3) maintenance: after 4-6 months of wear, wash inside out or (a lot of reading)
advise wearing your raws for at least 6 months, thereby achieving that second-skin denim feel!
Before delving into the instructions, tips, etc. portion of this post though, it’s important to reiterate that the sooner you wash your denim, the less chance you will have for sharper fades. This is because one of the primary steps in manufacturing raw denim is the color treatment stage, (aka indigo dying) where the denim is dipped in vats of indigo dye (natural or synthetic). As the indigo is not 100% absorbed into the material, after you wash your denim, you are losing that deep blue/black color and as well the rigid feel (due to starch loss). Thus, you want to wear your raw denim for at least 6 months prior to washing, but no longer than 1 year – otherwise the crotch in your denim will rip (or “blow out”)
Now, to get to the meat of it:
Hemming – Do not hem your raw denim jeans prior to washing as the denim will naturally shrink in length
Separate - Due to the natural indigo bleeding during washing, always wash your raw denim separate from other clothing pieces
Water Temperature – General rule of thumb: the hotter the water, the more greater the shrinkage
Drying – Always hang dry flat. Do not place on a heat radiator, use a dryer, or crumple when drying, as it will damage the fabric and ruin the fit, fade, contrast, and overall quality
Minor Wash and Care
Spillage – If you ever spill any liquid on your denim, try dry rubbing or dabbing with a paper napkin. Do not use soap or any other cleaning solution since you will risk losing some indigo dye and create an uneven fade. You don’t wanna be that guy with dark raw denim and big light circle, do you?
Smell – Many feel compelled to wash their raw denim before the 6 month mark because of how they start to smell. The best solution here is to apply a very light cleaning spray, such as Fabreeze, and hang dry flat (preferably outdoors) for at least 24 hours.
Major Wash and Care
Draw a bathtub of cool – lukewarm water, about 3-4 inches deep
Mix in a small amount of very light washing powder, preferably Woolite Black, since it is specifically designed to lock in darker colors. Do not use bleaches or regular laundry detergent
Lay your raw denim inside out and flat in the bathtub and submerge them in the water by placing heavy objects on top
Let soak for 45 minutes
Rinse with cool water to remove soap
Remove from water and hang dry, ideally outdoors & in the sun
Optional – Apply starch to stiffen jeans (see our earlier post “To Starch or Not To Starch, And How“)
Note: If your denim is heavily dyed (18 Oz. and up), you may want to help settle loose dye in the material by first running your denim through an initial cycle of cold water, 1/4 cup salt, and 1/2 cup vinegar. (http://www.rawrdenim.com/2011/03/how-to-wash-and-clean-your-raw-denim-tips-instructions-video/)