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To Pre- or Not to Pre- ...Wash, is the Question?

HST Bespoke Jeans- Prewashed or raw denim
HST Bespoke Jeans at HST Tailors Warehouse Workshop

Starting with Raw Denim

Many denim buyers ask us about washing their jeans. They’ve heard stories of people who only wash them every other time that they wear them, or every few times, or even hardly ever at all. So what’s truly the best way to care for your jeans? To answer that question, first we need to understand raw denim.

What is Raw Denim?

“Raw denim is denim material that hasn’t gone through the finishing process, “ HST’s tailor, CP Goh, explains. “It’s just off the loom, and skips the stage of washing and treating, so it will be a deep indigo colour, and will have a particular sheen. Once this fabric is made into jeans, you can expect that upon its first wash, the colour will run, and the fabric will shrink.” So if this is the case, is this an argument for never washing your jeans? “This would depend on your preference,” Goh says. “Some people don’t want their jeans to change and so will choose to not wash them, while others want their jeans to fit their body, so will get them wet while wearing them. In this way, the denim will shrink to fit their shape. If this is their goal, then they should also make sure that their jeans have room to shrink in length as well.”

So Should You Wash Your Jeans?

If you’re someone who is looking to have jeans that fit well and look nice, the best option for you could be to have your jeans made from pre-washed denim. In this case, the denim fabric is washed and treated before it is measured and cut. In this way, once it is made into jeans for you, they will have already been washed, and the fabric won’t shrink any further, so even when you wash them at home, the jeans will stay fitting your perfectly. The fabric will still stretch a little bit when you wear it, but you won’t need to worry about a dramatic amount of shrinkage, as that will have already happened before the jeans were made. In this way, you can wash your jeans as often as you like.

How Often Is Too Often to Wash Jeans?

So now we get back to our original question: How often should you wash your jeans? This comes down to your answer as to whether your jeans are made from raw denim- in which case, wash them with care, considering whether you want them to shrink in the wash, or shrink as you wear them. Or if your jeans are made from pre-washed denim, feel free to wash them as often as you want to.

Does Washing Jeans Wear Out the Fabric?

Denim, by nature, is a strong fabric. There are different weights, but in general, denim that is used to make jeans is a fabric that historically was made to last. So what will happen to it in the washing machine? You can expect that over time, the denim will fade, and will look worn in certain areas as you wear them more and more. This is what gives each pair of jeans its own distinct look according to its unique history. If you plan to distress the jeans in some way, then this look will also change over time, as the fabric frays in at the edges and the threads start to return to their cotton origins.

All in all, it’s perfectly reasonable to wash your pre-washed jeans every other time that you wear them, or once every three times. Don’t be afraid of how your jeans evolve over time. This is just a way for them to become more personalised and unique.


  • Turn your jeans inside out to wash them.

  • Wash them in cold or warm water. Use hot only if you want to shrink them.

  • Use a colour-safe detergent.

  • There’s no need to use fabric softener- they will soften when you first wear them after washing.

  • Lay your jeans flat to air dry.

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