How to Prevent Your Jeans from Bleeding in the Wash

No more unwanted dark blue patches.



Finding the perfect pair of denim is near impossible, but if you do get lucky, your next task is maintaining your jean's color, fit, and silhouette. Most jeans are made from denim or a mix of denim and polyester. Denim is made from cotton which can expand but doesn't contract a.k.a. your jeans will stretch and won't return to their original size. On top of that, the indigo dye that's used to create the iconic denim color is notorious for rubbing and transferring. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this from happening. We chatted with experts to find out the best ways to care for your denim without bleeding and fading.

Keep scrolling for their tips on how to avoid fabric bleeding.

Meet The Experts

  • Sandrah Carlqvist is the customer experience lead for ASKET.

  • Mary Pierson is the senior vice president of denim for Madewell.

Wash New Jeans

We know you can't wait to give your new denim its shining moment in your closet, but Sandrah Carlqvist,the customer experience lead for ASKET recommends to wash them right away. "Most jeans are pre-washed," she says, "As part of the production process denim is washed (often with stones) at a laundry facility to break down the dark indigo dye and create lighter denim, hence the term stone washed and stone bleached denim. However if you’re worried about fabric bleeding we’d suggest washing your new pair of denim according to the instructions before wearing them and then continuing to wash with like-colors."

Most jeans have a disclaimer tag indicating that the indigo dye process used to manufacture the jeans will cause the color to bleed and to wash them pronto. Wash your dark denim jeans inside out with cold water, as it's more gentle on fabric dyes and hot water will cause your jeans to shrink. To be on the safe side, wash the jeans by themselves without any other clothes in the machine on the first go-round of washing them. This will ensure that any dye released in the wash cycle won't stain your other clothing.

Add Vinegar to Your Cold Water Rinse

We know vinegar to be a household staple, but it has some serious benefits for your wardrobe, too. White vinegar contains acetic acid, a mild acid that helps to lock in dye and prevent fabric bleeding on dark indigo jeans, especially if you treat them when they're brand new. Plus, vinegar is also a natural bacteria killer that neutralizes nasty germs that may be living on your jeans (yes, this goes for new ones as well).

Byrdie Tip

Vinegar will help seal the dye within the fabric of dark denim jeans, reducing the chance that your jeans will continue to bleed (and potentially stain other fabrics) when you wear or wash them in the future.

If you prefer to hand launder your jeans instead of throwing them in the wash, try soaking new dark denim jeans in a vinegar bath (which is just a mixture of cold water and vinegar). To do this, fill your bathtub or a bucket with cold water, then add one cup of white vinegar. Leave the jeans to soak for about an hour, then wring out the excess liquid (no need to rinse) and hang jeans by the waistband to dry. If you're concerned about your jeans retaining their shape and color (or you've invested in an expensive pair), hand washing is your best bet.

If you're still struggling with your jeans bleeding, try a longer overnight vinegar bath, followed by a trip through a cold water cycle in the laundry. To do this, fill up your bathtub or a bucket with cold water and add one cup of white vinegar. Lay your jeans in the tub to soak while you sleep, then, in the morning, run your jeans through a plain cold water rinse and hang them to dry when done.

Repeat Washing

Repeat the cold water rinse (without any detergent) or vinegar bath a few times before you wear your new denim for the first time, each time remembering to turn them inside out and wash them alone to prevent the dye from transferring to your other laundry.

When it comes to drying, Mary Pierson, the senior vice president of denim for Madewell, recommends avoiding the dryer. Instead, let them air dry by hanging them by their belt loops. To avoid your jeans getting stiff after drying, try soaking them in a mixture of water and fabric softener overnight, then rinse the following day.

"Give them a good shake when you take them out of the machine to flatten them," recommends Carlqvist, "Pull on the seams to reshape them and then hang them to dry post-wash." But keep them in the shade as direct sunlight can also fade denim.

Try to Limit Washes As Much as Possible

This may seem to be contradictory to the previous rule, but stick with us: frequent washing throughout the ownership of your denim will shorten its lifespan. In fact, Pierson suggests washing as infrequently as possible. This ensures that your jeans will keep their shape and color for longer.

Lead image product provided by Free People.

Up Next: 9 Steps to Soften Denim and Make Jeans More Comfortable

Read the original article on Byrdie.