Reviving faded jeans

I’ve had a pair of jeans that I’ve loved for several years. (Probably because they were the first pair of normal, my previous size, jeans that I could wear after the twins were born. They were also actually long enough. Most jeans I find are about an inch too short and it drives me nuts.

Well, after wearing them frequently over the last few years, the color isn’t so vivid anymore. I bought some dye over a year ago, planning to dye them back to health. Then I realized I would need a large tub or pan to do it. The dish pans I had used for other projects weren’t going to cut it. My only option would be to use the washing machine.

I envisioned all my clothes (and the washing machine) turning a lovely (or not) shade of blue. So the dye landed on the top shelf of the laundry room and gathered dust.

Step 1

The jeans and dye in the water. Again I forgot the before photo. Imagine faded denim almost destined for the rag bag or only to be worn to rake leaves.

For some reason this morning, the directions didn’t seem so messy or scary nor the dying effects on the washing machine so permanent. I threw the jeans, dye, salt and hot water into the washing machine. By threw, I mean poured very carefully so as not to splash navy denim dye all over my clothes, hands and laundry room. I even wore rubber gloves.

jeans picture 2

The glamorous rubber gloves and bottle of dye.

I hovered around the machine as it agitated the pants and the dye in the dark blue dye. I don’t know if I was expecting an explosion or what, but everything seemed to go smoothly.  After the process finished, I do indeed have two pair of much darker jeans.

The interior of the washing machine was a not pretty blue. It was more of a grimy blue, but after following the instructions on the dye package and a little scrubbing, the washing looks as good as new (or new to us).

Interior of washing machine

Because I know you were all dying (ha ha) to see the inside of my washing machine.

After washing and drying the jeans, the color faded some, but looks good. I’m excited to have another pair of non-grubby jeans.

Finished jeans

Not too bad. Some of the wear spots are still lighter and the worn fabric in the bum is not any thicker, but boy do they look good.

Finished capries
This is the pair of capris. They have cuffs at the bottom that used to be a lighter color than the jeans. They are now the same color. Since I probably won’t wear these again until next summer, I will have to wait until then to decide if it looks weird.



  1. You and your projects are such an inspiration to me. I’ve got materials and supplies scattered all over my house because I haven’t taken the time to just do them. And I don’t have the excuse of having three pre-school age children in the house. Nice job on the jeans! Isn’t it fun to get extra life out of something you’ve loved to wear?


  2. I’ve tried a dye job once. I have to admit (bad Tess!) that I went to a laundromat to do it rather than use my own machine. I had a sweater set that I’d splashed bleach on while cleaning up after cutting DNA bone samples, and it had white splotches all over it. I dyed it, pulled it out in great excitement only to find that all the splotches had become holes! Boo, hiss! So glad your experience was smoother.


  3. My dye job was tie dying with many colors. I wasn’t smart enough to wear gloves or old clothes. It was a girl scout project after all. I had one outfit complete with matching hands of fushia, blue and yellow spots. Dye takes a long time to wear off the skin. Good job with the gloves Joselyn. I tossed my clothes!
    W.S. Gager
    W.S. Gager on Writing


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