Raw Denim Cleaning – Vinegar Soak, Oven Treatment

Raw Denim Oven Treatment - Who Would've Thought?

Raw Denim Oven Treatment - Who Would've Thought?

It’s been some time since our last raw denim care article, and we honestly thought it wouldn’t be until 2012 that we could sufficiently add to this category. However, that was until we heard word from Dan Grams, who had a dire situation on his hands with his newly acquired Unbranded raw denim.

Huge thanks to Dan for sharing this with us; you can read up on the entire story via his blog, & I Also Think… In essence, he had mail ordered a pair of black Unbranded tapered raw denim and upon arrival, he was hit with a sulphuric stench like no other. Unsure of whether the waft was just de rigueur, he set himself on a mission to get rid of the smell as soon as possible.

As he had had success in the past battling putrid smelling garments via a vinegar wash (acidic solutions can effectively rid of such bacteria), he turned to this step-by-step:

How-To Clean Your Raw Denim via Vinegar Wash

  1. Fill a bathtub with enough cold water to completely submerge the denim
  2. Added about 2 cups of white vinegar
  3. Lay the pants flat and inside out
  4. Agitate and flip several times over few hours of soaking
  5. Rinse with cold water and hang dry (ideally outdoors)

Unfortunately, the vinegar cleaning technique did not do the trick, nor did an attempt to go in the opposite pH direction and apply baking soda. After letting them settle through being hemmed and another soak, the smell did subside but quickly reappeared after a couple hours of wear.

Raw Denim Cleaning - Oven Treatment

Refunding was not an option since they had been hemmed, so Dan was left to turn to other cleaning alternatives, such as Fabreeze and the infamous freezer technique. Even when combining yet another vinegar wash and submerging into a deep freeze, the smell was still as potent as ever.

After further researching sulphuric dyes on Wikipedia, he noted sulphuric dye is water insoluble if not first exposed to a temperature around 80ºC (about 176ºF). Hence, the oven treatment cleaning technique (note: as this cleaning method is much more hazardous than other alternatives, proceed at your own risk…).

How-To Clean Your Raw Denim via Oven Treatment

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and turn back to 175°F - 200°F
  2. Flip denim inside out and fold to fit on center rack
  3. Leave for 1-2 minutes and shut oven door
  4. Remove from oven to cool down (fumes may exude from fabric)
  5. Refold and reposition denim on rack for 1-2 more minutes; be mindful for denim not to scorch
Raw Denim Cleaning - Oven Treatment
While this an extreme example that pertains to black sulphuric-dyed denim, the oven technique made scientific sense (i.e. sulphuric dye must be broken down into particles via heat exposure prior to being water soluble) and proved to be extremely effective.

Have you used the oven treatment or another unorthodox approach to rid of any unwanted smells? Let us know via the comment section below.

Stay Raw!

-Nick
tw: @rawrdenim | fb: Rawr Denim | newsletter: Rawr Denim

Nick Coe

Nick is the Founding Editor of RawrDenim.com.

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  • http://twitter.com/adrianghaust Adrian Ghaust

    Freshly baked jeans…

  • http://twitter.com/adrianghaust Adrian Ghaust

    Freshly baked jeans…

  • Phil Ijin

    Turn inside out , spray  steam from a very hot steam iron  - dont make contact  , whilst also spraying  any textile / trainer de odoriser .. leave a minuite or so…
    Pat any excess moisture with linen based cloth towel  - dont wipe the denim…after dry in hot sun / on an airy terrace..Ovens… good for roasts…Vinegar .. good for chips

  • Phil Ijin

    Turn inside out , spray  steam from a very hot steam iron  - dont make contact  , whilst also spraying  any textile / trainer de odoriser .. leave a minuite or so…
    Pat any excess moisture with linen based cloth towel  - dont wipe the denim…after dry in hot sun / on an airy terrace..Ovens… good for roasts…Vinegar .. good for chips

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  • Grazfather x

    Fabreeze > Febreze

  • Grazfather x

    Fabreeze > Febreze

  • ruann

    I agree with Phil Ijin, ovens are good for roasts, vinegar good for chips..
    Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong trying new techniques.

  • ruann

    I agree with Phil Ijin, ovens are good for roasts, vinegar good for chips..
    Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong trying new techniques.

  • medine

    I don’t understand why he couldn’t wash them

    • digitaldonkey

      Some black denim, when improperly dyed, will stink no matter how many times you wash them. This goes back to the insolubility of the sulfuric dye. Google around a little and you’ll find a bunch of people who have had this issue and washing them did nothing to help. 

      • Marku

        Does this apply to N&F Skinny Guy Broken Twill?

  • medine

    I don’t understand why he couldn’t wash them

    • digitaldonkey

      Some black denim, when improperly dyed, will stink no matter how many times you wash them. This goes back to the insolubility of the sulfuric dye. Google around a little and you’ll find a bunch of people who have had this issue and washing them did nothing to help. 

  • great

    this is pretty stupid

  • Jessee Bunyip

    Shannon lush (Australian Household Cleaning guru)  had a recipe that involved putting the jeans in a 10 litre stock pot containing two kettle fulls (3 litres or so) of boiling water over and a large amount of salt (a cup full of un-iodised salt cos iodine stains) and some vinegar ( another cupful) and leaving over night and then washing in your machine with a tablespoon of bicarb added to the wash powder and a half a cup vinegar in the rinse / fabric softener bit.  

    I’m not 100% sure on the salt and vinegar measures, but I did try it (with these measurements) on a pair of black jeans and it did make them much softer than the ones I bought at the same time and didn’t treat.   The smell was not a problem at the time.  I wouldn’t buy stinky clothes – I can’t even try them on.

    • http://www.rawrdenim.com Rawr Denim

      @google-5df47873db6da5fa6cebd31bd336224a:disqus Thanks for sharing! The boiling water is a bit intimidating to think about it (given the consequential bleeding), but interesting nonetheless. Aside from the denim feeling softer, did you find much color was lost afterward?

  • Jessee Bunyip

    Shannon lush (Australian Household Cleaning guru)  had a recipe that involved putting the jeans in a 10 litre stock pot and pouring two kettle fulls (3 litres or so) of boiling water over and adding a large amount of salt (a cup full of uniodised?) and some vinegar ( another cup ful) and leaving over night and then washing in your machine with a tablespoon of bicarb added to the wash powder and a half a cup vinegar in the rinse / fabric softener bit.   I’m not 100% on the salt and vinegar measures, but I did try it (with these measurements) on a pair of black jeans and it did make them much softer than the ones I bought at the same time and didn’t treat.   The smell was not a problem at the time.  I wouldn’t buy stinky clothes – I can’t even try them on.

    • http://www.rawrdenim.com Rawr Denim

      @google-5df47873db6da5fa6cebd31bd336224a:disqus Thanks for sharing! The boiling water is a bit intimidating to think about it (given the consequential bleeding), but interesting nonetheless. Aside from the denim feeling softer, did you find much color was lost afterward?

  • Jason

    I’m sure hydrogen peroxide will get rid of the smell. Since it is an antioxidant, it will replace the sulphur in the jeans and hopefully the smell will be gone. Hydrogen peroxide is used to wash away skunk smells and skunk smells are caused by the sulphur in the chemical substance.

    • Elissa

      It could work, but it could also bleach that brand new pair of jeans. Having spent many a summer day as teenager lightening my hair with hydrogen peroxide, I would be careful using it on my clothes in a high enough concentration to break down odors.

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  • lkhmst

    Jason: If you use hydrogen peroxide, not only will it get rid of the smell, it will give you some realllllly nice fades *sarcasm*. You’ll end up with brown or even white jeans. I can get rid of musky odors by first wrapping my jeans up in a ziplock back and chucking them into the freezer for a day or two, then throwingthem in the dryer for about 30 mins.

  • Johnny Wolf

    The reason they can’t be just washed, is because the die in the jeans in water insoluble, meaning it’s water proof up to a certain temperature. The temp rating is 40c or 176f. I don’t see why they just can’t be boiled, and rinsed a couple times, as water boils at 180f. (or 212f depending on who you ask) I assume you might loose a little color, but what’s worse stinky jeans, or slightly faded?

  • Simon

    Place folded denim in plastic bag, add some bicarbonate of soda, tie bag up and shake well to disperse bicarbonate and then leave n freezer overnight. Shake out the next morning and hang on washing line to air. Does the trick – kills bacteria, gets rid of smell.

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