How to Dye Denim Jackets

Dyeing can refresh a favorite old jacket.
Dyeing can refresh a favorite old jacket. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Using fabric dye on a faded denim jacket is a creative way to give the item new life and extend its wear. Since most denim is made from cotton, it is an ideal candidate for dyeing, but dye cannot change a fabric from dark to light color. Dye your jacket in shades of blue deeper than its previous color or in dark colors like brown and black. Many denim jackets' stitching is in a contrasting color to highlight it as a decorative feature, and those highlights will be lost when you dye the jacket.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Laundry detergent

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Place drop cloths in your work area. Wear rubber gloves and old clothes or a protective apron. Prepare a cleaning solution of one part water and one part chlorine bleach in case there are spills.

Fill your washing machine with hot water. To dye one denim jacket, fill the machine on a medium setting. The jacket should have enough room to move freely in the water.

Dissolve two or three packages of powdered dye in 2 cups of hot water and pour it into the washing machine. If using liquid dye, pour one to one-and-a-half bottles directly into the washing machine.

Soak the jacket in hot water. Smooth out wrinkles or folds and place the jacket in the washing machine.

Wash on a cycle that provides at least 30 minutes of agitation before rinsing.

Set the washing machine for a cold-water rinse. Repeat several rinse cycles until the water is clear.

Wash the jacket with laundry soap, using a short cycle. Wash deep or dark colors in warm and lighter shades in cold. Rinse in cold.

Hang the jacket to dry or place it in the dryer and treat as usual.

Set the washing machine for another wash cycle with hot water. Add 1 cup of chlorine bleach and laundry detergent equivalent for one load. Pour some of the wash water through the machine's lint trap or soap dispenser.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dye your denim jacket in a metal sink or 5-gallon bucket full of hot water if you don't want to risk discoloring the inside of your washing machine. Agitate the water by stirring it with a dowel or broom handle. Rinse repeatedly with cold water until the water is clear and complete the process by washing it in the machine. Clean the bucket with chlorine bleach.
  • Jackets made from a denim-and-polyester blend may not dye true to color if the polyester content is more than 50 percent.
  • If dyeing more than one jacket at a time, estimate one package of powdered dye or one-half bottle of liquid dye and 3 gallons of water for every pound of fabric weight.
  • Dyeing is not always a successful method for covering stains. Some stains will dye a different shade or repel the dye.
  • Fabric that has been treated with water repellent or bleach may not accept dye.
  • Placing dye in your washing machine may permanently discolor rubber or plastic parts; however, laundry will not be affected by the tinted machine parts.
  • Fabric dye will most likely leave permanent stains on a plastic or fiberglass sink.

References

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