How To Wash Men’s Vintage Jeans

When deciding how to wash men’s vintage jeans, first consider how well you wash your own laundry. Be honest. Do your clothes still look good after many washings? Do you frequently shrink your knit T-shirts, have colors run, or otherwise ruin your clothes? If this describes you, home laundering is obviously not your forte. However, if you are confident that you can wash and clean your clothes without incident–and you trust yourself to wash your clothes by hand–here are some instructions to wash men’s vintage jeans and ensure they come out clean.

  1. Identify the fabric. Some vintage fabrics are suitable for washing. Other fabrics require different types of cleaning, like valet cleaning or dry cleaning. Your vintage men’s jeans are likely to be cotton, but they could contain polyester. Polyester jeans hand wash and drip dry well, after being thoroughly rinsed in cold water.
  2. Always hand wash. Never use a washing machine or a dryer for any vintage clothing, including men’s jeans. Generously fill the bathtub with lukewarm water, and prepare to wash your vintage jeans by hand.
  3. Choose a cleanser. Use a gentle laundry soap to clean your vintage jeans. The product should be formulated for delicate clothing. Use the product’s liquid form, or completely dissolve a powder detergent with water before adding it to the bathtub.
  4. Clean the garment. Pat the vintage jeans with your hands, allowing the soap and water to run through the fabric as it floats in the bathtub. Do not agitate the vintage fibers. If necessary, use a sponge to press the soap suds into the fabric. If your jeans need more than just a freshening wash, leave them in the tub for fifteen to thirty minutes.
  5. Rinse the garment. The secret to a good washing is a good rinsing. Drain the water from the bathtub. Use the shower head attachment to spray rinse your jeans. Move the fabric gently to rinse between the folds. Or rinse the jeans by running fresh cold water in the tub. Repeat this process five times, or until all of the soap is rinsed from the fabric.
  6. Dry the garment. Let the water drip away from the jeans by holding them up for a while and laying them on the edge of the tub. Use some large bath towels to remove excess water. Avoid spinning your vintage jeans in the washing machine. Instead, use a heavy suit-weight clothes hanger and let your jeans drip dry over the bathtub.
  7. Valet clean. Instead of washing your men’s vintage jeans, you could simply valet them by hanging them outside in fresh air to get rid of odors. Give the jeans a good brush down. If the material is an appropriate fabric, spot clean to remove stains. To avoid color fade, test an inconspicuous part of the jeans before cleaning.
  8. Dry clean. Dry cleaning is an option if you don’t want to hand-wash your jeans. But dry cleaning costs money. Of course, time is money, too. So weigh your options. Are you willing to spend time, maybe hours, to improve the look of your vintage jeans? Or would a professional cleaner be the better option? Vintage clothes, especially designer items, can benefit from professional dry cleaning.
  9. Wrinkled jeans. Are your vintage cotton jeans more wrinkled than they are dirty? Here is a way to freshen them up. Layer the jeans between two damp bath towels that have been spun in the washer to remove excess water. Leave the jeans between the towels for about ten minutes. The check to see if your jeans could be lightly pressed with an iron to remove the wrinkles.
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