Macy’s / Ideas & Inspiration / Men's Jeans Guide / Types of Denim Washes for Men

Types of Denim Washes for Men

We've broken down the different methods used to create staple denim washes you know and love including light, medium and dark wash jeans. Color us impressed with the selection of denim washes available.

The Essential Denim Washes Every Man Should Own

Let's get into blue jeans plus other neutral denim washes every man needs in his arsenal.

Popular Types of Denim Washes & How They're Created

What is denim washing? It's the finish given to denim to help strengthen and alter the color, texture or feel of the fabric. Designers use denim washing as their chance to get creative. Keep reading to discover more about how these denim washes are made.

Stone Wash

Stone washing is one of the most common types of mechanical washes. Stone washing uses pumice stones to create the appearance of an aged pair of jeans. Abrasions and faded color are typical outcomes.

Hand Sanding

Hand sanding is when sandpaper is used to distress denim. This water-free process is performed before washing to give denim light wash patterns and a worn look. The results can be subtle or create a very distressed appearance.


Whiskering is typically done by hand using abrasive rods or sanding, whiskering produces thin, faded lines that give the appearance of worn denim. They're strategically placed to resemble areas that would naturally crease and fade over time—think across the thighs, crotch and back of the knees.

Acid Wash

Acid wash jeans don't actually use acid in the process. Pumice stones pre-soaked in a bleach solution are used when tumble-drying denim. The results? Non-uniform color and splotchy patterns, popularized in the '80s.

Rinse Wash

A rinse wash is exactly what it sounds like, a quick rinse of water to help remove any excess dye. Typically a process for dark wash jeans, this simple treatment helps preserve as much rich color as possible.

Enzyme Wash

Enzyme washing will remind you of chemistry class. Enzyme washing uses cellulases to degrade the cellulose found in denim. This process is a more eco-friendly alternative to stone washing. It gives you the look of aged denim with less risk of damaging the garment.

Bleach Wash

Pumice stones are presoaked in a bleach solution and tumble dried with blue jeans to produce heavily faded or white patterns. A strong bleach can also be added during the washing process or applied locally by rubbing or spray.

All-Over Tinting

All-over tinting adds multiple dyes during the washing process. You pick the dye based on the desired color finish.

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