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Finally, you found the perfect pair of jeans. They fit great and feel fantastic. Basically, you want them to last forever, but that's not going to happen. In fact, just the opposite is what I'm hearing from my readers: These days, jeans seem to rip and fall apart long before their time. This problem sent me in search of a solution to make jeans last longer.

What I've learned is fascinating. The problem is our laundry habits. We're pretty much washing our jeans to death.

Truth be told, any dream you have about your favorite pair of jeans pretty much lasting forever is not that far from reality. They really should, and they can if you learn these seven simple secrets.

Wash rarely

And when I say rarely, I mean once every few months — not every wearing or even every week. The trick is to immediately spot treat any spills or stains and then launder them much less frequently. Levi CEO Chip Bergh says that a good pair of jeans worn regularly only needs to be washed in the washing machine infrequently — once every six months. (While I'm not quite ready to follow that extreme practice myself, I have no doubt that I've been guilty of washing jeans to death.)

Cold water only

When jeans need to be washed in the washing machine, make sure they're turned inside out. Then use cold water only, with a small amount of detergent on a delicate or gentle cycle. Even warm water will cause denim to shrink and fade, albeit a little at a time. Still, there goes that great fit and length. Cold water with detergent will clean jeans sufficiently without fading or shrinking. Make sure they're turned inside out.

Dark colors

When purchasing denim, keep this in mind: Darker colors are going to last longer. That's because stonewashed or faded denim has been treated with chemicals and subjected to harsh conditions to get that "look." The lighter and more distressed the color, the more worn out that denim is, even before you buy it. Darker-colored denim promises a longer life.

Set the color

When washing for the first time, add 2 tablespoons of ordinary table salt to the wash cycle to help set the indigo dye. This will keep your dark denim dark.

No bleach

You may love your Clorox Bleach Pen, but keep that thing and all bleach-like products like hydrogen peroxide away from the jeans. Not only will it mess with the color but it could also deteriorate the yarn in denim.

Super rinse

Add 1/2 to 1 cup white vinegar (depending on the size of the load) to the last rinse. This will not affect the color but will coax out every last bit of detergent.

Air-dry

Air-drying is ideal if you want to expand the life expectancy of your jeans. Hang them from the ankles (to preserve their length) indoors and out of the sunlight (to preserve the color). Your jeans might be a bit stiff afterward. Once they are completely dry, stick them in the dryer for a few minutes on the lowest heat setting. This will help break them in and soften them up as soon as you wear them.

There you go — seven simple things you can do to make jeans last longer.

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mary@everydaycheapskate.com|Everyday Cheapskate, Box 2099 Cypress, CA 90630

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