How to Remove Excess Dye From Jeans





Introduction: How to Remove Excess Dye From Jeans

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

I recently bought some new jeans and was dismayed to realize the indigo dye was staining everything. My hands, my wallet, even a couple of my shirts! I've noticed this with quite a few of the pairs of jeans I've bought over the last few years - sometimes they'll still bleed dye even after they've been washed a couple times.

Thankfully, there's an easy way to remove the excess dye and help set the color of the jeans. And you can do it without a washing machine or having to buy additional products, which is a huge bonus for me - I never want to have to go back to the laundromat before I have to. ;)

Doing it this way also wastes less water - standard washing machines can use between 15-45 gallons per load. Using a bucket to wash out the excess dye means you can do all your washing and rinsing with about 20 gallons, instead of multiple washer loads!

There's a lot of argument online about whether this actually works or not, but it worked for me so I thought I'd share it. :D

Step 1: What You'll Need

  • a 3 to 5 gallon bucket (that you don't mind staining!)
  • white vinegar
  • cold water
  • laundry detergent
  • jeans that are ruining your everything with their dye
  • gloves (optional, but good if you're worried about blue nails)

P.S. If you'd like to skip all the manual-bucket-washing labor, turn your jeans inside out and wash on cold. At this point, you can pull them out and let them soak overnight in enough water to cover and 1/2 cup white vinegar, or wash again with a 1 cup of vinegar added. That should help immensely! However, it's much harder to tell how effective it is because you can't see the color of the water after rinsing.

Step 2: Turn the Jeans Wrong Side Out and Wash

Turn the jeans wrong side out and place in the bucket. Add enough cold water to cover and a little laundry detergent. (I used 1/4 scoop of powdered laundry detergent)

Use your hands to press the jeans down and swish them around. The water will most likely turn deep blue immediately! Don't be too rough on them, just agitate the water well.

Step 3: Rinse and Wring Out and Rinse Again

Pour out the blue, soapy water and spray down the jeans to remove any extra soap. Use your hands to press out the excess water.

Place the jeans back in the bucket and cover with cold water and swish the jeans around again. Pour out the blue water, rinse, and then squeeze out the excess.

You're going to repeat this process a few times until the water in the bucket is nearly clear. The photo above shows the water color after the first wash and the rinses that occurred after. I did five rinses total!

Step 4: Add the Vinegar and Soak

If you're doing this in the washing machine, use 1 cup of vinegar.

If you're using a bucket, use 1/2 cup or less!

It's best to soak overnight in a cold water and vinegar mix - at the bare minimum, soak the jeans for at least a couple hours.

Once you're done soaking, rinse out the jeans with cold water.

Step 5: Dry and Enjoy!

Dry them however you like and enjoy! I let mine air dry overnight.

Since doing this I haven't had any dye transfer to my hands or other clothing, so I'm considering it a win.

If you try this out, let me know how it works for you! :D



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    20 Discussions

    I went through the same problems that you did. I had washed them once before wearing them, then saw that my legs, underwear, shirt , abdomen even my hands and nails were blue, blue, blue.......................after fifth wash thought I was in the clear but today it was worse than ever....................It was warm today and was sweating from a power can imagine how my legs looked............thank you so much for your advice.......will certainly give that a try.


    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing!! Thought I'd never wear my pants again!

    Tried it today and it worked great!

    my mom taught me about salt, & i figured vinegar might work because it's used to set newly home-dyed items. i'm a bit different from normal folks, though. i like to put new navy blue jeans in a wash load with whites. it turns them the loveliest shade of ice blue!! x^)

    On the other end of the issue, adding a few tablespoons of salt to the wash will "lock" the color into the fabric and help keep it from fading. I used it on some tye-dyed sheets and also blue jeans. You also need less soap when doing this. I also add a 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rinse to remove excess soap, and it also softens the fabric naturally, without harsh chemicals. My towels smell like fresh air!

    Thank you! This has been bugging me forever. I have this pair of jeans that's still bleeding dye after 2 years.

    Could we have a dry and ironed picture so that we can see the before and after?

    This is great news. I have stained so many things with new jeans. Thanks!

    Nice! I'm way lazy, so i usually put the offenders in the wash with all of the other jeans, and wash with a cup of vinegar.

    Can we use this on our website as a news?

    gah! this has happened to me before & I had no idea what was dying my hands until a few days later! I should really do this with all my dark jeans, thanks for sharing this Instructable!

    Nice writeup. Years ago I worked at a textile mill that specialized in dyeing fabric. They use trisodium phosphate (TSP) for rinsing dye. It is sold in the paint section of hardware stores and home centers. I've used it for rinsing tye-dye, and it works quite well. If you ever give it a try, you will recognize the "new clothes smell" .

    1 reply

    Thankyou, worked for my new jeans. They feel a lot softer, too. :-)

    Nice, tank you for sharing.