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How to Bleach Jeans Lighter


Denim blue jeans fade just by washing and wearing, but that takes time. When you want to lighten your dark jeans quickly, the right bleach and water solution makes it easy.

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By Mary Gagliardi

Jeans aren’t always the perfect shade of light blue when you buy them. But great fades take time. Why wait? Soaking your jeans in a bleach and water solution is simple, and it’s a great way to lighten them quickly and safely.

To get started you just need a few items, most of which you probably already have on hand.

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What you need

Steps to lighten jeans with bleach

  1. 1

    Prepare the bleach solution

    Wearing gloves, add 1 cup Clorox® Bleach to 1 gallon cool water in the first dishpan, and swirl to mix.

    pouring bleach mixing with water
  2. 2

    Prepare the peroxide fixing solution

    Rinse the measuring cup with clean water. In the second dish pan, add 1 cup hydrogen peroxide to 1 gallon of water.

    measuring cup with liquid
  3. 3

    Submerge the jeans in the bleach solution

    Be sure you have gloves on! Carefully swirl the jeans around until they’re saturated. Continue to swirl the jeans so that all areas are completely submerged in the bleach solution. Be careful not to splash any solution on yourself or your clothing.

  4. 4

    After about 2 minutes, check the color change

    Remove the jeans from the bleach solution to check how the color change is progressing (hold them over the dishpan to safely catch drips). If desired, return the jeans to the bleach solution and continue swirling to increase fading.

  5. 5

    Stop the bleaching action

    When satisfied with the color change (or if 5 minutes have passed), submerge the jeans in the second dishpan with the hydrogen peroxide solution, swirling them around until the fabric stops fizzing.

    liquid pouring from glass container
  6. 6

    Rinse jeans

    Thoroughly rinse the pants several times with cool water.

    faucet with water
  7. 7

    Allow to air dry

    Roll the jeans in the towel to squeeze out excess water and hang the jeans to air dry.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I use bleach to lighten jeans with spandex in them?

You have to be careful when bleaching jeans that contain spandex. Regular bleach can yellow spandex (that’s why it’s on the list of fabrics you shouldn’t bleach) and it’s more obvious on white fabrics. With denim, the inside (or “wrong” side) of the fabric is predominantly white because of the twill weave. Only a little white shows through to the front, so it could be worth a try to lighten the outside blue color even if there’s some spandex.

You may want to try a shorter contact time in the bleach solution to minimize any potential yellowing. Also, be sure to thoroughly fix the jeans with the hydrogen peroxide to stop the bleaching action. This will help to limit discoloration of the spandex.