RAW or WASHED – What type of denim is the best?

Denim at CULTIZM 

As CULTIZM has a big assortment of denim jeans, we would like to introduce you a short guide for the different washes in the denim world. Furthermore, we continue our guides for you to give you some information, advices and pro tips from our suppliers. 


CULTIZM has many many brands, which are spezialized into denim, e.g.: Edwin, Tellason, Rogue Territory, OrSlow, Nudie Jeans and Benzak, but you will find your favorite brand in our assortment for sure!

3sixteen or LVC? Sometimes decisions are very hard to make… This little denim wash guide shows you different ways of washing a denim and could be a inspiration for your next denim jeans on your hips! 


Stone Wash
This is the most common and basic process for producing a washed look on denim. Towards the end of the 70’s, pumice stones were discovered to accelerate the ageing process of indigo dyed denim garments.

Pumice stones
The stones in use today are pumice stones with numerous pores. These pores have sharp edges, supporting a very high degree of abrasion. The common size for normal denim is 3 to 6cm in diameter. 

The degree of color fading and change of the feel depends on the ratio of weight of the stone to the fabric weight, which can vary from 0.5:1 to 3:1. During the process, the outer layer of yarn, which is indigo-dyed, is partially separated and the part of the fibre inside comes to the surface. The fabric gets a softer handle through the mechanical process.

The degree of the fading effect depends on several factors: the size of the stone, stone ratio, liquor ratio, duration of treatment, garment load, etc.


Acid Wash
Acid washing is usually done by dry tumbling the denim with pumice stones presoaked in an acid solution, such that localized bleaching is effected in a non-uniform sharp blue and white contrast in the garment.

Pumice stones
The pumice stones were pre-soaked in sodium hypochlorite or potassium permanganate. 

Some drawbacks
Acid washing is a tedious and dirty bleaching process, since the manganese dioxide formed out of the potassium permanganate must be removed from the trousers after the process. The hypochlorite bleaching process is fast, efficient and cheap, but it also includes a number of disadvantages. The process is relatively difficult to control because it is difficult to obtain the same level of bleaching in repeated runs.

Furthermore, hypochlorite is a harsh chemical that can damage cellulose, resulting in severe strength loss, breakages and pinholes at the seams and pockets. Since hypochlorite is a hazardous chemical, precautions should be considered while using it in the production floor. Thus the chemicals could be hazardous for environment etc. and it is done by professionals. 



Rinse Wash
The goal of rinse washing is to keep the fabric appearance as dark as possible. The denim is desized width wise in open-width washing machine and the dye is not washed out.

The process
Residual dye is removed from the denim to help stop the color running/fading. Thus the denim is washed once with water and softener. This kind of denim wash is a common way to get a dark colored denim wearable and soft. 


Enzyme Wash
As denim is made of cotton, it also consists of cellulose. Cellulases can be used to give denim a worn look. For example, it is possible to fade denim to a greater degree without running the risk of damaging the garment. Cellulases are the enzymes commonly used in enzyme wash. As the name suggests, it degrades cellulose.

Enzyme Wash vs. Pumice stone Wash

The most used application of cellulases is the replacement of pumice stones to produce the aged appearance of denim garments. Some advantages of enzyme wash are the following:

  • The use of cellulases instead of pumice stones prevents damage by abrasion to washing machines and the garments, eliminates the need for disposal of the used stones, and improves the quality of the waste water.
  • The load of garments may also be increased by as much as 50% since stones are no longer added. Depending on the finishing effect required, a mixture of cellulases and pumice may be used, which causes the surface fibres are too weak. The temperature and the pH used must be specific to the type of cellulase employed. Furthermore, there are several cellulases available. 
  • While pumice stones are effective on the fibre surface, cellulases react inside the fibre as well.


Bleach Wash
When bleach washing, a strong oxidative bleaching agent is added during the washing, with or without pumice stones. The purpose of the bleaching is to decolourise the dark blue shade by destroying the indigo dye molecules with oxidative bleaching chemicals.

Sodium hypochlorite is generally used. But a big problem is that the fibre is damaged and there is an emission of polluted waste water. 


Sanforized vs. Unsanforized
Often it is said “That denim is sanforized, go for your regular size”. But what does it actually mean? What happened to that denim before? 

Sanforizing is a process, where the garments have been stretched, fixed and shrunk in length. But now we could have a closer look on the process: 

1. The clothes are fed into machine for sanforizing. 
2. Then the garment is moistened with a steam of water.
3. After that the garment goes through a cylinder, which is rotating and heated. That cylinder presses the fabric against another cylinder, causing the stretching. 
4. The rubber relaxes to its normal and that causing the fabric to shrink. 
5. At the end, the fabric goes into the dryer and the moisture is removed and the shrinkage is permanent. Now your denim is pre-shrinked!