Finally, you found a 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, it’s the total opposite — These days, jeans seem to rip and fall apart long before their time, a problem that sent me in search of a solution, and what I’ve learned is pretty fascinating:

1. Wash rarely

And when I say “rarely,” I mean once every few months—not every wearing or even every week. However, if there are stains or spills on your jeans, immediately clean the area and leave the it to dry.

2. And when you do wash them, it’s best to do so on cold

When jeans need to be washed in the washing machine, use cold water only, with a small amount of detergent on a delicate or gentle cycle. Warm and hot water will cause denim to shrink and fade, albeit a little at a time. Cold water with detergent will clean jeans sufficiently without fading or shrinking. Make sure they’re turned inside out.

3. Add salt

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

4. Always air dry

Your dryer poses just as much of a threat to your denim as the washer. High temperatures will make your jeans shrink, and all the tumbling leads to unnecessary wear and tear. If it’s a nice day outside, hang your favourite pair outdoors —just make sure they’re out of direct sunlight, as the sun can bleach your jeans faster than you’d think.

5. Freeze your jeans

Since you can’t wash your jeans, stick your pants in the freezer for a few hours to temporarily eliminate odours.

6. Resist the urge to fold your jeans

By folding your jeans (or worse, balling them up and tossing them in the corner), you create creases where they aren’t meant to be. Hang your jeans by their loops instead, which keeps your hard work intact, helps your jeans maintain their natural shape and airs them out after wear.

7. Repair your damaged denim early to prevent its wounds from getting worse

Take care of frayed hems and crotch blowout at the earliest signs, before minor issues become full-blown emergencies. The essential skill to learn is “darning,” which weaves denim threads back into a beat-up pair of jeans to repair rips, tears, holes and other injuries with a natural look.