Black Jeans 101: Simple tricks to keep your wardrobe staples from fading
There’s a reason black jeans are high on the list of every capsule wardrobe you can find, every list of must-own clothing items, every packing list for travels to destinations across the globe. There’s even some lists dedicated entirely to the life-changing magic of a pair of black jeans.
For both women and men, black jeans are a wardrobe essential; they go with almost everything you own and are perfect for just about any occasion. Skinny, straight, bootleg or flares, there’s a cut for everyone to realise the joy – and so many less sartorial headaches and what to wear moments – a good pair of black jeans can bring.
What to wear on a casual picnic at the park? Black jeans.
A dinner date at a local restaurant? Black jeans.
Dressing to impress for that night out on the town? We know, you’re heading straight for your black jeans. What occasion isn’t worthy of a great-fitting pair?!
There’s just one problem and it happens to even the best pair of black jeans. They fade so easily! Frustrating, heartbreaking, devastating… There’s few ways to describe that feeling when you put your new pair on, only to discover they’ve faded after the first wash.
It’s a really common problem, but don’t despair, there are some easy steps you can take to keep those hard-working closet staples in tip-top condition for as long as possible. We’ve rounded up some tips and tricks to help preserve the colour for as long as possible.
- How to Keep Black Jeans From Fading
How to Keep Black Jeans From Fading
Can we let you in on a secret? Get to them before the first wear. Yes, you heard us!
It can be so tempting to throw your nice new jeans on and head out to show them off. After all, it’s hard work to find a great pair of jeans, you want to be in them the first chance you get – and it’s usually before you’ve even washed them. Well hold your horses and slow down, take just a little bit of time now (we know it’s hard!) and you’ll be enjoying those inky blacks for much, much longer.
As soon as they’re out of the shopping bag (or torn from the postal packaging for the online shopping obsessed), take off the tags and follow these steps.
Head to the laundry and fill a bucket with water, adding in a cup of white vinegar and a tablespoon of salt. Soak your black jeans in this solution before you first wash them – at least an hour, longer if you can! Make sure there’s a lot of water – you don’t want to smell like you rolled around in a packet of salt and vinegar chips. This helps to set the dye in your new favourite jeans and keep it there.
Regular vigilance is key – don’t just throw them in any old wash
It doesn’t stop after the initial dye-setting soak, you can help keep your jeans in tip-top condition by following these care instructions during your regular washing and wearing. You’ll extend the life of your jeans and get a much better cost per wear than that last pair you had which faded after the first wear.
Don’t wash them too much
Denim isn’t meant to be washed after every wear, it strips the dye.
We know, we know. You might spill something, they might start to smell, there’s plenty of reasons why you need to wash your jeans – and you certainly can’t go without never washing them (we don’t need to chat about basic hygiene, do we?).
Key to keeping the colour is minimising the number of times you do wash them, it will keep them the inkiest shade of black possible and means you can enjoy your black jeans for even longer.
Spills mean stains
Accidentally dripped sauce on them? Stepped in a puddle of mud and it splashed up the leg? It’s ok, if there’s a spill, try spot cleaning it as soon as possible – definitely don’t leave it for days. Using a cloth or sponge and a little water, dab on the spot and see if it comes out. If it’s a really tough spot to remove, add just the tiniest possible amount of detergent and see if that does the trick.
Smelly jeans don’t look good on anyone
If it’s not a spill, it’s inevitable that a few wear in you’ll find your jeans start smelling a little bit ripe. You can minimise odours by popping them in the freezer (yes, we said freezer!) in between wears. Leave them in for a few hours – or even overnight – and they should be smelling a whole lot fresher.
The other option you can try is misting them with water – maybe add a drop of lemon essential oil to help with odour – and hang them outside to air out. Be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight, a shady spot will do the trick.
Also be sure to air dry in between wears, you should be able to get at least five wears out of your denim before needing to wash.
Wash your black jeans inside out… and be gentle!
When you do wash them, do it gently. Turn your jeans inside out, it will minimise the transfer of black dye from rubbing against other garments in the machine throughout the wash cycle.
Wash your black jeans with other dark-coloured garments. It’s a little extra work to separate our laundry but it’ll actually help all your garments to keep their colours for longer – your whites will stay brighter and whiter too!
Better yet? Avoid machine washing altogether. It’s harsh and puts additional wear and tear on the garment – not good for preserving the colour long-term. Gently hand wash your jeans instead. Use a minimal amount of laundry washing detergent, you really don’t need much, and be kind to the fabric. If you’ve got the time, hand washing is definitely the way to go!
Protect that colour with detergent made for the job
Go one step further and pick up some special detergent made for dark colours, if you’ve separated them, there’s no reason you can’t use different detergents for different laundry loads. It’ll protect the colour and you’ll get a little extra wear out of them before the inevitable fading occurs.
You can also head to the pantry and bring the white vinegar out again, it works in a similar way but be careful of the smell – it can be overpowering if you use too much.
Keep them cool… literally
It’s not just the freezer that’ll help keep your black jeans from fading. Hot temperatures are the arch nemesis of those inky blacks, almost guaranteeing you’ll fade the colour.
So, when you do wash them, always, ALWAYS wash in cold water. Hot water could make the ink run which definitely isn’t going to do your black jeans any favours. Cold water is gentler and much kinder to dark colours in the wash.
Don’t dry your jeans in the tumble dryer after a wash either. It’s tempting to want them dry as quickly as possible but don’t fall for this colour-sucking shortcut. Instead, dry your new-favourite black jeans in a shaded area outside, or even inside on a clothes horse – direct sun isn’t really their friend either. If you need them dry now and absolutely must use the tumble dryer, try the lowest heat setting – most dryers have a delicate or gentle mode so use this if you need.
For when the inevitable occurs…
It’s true, over time those perfect black jeans will fade. One day you’ll pop them on and realise they’ve faded. Unfortunately, it’s almost unavoidable.
In addition to the tips above, you can refresh the colour by dyeing them back again. Pick up a dye which you can use in the washing machine and you can restore them to a shade of the inkiest midnight black.
Using a washing machine dye is easy, and it shouldn’t hurt your machine either. Give it a go – surely it can’t make a faded pair any worse! You can usually pick these up at the supermarket, so it’s easy enough to grab one with the weekly groceries.
Possibly the most versatile component of your wardrobe, black jeans are often one of the hardest working items you own.
You might have spent a fair chunk of change of on a beautiful pair, be sure to invest your time into their upkeep too. They’re always going to fade eventually, but a little time upfront will keep them in tip-top shape for as long as possible. Your beloved wardrobe staples deserve some love and attention too, you know.
Following these tips will help you get the longest life out of your black jeans. Combine a few of them (or all of them if you can!) and you can keep the colour and be in great condition for a long time to come. You can thank us later!