The other day I was wearing a relatively new pair of dark wash jeans at work when all of a sudden I looked at my hands and they were blue. I panicked for a minute, wondering if my circulation had cut off or if my pen had exploded, but then it clicked: my hands were dyed because of my jeans. I usually stand with my hands in my pockets, giving the dye ample time to rub off.
A similar situation happened years ago when I was at my grandmother's house and was sitting on her light-colored sofa. When I stood up, there was a blue stain all over the fabric. Needless to say, she was not happy.
The dye in darker wash jeans has a tendency to bleed, whether it's on your skin, your furniture, or even onto other articles of clothing. But there are ways to limit the amount of bleeding from the dye, and even stop it altogether!
1. Read the instructions.
This may sound simple, but how many of you actually read the washing instructions on your clothing? Dark wash jeans all have specific washing instructions, and most will give you directions like "wash before wearing," "wash inside out," or "wash separately." However, washing your jeans separately isn't always an option.
2. Use Specific Detergents
Did you know they make dark wash detergents? I didn't! They're made to lock in dark colors without fading them over time.
"They really do work," says Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab in the Good Housekeeping Institute. "They have ingredients to help fabrics hold onto dyes and to deactivate the chlorine in the water that can fade colors. We recommend Tide Plus ColorGuard and Woolite Dark."
Vinegar has also been known to help, if you use it correctly.
There are two ways to use vinegar in order to prevent dye bleeding:
- Add a cup of white vinegar to your cold water rinse cycle. The acetic acid in the cooking ingredient can help lock in the dye and prevent it from bleeding in the future.
- Soak your jeans in cold water and vinegar if you don't want to run it through the machine. Let the jeans soak for an hour and then ring them out. Don't rinse them, though. Hang your jeans to dry by the belt loops. You can let the jeans soak overnight if you're really worried about the bleeding. For this solution, if you don't have vinegar, you can also use one cup of salt!
4. Reduce Friction
One of the reasons dye from your jeans bleeds in the wash is because of friction during the cycle. Friction can lead to color loss, which then spreads dye everywhere. There are a couple ways to reduce friction during the washing process, though!
Washing your jeans inside out means the colored fabric isn't rubbed as much, which means less chance of bleeding. Plus, it will keep your jeans looking new for longer. Another way to reduce friction is by selecting a gentler or shorter wash for your dark denim. The less amount of time spent spinning, the better.
As a general tip with dark wash denim, you should never put it in the dryer. Heat naturally takes color away, so the more often you wash jeans in hot water or dry them in the dryer, the less color they'll have over time.