How To Wash & Care For Your Khakis

So, you’ve bought yourself some chinos or khakis that you love and plan on wearing for a long time. Kudos! Now comes the long game: caring for them so that you can wear them time and time again. As the experts on khakis, we’re here to help you avoid any laundry room missteps — and give your khakis a little extra bit of TLC along the way. The best part? Taking great care of your khakis and chinos doesn’t just help them last longer. It saves you a bit of money, and, more importantly, it lowers your carbon footprint — the amount of carbon dioxide each and every one of us is responsible for producing, directly or indirectly, in our day-to-day lives.

WASHING

1. Don’t Wash Them Too Much.

Our expert advice? Only wash your khakis when you absolutely have to. If you’re not seeing any stains or smelling anything you don’t like, you’re good to go for round two (or three, or four). Also consider that doing several loads of laundry every week ups your water usage, increases your energy costs, and ultimately is worse for the planet. Now we’re not saying you should never wash your khakis! Laundry is an inevitable part of properly caring for clothes. But if you’re washing them after every wear, you’re washing them too much. Instead, try taking your khakis into the bathroom while you shower or hanging them on the line in the fresh air whenever you start to feel like they need a little pick-me-up. Those small steps should deodorize them and free reduce wrinkles between washes.

2. Try Spot Cleaning.

Spilled some sauce on those khakis? Spot clean them as soon as any staining occurs. Spray them with a mild stain remover and allow them to soak for 15 minutes, or follow the directions as instructed. If you treat stains immediately, you’ll be much less likely to have to throw khakis into the wash. If you have to wash them, flip them inside out. Turn your khakis and chinos inside out before placing them in the washing machine. This minimizes the abrasion that causes fading, and the wear that can happen along the hems, pockets and waistband. It’s also important to zip zippers and fasten buttons — this helps the khakis maintain their shape and prevents them from snagging and potentially damaging other items in the load.

3. If You Have To Wash Them, Flip Them Inside Out.

Turn your khakis and chinos inside out before placing them in the washing machine. This minimizes the abrasion that causes fading, and the wear that can happen along the hems, pockets and waistband. It’s also important to zip zippers and fasten buttons — this helps the khakis maintain their shape and prevents them from snagging and potentially damaging other items in the load.

4. Wash Them In Cold Water.

Did you know that 90% of the energy usage associated with doing the laundry comes from heating the water that runs through the washing machine? We’re here to tell you that washing your khakis in cold water is just as effective as washing them in hot water. Even better, using cold water and choosing the delicate setting when washing your khakis and chinos actually puts less stress on them. And when they take less of a beating, they’re less likely to pill or fray.

5. Add Just The Right Amount Of Detergent.

If you’ve ever accidentally run a cycle without putting detergent in, you might have noticed that unless your clothes were seriously soiled, they actually came out clean. What does that prove? That a little detergent goes a very long way. In fact, using too much detergent actually makes your clothes more dull and stiff over time. So don’t go overboard. 

While we’re on the subject: for minimal environmental impact, look for a detergent that’s plant or vegetable-based. Conventional detergents can contain harmful ingredients that pollute aquatic ecosystems, and nobody wants that.

DRYING

1. Skip The Dryer.

Dryers are energy hogs that wear down your clothes faster, so skipping this step can make a difference — to the world and to the longevity of your clothes. Instead, try line drying. As long as it’s not drizzling outside, the sun actually does the best job of drying chinos and khakis; and beyond lowering that electricity bill, reaching for a clothesline or drying rack eliminates the possibility of overheating and unwanted khaki shrinkage. If you don’t have time to hang dry your pants, choose a lower temperature setting for your dryer.

2. Rethink The Dryer Sheets.

While dryer sheets promise to keep your clothes smelling fresh and feeling soft, they often contain chemicals and toxins that break down organic fibers, shortening the life of your clothes along the way. Plus, throwing away a single-use sheet each time adds up quickly. We say skip the dryer sheets altogether — or choose an alternative like a wool dryer ball, which softens your garments and speeds up drying times but can be used for hundreds of loads of laundry.

STORING & PRESERVING

1. Don't Iron Them If You Don't Have To.

Hang your khakis immediately after the wash cycle to minimize wrinkling. And if you do need to sharpen those creases, iron them inside out. Pro tip: our Iron Free khakis feature Never Iron® technology so that your khakis and chinos retain their shape even after regular washing.

2. Let Everything Air Out.

While we totally get tossing your khakis over the nearest chair and leaving them for later, we recommend hanging them somewhere with good air circulation so that the fabric can really breathe. This simple act will stop any lingering scents from setting in and reduce the number of washes you need to do. 

3. Store Them Properly.

Clothes are just like us – they don’t tend to do well when kept in confined spaces. Avoid storing your khakis and chinos in places like basements or bathrooms, where increased moisture can cause bacteria to grow and ruin them. Choose a storage space that’s clean and stays cool, dark and dry, and be sure to properly clean garments before storing them.

REPURPOSING & RECYCLING

1. Repurpose With A Purpose.

Not feeling those khakis anymore? Reach for a pair of scissors and make them into something new. Taking a couple inches off the hem has a surprisingly transformative effect; or you can go for the gold and turn ‘em into shorts. (We’re so into it that we made a few of our pants with guidelines on the inside to help you figure out where best to cut.)

2. Give Them A Second Life.

Whether those khakis don’t fit you anymore or mending just isn’t your forte, we all have our reasons for moving on from an old pair of pants. Consider other options before throwing them away. There may be someone out there who would benefit from your pre-worn clothing. We recommend donating your chinos and khakis to charities or thrift stores — like your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or American Red Cross — or passing them along to friends.

LOVE WHAT YOU BUY & LIVE WITH IT LONGER

The way that we collectively shop and care for our clothes has a major impact on the world. Start by choosing timeless, quality clothes that won’t go out of style. (It’s how we design all of ours!) Then, be mindful about how you care for your garments. This guide should be a big help. In the long run, you’ll save time and money — and the earth will be a little better for it. So go ahead and take care of those khakis, one leg a time.