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