When Should I Wash My Raw Jeans? – A Rough Guide

When Should I Wash My Raw Denim?

Do You Wash Your Jeans Based On Your Calendar?

So you finally got your first pair of raw jeans. Congrats!

No doubt you’ve heard that washing is the crucial “make-it-or-break-it” step towards owning a wicked pair of raws. You’ve done extensive research about how to wash your raw denim. You know how to do a coral beach wash, how to clean with vinegar, and all the other tricks of the wash. You’ve also been warned of the perils of washing too early. But there’s one final question:

How do I know when its really time to wash my jeans?

Well, that’s easy. After all, everyone knows that you just have to wait 6 months to wash your jeans, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about this, and there truly is no easy answer. Besides, what about after the first wash? Then what? Well, the short answer to that is “It depends.”

(Note: Do you have any questions that we haven’t covered on the site yet? Send your questions to info@rawrdenim.com!)

It depends on how often you wear your jeans

  • If you’re able to wear your jeans all day, every day then 6 months may be long enough (or perhaps even too long). But if you’re like many folks who have to wear a uniform or dress professionally for 5 days of the week, then you’ll need more time to achieve the same results, maybe 9 months or more.
When Do I Wash My Raw Denim? - Rawr Denim Rough Guide

Sadly, most uniforms aren't made of raw denim...

It depends on what you do in your jeans

  • If you’re a physically active person, I guarantee your jeans will fade faster than someone who just wears them around the house. Wearing your jeans for activities like bicycling, hiking and so on will produce quicker results than, say, sitting and playing video games.
  • (Caveat: You wouldn’t believe the wicked fades my friend gets from taking care of his toddler all day!)

It depends on how fast your jeans are fading

  • If you’re starting to see definite whiskers and honeycombs, or notice distinct highlights around the knees, it’s probably time for a wash.
When Should I Wash My Raw Denim? - Rawr Denim Rough Guide

Jeans Starting To Look Like This? Wash 'Em!

It depends on you

  • Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people can go 15 months without washing. Others wouldn’t dream of it.

Personally, I tend to do my first wash after about 4 months of daily wear, then continue washing every couple of months. But that’s just me. I don’t follow any set agenda, I just notice “Hey, these things could use a wash…” and that’s that.

When Should I Wash My Raw Denim? - Rawr Denim Rough Guide

Soaking Them Works Too (image source: parkandbond.com)

As we’ve previously mentioned, raw denim is a journey, not a science. There’s no formula to plug your jeans into, then run through the motions and *poof!* you’ve got a sick pair of jeans.

Besides, the first wash is only the beginning of the raw journey. In my experience, real awesome fades tend to develop after a year or so, typically after 3 or 4 washes. So don’t sweat the process. Just wear your jeans and, as always -

Stay Raw!

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

Sean

An enthusiast for all things denim, vintage and manly; speaker of Japanese; Rawr Denim's Managing Editor. When he's not being a grammar-nazi, he can be found finishing his degree in East-Asian Studies.

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  • http://denimartistpp.wordpress.com/ DenimArtist P.P

    Nice one Sean. Mine is as long it smell it’s time for a dip…probably wash every 3 months of daily wearing.

  • http://denimartistpp.wordpress.com/ P.P

    Nice one Sean. Mine is as long it smell it’s time for a dip…probably wash every 3 months of daily wearing.

  • Joshua Le

    Nice one. Very appropriate article. Gauging when you wash based on fading is a better guide. Since all jeans fade different according to how people wear them, you can’t really set an exact time and day. That being said, I like to arbitrarily put it on a round number – it’s easier when you tell people how long you haven’t washed your jeans. :D

  • Joshua Le

    Nice one. Very appropriate article. Gauging when you wash based on fading is a better guide. Since all jeans fade different according to how people wear them, you can’t really set an exact time and day. That being said, I like to arbitrarily put it on a round number – it’s easier when you tell people how long you haven’t washed your jeans. :D

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

    Smelly = Wash. Not Smelly = Keep Wearing. :)

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

    Smelly = Wash. Not Smelly = Keep Wearing. :)

  • Thomas

    I fell in a mud pond one night and had to cold wash (~30 seconds) my APCs after two months (of heavy wear). It didn’t affect them at all (no indigo loss) and they look great now! 

    • Anonymous

      “Fell” huh lol nice one. 

  • Thomas

    I fell in a mud pond one night and had to cold wash (~30 seconds) my APCs after two months (of heavy wear). It didn’t affect them at all (no indigo loss) and they look great now! 

    • Anonymous

      “Fell” huh lol nice one. 

  • http://twitter.com/clangager Chad Langager

    Great article, Sean. 

    My personal washing policy is… never wash. Just can’t bear to wash away the memories – the beer spills, the wipeouts, the paint parties and many more.

    • JOSH 2

      AGREE I was going to wash my jeans after 25 months . I thought as you did that this would wipe out its and my history. The stains and the dirt will be gone. I will never get my fantastic beautiful jean near a washing machine NEVER NEVER

  • http://twitter.com/clangager Chad Langager

    Great article, Sean. 

    My personal washing policy is… never wash. Just can’t bear to wash away the memories – the beer spills, the wipeouts, the paint parties and many more.

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  • Grazfather x

    My birthday is coming up in February, and it will coincidentally mark about 6 months with my main pair of N&F, I’ll probably wash them then and treat myself to a new pair :)

  • Grazfather x

    My birthday is coming up in February, and it will coincidentally mark about 6 months with my main pair of N&F, I’ll probably wash them then and treat myself to a new pair :)

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  • Gringoinoki

    It’s nice to see someone who brought up the point of uniforms.  I’m in the military and spend about 60 hours a week in uniform, sometimes more.  It leaves little time to wear the clothes I want.

  • Gringoinoki

    It’s nice to see someone who brought up the point of uniforms.  I’m in the military and spend about 60 hours a week in uniform, sometimes more.  It leaves little time to wear the clothes I want.

  • http://twitter.com/edwardjackc Edward Jack

    When my smell i freeze them. After 3 or 4 months of wear I had to wash my APC peite standard cause i spilled paint on them trying to be cool. Looks like I’m going to starch them to help them along…. 

    • Zarulre

      Oh god please do not starch them.

  • http://twitter.com/edwardjackc Edward Jack

    When my smell i freeze them. After 3 or 4 months of wear I had to wash my APC peite standard cause i spilled paint on them trying to be cool. Looks like I’m going to starch them to help them along…. 

    • Zarulre

      Oh god please do not starch them.

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  • Gords

    Great article. What is the benefit in dry-cleaning for the first wash (as per APC advice)?

  • Svante

    Hello there all you insecure fashion nerds.

     I just googled how to wash “raw denim” as I bought a pair the other day. (Because I needed new pants, I’m no collector of raw jeans nor am I a fashion interested person) 

    I ended up here.. you people are FUNKY! You should wash your jeans every week. You go around in the same jeans for 15 months? Wow! are your college friends imressed!? Fashion trends has really hit rock bottom. You  think you’re hip? Your jeans is smelly and they look like shit. They are called blue jeans, cause they’re blue. All jeans posted here look like trash, with shit straight from the public toilet smeared all over the legs….

    Pathetic trend, those funky smelly jeans.

    • Roger

      Cool story, bro.

      • Svante

        Thanks Roger! I came of a bit harsh, but somone had to say it. It’s pretty discusting. 

    • Chris

      I bet your new raws look great washed and pressed daily, hear you also went for the above belly button and ankle fit.

      Fact is, you ended up here because you do care, anyone else would’ve thrown them in the wash with their other Gap basics without blinking an eye.

      Nobodies forcing you to read, or embrace, so hit your back button next time.

    • Chris

      I just happened to buy a pair and saw the little instructions saying “Wait six months before first wash” and thought “Wtf, that’s gross!” So, like you, I Googled it. I’m ashamed at these people, I wash my pants after 2 days of wear…They wait MONTHS!? That’s just disgusting..

      • Slacker

        I usually take the opportunity to wash my underwear at the same time as I wash my jeans, but only IF it is after 15 months…

  • JOSH 2

    Agrre with guy who does not wash them EVER. Their story and yours are wiped out in the washing machine. I cannnot imagine putting a jean that has never been washed in say 2 years in the washing machine

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  • http://www.facebook.com/seankrajacic Sean Krajacic

    I’m one of those “weekend warriors” that jumped into the raw game with a pair of 501 STFs a few months ago. I read a couple blogs and did a pre-soak while wearing them in a hot bathtub. I wore them while they dried.

    My question is did I screw up the fading process with the pre-soak … is that considered a “wash?”

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

      Nope, it wouldn’t be a wash per se and you should be good shape moving forward.

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  • LivingLife@myPace

    i know you have the power to do what you want to do , but i just wanted to know people’s opinion on machine washing raw denim. I usually let my clothes soak in the washing machine for about 10 minutes sometimes longer. Wondering if i soak raw denim in the washing machine with using the correct laundry detergent (say Woolite Black) for 10 + minutes and then let them go through the regular wash cycle and hang- dry the raw denim what would be the outcome?

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  • Okc Dave

    You should wash them when they get dirty, that’s kinda the point of washing things. It is impossible to wear jeans for more than about 20 hours without them being dirty enough that they need washed, even if all you do is sit motionless in a chair the whole time.

    I can’t imagine how bad some people must stink from body order. Stinking is a stronger negative effect on others than a mental impression that your jeans look slightly nicer. TRUST ME ON THAT.