How to Wash Denim Jackets

Denim jackets add a touch of ‘cool’ to your closet and can be very comfortable to wear. They are also incredibly tough and can provide you with year-round comfort.

But just because denim jackets are rugged doesn’t mean you should handle them carelessly. You might want to show some care washing your jacket.

This article will give you a few tips on the best way to wash your denim jackets and maintain them.

Three Ways to Wash Your Denim Jackets

Although denim jackets are strong, they are still sensitive to the wrong laundry methods.

High temperatures and harsh chemicals like bleach will cause them to lose their color and shrink. 

To maintain the quality of your jacket, you should be careful of how often you wash them and the laundry method you use.

There are three tested methods of washing denim jackets, and the method you choose will depend on the amount of stain found on them. You can wash a denim jacket by spot cleaning them, Handwashing them, or placing them in a washing machine.

How to Spot Clean Your Denim Jacket

The longevity of denim jackets is closely related to how often you wash them. It is better to wash them as little as possible, so spot cleaning is the most preferred option when dealing with minor stains.

This method allows you to subject only the affected areas of the jacket to soap and water. This way, you don’t put the entire fabric at risk of a laundry mishap.

Materials and Steps Used in Spot Cleaning Denim Jackets

To effectively spot clean your jacket, you will need the following materials:

  • A cloth towel (if this is unavailable, you can use a paper towel).
  • A mild detergent or dish soap (preferably liquid).
  • A small bowl to hold water.

Once you have the materials above, follow the steps below:

Step One: Read the fabric care instructions on the jacket to know the best type of soap or detergent you should use. If there is no specific guide, ensure you use a bleach-free detergent or a mild dish soap.

Step Two: Pour the soap into the water bowl, and stir until they are thoroughly mixed.

Step Three: Place your towel into the bowl of water, and squeeze until the towel becomes damp.

Step Four: Brush the stained area in circular motions until the stain is no longer visible. 

Repeat steps one to four in other affected areas until you have an utterly spot-free jacket.

Step Five: Hang your jacket on a clothesline or in any sunlit area around your home.

How to HandWash Your Denim Jacket

Hand washing your denim jacket is the next best option to spot cleaning, and it protects the jacket from the unnecessary rigors of a washing cycle and allows you to target specific stain spots.

Materials and Steps Used in Hand Washing Denim Jackets

For an effective wash, you will need the following materials:

  • A tub or sink
  • A mild detergent or dish soap (Soap should be preferably liquid and bleach-free).
  • Coldwater (using warm or hot water can cause your jacket to shrink).

With these materials available, you can hand wash denim jackets in the following steps:

Step One: Pour cold water into a tub or sink.

Step Two: Add your soap/detergent into the cold water and stir until it is thoroughly mixed and lathered up.

Step Three: Place the jacket into the soapy water and allow it to soak for up to an hour.

Step Four: After an hour, gently rub the jacket while still in the water. Focus on the stained areas when doing this.

Step Five: Rinse the jacket in cold clear water. Put the jacket on a hanger or air rack and allow it to air dry.

How to Wash Denim Jacket Using a Washing Machine

Washing your jacket with a washing machine is strongly discouraged and should only be used as a last resort. Washing machines generally put more strain on denim fabrics.

However, situations differ, and you may be unable to spot clean or hand wash your jacket. If this is true for your situation, you can use a washing machine.  

Follow the steps below to minimize damage to the jacket:

Step One: Set your machine to a gentle cycle. A gentle setting will reduce wear and tear suffered by the jacket due to prolonged wash.

Step Two: Fill the tub of your washing machine with cold water. You can use lukewarm water, but do not use hot water.

Step Three: Turn your jacket inside out to avoid abrasion to the fabric of your jacket. 

It is also preferable to wash your jacket alone or with other similarly colored pieces of denim to prevent the fabric from changing its color.

Step Four: Place the jacket in the washing machine and add an appropriate amount of bleach-free detergent.

Step Five: Add a ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle compartment of your washing machine. 

Adding vinegar to the denim jacket will reduce color loss. If vinegar is unavailable, you can carry on without it and still get a good result.

Step Six: Once the wash and rinse cycle is complete, bring out your jacket and straighten it out to remove creases.

Place on a hanger or air rack and air dry. Avoid using a dryer, except if you want to shrink your jacket intentionally.

Note: When air drying denim fabric, ensure you do not put them under direct sunlight, so they don’t lose their color.

How to Delay Washing Your Denim Jackets

Earlier, we saw that washing your denim jackets as little as possible will help maintain their quality and longevity. 

Ideally, it would be best to wash denim jackets every two months. But this plan may be hard to enforce when your denim jacket starts developing a stale smell despite having no visible stain.

Fortunately, you can avoid this situation. Here are some tips on delaying washing your denim jackets for as long as possible.

Freeze Your Jacket Overnight

Bacteria cause the offensive odor coming from your jacket. To prevent this, wrap your denim jacket in an airtight bag and place it in a freezer overnight. Bacteria cannot survive cold temperatures, and the smell from your jacket will go down a notch.

Air your Denim Jacket Regularly

You should air your denim jacket as soon as you wear them or if they’ve stayed in a stuffy space for so long. Choose an airy portion of your apartment and place them on a hanger. Leave the jacket for up to four hours outside or longer if you are drying indoors.

Regularly doing this will keep your jackets as fresh as possible.

Use a Deodorizing Fabric Spray

Deodorizing fabric spray neutralizes denim materials’ smell; you can use them if you want to avoid washing your jacket often.

To use a deodorizing fabric spray effectively:

  1. Position the nozzle 12 inches away from the fabric surface and spray in a sweeping motion.
  2. Spray inside and outside the material but ensure that you don’t overwet it.
  3. Spread the jacket outside to dry before wearing it. This process should take about 20 minutes.


Denim jackets are rugged and classy but should be handled with a tender touch. Spot clean jackets as much as possible. If this is practical, wash them by hand or with a washing machine.

You can also use the tips in this article to reduce the number of times you wash your jacket.

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