Putting Them in the Freezer: Sometimes denim enthusiasts recommend storing jeans in the freezer to kill bacteria. Phelps is OK with this. "We are not recommending that you try the freezer route as a rule, but it does work," she said. "The freezer keeps the bacteria at bay without any shrinkage issues or fading the denim."
Doing Absolutely Nothing: "A true jean enthusiast would say don’t clean jeans, don’t do anything to them, and I find that to be pretty gross," Edelman told me. I happen to agree with him, which is why I was inspired to write this in the first place. I mean, your jeans spend a lot of time near your crotch, right? I want to clean them occasionally. But you don't have to.
Dry Cleaning: The tag in my jeans states, "Dry Clean Only." Phelps recommends asking for "environmentally friendly" dry cleaning because this process does not use high heat. Heat is the enemy when it comes to coated jeans. Before you drop your precious $200 denim off, make sure you have a very clear discussion with the cleaner about your expectations. You should also make sure that the cleaner you're using has experience with specialty items like coated denim.
Hand Washing: If you don't want to submit your jeans to the great unknown, you can definitely hand wash them. Both Edelman and Phelps suggest turning your jeans inside out first. "Turning them out protects the coating against abrasion," Edelman told me. But beware: You may still get some breakdown and aging even if you hand wash, according to Phelps. "Some people love the idea of a jean aging no matter what the finish is," Phelps said.
Febreze: You may be tempted to give the inside of your coated jeans a spray with Febreze, but it's best to avoid this method. "We have tried a Febreze-like spray and then hung them inside-out to dry, but we still recommend the dry clean option as the safest," Phelps said.
Spot Cleaning: I also recently dripped coffee on my jeans (this is my trademark), and I was afraid to try to spot clean them. Turns out my instincts were correct. "If you spot clean, you could possibly push the soil down further into the fibers as well as disrupt the coating," Edelman said. "If you try to rub something out with water and a cloth, you can end up with a clearly visible area." If this happens, Edelman recommends taking a steam iron and steaming the area carefully. That will soften up the coating and you can sometimes move it around with your finger to cover any bare spots. Dry cleaners have commercial equipment that can also do it for you.
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