"I Just Want to Dye"

I have a pair of jeans that I never wear because they look too "new." I’ve heard there’s a away to fade them in the washing machine. How do I do this?

P.Q.
Garland, TX

SharpThreads Guy: Yes, you can fade jeans artificially, but realize that the results will be slightly different than if the indigo-blue dye faded naturally over time. To fade jeans, skip the washing machine — too hard to tell what the heck is going on in there, so your chances of bleaching your jeans evenly are slim.

Instead, fill a bathtub with about eight inches of water and, using a pair of waterproof gloves, pour in between a quart to half a gallon of bleach (depending on how much you’d like to fade your jeans). Realize that the more bleach you put in, the more you’ll weaken the denim. Take a long stick (like the kind given out in paint stores) or some other disposable tool and stir the bleach in thoroughly. Be careful not to splash on yourself, or you’ll get bleach spots on whatever you’re wearing.

Add your jeans into the mix by laying them out flat — no folds, twists or wrinkles. Any of these will cause your jeans to lighten unevenly. With your tool, poke the jeans down so that they are submerged. Turn them every five minutes or so — again, laying then down flat. Check the color after a half hour of turning. Take the jeans out about two shades before the one you want (fabric looks darker when wet). Rinse the jeans in cold water — three times — and then hang them over the shower to dry. Drip-drying is best to ensure that dye doesn’t accumulate in the folds.

Once dry, you’ll notice they stink — bad. Throw them in the washing machine and then into the dryer. Use good-smelling dryer sheets to help with the smell.

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