The right way to wash your jeans

James Merrell James Merrell Denim is easy to care for, but these tips will make it even easier

  • Wash jeans in warm water, with no bleach. Air-dry them to keep them in mint condition, but if you're in a hurry, you can tumble dry them on low.
  • If you're determined to make that dark rinse last, turn your jeans inside out before washing to slow down fading. If you're really determined, send the jeans to the dry cleaner.

View the 20-Something Wardrobe at Real Simple.

  • Don't worry too much about shrinkage. Denim is resilient, and most pairs have been preshrunk by many rigorous washes before they hit the sales floor.
  • Never put more than four pairs of jeans in the washing machine at once (adding other clothing is fine), because the heavy weight of the denim will constrict the movement of the wash cycle. This can damage the machine and the clothing, and chances are the jeans will end up less than clean, not to mention wrinkled.

Learn How to Create 3 Looks with 1 Pair of Jeans at Real Simple.

  • You may have heard of jean stretching -- meaning hanging the pants upside down while wet, or even attaching some weights to them, to make them extend a bit. Although experts say that this could conceivably work, it won't make enough of a difference for you to notice. Also, they warn, the use of weights could warp the seams. And once you wash the jeans again, they will shrink back to the length they were before. Better to invest in a pair that fits properly or is even slightly long.

More from Real Simple:
Jeans Looks for Day and Evening
The Three Steps of Hand Washing Your Delicates
What to Wash (or Not) by Hand