How do I Fade Jeans?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Fading blue jeans is not a new trend. Since the middle of the 20th century, consumers have used various methods to give their denim jeans that comfortable and well-loved condition that normally comes only with age. There are a few ways to accomplish just the look you want. Here are some ideas you can try.

Vinegar, which can be used to fade jeans.
Vinegar, which can be used to fade jeans.

Doing the job at home is one of the most common ways to go about fading jeans. In many cases, it is also the easiest. One tried and true method involves soaking the jeans in a mixture of bleach and hot water. Try starting the process by pouring no more than half a cup (118.3 ml) of bleach into a tub of water. Immerse the denim into the tub, taking care to make sure the material is as smooth and flat as possible. Check the shade of the denim after about five minutes. If the material has not faded as much as you like, add another had cup of bleach and repeat the process. Remember to make sure the area is well-ventilated, so the fumes from the bleach will not become overpowering.

Bleach and hot water have been used to fade jeans for decades.
Bleach and hot water have been used to fade jeans for decades.

Once the denim material has reached the shade you have in mind, rinse the jeans thoroughly in cold water, then allow them to soak for an hour or so in a solution of cold water and white vinegar. The vinegar will help the remaining color to set. Dry the jeans on a rack or clothesline. After they are dried, you can wash and dry the denims in a standard washer and dryer to remove the last vestiges of the bleach and vinegar scents.

For a marbled look to the fading, wad the jeans before placing into the bleach and water mixture. This will make it possible to achieve varying levels of fading all over the surface of the material. Best of all, the chances of someone else developing the same exact pattern of fade for their denim is extremely low, so you will have something that is unique.

If you feel uneasy about doing the job yourself, take your jeans to a professional laundry and dry cleaner. They will utilize a wet fade strategy somewhat similar to the process you would use at home, although they may use other chemical compounds to achieve the look. While this costs a little more than doing the work at home, it is an extremely convenient way to obtain perfectly faded jeans.

Before attempting to fade an expensive pair of jeans at home, try the process on an older pair, or pick up a cheap pair at a discount store. This allows you to experiment before applying the strategy to the more costly denims. Once you are happy with the results, you can move forward with the project and feel confident in your ability to achieve the perfect look for your jeans.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


It's worth noting that rather than fading a new pair of jeans, it would be easy to check our your local thrift store, visit yard sales, or go to a charity shop or rummage sale. Many of these places have pair after pair of jeans that look faded and broken in because they are. Then you can cheaply buy a pair of the real thing and not waste resources trying to copy the look with a new garment.


While many designer jeans have the faded look, it is no longer the most common style; crisp, dark denim is also very much in style. Before trying to fade your jeans to follow one trend, consider if it might work just as well to follow another, or better yet, none at all.

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