Fight Fading: How to Wash Black Jeans
Every pair of black jeans is as unique as the person wearing them: some love the faded, lived-in style of washed-out black jeans while others prefer that crisp, fresh-from-the-rack look of dark denim. If you’re #teamdark, you’ll need to know how to keep black jeans from fading right out of the gate, because once that rich, saturated color is gone, it’s gone forever.
Avoiding faded black jeans is easier than you think, as long as you follow a couple of fundamental rules when you wash and care for your prized pair. Keep reading for our go-to tips on how to keep black jeans black.
Why Do Black Jeans Fade?
The first battle against faded black jeans is understanding why dark denim loses its inky color over time. Although denim is a remarkably durable fabric, repeated machine washing cycles inevitably lead to a certain amount of wear and tear. The good news is that the more you wash your jeans, the softer they become. The bad news is that with each wash, your jeans lose a bit of dye, making that chic midnight black become drab rainy-day grey.
Freshly washed black jeans may be one of life’s great joys, but how to wash black jeans without fading them is one of life’s great mysteries. However, with a few simple techniques, you’ll be able to enjoy the feel of clean jeans while maintaining the deep color of your favorite pair.
How to Keep Your Jeans from Fading
1. Set the Dye
One of the most important steps in the fight against fading: pre-treat your new jeans in a vinegar solution to set the color. Add a cup of white vinegar and a tablespoon of salt to a bath of cold water. Then, turn your jeans inside out, and soak them for about half an hour before hanging them to dry. The vinegar solution will seal the dye to the denim so they will fade a bit less during future machine washings. You can also use this vinegar solution as a pre-soak every time you run your jeans through the washing machine — just pause the wash cycle for 30 minutes to let the solution soak in.
2. Limit Machine Washing
Yes, you read that right. By far the biggest culprit of washed-out black jeans is frequent machine washing and spin cycles. So, the more you can avoid tossing your jeans in the wash, the longer you’ll enjoy their jet-black color. Instead of washing your jeans each time you wear them, spot clean any small stains with a detergent specially formulated for dark fabrics. When your jeans need a general freshening up, mist the entire pair with a solution of equal parts water and vodka then hang dry. You can also put your jeans in the freezer overnight, which will temporarily reduce odors.
3. Clean with Care
To keep your black jeans from fading, experts recommend only washing them every five to 10 wears. Turn your jeans inside out before loading them into the washing machine. This will not only protect the color but also expose the residue of your sweat and body oils to the detergent rather than the denim dye. Select a gentle cycle to reduce the damage of an aggressive spin and use cold water to limit the color bleeding. You’ll also want to choose a laundry detergent for dark fabrics. Some light bleeding of the dye is inevitable, so be sure to wash black jeans with similar dark colors, and don’t overload the washing machine.
4. Hang to Dry
Never use a tumble dryer to dry black jeans, as the hot air breaks down the fibers of the denim and causes fading. Instead, air dry your jeans by hanging them by their belt loop in a well-ventilated room. Try not to use clipped hangers, as they can cause unsightly creases in the waistband. Air drying is not only better for the lifespan of your denim’s dye, but it also decreases wrinkling. While you should always soak and wash your jeans inside out, you can hang them to dry right side out as long as they are not in direct sunlight.
Picking the Right Jeans
Some jeans need a little more care than others, so it’s important to choose a pair that fits your lifestyle. First, decide the level of attention and maintenance you want to give your wardrobe. If you found this guide on how to keep black pants from fading a bit overwhelming, you may want to opt for distressed black jeans; some light fading will add to, rather than detract from, their faded black street style. If you love keeping your clothes in tip-top shape, go for those blacker-than-black jeans. Keep in mind, you will need to dedicate a little extra time to wash and dry them.
Learn More about How to Keep Black Jeans from Fading
Need more information and tips about how to keep black jeans black? From women’s pants to men’s pants, our UNIONBAY denim experts can help with advice on how to wash black jeans to maintain that intense “just-bought-them” color.