How to Make Your Own Bleached Jean Vest

Bleaching your jean vest gives it a worn look.
Bleaching your jean vest gives it a worn look. (Image: Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The bleached or "acid washed" denim look has gone in and out of popularity. The nature of denim fabric is to naturally fade over time. If you really like the faded look, you can hurry the process along. There are several effective ways of giving a worn, distressed look to your denim vest or any other denim clothing. When fading denim, it is important to remember that bleach is a strong caustic chemical and safety precautions must be taken.

Things You'll Need

  • Denim vest
  • Liquid bleach
  • Rubber gloves
  • Sprinkler bottle

Spatter or Streak Effect

Lay the denim vest out flat in a bathtub or large sink.

Put on protective rubber or plastic gloves. Pour 1/2 cup bleach into the sprinkler bottle. Sprinkle the bleach over the vest, creating the coverage desired. More sprinkling will result in larger faded areas. You may also use a spray bottle for this step, depending on the saturation desired. For a more streaked look, as opposed to the spattered look, sprinkle or spray the vest with bleach and hold the vest up by the upper edge, letting the bleach run down the fabric.

Let the bleach soak into the fabric until the desired depth of color removal is reached. Remove the vest from the bathtub and wash it immediately to stop further bleaching.

Full Bleach Effect

Fill the bathtub one-quarter to one-third full, using warm water.

Put on protective rubber or plastic gloves. Add 2 cups of bleach to the tub water. Gently stir the water with your gloved hand to mix it. Place the jean vest into the water, spreading the vest out as evenly as possible. Creases and folds in the denim may result in varied depths of bleaching. Make sure the vest is completely covered by the bleach and water mixture.

Check the vest after five minutes. Move the vest around in the solution, making sure all areas are receiving even coverage. Leave the vest in the bleach solution until the desired level of lightening has been reached. Remove the vest from the solution and wash it immediately according to normal washing instructions to stop continued bleaching.

Tips & Warnings

  • An alternative method: Dampen and wring out the vest. Lay it flat in a bathtub. Wearing rubber gloves, pour undiluted bleach on the vest front and brush the denim in up-and-down strokes with a small brush. Do the same on the other side. Let the vest sit for 10 minutes, then wash it.
  • Always wear rubber gloves to protect your skin, and use bleach in a well-ventilated area.

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