I mentioned in passing, awhile back, that I had successfully dyed a new pair of jeans darker and I received a lot of questions about the process. I wore that pair of jeans for almost a year and was so impressed with the results! I recently dyed another pair and decided that this time I’d share a “before” and “after,” along with answering some FAQ about dyeing jeans (at the bottom of this post).
I have been on a weight loss journey since the fall and have lost 25 pounds (and a couple of pant sizes). I am trying to lose 25 more, so I have been hesitant to spent money on pants – although I need them! My old jeans have become insanely baggy and frequently droop, pulling my underwear down with them. Pant shopping isn’t easy though, because I don’t like when jeans have any whiskering or fading on the front/back of the thighs. I prefer a simple dark wash but, alas, jeans that fit me aren’t the wash I like and the jeans with the wash I like are usually uncooperative and won’t zip up.
Not a problem! I found inexpensive, comfy, skinny jeans at Winner’s for only $25 and turned them into a perfect dark wash. Here’s a look at the original finish:
And here’s a look at them now:
In this photo, the colour seems lighter than real life and doesn’t appear 100% uniform, but they are perfectly uniform and a lovely dark wash now. I’m so thrilled with how they look!
How to Dye Jeans Darker at Home:
If you’re read any of my DIY dye posts, you know that the procedure is really simple and not scary at all – especially if you dye in the washing machine. Here’s the how-to:
- Completely soak the denim (or give them a pre-dye wash)
- Fill the washing machine (or a large basin) with hot water
- Add a cup of salt and fully dissolve
- Pour in one bottle of Rit Dye Black and another bottle of Rit Dye Navy Blue
- Agitate for 30-40 minutes (either re-setting the machine or doing it by hand)
- Rinse and let dry (I line dry to preserve the colour)
- Run the machine through with bleach to remove dye
And now, the Jean Dyeing FAQ:
Did the dye cover the denim evenly?
Yes! All of the whiskering and fading was covered on both pairs I’ve dyed, and the result was a uniform hue.
What dye formula did I use?
The first time I dyed jeans, I used two bottles of black and one bottle of navy. The result was very inky – I loved it, but it did add to the cost because three bottles was about $12. This time I used only two bottles and did a 1:1 ratio of navy and black, which resulted in a dark denim blue. I love the shade and it looks great. Because these jeans are temporary, I wanted to keep the cost low so I didn’t want to purchase three bottle, but if I’m being honest, I preferred the 2:1 (black to navy) ratio because the jeans were really dark – almost black, but with some depth. I’d call the result a midnight blue.
How much dye do I need?
I used two bottles
for one pair of pants and was happy with the results. The Rit Dye
instructions indicate that one bottle covers 1 pound of clothing, but suggests using more for darker/brighter colours.
Will any colour work?
dye denim with any colour but I find that the black/navy combo looks
most like a commercial “dark wash” denim. But you could turn white jeans into teal (do it!) or
go for all-black. Rit Dye even makes a “denim blue” that might be great on its own. It’s a bit of a gamble, though, how dye will look
when applied over an already dyed fabric.
Did the dye cover the stitching as well?
No. The stitching remained light, so they don’t look like they were given at at-home dye bath. This happened with the dress I dyed as well.
Did it wash out quickly?
No! I was surprised! I never had to re-dye the first pair of jeans I dyed and I washed them once or twice a week (no dryer, though). They faded a bit, but the whiskering didn’t come back and they were still a dark wash – they just looked like broken in jeans. I was really impressed – my dyed dress has barely faded, if at all (although I don’t wear that nearly as often as jeans).
How can I make the colour last longer?
I find that washing my jeans inside out, on cold (preferably using a detergent meant for dark colours), and skipping the dryer helps preserve the colour of dark clothing, whether I’ve dyed it or bought it that way. Line drying dark items (out of the sun) really helps keep their colour longer than simply tossing them in the dryer – that’s probably the best colour-saving tip I have up my sleeves.
Did the colour rub off on furniture?
No! The dye stays put once the jeans were dry. After the initial dye, while they were line drying, they deposited dye on anything they touched while wet (like the wall and the lid to the washing machine – crap). This contact stained, although with scrubbing I got 95% of it off. But once the denim was dried, and especially after the first wash, there was absolutely no transfer, which was interesting because I’ve experienced colour transfer with commercially dyed indigo jeans.
Did the jeans feel stiff?
Briefly. Any time I dye something, I notice that it feels a bit stiffer when it’s first dyed. But after it’s ironed or worn, it immediately softens and the fabric feels completely normal again.
Will it wreck my machine?
Nope! BUT, you have to run the machine empty, with bleach, immediately after dyeing to remove any dye from the machine (otherwise it can stain the drum and plastic pieces). I usually use this bleach load to wash my floor rags and scungies because I hate wasting water.
Am I missing any questions? I’ve also used this process to re-dye my comfiest pants/jeans once they’ve become faded from wear. However, I find that dye always “sticks” best to clothing that hasn’t been worn. So, while my brand new jeans took the dye well and stayed dark, my old and faded pants were only temporarily revived by dye as it seemed to fade more quickly from the beat up pants. But I will definitely keep dyeing jeans because it makes it so much easier to find the perfect fit when I no longer have to be concerned about the wash.