Wondering how to keep jeans from fading? The ripped, worn-in look isn’t for everyone — some of us like our jeans to look brand new as long as possible.
“Dress jeans,” my husband used to call them. There are beat up jeans for working in the yard, he once explained, and jeans for running errands (or watching football) that have been washed so many times they feel like pajamas.
Then there are “dress jeans” for going to parties or casual work functions and, on more than one occasion, for Date Night. Those are the jeans you want to look nice, dark, and crisp — though I finally did convince him to stop ironing creases into them.
As for me, shopping for jeans grows scarier the older I get. When I do find a pair that fits well, I wind up wearing them just about every day when weather permits. The steps below help me keep them looking brand new as long as possible.
How To Keep Jeans From Fading
1. Set the dye.
When I was a kid, you bought jeans extra-large because they’d shrink after the first wash, and even then they’d turn your legs blue (or black) the first few times you wore them. These days, jeans come pre-shrunk, but their dyes still need to be set.
To do this, fill a sink 1 gallon of COLD water, 1 cup white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of table salt. (Or run the smallest load setting on your washing machine, add the vinegar and salt but skip the detergent, and set it to soak.) Turn your jeans inside out and soak them in this solution for 1 hour. Drain and wash the jeans on COLD with a COLD rinse. Don’t like vinegar? Use a dye fixative instead!
2. Spot treat stains.
You don’t need to throw your jeans in the wash every time they get a spot. Get greasy stains out with a dab of liquid dish detergent on a white cloth. Remove ink stains with hairspray or rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. You can use cornstarch on a variety of stains, too.
Point is: you don’t need to throw your jeans in the wash just because you spilled a few drops on them!
3. Wash less often.
People these days wash clothes far more often than necessary. Jeans can be worn 4 or 5 times between washing (see how to treat stains below).
Some people never even wash theirs — they freeze them!
4. Wash them properly.
Jeans should always be laundered inside out on the gentle cycle to reduce the friction that rubs away their dye. If you clean everyone’s jeans in the same load, any color that does leach into the water will boost the colors of the other pairs.
And always use a COLD/COLD cycle to keep dyes intact. You might even want to use a detergent specifically for dark-colored clothing.
5. Skip the dryer.
A dryer’s heat opens clothing fibers and allows the dye to escape, while the tumbling action produces friction that rubs away colors. Line dry your jeans in a shaded area instead or dry them indoors on a rack. (Here’s how to line dry clothing correctly.)
No time to line dry? Then use the low-heat setting, leave jeans inside out while drying, and run the shortest cycle possible.