Unsanforized | Caring for your Raw Denim

October 24, 2016

First things first, we hope you've already dispelled the BS about Raw denim, but in case you haven't, read up on our Sanforized vs. Unsanforized blog post to get the facts straight. 

Step 1 : Pre-Soak Prep
Please be aware that with a lukewarm soak, your Unsanforized denim is bound to shrink about 2 inches (5cm) in the Waist and Inseam, about 1/2 inch (1.3cm) in the Rise, Thigh, Leg Opening. To ensure that your denim will shrink as desired, make sure that all the buttons are closed. Some enthusiasts even tie a thin rope around the waist through the belt loops to ensure a good fit. 
The ideal setting for this soak is a bathtub, and if you are willing to go the extra mile, wear your jeans and sit in the bathtub during the soak. This will help you derive an ideal fit, as the jeans will shrink according to your physique.

Step 2: Lukewarm Water Soak
Depending on the amount of time you soak your denim, and the temperature of the water, your jeans will shrink and lose some of its indigo color accordingly. Thus we stress not cold or hot, but lukewarm water to minimize the fall of the indigo dye. Also, the hotter the water, the more your denim will shrink, so a lukewarm soak is ideal. 
Although detergent is optional, moving the jeans around the tub periodically throughout the soak process is strongly advised to really help get the water into the fabric. Another optional step is to place heavy objects (i.e. large pet bottle filled with water) to keep the jeans from surfacing above water. 
We suggest an average soak of 30 minutes, with more or less time depending on the amount of shrinkage desired. If you want your jeans to drop two sizes down for example, we suggest an hour long soak - but please be aware that the longer the soak is, the more indigo dye will fall.

Step 3: Pull from Soak
When you are ready to pull the denim out of the soak, please remember to do so without squeezing the water out of the fabric. 
Pull the jeans out of the soak tub and carefully turn the jeans inside out above the tub. Now take the jeans, in their soaked form, outdoors for the next step.

Step 4: Post-Soak Dry
We strongly stress an outdoor dry for the post-soak dry session for your denim. Natural sunlight will help your jeans dry natural and will limit the amount of indigo fall as well as unwanted creases and fades that may come with machine drying. 
We recommend running a thin rope through the belt loops along the back of the waistband. Once you have the rope ready, tie the jeans up on a dryer line on either side and make sure the bottom of your jeans are not touching the ground. Watch the indigo puddle beneath your jeans grow, as your jeans naturally dry. This will take several hours, even on a hot day, thus we suggest to start the soak process early in the day.

Step 5: Care & Storage
Storing and caring for your jeans will help ensure a long and storied life for your raw denim. Now the conventional thought may be to fold your jeans and put them away in your closet until the next wear. By doing this, you run the risk of losing all the hard work you put into creating the fades and creases as well as creating an issue of odor through the build up of bacteria on your denim. 
If your jeans do happen to take on a foul odor over months of not washing your raw denim (very likely), maybe this quick fix will be what you're looking for!
As far as storing your jeans, hanging them out to allow steady air flow is the ideal situation for your denim. Either on a hanger or through the belt loops.

4 Responses


August 16, 2022

No, it doesn’t Joshua. Cold does not bother bacteria, it will only temporarily stop the smell while the bacteria enter a hibernation state. If they’re gross, wash them.


January 01, 2022

A nice trick to get rid of the smell without washing the jeans is to place them in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer for a day. It kills the bacteria. Works like a charm.


November 13, 2018

Hello…. I soaked my new and unworn, unsanforized, raw denim jeans in cool water for 2 hours, hung them up and let them air dry. They didn’t shrink enough so should I soak them again, according to your prescribed regimen, or perhaps use hotter than lukewarm water to soak, and then dry them by a wood stove? Thanks!

Raymond Pillay
Raymond Pillay

November 06, 2018

Hi pls give me more information on washing ,softening and keeping unsanforised denim

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