CHICAGO (CBS) – Do you wash your jeans more than twice a year? Well, shame on you. Washing is apparently not the best way to go, if you want to keep your favorite pair looking fresh and new.

CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist found out the first step in preserving denim involves cleaning products from your kitchen.

Congratulations, you found a pair of jeans that fit. Now you want to keep them looking like new. So, how do you take care of them?

“I wash them in the machine in cold water, and I always turn them inside-out,” said shopper Deborah Hellman. “And I never put them in the dryer.”

Sounds logical, but jeans expert Carl Chiara, of Levi Strauss & Co., says when it comes to caring for denim, most of us do too much.

“Really, think about every time that you put that jean in the wash, do you really need to wash it?” said Chiara.

He says the key to keeping denim dapper is to wash your jeans gently — as little as possible.

And instead of detergent, check out the products under your kitchen sink. To remove spots and stains, Chiara recommends dabbing it with a damp sponge and some Windex or 409.

“There’s a really low concentration of bleach in those things, and I find that it’s perfect and it also brightens the indigo a little bit,” said Chiara.

Then hang your jeans in the bathroom while you take a shower. Chiara says the steam will freshen them.

For a more thorough cleaning, stay in the bathroom and use the tub. Chiara’s recipe: two tablespoons of a mild organic liquid soap in six inches of room temperature water and a tiny bit of white vinegar to “set” the indigo and keep it from fading. Then soak for 20 minutes, hang dry and never put them in the dryer.

“That’s where you get the color loss because you’re getting a lot of abrasion, you’re getting a lot of heat and that’s definitely going to change the fiber in the indigo dye,” said Chiara.

Chiara says only wash your jeans once every six months. And avoid the dry cleaners, because that could actually alter jeans. And you don’t want to iron them either, because the cotton wears down and the indigo color fades.

“The less we put them in dryers and washing machines, the longer they are going to last,” said Chiara.

If you must wash your jeans in the machine, Chiara says turn them inside-out. Use only cold water and line dry them.

If you’re careful, your jeans will look good, long after they’ve gone out of style.