3 Ways to Soak Your Raw Denim and Which You Should Choose

Last Episode of Season 1 of the Denimhunters Podcast

In this episode of the Denimhunters Podcast, I talk about a tough decision you need to make before you start wearing your new raw denim jeans; whether to soak them or not.

I discuss three approaches you can take, and when you want to use each of them. And, of course, I also talk about the scenario where you don’t soak the jeans.

Attention Indigo Invitational invitees!

If you’re signed up for the Indigo Invitational, remember that you must NOT soak or wash your jeans before you’ve submitted your ‘raw proof’ photos on October 1, 2020! If you soak before your raw proof, the jeans will not qualify.

Visit indigoinvitational.com to learn more and stay up to date! If you need a new pair of jeans, check out our buying guides.

Approach #1: Hand soak

First, let’s define ‘soak’: This is when you “introduce water” before you start wearing the jeans NOT to clean them but to achieve some other goal.

This first approach is where you soak your jeans by hand, in other words without wearing them. All you need a bucket, a sink, a bathtub or some other container that holds wear, some cold to lukewarm water, and your jeans, of course. Importantly, you want to turn your jeans inside out.

You can see how I hand soak my jeans in this video guide.

Use this approach when you want to:

  • Soften the denim
  • Get rid of excess chemicals and indigo

DO NOT to use this approach when you want to: 

  • Keep the denim completely dry/raw

There’s a version of the hand soak where you use (extra) hot water. This you use when you want to shrink unsanforized denim as much as possible without the risk of creasing.

Approach #2: Bathtub soak

This is the approach where you wear the jeans as you soak them. For that, you need a bathtub (or a seriously large plastic box, but Jesse Pinkman already went looking and they’re tough to find, apparently).

This is not an approach I’m personally a fan of (or have tried, for that matter) as it’s complicated and frankly more or a gimmick than anything else if you ask me.

What you achieve, supposedly, is that the denim doesn’t shrink too much; in other words so much that you won’t fit the jeans. But you can achieve this by putting on the jeans while they’re still damp after a hand soak and get the same result without risking to get (super) premature crotch blowouts.

Use this approach when you:

  • Want to get the perfect shrink-to-fit
  • Like gimmicks
  • Live in a warm climate / it’s the warm season

DO NOT to use this approach when you:

  • Want to gave your jeans last as long as possibly
  • Don’t want to catch a cold
  • Live alone or don’t have a partner with a sense of humour

Approach #3: Washing machine

This is where you use a washing machine to do the job for you.

Technically, I guess this isn’t a soak but a wash. But, remember the definition of ‘soak’ above; the purpose is not to clean the jeans. So it’s on the list.

Use this approach when you:

  • Want a thorough process (remember not to use the spin cycle – or least low RPMs)

DO NOT to use this approach when you:

  • When you want to maintain control over the process

Bonus: Do nothing!

Lastly, there’s the approach where you don’t soak your jeans at all.

This is probably the most common approach. It’s surely the easiest. But it does have downsides.

Use this approach when you:

  • Want the highest contrast fades possible

DO NOT to use this approach when you:

  • If you’ve been getting crotch blowouts quickly in the past
  • Have a car with white leather seats (in which case, sweet ride bro!)

Stay tuned for season 2

This episode is the last episode of season 1 of the Denimhunters Podcast. If you’ve listened to any of the previous episodes (you’ll find them all here), you might have noticed that I’ve implemented a few changes. Let me know what you think of them; any feedback that helps me make you enjoy this podcast more is always welcome!

That’s it for this episode, and this season, of the Denimhunters Podcast. You’ll find all the other episodes right here.

While we start working on season 2, make sure you’re subscribed to the show in your favourite podcast app. Make sure you turn on notifications so you’ll be the first to know when we come back with season 2!

Until then, happy fading!


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