How Do You Fade Denim?

fade-denim Credit: Triplejohnny/CC-BY-2.0

Fade denim by laundering it frequently. Speed up the process by using bleach if desired. Soaking the denim for significant periods of time and drying it in the sun also helps it fade faster.

  1. Decide how quickly you want to fade the denim

    Fading denim with bleach or soaking it in bleach is fast but also breaks down the fibers of the denim. Using a slower method to fade the denim gives a more-natural fading pattern and also preserves the clothing fibers.

  2. Wash the denim with bleach for fast fading

    Put 1 quart of bleach into the washing machine, and fill the machine with warm water. Let the machine start agitating. Then put your denim into the water, pushing it under the surface if necessary with a wooden spoon or dowel. Let the denim agitate in the washer for another couple of minutes. Stop the machine, and let the denim soak for no longer than 30 minutes. Drain the water out. Wash the denim items again with detergent, and rinse them thoroughly to stop the bleaching process.

  3. Wash the denim without bleach for slower fading

    Wash your denim in warm water with an abrasive detergent, such as powder detergent. Stop the machine after it agitates for a few minutes. Let the clothing soak for 2 hours. Finish the laundry cycle, and dry the denim in the sun if at all possible. Repeat this step several times for more-extreme fading.

  4. Prevent further fading

    Once your denim has faded to the level you desire, wash it in cold water with a gentle detergent to prevent additional fading. Do not hang the denim items in the sun to dry.