How to Wash Selvedge Denim: The Ultimate Guide to Exceptional Care

Selvedge denim has become the go-to choice for style purists and quality aficionados, delivering a unique trifecta of comfort, durability, and enduring fashion. But what elevates Selvedge above your average denim? It’s crafted on vintage shuttle looms, resulting in a fabric with a denser weave and neater edges. The outcome is a pair of jeans designed not only to withstand the test of time but also to age beautifully, developing a unique patina as the years go by.

Yet, the durability and aesthetic appeal of your Selvedge jeans aren’t solely determined by the quality of the fabric; they’re also dependent on how well you care for them. Contrary to some opinions, this does include washing them—correctly, that is. This guide aims to clarify the optimal methods for laundering your treasured Selvedge denim, covering topics from the ideal time to wash, to the advantages and disadvantages of handwashing versus machine washing, as well as maintenance tips for preserving that coveted just-bought appearance.

So, whether you’re newly initiated into the world of Selvedge or a long-time enthusiast on the hunt for new insights, continue reading to explore the techniques and principles that will keep your denim looking its best for years to come.

The Whole “Never Wash Your Selvedge Denim” Thing? Yeah, It’s a Myth.

You might’ve heard some denim die-hards say you should never, ever wash your Selvedge jeans. The story goes that keeping them far away from water is the golden rule for maintaining their color, fit, and unique vibe. But let’s be real: that’s not the full truth.

Sure, washing them too often can make the color fade faster and lead to wear and tear. But never washing them? That’s a fast track to a buildup of bacteria, body oils, and let’s face it, some pretty gnarly smells. That’s not just bad for the jeans; it also makes wearing them way less pleasant.

So, no, giving your Selvedge denim a good wash now and then doesn’t make you a bad jeans owner. It actually shows you know how to take care of your prized threads.

When to Wash Your Selvedge Denim

Knowing the right time to wash your Selvedge denim is almost as crucial as knowing how to wash them. So, how do you determine when it’s time for a wash? Pay attention to a few telltale signs: unpleasant odors, visible stains, or a less-than-snug fit can all be indicators that your jeans are ready for a cleaning. If the denim feels too stretched out and doesn’t hold its shape well, that’s another sign.

While frequent washing can lead to quicker fading and may alter the fit, waiting for too long can compromise the integrity of the fabric. Striking a balance is key to maintaining the color and fit you fell in love with at the store. Experts often recommend washing Selvedge denim every 3-6 months, depending on wear and individual comfort.

Getting Your Selvedge Denim Ready for the Wash

Before dunking your prized Selvedge jeans into a wash, there are a few prep steps that can make all the difference in keeping your denim looking sharp. Start by flipping your jeans inside out—this minimizes the rubbing on the exterior, helping to keep the color vibrant and protect those hard-earned fades. Don’t forget to zip up and button any fastenings to keep the jeans’ shape and avoid any unwanted snags or rips.

Picking the right soap is a game-changer. Go for a gentle detergent, ideally something that’s made specifically for dark clothes or sensitive fabrics. Avoid anything with bleach or harsh chemicals—these can wreak havoc on your jeans, affecting both their color and structural integrity.

Hand Wash vs. Machine Wash: The Ultimate Showdown

When it comes to washing your Selvedge denim, you essentially have two choices: hand washing or machine washing. Both methods have their pros and cons, and the best option often depends on your personal preference, available time, and the specific care instructions for your jeans.

Hand Washing


  • Greater control over water temperature and agitation.
  • Less abrasive on the fabric, preserving the color and fit.


  • More time-consuming.
  • May not remove all stains or odors as effectively as a machine.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Filling the Tub: Fill your sink or a tub with cold to lukewarm water. The water level should be enough to submerge your jeans completely.
  2. Adding Detergent: Mix in a small amount of mild detergent, stirring until it’s dissolved.
  3. Washing and Rinsing: Submerge your jeans, gently agitating them in the soapy water. Let them soak for 30-45 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cold water to remove all soap residue.
  4. Drying: Lay your jeans flat on a clean towel, and roll them up to remove excess water. Unroll and hang to dry, preferably in a shaded area to prevent color fading.

Machine Washing


  • More convenient and less time-consuming.
  • Often more effective in stain and odor removal.


  • Can be more abrasive, leading to faster color loss and fabric wear.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Settings to Use: Select the delicate or hand-wash setting on your machine, and use cold water.
  2. Detergent Dosage: Add the recommended amount of mild detergent for a small load.
  3. Drying: Once the cycle is complete, remove your jeans promptly. Lay them flat on a clean towel, and roll them up to remove excess water. Unroll and hang to dry, avoiding direct sunlight.

Drying Your Selvedge Denim

The drying process is equally important as washing when it comes to maintaining the quality of your Selvedge denim. You have two primary options: air drying and tumble drying.

Air Drying

Pros: This is the most gentle method and is excellent for preserving the fabric, color, and unique characteristics of your Selvedge denim.

Tumble Drying

Pros: It’s quicker but should be used cautiously.

Cons: High heat can cause shrinkage and weaken the fibers, affecting durability.

Tips for Avoiding Shrinkage and Stretching:

  • Always opt for air drying when possible. If you must use a tumble dryer, select the lowest heat setting.
  • Hang your jeans by the waistband or lay them flat to dry, avoiding direct sunlight to minimize fading.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Washing Selvedge Denim

How to wash selvedge denim Infographic

Even the most cautious Selvedge denim owners can make mistakes that compromise the longevity and appearance of their beloved jeans. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:

Using Bleach:

Bleach can weaken the denim fibers and drastically alter the color. Stick to mild detergents specifically designed for dark or delicate fabrics.

Hot Water:

Washing in hot water can cause significant shrinkage and color loss. Always opt for cold or lukewarm water.

Wrong Detergent:

Avoid detergents with harsh chemicals or additives like fabric softeners, as these can break down the fibers over time.

By sidestepping these common mistakes, you’ll ensure that your Selvedge denim remains a lasting staple in your wardrobe.

Keys to Long-Lasting Selvedge Denim

Want to keep your Selvedge jeans looking fresh and feeling comfy for the long haul? Here are some essential pointers to help you do just that:

  1. Say No to Fabric Softeners: It might be tempting to soften up your jeans, but fabric softeners can weaken the material, compromising its lifespan.
  2. Spot-Clean Small Messes: Got a little spill or stain? Instead of doing a full wash, try spot-cleaning with a gentle soap and cold water. This approach can prolong the time between complete washes.
  3. Mix It Up: If you’re lucky enough to have a collection of Selvedge denim, make sure to rotate between them. This reduces the stress and wear on any single pair.
  4. Storage Smarts: Rather than using a hanger that could stretch your jeans, either fold them neatly or hang them up by the waistband.

Follow these suggestions, and you’ll be setting your Selvedge denim up for a long, stylish life.

Conclusion: Wrapping Up Your Selvedge Denim Care Journey

And there you have it! We’ve journeyed through the ins and outs of caring for your Selvedge denim, a fabric that’s more than just a wardrobe item—it’s a lifestyle. From debunking myths about never washing them to recognizing when they’re begging for a clean, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also dived into the how-tos of hand washing and machine washing, spilled the tea on drying tips, and shared some wisdom on prolonging your denim’s life.

So, what’s your go-to denim care hack? Any burning questions or tips you’d like to share?

Kojima Genes RNB 102R Selvedge Denim Review: A Great Pair of Jeans for Everyday Wear

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Washing Selvedge Denim

Can I Use Regular Detergent?

Technically, yes, you could use standard detergent, but it’s far from ideal. Opt for a mild detergent specifically intended for dark or delicate fabrics. Everyday detergents often contain ingredients that can weaken the material and fade the color over time.

How Often Should I Wash My Jeans?

The answer varies based on usage and individual preferences. Generally speaking, wash your jeans when they show visible dirt or emit an odor. Keep in mind that washing them too often can lead to premature fading and wear.


Stan is an adventure enthusiast with a love for the outdoors and American heritage brands like Red Wing and Filson. With a background in environmental science, Stan combines his outdoor experiences with a commitment to sustainability. His reviews go beyond functionality, exploring the brand ethos and craftsmanship. Stan inspires readers to choose gear that's durable, environmentally responsible, and true to American craftsmanship, making his advice indispensable for outdoor aficionados.

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