Good Detergents for Jeans

Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images

Washing your jeans can cause them to shrink and fade, so protecting them while getting them clean is key. Finding the right detergent can help prolong the life of your favorite denim, along with some other washing and drying tips that will help keep jeans in tip-top shape for seasons to come.


Help keep dark denim jeans from prematurely fading by pre-treating them with a salt soak. Soak jeans in a 1/4 cup of salt and a small amount of detergent in the washing machine overnight. Finish with a light wash cycle in cold water with detergent. Adding a small amount of white vinegar to your usual wash cycle may also help set the dye in dark denim.

Types of Detergents

Use a mild detergent whenever laundering your jeans. Laundry detergent that is specifically formulated for use on delicates, such as lingerie, is recommended for ensuring denim retains its color and shape. Look for mild detergents with "dark care" or "darks" in the label, made exclusively for jeans and dark clothing, that help prevent fading, shrinking and stretching. Consider other gentle types of all-purpose detergents and liquid soaps, including eco-friendly choices that utilize natural, organic oils that will pamper your precious garments.

Washing and Drying

Turn your jeans inside out and wash them in cold water on a gentle cycle. Treat your jeans with even more care by washing them in a bathtub or large basin with lukewarm water and a few tablespoons of mild detergent. Immerse the jeans in the tub, keeping them as flat as possible, and let soak for about 20 minutes. Avoid scrubbing or agitating. Rinse and hang them by the belt loops to drip dry. When using a dryer, tumble dry on a low setting inside out. Try putting on your jeans when they are almost completely dry and wearing them, preferably in the sun, to help them conform to your shape and give you a custom fit.


Wash your jeans only when absolutely necessary to keep them looking their best. Wearing jeans helps them conform to your shape and washing them makes them lose some of their unique contours as well as contributing to shrinkage. Spot treat stains with a damp sponge and mild detergent when possible instead of laundering. Hang your jeans by one of the belt loops on a hook after each wear. Hanging jeans helps them keep their shape. Hanging them in the bath while you shower provides a gentle refresher for your denim after a long day of wear.