How to dye faded jeans

About two years ago I wrote a funny little DIY about dyeing your clothes. Well, that DIY seems to be very popular and I’ve had lots of questions about other varieties of dyeing. I’m most often asked ” can I dye faded jeans/pants?” The answer is so simple I feel lame for doing it sooner! You only need a few items:

– Faded jeans
– Indigo dye (Rit, Dylon, etc.) You can easily find this in your local Joann’s or other fabric store. Or you can buy it online.
– Salt
– Sink, large pot, bucket
– Washer/dryer

how to dye your jeans
These are the jeans I’m going to dye. I’ve had them for probably ten years. In that time they’ve faded a lot, to the point where I feel like I’m trying to look straight out of the 90s in them (faded thighs, anyone?). They still fit well and aren’t torn up at all, but I want them to look dark and less… high school-like.

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To fix the problem I picked up some indigo dye, Dylon brand. It seems to be pretty similar to the Rit dye I’ve used before, except Dylon only has instructions for using a pot/sink instead of a washing machine like I’ve used in the past. It’s not totally different, but if you’re uneasy about using dye, here is what I did:

Start with clean jeans. If they’re dirty the dye won’t stick to the fabric (I mean DIRTY like covered in mud, etc. If you’ve worn them once and haven’t washed them yet, they’re probably just fine). Get the jeans wet. I tossed mine in the sink. You want them to be wet, not DRIPPING, but wet.

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In the meantime, put your pot on the stove, with about 5-6 cups of warm-hot water in it, and turn on the burner. It seems little weird, but the hotter the water, the better.
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Add 4 tablespoons of salt to the pot. (The salt helps the dye adhere to the fabric. You can skip this step if you want.)
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Add the powered (or liquid) dye. Using a large spoon (or something else washable) stir the mixture.
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At this point your water should be boiling or nearly boiling, and your jeans are still in the sink, wet. I know it sounds so strange to say “add the jeans to the boiling water” but that’s what you need to do.

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Carefully add your jeans to the mixture, ensuring they are fully submerged. If they’re not, add a little more HOT water and mix.

You want to keep the jeans submerged for at least 10-15 minutes. If possible, you should stir them up and keep the dye moving around, otherwise you may end up with splotches. (This is the big difference between doing them in a pot and doing them in the washer. The washer will automatically agitate them).

After the 15 minute soak, you want to rinse the jeans. I poured the mixture out and put the jeans in the washing machine because our sink is white I didn’t want to chance staining the sink. Two rinse cycles and a dryer ride later and they look brand new again!

dying jeans - Suze Geeks Out

I can’t believe the change. I’ve since worn them and washed them again and haven’t seen any fading. I’m sure they’ll fade like they did before, but hopefully it takes another ten years (and I’m hoping I still fit into them in ten years).

Let me know if you have any questions and happy dyeing!

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4 thoughts on “How to dye faded jeans

    • No problem! I didn’t have a dark pair to try, but I’m guessing the black dye would work just the same. You can also try the washer method if interested- that one seems easier. Good luck!

  1. I’ve always been a fan of dying pants to extension their life… I do this with my black yoga pants too. Here’s a question for you… I really like the dark rinse look in a pair of jeans… I’m thinking of using a pack of indigo mixed with black. Thoughts? Also, I use the Rit Dye instructions for dying using my washer on hot and repeat the “wash” cycle twice before draining and rinsing.

    • Honestly I really prefer using my washer. This was too nerve wracking!
      It seems like it would work, but I wonder if you could try it on a white or grey shirt first (something you won’t be heartbroken if it turned out weird) just to see if it works.
      You could also go to Rit’s website and see what they recommend: http://www.ritdye.com/colorit_color_formula_guide.
      Please let me know how it turns out and good luck!

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