Crafts, Fashion/Style

How to bleach jeans: step by step guide and what to always avoid

How to bleach jeans

Outlines step by step how to bleach jeans, clever tricks for special effects and what you should never do!

Although classic denim trousers will probably never go out of fashion, there are new styling trends every year, for the formerly practical working-class trousers. The distressed look has been particularly popular for some time now. The blue jeans are newly purchased, but it looks like they have been in use for many years.

As everyone knows, it’s not cheap to always be fashionable. If you want to get a denim pants in a trendy, bleached design, you have to reach into your purse. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are considerations to make the used look of the women’s or men’s jeans themselves.

Find more fashion and style guides, tips and advice

How to bleach jeans: the common methods

Denim jeans can generally be lightened with any bleach. Since there are chemicals that pull the dye out of the pants relatively quickly and others need at least one night to remove the color from the blue jeans, you should know about the effect of your home remedy:

Chlorine bleach or cleaner: is considered the most effective home remedy for bleaching jeans, but also looks most aggressive. The highly chlorine-containing detergent removes the paint from the blue jeans relatively quickly, so you should not dose it too high. When using, it is essential to wear gloves. Remember: Chlorine cleaner is cost-effective, but it pollutes the environment!

Discolorator: Actually, discoloring does not count as a home remedy. This is a product that you buy in the drugstore specifically for dyeing. If you want to bleach your denim pants with discolorator, you should read the ingredients of the product carefully. The purchased discolorator is also often harmful to the environment. Also note the security measures indicated on the package.

Sandpaper or nail file: If you want to draw the paint from your favorite jeans with sandpaper or a nail file, you have to reckon with destroying the fabric fibers. Because this greatly reduces the lifespan of the trousers, this method of bleaching is not highly recommended.

Pumice and nail brush: Pumice stone is also used by the industry in the production of the stonewashed look. Nevertheless, stone and nail brush also have a negative effect on the fabric fibres. They not only rub off the paint, but also destroy the cotton fabric. In the bright spots, your favorite jeans tear in more easily. In addition, whitening with pumice stone is a rather lengthy process, where you have to be patient.

Abrasives and nail brush: Use the nail brush to rub the abrasive into the fabric fibres of your blue jeans and try to scrub the trousers brighter with the help of the fine grains. You need time and patience to do this. In addition, this method also attacks the substance.

Baking powder: Whether baking powder or baking soda can really help bleach the denim pants is debatable. If you want to try it, put the baking drive in the washing water and thus supposedly get a lighter blue jeans. Start your experiments slowly with this home remedy and start with no more than two packets of baking powder.

Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide not only blonds the hair, but also lets the colour be drawn from the blue denim pants. However, this chemical is a remedy that you should only use with extreme precautions. Be sure to wear gloves and safety glasses. In addition, you should not dose the product too high and try it in an invisible place.

How to bleach jeans in the washing machine

The least work you have is if you remove the color from the blue jeans in the washing machine. You will get an even result.

  • First, put the denim pants as the only piece of laundry in the drum of your washing machine.
  • Close the machine door and turn on a program with 30 degree laundry.
  • Do not put detergent in the washing machine and wait for all the water to come in before pouring half a bottle of chlorine cleaner (for example, DanKlorix) into the detergent compartment.
  • Now let the machine pass through normally.
  • When the washing program is ready, leave the pants in the machine and start a second time. Do not use detergent this time but turn the program on as you usually wash the denim pants.
  • When the second washing process is finished, remove the denim pants from the machine and hang them in the sun for drying.
  • The final result can only be judged by the dry trousers, as a wet denim pants always looks a little darker.
  • Attention: Stretch jeans should not be bleached with chlorine, as the chemical attacks the synthetic fibers and the stretch effect may be lost!

Bleaching without chlorine

Without chlorine, the jeans can be bleached with hydrogen peroxide. The chemical is available to buy in a concentration of about 12 percent.

  • Bleach the jeans in a large bucket or in the bathtub.
  • Put on old clothes and don’t forget to wear solution-resistant protective gloves. Also, when making your bleaching solution, be careful not to inhale the resulting vapours.
  • Fill a large bucket half full of water.
  • Pour half a bottle of Domestos and stir well with a stick to mix the two liquids.
  • Only then put your denim pants in the bucket.
  • Immerse the trousers and let them soak for several hours.
  • If you want to achieve the most consistent result possible, you should move the denim pants several times in the bucket during the soaking time.
  • After soaking, rinse your favorite jeans in the shower until the leaking water is no longer colored.
  • Then the pants come into the washing machine and are washed at the usual washing temperature.
  • Hang the blue jeans in the sun to dry and see your final result with the dried trousers. If the desired color has not yet been reached, you must repeat the process.

How to bleach the distressed look for jeans

If you want to make the coveted distressed look yourself, you can also work with chlorine cleaners or domestos. However, do not pour the product into the water, but apply it specifically where you want it to be:

  • To prevent the liquid from soaking both sides of the trousers at the same time, place a wooden board, a thick cardboard, or something similar in your pants.
  • Then place the diluted bleach on a sponge and rub the areas you want to bleach with it.
  • Alternatively, you can fill and spray the chemicals in a spray bottle, apply them using a syringe, or even paint certain patterns with the brush.
  • Once you have reached the desired look, rinse the denim pants under clear water until no more colored water leaks.
  • Then put the pants in the washing machine and wash them without detergent.
  • For drying, the denim jeans are hung in the sun for drying.

7 things to avoid

I’ve already experimented with bleach a number of times, be it with a spray bottle or a self-made bleaching gel. But there are a few things that go wrong can. So if you haven’t dared yet or just need a few tips , this is for you:

  1. The wrong bleach

You definitely need a chlorine- based bleach, not oxygen bleach. I once heard from someone who probably bought the wrong Domestos, which then didn’t work. There are differences, for example different brands of bleach have 4.5 ; 2.4 or 2.8g sodium hypochlorite per 100ml. Although hair bleach (hydrogen peroxide) sometimes also bleaches clothes very well, it’s not foolproof and sometimes has no effect at all.

  1. Too much bleach

Under no circumstances should you pour the bleach solution directly from the bottle onto your jeans, as this is difficult to control and, in the best case, results in large bleached patches that do not look good. I think so anyway. I use the bleach undiluted, but refill it. For nice little spots and splashes, I used to use an empty bottle with a metal lid, in which I poked holes.

  1. Jeans are not pre-washed

It is best to only bleach freshly washed items. Whether it’s brand new with a finish or second-hand items with fabric softener – if other chemicals are in the fibers, bleaching won’t work. We noticed this with the first pair of jeans, because it only finally worked the third time, after the jeans had been washed twice. We then washed the other pants twice, but the result was still poor after a long exposure.

  1. Bleaching colored jeans

With our common experience we can say that cheap jeans (like the first one) are often less intensely-dyed or colored, so they can be bleached better. If you ‘ve tried bleaching black before, you know that unfortunately it often only turns orange to yellow. But depending on the intensity, this can be over- colored , like I did with some purple / green jeans a long time ago. Other colors can look really cool too.

5. Hanging the jeans up

Hanging up the jeans for bleaching may seem very practical at first glance, but it is a bit tricky if, for example, the liquid rolls off and the even distribution does not work so well . An exception is the relatively viscous Domestos for brush bleaching. The resulting stripe effects are quite nice, but unfortunately they are a bit crooked – the way the trouser leg hung. Lie the jeans down and you will find it works better.

6. Bleaching the surrounding area

With all the fun, don’t forget that bleach is an aggressive lye – so put on gloves (preferably also old clothes) and protect the environment. A bathtub is very practical, unfortunately our doormat has gotten something. We then bleached the second pair of pants outside , which is also better because of the chlorine smell. Now just leave it on until it is light enough and then wash everything off well with water.

  1. Not washing out chlorine well

When the piece looks the way it should, wash it out with plenty of water first. This often looks yellow because of the decomposed pigments. Then we put the things in the washing machine without detergent to completely get rid of the bleach. Then at least one more round is washed with detergent. The pants will still smell like swimming pool for a while, but airing out helps a little.