How to Wash Your Favorite Raw Denim

How to Wash Your Favorite Raw Denim

All photos by Shay Stifelman, courtesy of Raleigh Denim Workshop

We recently partnered with Raleigh Denim Workshop to bring you our favorite everyday jeans, designed and crafted one-by-one in either Raleigh, North Carolina or Los Angeles, California. Founders Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko began their venture with a goal of making the ideal pair of jeans — taking apart their favorites to understand how they’re made, messing around with old sewing machines from shut-down factories, and learning from experts who used to work at these facilities.

Today, their impeccable jeans are designed to get more beautiful over time, thanks to carefully sourced materials that radiate character and texture — including some of the best raw denim. Because this material allows you to personally break in your jeans to fit your body and lifestyle, you'll really want to embrace that perfectly worn-in fit and finish that'll just keep getting better and better. So, follow the simple steps below on how to wash raw denim, straight from the experts at Raleigh Denim Workshop.

Raleigh Denim Workshop | Kaufmann Mercantile

First thing's first: It's suggested to wait three to six months before first washing your denim. This is because the shape of your body, what you do on a daily basis, and even what you put in your pockets will determine the fade of your jeans. So, live in them awhile to allow them to form to you. But don't worry, nothing bad will happen if you can't wait that long. 

Option 1: River Rinse 

Start your raw denim snug, but not too tight — they stretch out a bit over time. Then, wear them as much as possible before washing. This sets the creases and the wear pattern.

Raleigh Denim Workshop River Rinse

Option 2: Jump in a River (for experienced swimmers only!)

The indigo dye adheres to the outside of the yarn, but the center of the yarn is still white. This is why denim fades the way it does. The longer you wear jeans before that first wash, the higher the contrast will be on your fade.

Kaufmann Mercantile - River Rinse - Raw Denim

Option 3: Tub Wash

If you’re going this route, cover your jeans with cold water in the tub and show 'em a little love. Swish them around with your hands, walk on them, and give them a flip once in a while.


Raleigh Denim Workshop - Tub Wash

Option 4 - Machine Wash

Don’t be scared to wash your jeans — they’re just jeans and need to be washed. Any normal washing machine is fine. Just make sure to turn them inside out and wash them by themselves with cold water.


Raleigh Denim Workshop Raw Denim Machine Wash

Raw Denim Machine Wash Instructions

 Hang to Dry

Raleigh Denim Workshop Hang to Dry Raw Denim Jeans

Learn more below about what makes their denim so special. Video by Raleigh Denim Workshop.


Shop all Raleigh Denim Workshop pants for both men and women here.



All photos by Shay Stifelman, courtesy of Raleigh Denim Workshop

Instructions courtesy of Raleigh Denim Workshop

Introduction by Paige Alexus Yau

We donate 1% of Kaufmann Mercantile shop sales to charities or entities that promote social justice and reform or provide relief. Read the Kaufmann Mercantile Mission for our commitment to donations, diversity, equity, and anti-racism action.