What Is Denim a.k.a Blue Jeans Insulation: Pros, Cons, R-Value

Most of us think of either a pink fluffy material or white foam when the word insulation comes to mind. What most people are not familiar with is the vast variety of insulation materials that are out there in the market. One of them is Denim insulation, which is also commonly known as blue jeans insulation. Denim insulation is made from recycled jeans which makes it an environmentally friendly option. In this read, you’ll be learning everything you need to know about this insulation material.

Insulation is a great way of cutting utility costs in a house. It protects you from severe weather conditions by absorbing airflow which leads to less use of energy to keep the house temperature normal. Most traditional insulation materials are not completely environmentally friendly, but there are several materials that pose no threat to the planet and they’re derived from recycled components. One of these insulations is the blue jeans insulation, which comprises bits of recycled jeans. Much like every other insulation, the blue jeans can fit easily in attics, walls, floors, joists, studs, and basically everywhere in a house.

How Is Denim Insulation Made?

As the name suggests, denim insulation is derived purely from denim jeans. The insulation comes into existence by grinding both recycled jeans and the remains of already manufactured jeans. Once a denim meets the end of its presumed life, it is transported to a recycling center. Labor gets rid of all of the metallic materials on the jeans so that only the clothing part remains. After that, the jeans are thrown into a shredder that chops the material until it’s all broken down to fluff.

denim insulation

The insulation does not come into its final form before being treated with borate. Borate is an organic non-toxic solution that poses no threat to neither human health nor the planet. This treatment results in the end product being resistant to fire, pests, and mold, which makes it a heavy plus point for insulation. Once the borate solution is infused into the fiber, what we know as denim insulation comes into being. The material is either divided into the form of batts or packed as loose-fill. 

R-value of Denim Insulation

The R-value of an insulation material tells how effective a piece of it is at stopping air from getting through. Different materials have different compositions and therefore, different R-values. The more material you use to insulate, the higher its R-value would be, and the better it would keep cold/heat out. Now, denim insulation has an R-value of 3.5 for every inch. There’s not much of a difference between fiberglass and denim’s R-value. Both materials have similar effectiveness per inch but of course, different primary elements. You’ll find standard-sized batts of denim insulation with ratings ranging from R-10 to R-20.

Pros of Denim Insulation

Environmentally Friendly

As more and more people become concerned with the composition of materials they use in daily life, environmental friendliness has become more important than ever. Denim insulation is 100% made from recycled ingredients, which truly is a big deal. More and more people are starting to shift towards environmentally friendly insulations and denim is definitely in the top 10 of them. Recycled jeans are better off in the walls of houses rather than decaying in landfills.

Easy to Install

We’ve discussed that denim jeans insulation is usually used in the form of batts, but so is fiberglass, right? Well, the difference is the ease of handling. Since the former is made from recycled jeans, touching it poses no threat to your skin. You also don’t have to worry about denim fibers causing harm to your lungs. As for fiberglass, it cannot be touched without gloves and one must have a face mask on to handle it. To put it straight, there are no safety precautions that should be taken while dealing with denim insulation.

Fire Retardant

Denim jeans insulation is treated with borate, which is a fire retardant solution. This doesn’t mean, however, that denim insulation cannot catch fire. Instead, it can delay its spread to a great extent. Some widely popular insulations can contribute heavily to boosting the spread of fires, such as fiberglass. Insulation can play a major role in the unlikely case of a house fire and thankfully denim plays a good one. Therefore, denim jeans insulation takes the win here as well.

Pest Resistance

Borate is known for its pest resistance properties. A borate treatment can stop wood from being devoured by termites, and such is the case with insulation. Denim insulation becomes resilient to attacks from insects and bacteria due to the borate treatment it goes through. Rodents, in particular, love the cozy warm environment they get from insulation. Thanks to borate, there are little to no chances of a pest invasion in denim insulation and it can easily last for a lifetime.

Cons of Denim Insulation


On average, denim insulation costs around 10-15% more than fiberglass insulation. Although it has pretty much the same effectiveness in blocking airflow, the cost is a bit high. This can be a letdown for folks with tight pockets, and they may choose a cheaper solution. Moreover, denim insulation is weak in terms of fighting moisture. That is why it requires vapor barriers to stop moisture from building up. This is an additional expense that downplays denim insulation’s acceptability.

Not Widely Available

Denim insulation has not been around for a long while. It relies upon the cotton industry and does not have a lot of manufacturers across the globe. This is one of the core reasons why the material might be hard to come across. However, since environmentally friendly materials are becoming more and more common as time passes, there’s a big chance that denim insulation might be in the big leagues in a decade or so.

Should You Buy Denim Jeans Insulation?

For someone who is looking to make a positive difference in the world, the price tag of denim insulation might not be an issue. The material surely does not let down in terms of effectiveness, which is why most have no problem in paying a couple of extra bucks to save the planet. Whether this small difference in cost is worth making or not is a matter of choice that varies from person to person. I hope this article helped you learn a thing or two about blue jeans insulation.

Charles John

A novice DIYer who learns about home ventilation. I am a mechanical engineer and have a basic knowledge of HVAC systems but I learn continuously to make myself the best blogger in that space.

Latest Posts