today's primary use is to make that pair of jeans you're probably wearing right now.  Regardless of whether the world is still sporting denim like it once did or not, we need to properly care for the denim in our wardrobe.  There's really not much to it, so giving denim the TLC it requires should keep those jeans looking and fitting great for years to come.

Some denim fans believe the best way to address new or raw denim is to never wash it, and use Febreeze or other odor eliminating sprays to keep it wearable, or should I say bearable.  Other denim aficionados opt to wash it every six months, while some choose to freeze the bacteria away.  Interesting, but I don't think I'm there yet, and doubt many of you are.  So, on that note, let's discuss how to wash denim, please!

Denim Maintenance

  • Read the care instructions found on the inside tag and follow them.  I know tags give limited information, but use it as a guideline.
  • Denim, whether it's made from 100% cotton or not, bleeds when it's washed the first few times.  For this reason, it's imperative to wash new denim separately, or with denim of the same color.  If this isn't done, expect the other clothes to be stained by the dye that leaches out of the denim, turning everything the same color.  Been there – done that!
  • Turn denim inside out before washing.  This simply protects the outer fabric a bit.
  • Wash in cold water to avoid shrinkage and excessive bleeding.  Never wash in hot water, unless you're intentionally trying to shrink or fade the denim.
  • Wash denim on the "delicate" cycle, or if you're really energetic, try your hand at hand washing.  Although denim is a tough fabric, it will definitely hold up better in the long run if gently handled.
  • Wash with mild laundry soap, which will help retain color and the fabric's integrity.  Be sure not to use more soap than is recommended, since residual soap that stays in fabric dulls and destroys it; resulting in denim with a shorter life expectancy.
  • Dry clean if you'd prefer.  Dry cleaning is beneficial for dark denim, since it reduces fading.
  • When air-drying, lay denim flat, or hang it over something like a shower curtain rod that allows airflow to circulate around the denim.  Hanging jeans upside down accelerates drying of the waistband and pockets.  Avoid hanging on a hanger, or there will be protrusions or "nipples" present once it's dried.
  • Although air-drying has its advantages and is best for the fabric, denim can be dried in a clothes dryer.  However, I don't recommend this method if you want to avoid shrinkage.
  • When drying in a clothes dryer, keep the temperature on low.  Shrinkage isn't the only reason low heat is best.  It will also preserve the fabric, since hot air makes material brittle over time.  Basically, the less heat the better.
  • When ironing denim, avoid spray starch or it will end up with a nice glossy sheen.  Nothing's worse than shiny denim.
  • No bleach!  Bleach will turn denim white instantly.
  • Do not over-wash denim.  I'm sure many of us appreciate this tip!  How often you wash your denim is up to you, but unless it's visibly soiled, there's really no need to wash it every time it's worn.  Jeans always feel better the second time around!


Denim is not a high maintenance fabric, and doesn't require jumping through hoops to care for it correctly.  Still, putting these guidelines into practice will keep denim looking great longer... and that's good news for our wallet, as well as our wardrobe.  So, whether your denim is in the form of jeans, or a fat Newsboy cap like my grandfather wore, give it the respect it deserves and it will make you proud!

by Aaron Marino

Past Topics

New Topics Added Weekly!
Pre-Shrunk Clothing? My Butt! -
September 24, 2012
Does your men's shirt say 'pre-shrunk" but it shrink in the dryer anyway? Aaron Marino of alpha m. has done it, and you've probably done it too. Don't trust anything that says 'pre-shrunk'. Take special care when drying clothes if they are the perfect size. Cotton shirts will shrink if put in the dryer when wet, and there is nothing you can do to un-shrink them. Pre-shrunk? Don't believe the hype!Read More»
Proper Men's Jeans Length -
September 21, 2012
How many of you guys tried on a pair of jeans and wondered if they are too long or short? Aaron Marino of alpha m. says that jean length is not as cut-as-dry as slacks, pants, or chinos. If you have a question of the length, always err on the side as too long. The jeans will shrink vertically, not horizontally, due to the weave. Also with the jeans that are too long, bottoms came become frayed whiRead More»
Men's Pant Leg Length -
September 14, 2012
The biggest men's pant length issue is the pant being too long. The visual streamline is broken with the bunching of the pants at the ankle, which makes a man look shorter. Aaron Marino of alpha m. also discusses pants being too short and shows a prime example. You don't have to be a fashion or style expert to see that the pants are too short. He needs an in between size. So, purchase the in betweRead More»
Dealing with Pant Crotch Holes -
August 2, 2012
How do holes in men's pant crotch happen? Aaron Marino of alpha m. discusses the reasons why holes in the crotch happen. Men's pants that fit well will wear-out in the crotch area from friction. Typically pants made of cotton wear-out in the crotch even more.  If you want to extend the life of a pair of pants or jeans, don't wear the same pair as much. Not that jeans should only be worn twice befRead More»

What Stores Are Age Appropriate  -
July 25, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. leads a discussion about the audience that the retail outlets are geared toward. More mature guys, including Aaron, Hollister, Abercromie, and American Eagle are geared toward a younger audience. Old Navy is an in between store with basic options of men's pull-overs, men's shorts, men's jackets, and v-neck shirts. These men's options are basics and, thus, not age specific.Read More»
What Color Socks with Jeans?  -
July 20, 2012
A common style issue for men is what color socks to wear with jeans. Aaron Marino of alpha m. addresses this men's style dilemma. General rule is to match your socks to your pants. Matching your socks to your shoes in tone also will match as long as your shoes are coordinating with your outfit. When you are wearing a non-athletic shoe, you can match your socks to something else in your outfit (belRead More»
How to Make Jean Shorts | Customize Clothes -
April 12, 2012
Men's cut-off jean shorts are increasingly popular this season. Aaron Marino of alpha m. demonstrates how to make men's jean shorts. When you lay your men's shorts flat, the legs are slanted. So when you put them on and your body fills them out, it's going to drop them and create a flat line across your thighs. If the jeans are cut straight across, your ass will look like it's eating your shorts. Read More»
How Many Jeans Should You Have?  -
March 21, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. is 'on the street' and 'in the war zone' with 'bad hair' answering questions about how many jeans should you have in rotation. Every man should have at least 2 pairs: one dressy (not distressed) and one casual.  If you are only wearing them on weekends, 2 - 3 pairs is sufficient.However, realistically, Aaron recommends having 4 -5 pairs for rotation. Aaron has different pRead More»
Men's Buffalo Jeans  -
February 14, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. discusses Buffalo Jeans by David Bitton. Alpha discovered these jeans in the store Buckle. Buffalo jeans are the most comfortable jeans that you will ever put on. They are made from a lighter weight of material and have a good amount of stretch in them. He presents the straight leg BuffaloDixel Jean and easy fit Buffalo Lobe Jean which he recently purchased. Designer jeansRead More»

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