How to Use Salt to Fade Denim

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Using salt to fade denim can be a lot faster than waiting for the denim to fade over time.
Using salt to fade denim can be a lot faster than waiting for the denim to fade over time. (Image: Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Faded denim has been a largely popular look for many years and is often a look that companies use chemical processes to create. Traditionally, the look is accomplished by placing dark denim into industrial washing machines and using pumice stones or chemical substances to fade the color of the denim to a softer, light blue color. However, it is possible to fade denim at home with some items that can be purchased at most grocery or hardware stores.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Stirring utensil
  • Sandpaper
  • Laundry detergent

Pour 2 gallons of water and 2 cups of salt into a 5-gallon bucket. Mix well. Note that more salt may be added for a more faded look and less salt can be used for less fading.

Place the denim item in the salt mixture and submerge until completely covered by the solution.

Keep the denim in the salt solution for two days, stirring every now and then to agitate the denim in the salt mixture.

Take the denim out of the salt mixture and place on a flat surface. Use a piece of medium-grit sandpaper to gently scrub on the areas where a more concentrated faded look is desired. Move slowly and check the work frequently to ensure the sandpaper is not working all the way through the denim. Stop when the desired look is achieved.

Hang the denim up to air dry.

Repeat the steps as necessary until the desired faded look has been achieved. Wash the denim in cold water and laundry detergent and either air-dry or dry in clothes dryer.

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