Black jeans are one of the most versatile pieces in a wardrobe. They can be dressed up or down to fit almost any occasion. But how do you keep your favorite black jeans looking their darkest?
With all the different washes, treatments, and “hacks” available, it's hard to know the best way to take care of them! Luckily, we’ve put together this post to explain why black jeans fade, what you might be doing wrong to contribute to their fading, and how to keep black jeans looking their darkest.
Let’s get started:
- Why do my black jeans fade so quickly?
- Does vinegar keep jeans from fading?
- How do you set the dye in black jeans?
- How to keep black jeans from fading (9 tips)
Why do my black jeans fade so quickly?
If you wash your black jeans frequently, in warm or hot water, dry them in direct sunlight, or pack your washing machine tightly, you might be speeding up the fading process.
Black jeans require a lot of dye to achieve their dark appearance. This dye washes out slowly over time with each wash.
Fading happens because of the way denim is dyed. Dyeing is the process of adding color to yarn by soaking it in a vat of dye. When the yarn is removed from the dye, the oxidation process binds the color to the fibers of the yarn. Since the dye is not absorbed to the core of the yarn, the color will eventually wash off and the undyed part of the yarn will start to appear.
Does vinegar keep jeans from fading?
Vinegar does help keep jeans from fading. White vinegar in particular contains a mild acid called acetic acid that helps to lock in dye and prevent fabric bleeding. It’s best to set the dye in your new jeans when you first get them and during every wash after that.
Without using vinegar to lock in the color of your jeans, they may fade prematurely. We’ve included instructions on how to set your denim’s black dye with vinegar below.
How do you set the dye in black jeans?
You can set the dye in your black jeans by pre-soaking them in a bucket with cold water, vinegar, and salt. This process helps to lock in the color and prevent fading.
Set the dye with any new pair of black jeans and try to do it before each wash. Note: you don’t have to wash your jeans after every dye set treatment. You can also just hang them to dry afterward without running them through the washing machine.
- Make the mixture
- Cold water (enough to submerge the jeans)
- One cup of white vinegar
- One tablespoon of table salt (optional)
- Turn your jeans inside out
- Let the jeans soak for at least 30 to 60 minutes
- Wash the jeans and/or hang to dry
How to keep black jeans from fading
- Wash your jeans less, spot-treat more
- Pre-soak with white vinegar and salt
- Wash jeans inside out
- Wash with like colors and don’t overload the cycle
- Don’t overload the washing machine
- Use detergent for dark colors
- Wash black jeans with cold water
- Hand wash or use the gentle cycle
- Let your jeans air dry
1. Wash your jeans less, spot-treat more
Jeans don’t need to be washed after every wear or if they get stained! You can easily spot clean your dark denim to remove small stains and reduce overall fading. Use a small amount of detergent to remove everyday stains. For tougher grease stains, use household cleaners like Pine-Sol.
If you notice any odors due to washing your jeans less frequently, consider combining water and vodka in a spray bottle, spraying the jeans, then putting them in the freezer overnight.
The freezer method has been widely debated because most household freezers are not cold enough to kill bacteria, but the good news is that it will help take down any odor!
2. Pre-soak with white vinegar and salt
Pre-soaking your black jeans in vinegar and salt is a great way to set the dye and prevent fading. If you missed it, we listed the measurements and how-to’s above.
You do not have to wash your jeans after each dye-setting treatment, but always hang them in a well-ventilated and shaded space to dry.
3. Wash jeans inside out
Before washing your jeans in the machine or by hand, turn them inside out. This helps to prevent fading because it protects the fibers on the outside of the pants from any friction caused by washing and reduces direct exposure to the laundry detergent.
4. Wash with like colors
Washing black jeans—especially new black jeans—with other dark clothes is incredibly important to help prevent fading. Since dyes can be released from fabrics in the wash, you’ll want to make sure the other clothes in the wash with your black jeans are of similar color to help reduce fading.
5. Don’t overload the washing machine
This will help reduce friction during the washing process and prevent fabrics from rubbing up against each other as they would in a full load. Less friction equals less fade!
6. Use detergent for dark colors
When washing your black jeans, be sure to use a detergent that is specially formulated for dark fabrics.
Detergents like Woolite Darks have an active ingredient in them that acts as a dye magnet. This ingredient collects loose dye particles during the wash cycle which prevents color transfer and fading.
7. Wash black jeans with cold water
Machine washing your black jeans in cold water prevents the fibers from releasing dye. The cold water actually helps trap the dye inside the fabric and prevents color bleeding. Washing your jeans in warm or hot water will speed up fading and cause them to shrink, so washing in cold water is always best.
8. Hand wash or use the gentle cycle
Wash black jeans on the most gentle setting available on your washing machine. The gentle or delicate cycle is good, but if your washing machine has a ‘hand washing’ setting, choose that.
You’ll want a wash cycle with the lowest spin speed for your black jeans if you choose to wash them in the machine. Alternatively, you can hand wash your black jeans which will actually help retain their color.
9. Let your jeans air dry
Skip the dryer! Putting your jeans in the dryer exposes the fibers to heat and friction from other garments which causes the black dye to loosen.
Instead, air dry black jeans. Your jeans should hang dry, right-side out, in a well-ventilated room or shaded area outside. Do not hang them in direct sunlight! Jeans dry best when they are hung by the belt loop or upside down from the cuffs. Avoid using a drying rack since it can cause creasing.
Fade-resistant DUER jeans
At DUER, we add an antibacterial finish to our Performance Jeans so you can wear them longer while feeling fresh and washing them less. Our fiber innovations lock in black dye and resist fading even after 40 washes!