Bleaching jeans is a technique used to give a vintage or bohemian look to new jeans. It can be used on its own or as part of a distressing process. This works in combination with cutting, fraying and wearing down the jeans with an item like a cheese grater. Bleach works to give old, unstylish jeans a unique look. Try adding special touches to jeans like hearts or your signature.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic sheet
- Wood block
- Paint brush
- Chlorine bleach
- Bleach pen (optional)
Lay the jeans on a flat surface. Cover the surface with a sheet of plastic so it doesn't get stained. Bleach will fade nearly any surface including wood. Slide something between the legs of the jeans so the bleach won't seep through both layers of fabric. A plastic cutting board or block of wood works well.
Mix a bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 5 parts water. Use this to paint bleach on the jeans.
Use a paint brush and the bleach solution to apply bleach to the desired areas. Add bleach in large or small spots or in shapes or letters. Ensure the bleach saturates the fabric so it lightens it sufficiently. Leave the bleach on the fabric for up to 30 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp. sodium bisulfite to 1 gallon of water and soak the jeans in the solution for 10 minutes to neutralize the bleach. Rinse the jeans in plain water and launder as usual.
Allow the bleach to air dry thoroughly before handling. Repeat the process if the bleach hasn't lightened the fabric sufficiently.
Tips & Warnings
- Make a thick bleach paste for painting on fabric by mixing 3 tbsp. Monagum powder with 1 cup warm water and let it sit for at least eight hours to create a thickener. Before painting, mix 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp. bleach and 1 tbsp. thickener together to create the paste.
- Wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when handling bleach and sodium bisulfite.
- Bleach can degrade fabrics if it is used frequently on fabrics. Jeans are made from a thick cotton and are quite durable, but the frequent use of bleach may cause the fabric to become thin and vulnerable. Oxygen bleach is safer for regular washing.
- "Jean Therapy: Denim Deconstruction for the Conscientious Crafter"; Scatha G. Allison; April 2008
- Photo Credit Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images