DIY Bleached Jeans


Since faded jeans can be very expensive, it can be fun to try your own bleaching at home. Try these methods out on cheap jeans if you're unsure, and always work in a well-ventilated area with proper eye protection and rubber gloves. Time is important when working with undiluted bleach, so be ready to wash or rinse the denim the moment you're satisfied with the color.

Splatter Method

  • The splatter method creates a spilled-milk type of effect on denim. This technique should be performed outside away from plants and areas frequented by small children and animals. Lay the garment on the ground on top of newspaper or plastic. Pour a small amount of undiluted chlorine bleach into a cup or spray bottle and stand about 2 feet away from the jeans. Working quickly, splash the bleach toward the denim repeatedly. Try not to splash large amounts of bleach in one spot, since the bleach may eat through the fabric. Once finished, let the bleach settle into the denim till it fades to the desired color. Launder alone, immediately, in cold water with a double rinse cycle.

Mottled Effect Method

  • This technique creates an uneven, dramatic denim, and looks most striking on dark washes. Fill a container about two-thirds full with a very strong chlorine bleach and water solution--about 2 cups bleach to one gallon of water. Select the size of the container according to how much of the original color you'd prefer to conserve; a smaller container makes for a tightly packed jean, producing stronger and larger dark spots. Stuff the jeans into the container and fill it with water until they're fully submerged. Leave the jeans in the bleach bath till faded; feel free to move the jeans around and create new creases. Check the fabric every so often to make sure that it's not breaking down. When the jeans have bleached to the desired color and pattern, launder alone in cold water to set.

All-Over Fadeout

  • To lighten a pair of jeans, simply wash them in cold water with a large quantity of chlorine bleach. This method will require repeated wash cycles. The friction also acts to fade and soften the denim, so wash as many times as desired. There should be no other garments in the machine with the jeans.

Sponge Distress

  • The sponge method is great for spot-fading jeans, or for adding whiskering and detail to just one side of the leg. To isolate a layer, slide a plastic bag into the leg. Pour some bleach into a small bowl. Next, dip a sponge in the bleach, making sure to squeeze it out thoroughly. Take the sponge and draw it over the area that you'd like to detail. Do this repeatedly until the denim fades. Fast work is necessary to keep from damaging the fabric. When finished, wash in cold water.

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