Washing Your Raw Selvedge Denim For The First Time.
There are a many unique formulas and techniques that can be used when washing and drying your raw denim for the first time but we'll focus specifically on when and how to wash your Brave Stars based on our own personal and preferred method.
"A successful first wash"
This is probably the most crucial step when contemplating the first wash and not for any factor other than shrinkage. All sanforized raw denim will shrink between 0%-3% post first wash. Unsanforized denim will shrink anywhere up to 10%. We have never offered unsanforized denim here at Brave Star so we'll ignore this quality for now. Well then, exactly how much is 3% in actual size? Simple math will tell us a size 32 jean with a full waist measurement of 34.5 inches (17.25 flat measure) with a shrinkage factor of 3% will shrink to 33.46 inches meaning one full size (1 inch) will be lost in the waistband as well as other crucial fit areas such as the low hip and thigh. If you soak or wash your jeans before you have worn them for any extended period of time including the initial try on then you risk shrinking them a full size (or more) which could render them unwearable as they'll be too small. The only time this would be advantageous is if they're too big (by at least a size) then of course go ahead and soak them right out of the box.
To achieve the best fit possible, we highly recommend you wear your jeans for at least 3 to 6 months before washing them. However, if you feel compelled to wash them earlier then we recommend at a minimum a full week of consistent wear. If wear will be inconsistent then we suggest two to three weeks before the first soak or wash. Why? This will allow your jeans to stretch out to their max capacity so that when you do wash them they will shrink back to their original pre wash size. Yes, we know they don't feel as comfortable as your joggers out of the box but with a little patience and persistence they will break in to be extremely comfortable and pliable. To get an almost bespoke fit, air dry them until they are damp, then put them on and let them dry on your body. This will allow them to conform to your body shape as they are drying, creating an almost custom fit pair of jeans. Fit manipulation is one of the huge advantages that raw selvedge denim has over regular, pre washed denim and why we swear by raw denim in the first place.
- Do not soak or wash your jeans before wearing them.*
- Wear your jeans for at least a full week, preferably two to three weeks before the first soak or wash.
- Air dry them until damp, then put them on and let them dry on your body.
*unless they're at least one size too big and long enough in the inseam
There is a lot more liberty in the different washing methods and no hard and fast rule in our opinion. You will find a lot of great tips on the raw denim forums and websites from fellow denim heads that have all gone before you in this department. We do have a few tips from our own experience over the last few years of washing our own personal pairs and seeing what works for us.
There are may ways to "wash" your jeans including but not limited to soaking in a tub, wearing them in the shower, washing them in a washing machine, hand washing them in the ocean or river, leaving them out in the rain etc etc. Our go to method is utilizing the washing machine especially if you want to remove odor and stains. For detergent, we highly recommend staying away from commercial laundry detergents (powder or liquid) as they have been formulated to get rid of stains at any cost and have harsh chemical agents which are not kind to the cotton yarn as the residue from these detergents remain attached to your jeans and will continue to build up after each wash and can compromise the yarns causing your jeans to deteriorate at a faster rate. Along with machine drying, commercial laundry detergents are the single biggest threat to the lifespan of your selvage. If you do decide to wash your jeans in a washing machine its imperative that you remove them before the spin cycle as this will cause the indigo or color to 'streak'. Also remember that the hotter the water temperature the more your jeans will shrink so we advise a warm water water cycle or even a cold water cycle if you're unsure.
- Soak or wash in warm water.
- Stay away from commercial laundry powders and detergents.
Last but not least, this step is a little more intuitive than the washing part. One cardinal rule to remember is to avoid machine drying your jeans and only air dry them. If you absolutely have to machine dry them do not utilize the high temperature setting as this will shrink your jeans way more than you think and probably render them unwearable not to mention that high temperatures and cotton do not get along. Use the lowest setting possible and don't over dry them. Pull them out a little damp and let them air dry on your body.
- Air dry inside out in a shaded area.
- Avoid machine drying on high temperatures at all costs.
So there you have it, a simple and straight forward approach to caring for your raw selvedge denim ensuring you maximize their lifespan and enhance their aesthetic to the fullest potential.
Stay Raw, Denim heads...