When you’re tired of all the denim in your closet, fading your old jeans is an easy way to breathe new life into them.
While dark denim can support a formal, put-together look, it can get a bit boring sometimes. Refreshing your wardrobe with faded jeans can be a fun way to reinvent your style without spending too much on shopping.
Fortunately, there are many ways that you can fade jeans quickly using household items.
So how can you fade jeans fast? You can fade jeans quickly using different household items. You can bleach jeans with household bleach or lemon juice, fade specific spots using sandpaper, lightly alter the color with cooking salt, or simply speed up the fading process with extensive use and washing your jeans in hot water.
In this article, we’ll show you some quick and efficient ways to fade your jeans at home and walk you through them step by step. So go ahead and give your wardrobe a brand new look!
Method 1: Bleach Them
The most popular and effective way to strip color from any fabric is bleaching. It’s a super quick way to fade your jeans – it only takes about 15 minutes for your jeans to get a lighter color.
However, there are a few caveats that you need to know when working with bleach:
- It may damage the fabric: First, since bleach is a super strong chemical solution, it may damage your jeans, especially if the denim has a synthetic blend (that’s polyester or rayon instead of say, cotton). The fabric may come out thinner and softer, but it may rip or wear out easily after a while.
- It may change the fabric’s properties: Depending on the composition of the jeans, like whether it’s 100% cotton or synthetic-blend, the fabric may react differently to the bleach solution. If the jeans are stretchy before you bleach, bleaching may damage the stretching properties of your jeans, so your jeans may not fit as well after bleaching.
- You will need to be careful: You should take caution when working with bleach, since it can burn your skin. Always wear gloves and be careful when handling the jeans, so that you won’t get hurt. You should also wear clothing that you won’t mind damaging, should the bleach get on your clothes.
- It takes a seasoned hand: If you’re not careful while soaking the jeans to make sure that the bleach hits every corner, the color may come out blotchy and uneven. Because bleach takes effect really quickly, you will need to pay attention while working so that your jeans get the desired faded look.
Bleaching, Step by Step
However, if you’re already confident in your ability to work with bleach, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to fade your clothes with bleach:
Step 1: Set Up
Safety first! Lay down newspapers or plastic sheets on your work area to make sure you don’t damage your workstation. Wear gloves and a long-sleeve shirt to cover your skin so that you don’t burn yourself.
Step 2: Prepare the Bleach Solution
In a tub or bucket, pour in 1 part bleach and 15 parts warm water to make your bleach solution.
It is generally advised that you use as little bleach as possible because different types of fabric will react differently to bleach. It’s better to start with a small quantity first, as you can always add more bleach to get the desired effect.
Step 3: Soak the Jeans
Soak your jeans in the bleach solution, making sure that the bleach can reach every part of the jeans evenly so that there’s no blotchiness.
If you’re using a bathtub, it’s best to lay the jeans flat along the length of the tub. If not, you will need to flip the jeans occasionally to make sure that the color is even.
Step 4: Watch and Wait
Monitor the solution closely to make sure that the jeans don’t get too light.
Remove your jeans after 15 or 20 minutes of soaking in bleach.
Note: It will look a few shades darker while wet, so you should take the jeans out even if it hasn’t reached the desired shade.
Step 5: Wash and Wear
Wash the jeans with detergent and fabric softener, and air dry. The result will be a few shades lighter when dry.
Method 2: Use Lemon Juice
If bleach is a bit intimidating to you, there are other ways to bleach your jeans using household items that can help you get a faded look.
If you want to avoid using harsh chemicals on your jeans, you can take advantage of the natural bleaching properties of lemon instead.
Keep in mind that although lemon can bleach fabric, it is nowhere as strong as bleach, so it will take longer and will not drastically change the look of the jeans. However, if you want to make your jeans one or two shades lighter, using concentrated lemon juice and sunlight is a great way to get the naturally faded look.
Lightening Jeans With Lemon Juice, Step by Step
Here’s how to bleach your jeans with lemon juice:
Step 1: Prepare the Jeans
Soak your jeans with water, making sure that every part of the jeans is wet. Remove any excess water.
Step 2: Prepare the Lemon Juice Solution
Fill a tub (a few inches high is fine) or bucket with concentrated lemon juice.
Unlike bleach, lemon is much weaker so you will need a highly concentrated solution to be able to bleach your jeans. This means you will need at least a gallon of lemon juice, depending on how much water you use.
Step 3: Soak the Jeans – and Wait
Soak your jeans in the concentrated lemon juice, making sure that the juice can reach every corner of the jeans so that the color is even.
The bleaching process will take several hours, so check every hour and stir the jeans around.
Step 5: Remove the Jeans
The jeans will be a bit darker when wet, so you should remove the jeans when it reaches a color a few shades darker than your desired shade. Rinse them thoroughly in water.
Step 6: Dry the Jeans
Dry the jeans under sunlight. This step is very important since lemon’s bleaching property is activated under sunlight, make sure that the jeans get at least a few hours of direct sunlight to get the desired look.
Method 3: Focus Fading With Sandpaper
If you’re only interested in fading certain areas of your jeans, like the knees or pockets, using sandpaper is a great way to do that without using any chemicals.
This method allows you to focus the fading on specific areas, but it will take a lot more effort since you will have to use physical motions to sand away the denim.
If this method sounds attractive to you, then read on!
Fading Jeans With Sandpaper, Step by Step
Fading jeans using sandpaper from your craft box may take some elbow grease, but the process is a simple one:
Step 1: Set Up
Prepare your sanding area. Lay your jeans on a flat surface, with a hard cushion underneath.
Step 2: Sand and Repeat
Using 180 grit sandpaper (like these), rub back and forth over the area that you’d like to fade.
Make sure to apply even pressure. Don’t go too hard, as this can tear your fabric.
When the area has achieved the desired faded look, repeat the process on any other areas that you’d like to fade.
Step 4: Wash and Wear
Wash your jeans with a washing machine to remove any excess dye or fibers. Then you’re ready to step out and enjoy your new look.
Method 4: Lightly Fade Jeans With Salt
Did you know that cooking salt can also be used to lighten dark wash jeans? Salt has abrasive properties that can lighten your jeans, but this method will only slightly change the colors.
However, it’s a relatively safe and fool-proof method that will ensure that you won’t damage your jeans in the process.
Fading Jeans Using Salt, Step by Step
If you’re looking for a simple, but low-effort way to fade your denim, a salt bath is a great solution. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Make the Salt Bath
Fill a tub with cold water, and add 2 cups of salt. It doesn’t matter what type of salt you use; regular cooking salt is fine.
Step 2: Soak the Jeans
Soak your jeans in the saltwater solution for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the color is even.
After your jeans have achieved the desired color, which will be slightly darker when wet, remove the jeans from the tub and wring out the excess water.
Step 4: Dry Jeans Outside
Hang the jeans out in the sunlight to dry. After it’s dry, the result will have a slightly faded color.
Method 5: Using Hot Water and a Washing Machine
Not many of us have the skills to use bleach or the time to use lemon or sandpaper to fade jeans.
That’s why the final method is super simple and requires no skill or effort at all, but you will need to repeat the steps a couple of times to achieve the desired look.
This method takes advantage of the fact that jeans do fade naturally after wearing and washing for a couple of months, due to the friction caused when the jeans are rubbed against chairs and car seats when you wear them.
Tips For Speeding Up the Fading Process
If you’d like to expedite this “natural” fading process, you can! Here’s how:
- Wear the jeans for a few days without washing them. It will work best if you can wear them for the entire day – even to bed if you can stand to sleep in them. Your jeans will fade quicker when there’s more friction – even when you move around in your sleep.
- After a few days, wash your jeans in the washing machine with hot water, and hang them in the sunlight to dry. You will see that the result will have a slight fade to it.
- Repeat. Your jeans may not fade much more after the first round of wearing and washing (although they may ever so slightly continue to fade with time), but if you like wearing your jeans anyway, it’s worth a try.
Basically, you’re just simulating a few weeks’ worths of wear in a few days and washing them sooner than you might normally. It’s not as quick as other
Keep in mind that if your jeans have not been pre-shrunk or if the jeans are 100% cotton, your jeans will shrink when washing in hot water. So if your jeans are already well-fitted, we do not recommend using this method to fade your jeans.
However, if you have a slightly oversized pair of jeans, this is a great way to hit two birds with one stone – you can shrink your jeans to fit you better, as well as a faded color that’s super trendy at the same time!