How to Prevent Jeans from Fading in the Wash

Blue and black jeans tend to fade in the washing machine. The water and soap erodes the dye and discolors them. Jeans will fade regardless, but washing them regularly speeds up the process. Use these steps to prevent your jeans from fading.

Steps

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    Choose when to wash your jeans.
    • Wash your dark jeans every 4 or 5 times you wear them. Reducing the frequency of your jean washing will keep the color looking dark instead of dull. Try not to wear your dark jeans if you are doing physical labor or any activity that could potentially soil the jeans. Freezing jeans without washing also prolongs the life of the fibers but can be messy thawing out.
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    • Jeans do not need to be washed after every wear because the material is thick and sweating occurs mostly on your upper body.
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    Fill a large washtub with 1 gallon (3.79 L) of cold water and 2 tablespoons (23.95 g) of salt.
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    Soak the jeans in the salt mixture for approximately 1 hour.
    • The salt mixture preserves the dye prior to washing, which prevents fading.
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    Turn the jeans inside out.
    • Move the dark dye from the outside to the inside of the jeans to reduce the amount of direct water and soap contact.
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    Place other jeans or dark clothing items into the wash along with the dark jeans.
    • You can wash dark jeans alone, but washing jeans with other jeans allows dyes to mix and might help keep them dark.
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    Use a detergent made specifically for washing jeans or a color-protection detergent.
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    Use vinegar the same way you would a detergent but wash with just the vinegar instead. After hanging to dry the vinegar smell is not pungent.
    • Specialty detergents might be more expensive, but their chemical makeup is less abrasive than traditional detergents.
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    Add fabric softener into the wash.
    • Fabric softener might not necessary keep the jeans from fading, but it can prolong the life of your jeans by keeping them soft rather than brittle.
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    Select the coldest, most gentle cycle for the wash.
    • Cold water is less abrasive than warm or hot water on the indigo dye of jeans. Cold water is less effective for cleaning, but warm or hot water is certain to fade your jeans even if they are turned inside out.
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    Run the wash on the delicate cycle for a couple minutes if swirling around with hands seems to take its toll and spin to wring out excessive water.
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    Find a shaded outdoor location and set up a clothesline.
    • Direct sunlight will fade the jeans just as badly, if not worse, than customary washing methods.
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    Hang the jeans to dry.
    • If it is particularly warm outside, do not leave the jeans hanging for long. Allow them to hang and drip dry for 1 to 2 hours during a cooler time of day, and then bring them indoors to finish drying.
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Tips

  • Soaking your jeans in vinegar instead of the salt and water mixture can help prevent fading. The smell, however, tends to prevent this method from being used often.
  • Hand-washing jeans in the bathtub is an effective way of preventing denim fading, but it is time consuming. Fill a bathtub halfway with cold water, then pour a few tablespoons of detergent in, and then let the jeans soak for about a half hour. Do not scrub the jeans; just move them around inside the cold water. Rinse them, wring them, and then hang them to air dry.
  • You can choose to never wash your jeans, but this might create a noticeable odor after 3 to 4 months, depending on your use. If you decide not to wash your jeans to prevent fading, let them air dry regularly.
  • Just wash them every 2 or 3 months (or less!) and do it cold with other jeans and very little detergent. Do the first wash by hand even as they tend to fade the most then.

Warnings

  • Do not have your dark jeans dry-cleaned. The dry-cleaning process includes the use of extremely harsh chemicals that can fade your jeans as well as weaken them.

Things You'll Need

  • Jeans
  • Water
  • Washtub
  • Washing machine
  • Salt
  • Detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Clothesline
  • Bathtub (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Jeans