To Starch or Not To Starch, and How

Stiff Effect from Starched Raw Denim
Stiff Effect From Starched Raw Denim

Any newcomer to raw denim researching and reading about the topic is always guaranteed to come across the issue of whether or not they should “starch” their raw denim.  Yours truly included, I had no clue what “starching” meant (“you mean the stuff you eat?”), what the reason for it was, and whether or not it was really worth all the trouble.

After much surfing across forums, blogs, and articles, I finally learned more about the process and how it all came to be.  First, why do people starch their denim?  One of the biggest reasons for wearing raw denim is the fading/creasing achieved, which is partially due to how raw (i.e. stiff) the denim initially is.  Since applying starch stiffens any textile fabric, the thinking is then that starching raw denim = more profound creases = better fading.

The next question is of course – is this really necessary?  Does it expedite the fading process and make such a difference?  Well, different strokes for different folks.  You’re bound to come across some who think starching is “so 2006″ and makes your jeans stink, but others will advocate you just need to “do it right” and will swear by it every time (true starch slingers – see below).  To be honest, I have yet to starch anything I’ve ever owned (result of being a little bit lazy) but am interested to give it a shot and see the result.


If you do feel compelled to starch your denim, here is the 5- step process:

  1. Get the Goods – If you are purchasing from store, ensure it is scentless and a “proven” brand.  For spray starch, I’ve read Faultless, Niagra Spray Starch, Dr. Beckmann, and Easy On Double Starch works; while Sta-Flo works well for liquid.  One brand that I have not read good reviews about is “Magic Sizing”, apparently causing one guy’s jeans to smell like a bag of a**holes.  Note that many do opt for the D.I.Y. approach – mixing starch and water in spray can with 2 heaping teaspoons of regular corn starch to 3/4 – 1 litre of hot water.  The best method when cooking is you first make a slurry with a little bit of the water, gradually mixing in the rest of the water.  This prevents the starch from clumping, which will happen if you put all the starch in at one time.
  2. Apply – If spraying, apply from  8-10 inches distance on ironing board or flat surface, and work in 12-inch sections and until damp.  If using liquid formula, work liquid into the denim liberally but being careful not to drench.  It isn’t a bad idea to use a sponge.
  3. Iron – Now a lot of people out there will throw up red flags when hearing “iron” and “raw denim” in the same sentence, but I say take a look at the washing instructions on the inner tag and go from there.  If it strictly shows an iron icon with a big X through it, then do not.  Otherwise, you should be good to go.
  4. Continue – Continue Steps (1) – (3) until finished
  5. Hang – Hang jeans on hanger, like below photo.

If you know of a better starching method or way to enrich the stiffness factor, pls feel free to leave comments below.

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Nick Coe

Nick is the Founding Editor of

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  • Teddybearlumberjack

    I have used starch and I would strongly suggest NOT ironing your jeans afterwards for 2 reasons:
    1.) It flattens out creases.
    2.) You can get flakes/cakes from the starch where it hits the iron, just now worth it.

    So just spray it on and wear as it dries or hang em up.

    • kayumochi

      agreed. ironing not necessary.

  • Sperm

    I use piss on my denim it smells good and makes my jeans nice and hard…like my wiener

  • Matthew Neidich

    I would not recommend starching raw denim because the extra starch is very abrasive and can damage the cotton fibers. It also restricts the cotton from breathing properly, decreasing comfort.

    Yes, it may help with fading, but at the cost of shortening the life of your jeans. Wear your jeans loom-state, or after a soak, and wear the hell out of them. Also, wash them when they need it to protect the cotton from blow-outs.

    They’ll last longer, breathe better, and fade more naturally. Call me a purist, but if miners in the early 1900s didn’t starch, and workers throughout the first half of the century didn’t, why should we?

  • Rawr Denim

    @twitter-292560637:disqus @07aadb228d1a88e32c851db74a2e7da9:disqus Thanks, interesting thoughts and insights. Are you guys both by chance speaking from experience? 

    • Matthew Neidich

      From experience starching shirts in middle and high school, I know that the starch changes the color vibrancy, weakens the fabric, and creates a less breathable wearing experience. Since I knew that from button-downs, I never tried it on my jeans.

      • kayumochi

        Repeated starching of shirts does affect the fabric but I have found that the rare starch of denim does not have that effect.

  • guest

    Most are starched from the factory/designer, so why would re-starching cause further degradation?

  • Angelollanes

    What kind of jeans are those in the second picture?

    • Rawr Denim

      @5834d701c50f4355608ddf015b687ec8:disqus They are the Warehouse x BiG x SuFu collab, featured in one of our previous Fade Fridays –

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  • Marty

    also we didn’t care about things like fades and stuff like that so wax and starch wasnt a big deal

  • Marty

    in the early 90s we used to starch and wax our 501s didn’t matter if they were stf or not we also used to use a wax sorta like a candle but it came in a brick forum

    • Greg L. Cruickshank

      That’s awesome. A while back I took a candle to a pair of The Hundreds and vigorously rubbed the wax into the denim until it was fully waxed. I loved the result however I found it almost shrank the fabric somehow.

  • Fuente87

    In the forth picture on the pair of jeans on the far left what belt is that the light tan one?

    • Daniel404

      Sorry to bring this back from the dead, but I just stumbled upon this page. I too would really like to know what kind of belt that is.

  • Meng Vang

    the method i used a couple of years ago i wouldnt recommend but ive mix a whole bottle of staflo with 1/3 part water. soaked my jeans in it then just hang dry. it is very uncomfortable feel when wearing for the first 2 to 3 days. it was like wearing cardboard and sandpaper like texture. but i have done it to a couple of pair ive had. never had any major problems with the life span on any pair that ive done. no crotch blow out nothing only thing that went wrong was my pockets tore and now i just have to repair it.
    the first pair i have done it to was a pair of karl lagerfeld that i bought for 22 bucks

  • kayumochi

    Have 2 pairs of denim I wore 2+ years before a first soak. I knew I would miss the stiffness so after the soak I hung them up on a circular hanger and sprayed them thoroughly with starch. Did not use an iron afterwards and left them hanging to dry. It was like having new jeans again and the starch did not weaken the fabric at all.