Hold on there! Don't toss your favorite jeans in the washing machine without a second thought. If you want your denim to last a long time – and still look gorgeous – you need to care for it. This doesn't mean you have to wash your skinny jeans in Polynesian spring water or repair them using silk thread and a golden needle, though. All you need to do is show them some basic TLC and they'll look like new for longer.
If your jeans have stretch, check the label to see if they're made with spandex (which is also known as elastane and Lycra). You can usually get away with tossing clothes containing a small amount of spandex in the dryer, but if you want to be extra kind to your jeans, let them air dry. This protects delicate fibers from heat damage and puts them through less wear and tear, making it a good option even for jeans that aren't made with any spandex at all.
After a few wears, blue jeans often start to smell funky, but sometimes, a trip through the washing machine isn't the best idea. Jeans made from raw denim or accented with appliqués or strategically-placed rips must be treated gently. Control odors by hanging your jeans outside in a place with good air circulation to freshen them up. Alternately, kill stinky bacteria by placing them in the freezer for a day or two.
Do your jeans always wear out along the inner thighs? If so, repair them with iron-on patches before they rip to keep them from getting damaged. Use them to cover spots where the material has become thin and likely to tear, and you can extend their lifespan by months or even longer.
Keep your dark-colored designer and black jeans looking vibrant by giving them some extra care. When washing them in the machine, put it on the cold water cycle, use a detergent for dark fabric and don't toss in any light-colored clothes, as they can contribute to fading (and might get stained by bleeding dye). Turn them inside out before washing, too. You can also add a cup of vinegar to the machine before turning it on, as it can help seal in the dye while reducing build-up from laundry detergent, fabric softener and even the natural oils your skin produces.
There are a few ways to handle too-long jeans. Some styles are cute when cuffed, so try rolling them up and see how they look. If your skinny-leg jeans are extra snug at the ankle, you can tuck them up inside of themselves to make it look like they're the perfect length and no one will know your secret. If you don't know how to sew, turn your jeans inside out and roll up the hems until they reach the length you prefer. Secure them with fabric tape from the craft store and if recommended in the directions, iron it in place.