Different Types of Denim Jeans Washing Techniques

Over the past few decades, different denim washing techniques have been developed and used on different materials to create a large variety of designs for trendy denim garments and jeans. Special color effects and washed/vintage looks are often achieved in denim garments. The hand feel of the washed goods is relatively superior, which makes them suitable for leisure wear. These effects are difficult to achieve through other processing techniques.

The results obtained from denim washing represent a combined effect of color dissolution, destruction of the dye and mechanical abrasion, which sometimes causes the removal of surface fibers from the materials. Thus surface dyed (ring dyed effect) colors in denim garments are more easily washed down during the washing processes.

Traditionally denim is a 3/1 warp faced twill fabric made from yarn dyed warp and undyed weft yarn. Typical construction of the fabric is 32 × 19; 45 × 54 tex; 310 g/m2. More recently, other weaves have been used with lighter constructions’. Jeans are defined as ‘A 2/1 or 3/1 warp faced twill fabric used chiefly for overalls or casual wear with a typical construction of 35 × 24; 32 × 21 tex cotton’. Although by definition, denim and jeans refer to different things, they now mean the same thing in the market. Conventionally, warp yarn in denim fabric is dyed with indigo with a ring dyed effect. As a result, the washing technique and effect described in this chapter are based on indigo dyed fabric.

Several types of garment washing for denim fabric are carried out to create varied effects in denim garments to meet the needs of today’s denim fashion trends. However each washing technique has its own advantages and limitations. Denim is either rubbed or worn with stones and other abrasive materials, called mechanical washing, or treated with bleach and other kinds of colour-altering substances, known as chemical washing.

Mechanical washes include:

  1. Rinse wash
  2. Water jet fading
  3. Stone wash
  4. Whiskering
  5. Microsanding including sandblasting
  6. Mechanical abrasion
  7. Laser treatment

Chemical washing includes:

  1. Acid wash, ice or snow wash
  2. Hydrogen peroxide wash or Bleach washing
  3. Enzyme wash
  4. Ozone fading
  5. Spray techniques
  6. Overdyeing and tinting

The effects desired for denim goods change every year owing to fashion. Various washing effects have been popularly obtained by laser, sandblasting and enzymatic washing processes. In addition to these processes, hypochlorite bleaching (acid wash) is often preferred, especially for summer denims.

General finishing sequence of denim:
There are almost countless variations of processing techniques used by designers and textile chemists to achieve fashionable looks that are distinctive and desirable. Only the basic treatment conditions are addressed in this chapter; the number of variations is very large and the evolution of chemical and mechanical techniques is continuing. There often are some secretive and proprietary methods. Regardless of the specific look and name chosen, the following are the process steps normally used to attain the desired results.