How to Stone Wash Jeans

Learning how to stone wash jeans is a great way to give your jeans that "lived-in" look without the expense of buying "distressed" jeans. Stone wash jeans were all the rage when they were introduced in the 1980s and have continued to go in and out of fashion since.

How To Stone Wash Jeans On The Cheap

Commercial stone washing is done in large front-loading industrial washing machines. Sections of denim fabric (not finished jeans) are put in the washers with tennis ball sized pumice stones. The pumice stones are lightweight and have a sandpaper-like surface, As the fabric tumbles through the wash, the pumice stones scrape away some of the dyed surface threads, allowing the lighter colored threads to show through. You're not out of luck if you don't have an industrial washing machine, however, here's how to get the same look:

  • What you'll need. To get started, you'll need: a pair of jeans (until you get the hang of the process, start with an older pair), One or two pumice stones (available at drugstores and the personal care section of larger retailers), some rough-grade sandpaper (30 to 50 grit), table salt, a large bucket or container.
  • A salty send off. Fill your container about half full with water and then stir in 1 cup of salt until it is completely dissolved. Submerged your jeans in the salty water and let them soak for 48 hours.
  • Time to get rough. Wring out your jeans to remove excess water and lay them out on a covered work surface. Take a pumice stone or sandpaper and drag it up and down the surface of your jeans, paying particular attention to the knees, thighs and seat. It will take some practice to achieve the desired effect-work vertically and notice that different abrasives will take more or less of the surface away. Don't panic if the surface of your jeans starts to pucker; the distortion will come out in the wash.
  • A sunny finish. Take you jeans outside and hang them to dry. As your pants dry, you'll be able to judge the results of your efforts.
  • Wash normally. After your jeans are dry, run them through a normal wash and dry cycle. If your jeans are still too dark or stiff, repeat the process. Understand, however, that too much abrasion will weaken the fabric of your jeans.
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