From the freezer to the ocean: 7 ways to clean raw denim.

Image for postphoto credit: _limoe via Flickr

Denim is a very durable fabric, but it loses its character if you put it through the washing machine. Chances are, if you?re a Denimhead, you?re aware of the painful, inconvenient, and outright crazy ways to wash your jeans by hand without destroying their original texture.

For those of you who are new to the world of raw denim or who might want a refresher, raw denim (or ?dry denim?) is denim with natural fibers that haven?t been washed. So, when you get a pair of raw denim jeans, you?re getting denim in its natural form with all of the original indigo. As you continue to wear your raw denim, it?ll conform to the contours of your body, and the indigo will start to fade in unique patterns ? giving you a pair of pants that are almost as unique as you. You?re supposed to wash your raw denim as infrequently as possible. Some people never wash their jeans to preserve the unique quality of their raw denim.

When it comes to washing and/or de-stinking your raw denim, the ways are many and range from the practical to the mildly exotic. Here are a few of the most common practices to keep your raw denim fresh:

The Inside-Out Soak/Wash

This is the most common and perhaps most useful way of refreshing your raw denim.

According to Samurai Jeans Co., you should turn your jeans inside out and place them in warm water. They advise you to hold the denim under water for 10 minutes to release the air trapped within and then soak it for 1?2 hours. For the first wash, detergent isn?t necessary. But if you really want to use soap, they recommend the use of one that is free of fluorescent additives and bleach. Woolite dark seems to be the fan favorite.

If your denim is really stiff, you can use the washing machine and spin cycle ? provided you keep your jeans inside out. Beware that traditional washing will emphasize color loss, though.

Image for postPhoto by Heddels


According to Levi Strauss, freezing your jeans to kill the bacteria is a fantastic option. Heddels, another authority, says freezing is incredibly useful. Just fold up your jeans, place them in a plastic bag, and leave them in the freezer for several hours.

The research, however, says otherwise. The Smithsonian puts forth the opinion of Stephen Craig Cary, a University of Delaware expert on frozen microbes. His view is that freezing your jeans is useless, and a lot of experts agree. Freezing is bacteriostatic ? it does not kill the bacteria. It just slows their growth and helps them mutate. So, if you?re okay with breeding super bacteria in your jeans, freezing your denim will temporarily get rid of that horrible smell.


Febreezing is quite popular amongst Denimheads, but once again it doesn?t kill any bacteria. It makes your jeans smell nice, though; and when you?re dressing to impress, you don?t want any funky odors.

Many Denimheads on Reddit praise the combination of freezing and Febreze. Others will wipe down their jeans and then spray them with Febreze. Esquire suggests you double up on the Febreze before resorting to the spin cycle.

For an option that doesn?t actually clean anything, it?s quite widely favored.

Image for postPhoto by Reddit user Reikou


Perhaps the name calls to mind something else?but Teabagging is really something that people do to keep their denim raw.

How does it work? When you?re not wearing them, you can hang teabags down the legs of your jeans to neutralize unwanted odors. The more tea bags, the better.


JackThreads says you can put dryer sheets in your pockets to keep the stink away. While it?s an effective way to keep your denim smelling sweet, dryer sheets can add extra moisture to the jeans which can result in a beautiful breeding ground for bacteria.

A quick look at the Raw Denim subreddit, however, will show that many Denimheads recommend putting dryer sheets in the pockets to keep your denim fresh ? whether you decide to pair this method with the occasional wash is up to you.


Vodka has long been used as a refresher for clothes, or for costumes deemed ?unwashable.? Oki-Ni recommends spraying your raw denim with vodka to kill bacteria. Alcohol can negatively affect dye, however, so diluting the vodka with some water is recommended.

Image for postPhoto by Instagram sevenbamboe


Our device, Mona, vaporizes bacteria and odor from clothes in ten minutes without using any water. We?ve spent the last two years tailoring (hah) the product to help care for stinky jeans. You just stick them into the box, and patent-pending technology changes the atmosphere inside to separate personal dirt from your denim. If you?ve spilled something on your pants or straight up soiled them like this one Reddit denimhead, Mona won?t help you. However, replacing your freezing routine or cleaning routine with Mona will save you a lot of time, protect you from bacterial buildup, and keep your jeans looking and smelling fresh for longer.

Sounds like an all-around win, doesn?t it? Yeah, it?s an all-around win.

The ways to care for your jeans are vast and varied. If none of the methods mentioned above seem appealing, you could always run into the ocean under the light of a full moon. Don?t forget to spread some sand on it afterward for unique fades. Poetic, I know, but it?s surprisingly common. I guess it can be fun to wash your jeans with all the other crazies. Just make sure you don?t run into any werewolves.

Happy cleaning! Or teabagging ? whatever turns you on.


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