Updated on July 29, 2022 by Sarina

how to bleach jeans

Everyone deserves a makeover – even your jeans. A very inexpensive and effective makeover you can do with your jeans is to use bleach on them. If you are tired of wearing the same dark washed plain jeans and want to transform it into a new light-colored one or just want to lighten your dark jeans in selected places you can use the bleach to do your job easily. Result is, you get completely new jeans

With bleaching you can either lighten dark jeans evenly or in patches.
how to bleach jeans

Precautions for bleaching jeans

There are several methods to apply bleach to your jeans. But before that, there are some cautions we need to take before bleaching.

First and foremost, use bleach on 100% cotton denim or at least 95% cotton denim. Most jeans have Elastane fibers added for stretch – these are not the ideal jeans you want for bleaching.

Never mix household bleach with any other chemicals as it can be hazardous. The fumes are dangerous and the solution too.

Precautions before bleaching jeans

Cover everything and everywhere you do not want to bleach – Always remember to cover the area and yourself because if bleach gets accidentally splashed or sprayed on your clothes or the surface, it can cause color change and even damage.

If you are using tools that drip (faulty sprayer, leaking stencil) you will not get the results you want because bleach de-colors everywhere it touches – even a small drop will turn the fibers to white in a matter of minutes.

A few minutes is all it takes for bleach to remove color. Always remember to thoroughly mix the bleach in water but if you have to use undiluted bleach, leave only for a short time otherwise it can damage your fabric. 20 minutes is enough for most bleaching jobs.

Protect your body – Always wear a pair of gloves as bleach can cause temporary wrinkles on your hands, and may even burn if it is directly splashed. Finally, it is always better to work in an open space or at least in a properly ventilated area to protect yourself from the penetrating and toxic smell.

Keep a tub full of clean water with detergent mixed-in ready for washing (or your washing machine with water filled in) before you start bleaching. The bleach should not be left on the fabric after the stipulated time.

Rinse well – Bleach, if not rinsed out well, will continue to leach color as well as strength from the fabric. You can also keep a tub of Vinegar-water solution ready for a rinse because vinegar is supposed to stop the bleaching solution.

Bleaching your jeans

Bleaching is the process of using different chemicals as well as other methods like exposure to sun, air, and moisture to whiten the colored fibers of a fabric.  To bleach the natural color of jeans, dark indigo blue to a lighter color you can use bleaching chemicals like sodium or calcium hypochlorite, sodium chlorite, permanganates, hydrogen peroxide, and reducing agents such as sulfur dioxide and sodium bisulfite.

Natural chemicals like Lemon juice and Vinegar can also be used.

How to bleach jeans

Bleach fully or in particular areasThere are several methods to apply bleach to your jeans.

Applying bleach on your jeans


Fill a basin or bathtub with enough quantity of water to completely soak the jeans. Add 1/2 cup bleach to the water and mix well. Now completely soak your jeans in the bleaching solution.

Swish it around every now and then for the bleach to reach every inch of the jeans. Let it soak for half an hour or till the desired color is acquired.

Take out the jeans and wring out the bleach. Machine wash or hand wash the jeans, without any detergent, to get rid of the bleach completely and dry.

Spraying bleach

If you do not want to change the color fully or if you want that artistic look, spraying bleach on your jeans is the best option. It de-colors in areas you desire

Hang your jeans using a clothes clip so that you can easily access both sides. or Slide a piece of plastic or cardboard inside the jeans to prevent the bleach from reaching the back. 

Fill a spray bottle with full-strength bleach. In this method, you don’t dilute the bleach. Change the setting of the spray bottle to mist. Now hold the spray bottle some 5-8 inches away from the jeans and spray the bleach on the areas where you want your jeans to change color.

The way your spray bottle nozzle is adjusted can create different effects on your jeans. If you loosen the nozzle you get larger spraying effect. If the nozzle is tight it will spray wider. 

Wait for 5 to maximum 20 minutes or till the spots have turned to the desired color. Immediately soak it in plain cold water to prevent further stripping of color.

If you are not satisfied with the bleached effect repeat the spraying.

Wash in cold water without detergent for the final rinse. 

Try the sprayer on a waste cloth several times before using on the real garment. A fine spray is ideal so use a sprayer that gives this. 

Stenciling designs

In this method stencils are used on the jeans and bleach is applied through the gaps in the stencil as a result of which the design on the stencil is applied on the denim surface. You can either apply the bleach with a brush or use a sprayer

You can make designs like the one below (this one is not made with bleach).

Remember to attach the stencil firmly on the fabric to prevent bleeding. Use masking tape for this.  After the bleach is applied, before the stencil is removed wipe the stencil with a paper towel to remove any excess bleach on the surface – this will drip back on the fabric if it is not wiped. 

If you are using Hydrogen Peroxide on the jeans instead of regular chlorine bleach (Peroxide is a safer alternative) do not forget to combine this with exposure to sunlight. After applying the Hydrogen Peroxide solution keep the garment out in the sun. 

Wary of using chemicals on your clothes but still want to bleach your jeans – you can try using natural processes like washing your jeans in hot water, using other distressing methods like rubbing with a pumice stone, etc. You can check out this post on more (15) methods to distress jeans

Related post : How to make fabric look old.

To bleach jeans naturally, Load your jeans in a washing machine, set the temperature level to maximum, and wash. Hot water can take away the extra color from your denim – several such hot water washes can help to fade the color a little bit. But if you are after radical change this is not going to satisfy you.

Some even recommend using salt to lighten your jeans. Jeans are soaked in a salt solution for half an hour and agitated with the salt solution. After this you can dry the jeans in full sunlight and leave it there – sun’s rays are supposed to naturally strip the color out of fabric.

Related posts :Bleach printing; How to embellish jeans ; Resist printing; 45 Different types of jeans. ; Different types of jeans washes

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