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Get Perfect Fades With Denimhunters’ Raw Denim Wash Guide

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Achieve Your Raw Denim’s Full Potential

The best-looking jeans are without a doubt those you break in yourself. The process is challenging and time consuming. Success or failure comes down to what you do before you wash your jeans, how you wash them, and what you do after the first wash. In this three-step raw denim wash guide, we show you how to transform a pair of rigid, dark blue, raw denim jeans into something that will make heads turn.

The Starting Point

To achieve a great worn-in look, we recommend that you choose a pair of high-quality raw denim jeans, which (generally) breaks in better. Figuring out whether your jeans are made of a quality fabric is not that easy.

Take a look at our selection of raw denim jeans here!

A general rule of thumb is to go for selvedge denim. Fold up your jeans at the bottom and take a look at the outerseam of the leg. If it has selvedge edges, the quality is normally high, although not always. Like in everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

See our guide to buying your first pair of selvedge denim jeans for more hints and tips on finding the perfect pair for you.

Wash Guide To the Perfect Fades of Your Raw Denim Jeans: Achieving your raw denim's full potential. This pair of Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1967 505 jeans has been worn every day for four months and washed about 7-8 times in the machine during this period.

Step 1: Before the First Wash

Unwashed denim is often stiff as cardboard. We recommend you to give your jeans a quick soak in the bathtub before you start wearing them. Read how to here.

The initial pre-soak will remove most of the starch and soften the fabric. Even though some argue that rinsed jeans won’t wear in as well as dry ones, the rinse will make your jeans last longer. In this article, you can read more about how to make your jeans last longer.

Before soaking and washing, turn the jeans inside out. Let them soak for an hour or two and then let them hang dry, possibly in your shower. Certainly never in the dryer.

After the pre-soak, wear your jeans as much as possible – preferably for several months – before you wash them for the first time in the washing machine. The more you wear your jeans, the more distinct wear patterns you will achieve.

Several months of intense wear will cause the denim to wear in some areas more than others. Especially in areas with a lot of friction, for example, cuffs, crotch, knees and pockets.

Remember that the rips can be repaired. In our opinion, this only gives your jeans a personal and unique look. Also, although you should be careful, ironing might help soften the fabric. Just remember to iron your jeans inside-out.

Wash Guide To the Perfect Fades of Your Raw Denim Jeans: Achieving your raw denim's full potential. This pair of Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1967 505 jeans has been worn every day for four months and washed about 7-8 times in the machine during this period.

Step 2: The First Wash

Once your jeans start looking the ones above it’s okay to wash. These have been worn for eight months straight and they have only been dry cleaned once.

If you still want to postpone the first wash, try airing your jeans before you wash. But, when you start getting comments about the smell, it’s time to wash.

The washing procedure depends on what results you are aiming for. Some prefer dry cleaning to keep the denim as dark as possible. We recommend hand wash – the procedure is the same as for the first rinse.

Adding a few cups of salt and half a cup of vinegar should help fixate the indigo colour.

If you are impatient and want to see some results you can throw your jeans in the washing machine. Again, remember to turn them inside out! You can even wash them on a no-spin cycle to prevent those horrible vertical lines. Dry as mentioned above.

Wash Guide To the Perfect Fades of Your Raw Denim Jeans: Achieving your raw denim's full potential. This pair of Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1967 505 jeans has been worn every day for four months and washed about 7-8 times in the machine during this period.

Step 3: After the First Wash

After the first wash, your jeans will be less dirt repellent. To go for months between each washes might be unrealistic. But, you should wear your jeans as much as possible between washes.

This pair of Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1967 505 jeans has been worn every day for four months and washed about 7-8 times during this period.

If you are looking for vintage-style fades with a more even wear pattern and less contrast, then don’t wait months before the first wash. You should wash them more often.

Find out much more about denim washing and caring in our extensive guides here!

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  • mikeylab

    I prefer to wear dry denim blue jeans rather than the contrived vintage jeans filling department store racks. My jeans never smell bad, because I was my ass very egularly, keep clean under ware and spot clean the crotch area daily. It is easy to do.

  • kayjay

    HELP! I found of levis’ for men in a thrift store. can you tell me any more about them? they have only a tag on inside pocket LEVI’S FOR MEN
    TWO-HORSE*BRAND JEANS (there is not an astrik but a small o or zero of some kind)
    they have a small leather tag/tab on back pocket right side that say’s Levi’s in red. they just have one button and a zipper..zipper is stamped levi’s both sides
    outer seam is one line and iner seam is 2 seams
    no rivets on back pockets, and only one rivet on watch pocket. inside rivets are thin and sliver, out side is copper. Thanks Kay

  • Geoffrey Boucher

    never wash only wear and if they smell put in a cold room for 2 days that helps,been buying and selling denim for 24 years now so this is a good tip.

  • John Bull

    When you say 2 months, do you mean 60 days wear? Or 2 months has passed, but you’ve only worn them for 18 days because you only wore them at weekends?

    • Denimhunters

      This is a very relevant question to ask John.

  • Rykert

    Anyone ever tried the gadget at jeanjet.com
    Interesting

  • Steve Rogers

    While yes if you don’t do anything at all to your jeans for daily wear after months they will stink horribly… your jeans should really not have any noticeable odour after 2 normal days of wear… the exception would be if you’re in a desert, or some place over 35 celcius…. so yeah if you have that problem, stop shitting your pants.