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Washing Dark + Light Jeans Together: Yay Or Nay?

Here’s where the Revelle HQ stands.

ICYMI, we’ve already laid the groundwork for how to wash and dry your jeans in this handy guide, which covers…among other things… how often to wash your jeans (spoiler alert: less is more), tips for using a washing machine vs hand washing, methods for drying, etc, etc. 

But today, we’re tackling the oh-so-controversial question of whether you can wash dark-wash jeans and light-wash jeans together. Here’s where the Revelle HQ stands…

If it’s your first time washing them...

You definitely, 100% want to separate dark jeans from light colors. No question about it. Think about it…the reason you’re washing the new pair of jeans before you wear them is to prevent the dyes from bleeding onto your skin — or your clothes.

Pro tip: for double-duty protection against bleeding dye on that first wash, add a vinegar and salt mixture to the drum (one cup white vinegar with a quarter cup of salt) — don’t worry, the vinegar smell dissipates.

If it’s the second wash (or beyond)...

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to continue separating jeans that are on the extreme ends of the spectrum. This goes for the classic black jeans and white jeans/white clothes, as well as other colors like lighter yellows and darker purples/pastels. Because over time, if you consistently toss ‘em together, the extra dye used to darken denim can transfer over to your lighter-hued jeans. 

But let’s be real…sometimes we don’t have the time to do separate loads (or the energy). Trust us, we’ve been there. And TBH, you’re not going to inflict irreparable damage on your precious jeans if you wash them together a few times here and there. Discoloration generally only happens over time after consistent co-washing (which is totally not a real word, but you get the point). Just be sure to wash in cold water with mild laundry detergent. Gentle cycle/delicate cycle only, jeans inside out, no fabric softener (it damages the lycra in stretch denim). 

Additional tips, dos, & don'ts

  • Don’t over-stuff the washer with denim jeans!
    Sure, it’ll save you time. But it’ll cause some wear and tear as the zipper on one jean is in super close contact with the denim of another jean. The goal is to allow your jeans enough room to tumble around during the wash cycle.

  • Do not — we repeat, do NOT — wash with hot water
    All it’ll do is cause shrinkage and dye transfer. (We recommend taking a look at the care label. If you see one dot, that means cold; two dots, lukewarm water.)

  • Stay far, far away from bleach
    This one’s self-explanatory. Don’t put your favorite pair of jeans at risk!

  • Be smart about how you dry jeans
    If you’re in a time crunch, tumble drying your jeans is okay (we said it). Most jeans have actually been washed a few times before they made it into your closet, so they’re not going to dramatically, irreparably shrink. But they could shrink enough for you to notice, especially if you tumble dry on low heat. That’s why we recommend the following tips:
    • Turn the jeans inside out to protect the hems, pockets, and zipper (which should be zipped)
    • Always opt for low heat on a delicate cycle
    • Dry partially in the dryer and then finish drying damp jeans on a hanger (this way, you’ll prevent over-drying, which can cause unwanted shrinkage and overall wear and tear)
    • Use dryer balls to keep things tumbling nicely

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