How To Distress and Destroy Denim Jeans
I've read lots of articles about destroying or distressing jeans. I agree with some suggestions, and others I just don't think work. I've listed methods that I have found to work for me, and methods that haven't, but you still might want to try out.
Keep in mind that different jeans distress differently. A thicker denim is going to be more difficult to destroy than a softer, thinner denim. Everyone's tastes are different, what appeals to one person, might not to another. I have not personally tried every method, I've used common sense and experience to categorize the suggestions that I haven't tried myself.
I would suggest trying your methods on an old pair of jeans first. That way you can hone your technique, and see what works best for the look you are trying to achieve.
What Works Well:
Sandpaper... The one thing I find the most effective in destroying jeans. You can use different grits to get different looks. You can easily sand those spots that would wear normally, the seat, knees, hemline, etc. A Pumice stone can also be used.
Cheese grater... Most have a side that is finer than the other side, use that. Better yet, use a cinnamon or nutmeg grater. They have a super fine grate and a smaller, rounded shape that works great for destroying jeans. Be careful with either grater, it is easy to go too far, and to shred your fingers in the process.
Lots of washing and fabric softener. An oldie but a goody!
Liquid dishwasher liquid for bleaching your jeans. If you want to try this method please see:
How to Destroy Your Own Clothing/DIY Damaging
Coffee... It can be brewed strong and splashed on, or soak the whole jeans for several hours or overnight.
Take a utility knife and cut two straight horizontal cuts about two to four inches apart. Slide your hand behind the denim you just cut. Sandpaper the strip of denim you created until you start to see tiny holes and white cords. Separate the white cords with your fingernails, but be careful you don't want to rip the cords. For an extra destroyed look, take a cheese grater and rub around the main holes you created for a unique look.
Grease... Used sparingly, nothing beats it for natural looking staining.
And if you don't want to try it and would rather get a great pair of jeans that are already distressed / destroyed please check out:
Distressed / Destroyed Jeans Shopping.