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

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’ve picked up a bottle denim specific detergent. 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.”

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? - Heddels 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? - Heddels 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 four 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? - Heddels 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 when it’s time to give them a wash, check out our complete guide to washing raw denim jeans and pick up a bottle of our Denim Wash.