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How to Lighten Jeans: Explained Step-By-Step

Denim jeans usually come in dark indigo blue color. This leads us to this question. Have you ever thought that the color of your perfect new pair of dark blue denim jeans was just too dark? There are multiple ways that can help you lighten your denim to the wanted light blue tone that you desire.

Jeans And How to Lighten Them

Let’s say you have an old pair of indigo blue jeans, the easiest way to lighten them depends on the type of fabric you are using. Most of the things you can use are items you probably already own in your house.

Here are a few of the most common ways to lighten your jeans:

  • Chemical Color Removers
  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Exposing Them To Direct Sunlight
  • Salt and vinegar
  • Lemon

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Quickest Way of Lightening Jeans

The quickest way to lighten your jeans would be to use a solution made out of bleach and water. This is a great method to use if your jeans don’t contain much elastane and fiber, else you will shorten the lifespan of your jeans. For this reason, I recommend using an older pair of jeans and checking their fiber content before you proceed with bleaching them.

How To Bleach Your Jeans

  • Pick a pair of jeans you don’t mind bleaching. If you are trying this out for the first time, I would recommend using an older pair. This is useful because bleaching also helps with rejuvenating old jeans.
  • Make sure you use safety equipment. This includes safety goggles and gloves. Your hands will sting by the end of this if you aren’t using gloves. Not only should you protect yourself by using safety equipment, but also make sure to cover up and protect the items around you.
  • Don’t use pure bleach. You should use a water-based solution to dilute the bleach into a less concentrated form. Fill a bucket with enough warm water to be able to fully submerge your pair of jeans. Put a cup of bleach into the bucket of water. The bleach should be about ⅕ of the whole solution.
  • Dampen the jeans beforehand. Bleach does wonders with damp clothing. Just a quick 2-minute soak will do. After this, you can place the jeans into the bucket and swirl them around.
  • Leave the jeans for as long as you want for the desired effect. You could take them out as soon as 5 minutes, a light fade could take up to 30 minutes, or if they’re made from quality material you could even leave them overnight.
  • Wash them in cold water. The last step is rinsing them with water. Make sure to thoroughly wash away the bleach residue from your jeans.

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Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide works in the same way bleach does. It’s also an ingredient that can be found in oxygen bleach. It is safer for fabrics, just a bit slower. The procedure is just the same. Make sure you’re in a ventilated area or do this outside. Don’t forget your safety equipment (goggles and gloves). Fill the bucket with water as needed. Add a cup of hydrogen peroxide to the water. Then, submerge the jeans and leave them for about 20 minutes or more, depending on how light you desire the color to be. After that, you should rinse them out with water, or put them in the washing machine and let them air dry.

Chemical Color Removers

The most popular way to lighten your jeans besides bleaching them is to use chemical color removers. Rit is a vegan, eco-friendly color remover that comes in the form of powder. It does not contain bleach, and that’s why it might not work as well as you expect it to. There are not many steps to this procedure. Just like with the bleach, you add the color remover into a bucket with bubbling warm water of about 100 degrees. You stir them and watch over them for 10 to 20 minutes. Then wash your jeans in the machine with laundry detergent as you normally would, just make sure to not mix them with any other clothes. After they are done, you can keep them as they are or redye them with another color.

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Using Direct Sunlight

The easiest method for naturally lightening your jeans would be to leave them out in the sun. This, however, will not provide you with effects as strong as bleach or chemical removers. Sunlight is a great option to lighten your jeans, as it naturally lightens fabrics and even your hair. You have to be patient when using this method. You can leave your pair of jeans in the sun for however long you want, even for a couple of days.

Salt and Vinegar

Another great method you probably didn’t think of is just using salt. What’s great about this is the fact that everyone has table salt at hand. Moreover, the abrasive nature of this compound is perfect for loosening up the fibers in the jeans. This leads to the exposure of the whiter threads of the denim. As with the previous methods, you fill a bucket of water. Use as much water as needed to cover the jeans properly. Add two cups of salt into the water and submerge the pair of jeans into the solution. Another option is to add vinegar. All this does is strengthen the fabric of the jeans. You can leave the jeans as long as you want, as long as you make sure to stir them from time to time. Then, wash them separately in the washing machine.


Just like regular bleach or hydrogen peroxide, lemon lightens jeans effectively. You use the same procedure. Excluding the fact that you need more lemons, makes this a more natural but also a more expensive option.

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Final words

When your dark indigo blue jeans are too dark and you’re bored of them, a fun thing to do is to bleach them. You don’t even have to fully bleach or lighten them, you could also try bleaching certain spots or making different patterns. Whatever you end up using, just make sure you stay safe and follow the procedures.