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How to Restore Your Favorite (and Faded) Pair of Jeans

Everybody has their favorite pair. You know the one, it’s the pair you wear on first dates, the pair you wear to meet the parents, the pair you wear out almost every weekend. Your favorite jeans have a special and undeniable quality about them. A mix of perfect wear and unforgettable memories make this specific pair of jeans so hard to replace. The mere thought of doing so is blasphemous.

So what do you do when they get so worn and faded they become unrecognizable? Well, you have some options. For starters, if your jeans have a giant tear in them, you may be out of luck. Sure, you can get creative and cut them into shorts (depending on the size and placement of the tear), or even patch them, but if rips are the main issue, you may be out of luck.

However, if stains and fades are the reason you’re looking to reinvent your old stand-bys, dyeing your jeans can save your butt.

Read on for guide on what you’ll need to restore your faded jeans, and how to do it without ruining them completely. The process isn’t that complicated, and with the right tools, you can learn how to restore faded jeans like a professional.


What You’ll Need

To bring your jeans back to life, you’ll need actually only need a handful of items. And the best part? It won’t cost you much. And the even better part? You probably have half of this stuff lying around already. Just in case, we came up with a list.

1. Denim Dye

Out of all the items in our list, this is by far the most important. We picked this black dye from Rit Dye, but Rit Dye has tons of other colors to choose from, depending on the original color of your denim. Rit All Purpose Dye is ideal for natural fabrics like cotton, linen and denim, while the company’s DyeMore line is made for synthetic fabrics and blends. Also, if you feel so inclined, you can get crazy with mixing colors, but we’ll leave that to you. What’s more, this stuff is cheap. So if the first try goes well, it’s worth stocking up on a few other colors and bottles for future use.

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2. A Mixing Bucket

To fully submerge your (soon-to-be-new) duds, you’ll need a big bucket. We’d recommend avoiding the sink and bathtub because this dye is no joke. Not only could you potentially stain your bathroom, but this is also a messy process. Expect spills.

This bucket from Rubbermaid can carry 22 quarts of liquid, which will be plenty of space for dunking and soaking your favorite denim. If you want to learn how to restore faded jeans, then you’ll need one of these.

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3. Rubber Gloves

Did we mention dye is potent and stains stuff? Well, just in case, here you go: Dye is potent and stains stuff. Keep your skin clean when restoring faded jeans by picking up a pair of these handy rubber gloves when you’re dyeing. Regular kitchen gloves work well if you have a pair laying around.

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4. Tongs

Last but not least, it’s always good to have some tongs on hand. Yes, the gloves above are important, but you’ll want to get your jeans nice and deep into your dye, and these tongs will give you some extra reach. Also, as with the gloves, these tongs will help you keep your hands, arms and clothing clean dye after dye. Just make sure you keep these as your dyeing tongs and not your cooking tongs after first use.

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How to Dye Your Jeans

With the tools in hand, dyeing your jeans becomes a fairly simple process.

For starters, clean your jeans. If you want to get a good, even color, you need to make sure there’s nothing sitting in between your denim and the dye.

Next, fill your bucket with 3 gallons (12 quarts) of hot water. From there, add 1 cup of salt and 1 teaspoon of dish detergent. According to Rit’s website, the detergent will help give you an all-over even dye (nobody wants splotchy jeans).

The only thing left to do now is to add your dye! Depending on how dark you want to go, you’ll have to scale up or down your amount of dye. Another good tip from Rit is to test your potion with a paper towel. If you’re happy with the color of the mix, make sure you stir thoroughly with the tongs to get everything combined and ready for your jeans.

Once you get your jeans in the bucket, swirl them around for a good 10 minutes. Check your jeans at this point to see what you think of the color. If you’d like it darker, you can always leave them soaking a bit longer.

After you’re happy with the color, run your jeans through some cold water to rinse out any excess dye. This may sound counterintuitive but it’s very important. Leaving dye in your jeans will basically ensure you leave dye marks everywhere you sit for the foreseeable future. The rule of thumb for rinsing out the dye is to keep washing until the water runs clear (aka no bleeding dye).

Once your newly restored jeans are properly rinsed, go ahead and toss them in the wash. This will make sure all the excess dye is out, and soon your jeans will be ready for wearing!

Pro tip: Please remember to wash your dyed jeans by themselves, no need to accidentally stain the rest of your wardrobe.


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