Denim Care 101: How to Wash Black Jeans
Although denim can be a durable, long-lasting material, you may have noticed that some colors fade more easily than others. And when it comes to black denim, it can be especially tricky to preserve the color you prefer.
Fortunately, you can use some tried and true tips to ensure all your dark wash jeans and even your denim jacket retain their richer color for longer. And with an increasing focus on sustainability, people are looking to get more mileage out of their clothing. Get the most out of your dark jeans and enjoy how great they look, whether you’re wearing them for the first time or the fiftieth.
When it comes to womens jeans, we know a thing or two. Check out our guide on how to wash your black jeans below!
How to Care for Your Black Jeans
If your goal is to keep every pair of dark wash jean a rich black and fend off fading, then there are a few steps you can take before you even put them in the washing machine:
Spot clean: The more you wash your new jeans, the more the color can wash out. Repeated washes also weaken the denim fibers. If you spill something, try spot-cleaning the stain first.
Skip the wash: Skip a washing or two, but keep jeans fresh by putting them in the freezer after wear. Don’t worry, you don’t have to leave them there until you wear them again. A few hours will do the trick!
- Prep your jeans: Before you set the dye and whenever you are washing jeans, prepare them first. Turn them inside-out, fasten any buttons, and zip the fly. Check those pockets before tossing them in.
Also check out our articles:
- How to Wash Embroidered Clothes
- How to Wear Black Jeans
- What to Wear With Light Blue Jeans
- What to Wear with Dark Blue Jeans
- Best Jeans for Curvy Women
Caring for Jeans: Black Jeans vs. Blue Jeans
Many of the ways you care for your black jeans also apply to blue jeans. But whether you’re washing blue jeans or any other color, you should first check to see if your jeans are pre-washed or raw denim.
With pre-washed denim, you’ll generally see less dye transfer and color fading of your denim wash.
Additionally, blue and black jeans are often dyed differently. Black jeans are often overdyed—the fibers in both directions are dyed black.
In blue jeans, fibers with indigo dye may only run in one direction, leaving the other direction a natural color or even bleached.
Should You Wash All Denim Together?
Putting every jean pair in the wash together might seem like a smarter—and easier—way to wash clothes. But the dark color of your black jeans can still affect the other jeans in the wash, especially if some have lighter washes. Try to group your dark clothes by similar color to minimize transfer. For example grey jeans and light wash jeans pair well together in a cycle, while black jeans can be paired with other dark wash jeans. Try to be mindful of what you throw in the wash with any of your colored jeans especially if it's the first time washing them.
How to Keep Black Jeans from Fading
Prevent fading by setting your color the right way before putting your jeans in their first wash. Darker-colored jeans are notorious for bleeding color. If you haven’t sorted your clothes, they can come out looking dingier than before. Mix a tablespoon of salt and a cup of distilled white vinegar with cold water in a sink or basin to set the dye. Soak those beautiful jeans for 30 minutes, then gently roll the excess water out and hang to dry.
How to Wash Black Jeans
After learning how to prepare your denim and set the dye, it might be time to update your black denim wash routine. To wash your black jeans, you should:
- Use cold water—hot and even warm water can result in more dye transfer.
- Check your pockets! Tissues, papers, and wrappers can do a number on your clothes, and you might even have to re-wash them, which is the opposite of your denim care goals.
- Choose a detergent specifically for darker clothes. Many people opt for a laundry detergent like Woolite Darks, but there are many other great options. Remember that powder detergents can sometimes leave a residue, so choose a liquid detergent to avoid this issue.
- Skip the fabric softener—it coats the denim fibers and causes them to wear out more quickly.
- Use the gentle wash cycle or hand wash your jeans if possible.
- Hang your jeans to dry. If you hang them outside, try to keep them out of direct sunlight. You can also hang them on a rack inside.
How to Make Black Jeans Black Again
If your black jeans or indigo jeans have already faded and you want to restore them, you may be able to re-dye them. You’ll want to gather some essential tools to help you minimize the mess. To dye your jeans, you’ll need:
- Rubber gloves
- A large washpot (not one you plan to use again for food) or washtub
- Dye fixative or table salt
- A wooden spoon (also one that won’t be for food after)
- Plastic tablecloth or plastic drop cloth
- Black Rit dye
Fill your tub with hot water and carefully add your dye. Follow the directions for the dye fixative, or add ½ cup of salt and stir until it’s dissolved. Slowly add your jeans to the tub and swirl gently to soak in the dye evenly. Leave them for 30 minutes before removing your denim and wringing them out. Finally, wash the jeans in cold water until it runs clear of dye, and then wash using cold water on a gentle cycle with a small amount of detergent.
How to Fade Black Jeans
Sometimes the goal is faded black jeans and not their preservation. If you want to create the effect of washed black jeans, then several tactics can help, such as:
- Washing in warm or hot water
- Wash with a small amount of bleach or use a sponge to get an acid-wash look
- Lemon juice can help with a gentle fade
- Soak your jeans overnight in two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda, and a gallon of hot water.
- Hang your drying jeans in full sunlight
Take care when fading your black jeans, and remember that many of these techniques may also speed up the breakdown of the denim fibers. Your jeans will look and feel “lived in” but may not last as long.