9 Ways To Keep Black Jeans From Fading

Black jeans are one of the most versatile pieces in a wardrobe. They can be dressed up or down to fit almost any occasion. But how do you keep your favorite black jeans looking their darkest?     

With all the different washes, treatments, and “hacks” available, it's hard to know the best way to take care of them! Luckily, we’ve put together this post to explain why black jeans fade, what you might be doing wrong to contribute to their fading, and how to keep black jeans looking their darkest.

Let’s get started:

Why Do Jeans Fade So Fast?

If you wash your black jeans frequently, in warm or hot water, dry them in direct sunlight, or pack your washing machine tightly, you might be speeding up the fading process.

Black jeans require a lot of dye to achieve their dark appearance. This dye washes out slowly over time with each wash.

Fading happens because of the way denim is dyed. Dyeing is the process of adding color to yarn by soaking it in a vat of dye. When the yarn is removed from the dye, the oxidation process binds the color to the fibers of the yarn. Since the dye is not absorbed to the core of the yarn, the color will eventually wash off and the undyed part of the yarn will start to appear.

How Do You Preserve the Color of New Jeans?

clothes in a washing machine

One of the ways you can preserve the color of new jeans is by setting the dye. This process helps to lock in the color and prevent fading. You can set the dye in your black jeans by pre-soaking them in a bucket with cold water, vinegar, and salt. 

Set the dye with any new pair of black jeans and try to do it before each wash. Note: you don’t have to wash your jeans after every dye set treatment. You can also just hang them to dry afterward without running them through the washing machine.

Does Vinegar Keep Jeans From Fading?

olive oil being poured into a spoon

Vinegar does help keep jeans from fading. White vinegar in particular contains a mild acid called acetic acid that helps to lock in dye and prevent fabric bleeding. It’s best to set the dye in your new jeans when you first get them and during every wash after that. 

Without using vinegar to lock in the color of your jeans, they may fade prematurely. We’ve included instructions on how to set your denim’s black dye with vinegar below.

How to Set the Dye in Your Jeans

Lock in the color of your jeans by following these steps:

  1. Make the mixture
    1. Cold water (enough to submerge the jeans)
    2. One cup of white vinegar
    3. One tablespoon of table salt (optional)
  2. Turn your jeans inside out
  3. Let the jeans soak for at least 30 to 60 minutes
  4. Wash the jeans and/or hang to dry (more on washing and drying instructions in the tips below)

How to Wash Black Jeans Without Fading Them

Keeping your new jeans from fading requires a bit of care and attention to detail. Here's how you can maintain the color and texture of your new denim:

  1. Wash Your Jeans Less, Spot-Treat More
  2. Pre-soak With White Vinegar and Salt
  3. Wash Jeans Inside Out
  4. Wash With Like Colors
  5. Don’t Overload the Washing Machine
  6. Use Detergent for Dark Colors
  7. Wash Black Jeans With Cold Water
  8. Hand Wash or Use the Gentle Cycle
  9. Let Your Jeans Air Dry

1. Wash Your Jeans Less, Spot-Treat More

Jeans don’t need to be washed after every wear or if they get stained! You can easily spot clean your dark denim to remove small stains and reduce overall fading. Use a small amount of detergent to remove everyday stains. For tougher grease stains, use household cleaners like Pine-Sol.

If you notice any odors due to washing your jeans less frequently, consider combining water and vodka in a spray bottle, spraying the jeans, then putting them in the freezer overnight. 

The freezer method has been widely debated because most household freezers are not cold enough to kill bacteria, but the good news is that it will help take down any odor!

2. Pre-soak With White Vinegar and Salt

a bowl of sea salt

Pre-soaking your black jeans in vinegar and salt is a great way to set the dye and prevent fading. If you missed it, we listed the measurements and how-to’s above.

You do not have to wash your jeans after each dye-setting treatment, but always hang them in a well-ventilated and shaded space to dry.

3. Wash Jeans Inside Out

Before washing your jeans in the machine or by hand, turn them inside out. This helps to prevent fading because it protects the fibers on the outside of the pants from any friction caused by washing and reduces direct exposure to the laundry detergent.

4. Wash With Like Colors

Washing black jeans—especially new black jeans—with other dark clothes is incredibly important to help prevent fading. Since dyes can be released from fabrics in the wash, you’ll want to make sure the other clothes in the wash with your black jeans are of similar color to help reduce fading.

5. Don’t Overload the Washing Machine

This will help reduce friction during the washing process and prevent fabrics from rubbing up against each other as they would in a full load. Less friction equals less fade!

6. Use Detergent for Dark Colors

When washing your black jeans, be sure to use a detergent that is specially formulated for dark fabrics. 

Detergents like Woolite Darks have an active ingredient in them that acts as a dye magnet. This ingredient collects loose dye particles during the wash cycle which prevents color transfer and fading.

7. Wash Black Jeans With Cold Water

Machine washing your black jeans in cold water prevents the fibers from releasing dye. The cold water actually helps trap the dye inside the fabric and prevents color bleeding. Washing your jeans in warm or hot water will speed up fading and cause them to shrink, so washing in cold water is always best.

8. Hand Wash or Use the Gentle Cycle

Wash black jeans on the most gentle setting available on your washing machine. The gentle or delicate cycle is good, but if your washing machine has a ‘hand washing’ setting, choose that. 

You’ll want a wash cycle with the lowest spin speed for your black jeans if you choose to wash them in the machine. Alternatively, you can hand wash your black jeans which will actually help retain their color.

9. Let Your Jeans Air Dry

jeans hanging on a clothesline

Skip the dryer! Putting your jeans in the dryer exposes the fibers to heat and friction from other garments which causes the black dye to loosen.

Instead, air dry black jeans. Your jeans should hang dry, right-side out, in a well-ventilated room or shaded area outside. Do not hang them in direct sunlight! Jeans dry best when they are hung by the belt loop or upside down from the cuffs. Avoid using a drying rack since it can cause creasing.

How Do You Keep Jeans Fresh Between Washes?

Keeping your jeans fresh between washes can help extend the time between washes, keeping your jeans looking and smelling fresh while also preserving the color and fabric quality. Here are some simple steps you can follow:

  • Air Them Out: After wearing your jeans, hang them up to air out. This will help remove any body odors and keep them smelling fresh.
  • Spot Clean: If your jeans get a small stain, there's no need to toss them in the wash. Instead, spot clean the area with a mild detergent and a soft cloth.
  • Use a Fabric Refreshing Spray: Denim sprays can be used to freshen up your jeans between washes. They neutralize odors and leave your denim smelling fresh.
  • Freezer Method: Though it may sound strange, putting your jeans in the freezer can actually help to eliminate odors. Fold your jeans, place them in a zip-lock bag, and leave them in the freezer overnight. The cold temperature will kill odor-causing bacteria. However, this won't remove stains or actual dirt.
  • Steam Them: If you have a garment steamer, you can use it to freshen up your jeans. The steam will help kill bacteria and remove minor wrinkles. You could also hang your jeans in the bathroom while taking a hot shower for a similar effect.
  • Brush Them: For dry, non-oily stains, a soft brush can be used to gently remove any dirt or debris from the jeans.
  • Turn Them Inside Out: If your jeans don't seem to smell fresh, turn them inside out when you're not wearing them. This helps air out the areas that come in contact with your skin, eliminating body odors.

Fade-resistant DUER jeans

At DUER, we add an antibacterial finish to our Performance Jeans so you can wear them longer while feeling fresh and washing them less. Our fiber innovations lock in black dye and resist fading even after 40 washes!

a man dressed for fall weather wearing plaid, a toque and DUER jeans
Shop men’s performance denim and women’s performance denim for your perfect pair of black jeans!