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Jeans are a fashion quintessential that you simply cannot bring yourself to throw out. You could have had them for years but surely this pair will last one more?
Unfortunately for nostalgia, fashion waits for nobody, and with every new season comes an entire range of aesthetics and apparel deemed the ‘trend’ of that period.
Most recently, a trend that has been catching eyes is that of bleached, light-wash jeans.
Thankfully for all our pockets, this trend can easily be fashioned from that old pair of jeans that might just be due for a makeover.
However, bleaching is no easy task when it comes to dark washes, especially if you’re working with black jeans.
But worry not. If you have a pair of black jeans you’re worried you won’t be able to lighten successfully, we’ve got your back. Read on for some quick tips and tricks on how to bleach black jeans to a crisp grey or white undertone.
Can You Bleach Black Jeans?
When you think of bleaching, your mind flits to dark washes that are closer to navy than they are to black—and rightly so.
Bleaching is far better suited for blue tones as they fade into lighter tones or whites. Bleach on your black jeans, however, can run the risk of turning your denim orange or yellow.
But, this is not an insurmountable obstacle, and you most certainly can bleach your black jeans to white hues.
One cupful and your jeans should be a far, far distance from a dreaded yellow.
How to Bleach Black Jeans
Here are some quick tips and tricks that will teach you how to bleach black jeans into the lovely cool blue or white undertones you’ve had in mind for ever so long.
Get to Know Your Bleaches and Breeches
Before you get down to the nitty-gritty of bleaching your black jeans, take the time to fully assess the materials at hand.
If your jeans are on the older side and are a bit worn or if they have a particularly fine thread count, then you want to use a milder bleach on the fabric to protect it from becoming frayed.
You can always make your bleach solution less intense by adding less bleach or more water.
In such cases, a quick soak and dry give far better results over more extensive bleaching procedures.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a solid pair of denim that you don’t think is too delicate for experimentation, the world is your oyster.
You can try stronger bleaches with higher chlorine concentrations to fade them, and even try brushing in the bleach for texture.
Method 1: Bleaching Black Jeans in the Washing Machine
The most common technique when it comes to bleaching black jeans involves the trusty old washer and its bleach cycle.
While the process might not be the most arduous, it can be a little tricky if you don’t pay close attention.
Follow these steps to learn how to bleach black jeans perfectly using a washer:
Step 1 – Load the washer with bleach solution
Add one or two cups of hypochlorite bleach (depending on how much you want to fade your jeans) into about four liters of warm water directly in the washer’s drum.
Mix thoroughly until it’s uniform.
If your garment’s wash recommendations suggest cold-wash, then mix the bleach into cold water instead.
Bear in mind that this mixture might need a bit more agitated stirring than its warm counterpart.
Step 2 – Soak the black jeans in bleach
Soak the jeans in the solution for no more than five minutes before switching to the pre-set bleaching cycle.
Typically, the machine cycle uses cold water. If you’re working with tougher-to-fade materials like black denim, lukewarm water shouldn’t be an issue.
When soaking the jeans, or dealing with the solution in general, make it a point to wear gloves and eye protection.
Bleach can be a very stubborn irritant after extended exposure.
Step 3 – Know your soak length
If you want to bleach your black jeans to a stark white directly, then you will have to soak your fabric for a little longer than five minutes.
Depending on the starkness you’re aiming for, you may need to soak for four to six hours to really get your jeans faded.
Step 4 – Run a washer cycle
Set the washer cycle at a medium speed for one to two minutes, before turning it off.
The duration of the cycle depends both on how sturdy the fabric is, as well as how much you want the denim bleached.
Step 5 – Soak the jeans some more
After the first washing cycle, let the jeans soak in the solution for another 15 minutes.
Make sure that they’re fully submerged unless you want a patchy bleach job.
Step 6 – Complete the cycle
Start the washer once more, but this time let the cycle go to completion.
Step 7 – Rinse your bleached jeans
Rinse your bleached denim with cold water once and run it on a normal cycle, with your regular detergent and an extra cup of fabric softener.
Step 8 – Drip Dry Time
Drip-dry the jeans away from sunlight to prevent the material from fading any further.
Once dry, you’ve completed your task. Your black jeans are now bleached.
Method 2: Bleach Your Black Jeans with a Spray Bottle
If you feel like you already have the basics of how to bleach black jeans pat-down, and are up for a challenge, you can try spray-bleaching your black denim.
This will not only give your bleach job a more textured feel but also allow you more control in the bleaching process. You could even create shapes or patterns on your denim.
Here’s how to spray-bleach black jeans:
Step 1 – Prep your bleach spray bottle
Lay your jeans down on tarp or plastic sheets.
Gently spray your mixture on the areas you wish to bleach.
If you intend to not bleach certain spots, be sure to perform step 2 before starting to spray.
Step 2 – Protect areas you don’t want to bleach
If you aim to bleach only a specific area on one side, line the insides of your jeans with plastic bags.
This will keep the solution from soaking over to the other side.
Step 3 – Soaking Time
Let the bleach solution soak for up to ten minutes before rinsing in cold water mixed with some fabric conditioner.
Using soap or detergent in this mixture is not advised as the fabric doesn’t need to be stripped too thin at the fibers.
Step 4 – Drip Dry Time
Drip-dry or use a hairdryer to fully dry out the bleached section.
Once it’s dry, you are done. You’ve bleached your black jeans.
Can You Lighten Your Jeans Without Bleach?
If you wish to lighten your black jeans without the use of bleach, there are several other avenues you can explore based on the kind of jeans you’re working with.
Diluted forms of common cleaning agents can also be used, especially when dealing with blue-toned jeans.
If your denim has finer threads or is overall a more delicate fabric, you could try organic bleaching—using lemon juice or strong vinegar as stripping agents. Between the two, lemon is far more effective an option with lesser damage to the fabric’s integrity.
If you want to do away with chemicals altogether, you could also try sun-drying. However, keep in mind that you will barely have any control over the process.
Simply washing and drying your jeans under the sun repeatedly is bound to cause the fabric to fade. But the location of the fade or even the undertone of the fabric can vary wildly.
Another reason this is not advisable is that excessive exposure to the sun can causes fabrics to shrink.
The only thing worse than a pair of badly bleached jeans is a pair of ill-fitting, badly bleached jeans.
Takeaway – Bleach a Brand-New Look into Existence
And there it is! Follow the above-listed steps closely, and you should be well on your way to fabulously faded denim bottoms—the perfect base for any look.
And the best part is, your wallet doesn’t even have to go on a diet.
Now put on your bleached-to-perfection denim and take on the world, armed with that chic, breezy aesthetic that could only grace magazine covers.
The world doesn’t know what it’s about to be hit with.