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Denim Glossary: Different Types Of Washes

Know the five commonly used washes in the world of denim.
Denim Glossary: Different Types Of Washes Know the five commonly used washes in the world of denim.

We all love our denim. We mean, come on, it’s been around for a gazillion years and they never, ever, go out of trend. Yes, the cuts, color, and washes vary depending on the preferences of each generation, but at the end of the day, denim will always be that single most perennial item in every person’s closet. Jeans, shorts, skirts, dresses, tops, jackets, bags, even parkas and underwear all use this beloved fabric, and don't you ever get even a tiny bit curious on how they are made? Well, good news! Starting off our denim series, we share with you how your pieces get the particular shade, fade, and overall hue you can’t help but fall for.

Raw denim is either yarn dyed wherein the individual yarn strings are colored before woven into a fabric, or garment dyed in which the process is done on finished garments. Either way, the real magic happens in the washing technique used. There are a ton of methods used like stone washing (the fabric and pumice stones are rubbed together to get that faded effect), enzyme washing (naturally occurring enzymes are used to eat away at the cellulose in cotton), sand washing (sand is used to create abrasion and that grainy light effect), and so much more. But leaving the technicalities aside and focusing on the looks, there are five types of washes that define most of the everyday basic type of denim you see.

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Scroll down to learn how to differentiate the five commonly used washes in the delightful world of denim.

We’re pretty sure you’ve encountered this type of wash before. Popularized in the eighties, the process is to soak the porous pumice stones in chlorine and then stone washing to create a heavily contrasted finish often with unique patterns. Although they usually come off as the lightest shade compared to other washes, an acid wash doesn’t necessarily have to be light in color.


Think of it as the all-out version of the acid wash. Compared to the acid washed denim wherein you will see more of the specks of color, bleaching provides a more even finish. If you know it's not originally white and it has a stark light color to it, then it is definitely bleached. 


Relax. This wash has nothing to do with anything related to dirt. It is simply called such because when other dye hues are mixed with denim, it often comes out as if someone played with paint. If there is even a tiny hint of pink, brown, blue, green, or whatever rainbow color on your denim, then that is clearly in this group.


Also sometimes referred to as the antique wash, denims that undergo this course look like they’ve been naturally aging and fading in certain spots through the years in an attic somewhere. The off-beat and trendy effect makes it one of the more obvious choices to get if you’re looking for something you can use forever.


Also sometimes called the dark wash, it’s pretty easy to spot the pieces with this kind of look. If they’re dark and there seems to be little alteration done to the fabric, they automatically fall into this classification.

Have you decided on which one you like best? If you have, then click on the gallery to start shopping some denim love.