How To Dye Jeans 2 Ways: A Step-By-Step Guide

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than when your favourite pair of jeans begin to fade.

After years of heavy wearing, your delectable denim can begin to look a little tired. However, this doesn’t mean it must be curtains for your favourite denim garments. 

What if we told you that dyeing your denim could solve your problems (and be kinder to the environment)?

In this guide, we’ve pulled together two easy and practical ways to dye denim at home so you can continue to wear your favourite pair and get them looking as good as new. And with tips on changing your jeans’ colour included, it’s never been easier to spruce up some of your favourite wardrobe staples!

An assortment of blue denim jeans laid flat on a white surface

Table of contents: 

Can you dye denim?

What essentials do I need for dyeing jeans?

How to dye jeans by hand

How to dye denim in the washing machine

Can you dye denim?

Absolutely! Re-dyeing your jeans is a great way to refresh and revamp their colour, giving you multiple years of wear. 

This is great for the environment, as breathing new life into your jeans means that you’re less likely to send them to landfill – 2.16 million tonnes of waste is currently generated from jeans annually

A piar of blue denim jeans washed up on the rocks next to a beach

Denim production is energy-intensive, and any method of slowing the energy expenditure benefits the environment due to the reduction of CO2 emissions.  

When choosing which jeans to dye, those made from natural fibres absorb the dye much more effectively than denim jeans made with synthetic stretch materials. 

As for your colour choice, most clothing dyes come in a selection of denim shades, including blue denim, making it easy to restore your jeans’ colour. Or, if you want to give your jeans a new lease of life – why not choose a brand-new shade of dye? Remember to choose a colour darker than your jeans’ original colour so the dye effectively covers the original shade.

Most denim jeans are fine to be dyed, but if you have a pair with specific cleaning instructions such as ‘dry-clean only’, these aren’t suitable for dyeing. If you’re unsure, always check your jeans’ care label.

What essentials do I need for dyeing jeans? 

You’ll need some essentials if you’re dyeing your jeans at home. What you’ll need will differ depending on whether you want to dye your jeans by hand or in a washing machine. Here are the most important things:

What you’ll need for dyeing your jeans by hand:

  • Your jeans
  • Rubber gloves (this is to stop the dye from staining your hands).
  • Your denim dye 
  • Warm water (for dissolving the dye and for dyeing – how much you need will depend on the instructions on your packet).
  • Table salt or dye salt (again, refer to the dye’s instructions for more information on quantity).
  • A large, flat-bottomed bowl or a stainless steel sink 

What you’ll need for dyeing your jeans in the washing machine: 

  • Your jeans
  • Your denim dye
  • A washing machine 

Whichever method you use to dye your jeans, always wash them first to remove any dirt or residue, as this will allow your jeans to absorb the dye more effectively. However, avoid using fabric softener or dryer sheets, as these can prevent the dye from absorbing.

How to dye jeans by hand: A step-by-step guide 

A bucket filled with die on a surface ready for hand-dyeing jeans
  1. Start by weighing your jeans, as this will determine how many packets of dye you will need to suit your fabric weight (check the packet instructions to see how much dye you’ll need per weight of the garment). Then, wash your jeans and leave them damp.
  2. Put on your rubber gloves and dissolve the dye packs in warm water. Again, the dye you choose should have instructions advising how much warm water you’ll need to dissolve it.
  3. Fill your flat-bottomed bowl or stainless steel sink with warm water (check the packet for instructions on how much warm water you’ll need). Avoid using your bath, as the dye may permanently stain its surface. 
  4. Add the dissolved dye mixture alongside the recommended amount of salt. Stir well to ensure that everything is evenly mixed.
  5. Submerge your jeans in the mixture, stirring continuously for 15 minutes to agitate it.
  6. Leave the jeans soaking in the mixture for the next 45 minutes (or as recommended per the instructions), stirring at regular intervals to ensure your jeans achieve an even coating. 
  7. Finally, rinse your jeans in cold water to remove the excess dye and salt. Wash your jeans in warm water, allowing them to dry naturally away from direct heat and sunlight.
  8. Your jeans are ready to wear! Wash them separately or with similar colours for the next few washes to prevent dye transfer. 

How to dye denim in the washing machine: A step-by-step guide

  1. Again, weigh your jeans to determine how many packets of washing machine dye you’ll need to dye your jeans. One packet of machine dye should be enough, but you may need more packets if you’re dyeing multiple pairs of jeans. 
  2. Wet your jeans with warm water, squeezing out any excess so they remain damp. Then, place the jeans in the empty drum of your washing machine (machine dye is only suitable for a regular, front-loading washing machine).
  3. As per the packet instructions, place the dye straight into the drum with the jeans. Then, run your washing cycle as normal at 30-40•C.
  4. Follow this up with a second regular washing cycle, but add detergent to remove any excess dye.
  5. Allow your jeans to dry naturally, away from direct heat and sunlight. Your jeans are now ready to wear!

Dyeing your denim jeans is simple and helps breathe a new lease of life into your favourite pair, preventing them from heading straight to landfill. 

Whether you choose to dye yours by hand or in a machine, always follow the dye manufacturer’s instructions to determine how many packet dyes you’ll need, how much water you require and whether your jeans will suit your dye choice. Then, by following these simple steps, you’ll be wearing yours for a lifetime.

Shop denim jeans at CHO

If your jeans are beyond repair, why not treat yourself to a new pair at CHO? With men’s and women’s styles available from popular designer brands, including BOSS Orange, GANT and Tommy Hilfiger, it’s never been easier to find the perfect fitting pair to give you a lifetime of wear! 

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