10 Ways You're Ruining Your Jeans

Those beloved denim duds have seen better days and you know it.

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You may live in denim (we do), and be under the impression that it's relatively indestructible (we were). But while wearing jeans can feel blissfully low-maintenance, taking care of them is a little more tricky. And because we're all aiming to have our Levi's 501s outlive us, it's time to tackle these common denim faux pas once and for all.

1. You're washing your jeans way too often. Experts recommend that you don't wash new denim for at least four to six months! From then on, you should wash them as little as possible. Grossed out in the meantime? Pop 'em in the freezer to kill any bacteria. 

2. Your jeans aren't tailored to the correct length. This is what causes those annoyingly frayed hems. Yes, the look can be a trend, but it rules that pair out for office-wear. 

3. When you do wash, it's not by hand. Not only does the washing machine disrupt pigmentation and cause color bleeding, but the tumbling motions wear on the stretch of the fabric. It's a labor of love, no doubt, but you'll be wearing your favorite jeans much longer because of it. Annnd for the lazy among us: If you are going to use a machine, keep in mind that the newer the jeans, the gentler the cycle needs to be. Also, you should always wash with cold water and use a color-preserving detergent, like Tide TotalCare. Pro tip: Turn your jeans right side out as it will help minimize any damage.

4. You're using the dryer.  We all know that denim loosens as we wear it, so we're always tempted to toss 'em in the dryer so that they're skin-tight when we put them back on. Alas, this is a no-no. "It damages the denim fibers," confirms Francine Rabinovich, founder of Denim Therapy. Since you don't want to cause any creases in the fabric, air-drying by hanging them from their belt loops is the way to go.

5. You're not taking advantage of a steamer. Instead of washing your jeans, give them a quick steam. It will not only smooth out some of the creases, but will help get rid of any unsavory scents. 

6. You're buying the wrong size and it's causing not-ideal wear. Distressing at the knee? Chic. Holes in the butt? No, thank you. "Prevention begins with buying the right size, which is not too high on the knees and bum," explains Rabinovich. "The stretchier and softer the fabric is, the more likely they will tear."

7. You're bleaching your white jeans. "Using bleach makes the yarn deteriorate," Rabinovich warns. To avoid harming the fabric, wash with White Brite, a laundry whitener that tackles yellowing and dinginess. As far as prevention, use a fabric protector like Scotchgard to treat a pair before you wear them.

8. You're storing your jeans wrong. Instead of hanging them in your closet (or leaving them in a crumpled ball in your laundry basket [guilty]), you should be folding instead. "It prevents creases and helps keep the shape of the jeans," says Rabinovich.

9. You're keeping stuff in your pockets. Cell phones, Metrocards, and lipstick—we're all guilty of sticking said objects in our back pockets and forgetting about 'em. "Doing that too often affects the shape of your jeans, leaves permanent marks, and makes them more prone to tearing in those particular areas," Rabinovich explains.

10. You're treating stains incorrectly. Instead of scrubbing a spot with excess soap or detergent, let a Magic Eraser do the work. It won't disrupt the dye, and take it from us, it work wonders when you spill red wine on your favorite flares.

You should also check out:

The Most Iconic Denim Ads of All Time

7 Denim Skirts We Can't Wait to Wear

History's Most Stylish Jean Queens

Beauty Editor

Lauren Valenti is Vogue’s former senior beauty editor. Her work has also appeared on ELLE.com, MarieClaire.com, and in In Style. She graduated with a liberal arts degree from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, with a concentration on Culture and Media Studies and a minor in Journalism.