Sustainable Fashion

Can You Wash Jeans With Towels? (Don’t do it!)

Find out why we recommend you don't wash jeans with towels and what you should do instead.

Don't Wash Jeans With Towels Featured

Laundry might just be my least favorite chore around the home. That’s why I tend to overstuff my washing machine with every dirty cloth item I can find when I finally get around to the task. I rarely separate anything, throwing everything into one load. However, I always separate my jeans and towels… and so should you. Here’s why:

Jeans and towels should be washed in separate loads to extend their lives and protect their fibers. Jeans should be machine washed gently with cold water only when absolutely necessary. Towels, on the other hand, should be washed frequently with high heat, bleach, and on a heavy-duty preset. 

If even I, the queen of stuffing an enormous amount into my washing machine, keep my jeans and towels separated, so should you! Below you’ll find laundry tips on how to best wash jeans, towels, sheets, and other clothes!

Why Shouldn’t You Wash Jeans With Towels?

You shouldn’t throw your towels in with your jeans because they can damage one another in the wash and they have very different care requirements.

The zipper and buttons on jeans can snag onto the towel fibers while spinning around the washing machine. These snags make your fairly new towels look old and used. It can even begin to unravel the towel if it continues to happen.

Even more importantly, though, is how washing jeans differ from washing towels. Below you’ll find brief instructions on how best to wash towels and jeans.

How to Wash Jeans

pile of jeans ready for washing
Try to avoid washing jeans unless they really need it – they’ll last longer

Jeans should not be washed in the washing machine unless they’re heavily soiled. Hand washing jeans will help prevent shrinkage and damage to the denim fibers. 

It may take some extra effort, but it really is the best idea to hand wash them. If your jeans are smelly or covered in dirt and need to be washed in the machine, wash them on the gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using a lot of detergent and avoid the dryer completely. Save time by line drying your jeans outside in the sun.

How to Wash Towels

towels that need washing
Unlike jeans, towels can be machine washed regularly

Towels, on the other hand, should be washed with hot water to kill bacteria. This is especially important for your bath towel which gets used every day because it holds onto a lot of your skin cells. Use detergent with non-chlorine bleach for the best results.

Wash them on a heavy-duty long wash cycle to start the drying process in the washer. Separate dark towels from light. Finished drying in the dryer at a high temperature to speed the process along and kill any remaining bacteria.

Towels should be washed and dried at the highest temperature possible. Most towels are made of cotton, which can tolerate up to 95˚F or 35˚C.

You can wash your bath towels with your hand towels. As a general rule, kitchen towels should be washed in a separate load if they have any food bits on them.

Can You Wash Other Clothes With Towels?

Now that you know you can’t wash your towels with your jeans, you might be wondering if you can wash other garments with your towels. It might be tempting to wash all of your dirty laundry in the same load, but most clothes cannot handle the high heat and heavy-duty washing cycle that towels require. So it’s best to throw your favorite sweater into a separate load from your towels.

Wash clothes according to their care instructions for the best results. Silk and lace, along with dark clothes should be washed in cold water, while other fabrics like linen and cotton clothes (other than denim) should be washed in lukewarm water. Always separate light colors from dark when washing clothes.

mixing jeans with towels in washing basket
Try to wash clothes in batches with similar items

You can wash sheets with towels as long as they’re made of cotton. However, make sure you’re not overloading your washing machine with a huge load of laundry. However, you should line dry sheets to avoid shrinkage. 

These tips will make your towels and clothes squeaky clean! Happy washing!

Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.