How To Keep Jeans From Fading

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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.

According to him, there are beat up jeans for working in the yard, 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 casual functions, including our rather laid-back church. 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 wear them just about every time I leave the house. The steps below keep them looking brand new as long as possible.

How To Keep Jeans From Fading

How to keep jeans from fading in the wash - photo of jeans and black high heel shoesPin

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.

3. Wash less often.

People these days wash clothes far more often than necessary. Jeans can be worn 4 or 5 times between washing.

Some people never even wash theirs — they freeze them!

4. Wash them properly.

Always use a COLD/COLD cycle to keep dyes intact. You might even want to use a detergent specifically for dark-colored clothing.

Launder jeans inside out using 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.

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.

More How-Tos:
How to Get Makeup Stains off of Towels
How to Clean Curtains
How to Dry-Clean Clothes at Home

Pin How to Keep Jeans from Fading

How to keep jeans from fadingPin

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  1. Ann Marie says:

    What do you do when you can’t find white vinegar (non distilled) in any of the stores?
    Table salt does it matter if it’s ionized? I was going to use Rit color stay but that requires using hot water and I don’t want my jeans to shrink. I already lost two pairs. 😭

    1. Katie Berry says:

      If you can’t find white vinegar in the store, you can try the dye fixative that I mentioned.