There’s nothing better than finding that perfect, faded pair of blue jeans – but what about when you can’t find them faded exactly as you want?
Blue jeans have been around since the 1800s and were adopted by cowboys and miners before being rocked by Hollywood legends and rock stars.
Becoming known for their cool edge and rebellious association, blue jeans became even more popular when they were ripped, faded, and worn in – ideally, on purpose.
So while more and more brands are selling their own version of that already worn-in denim, it’s not always easy to find the perfect pair.
Luckily, there are several tips on “how to fade jeans at home” to get that organically faded look that doesn’t just involve wearing your jeans until they’re about to fall off.
How Light Should I Go?
Before you start lightening your jeans, it’s good to come up with a game plan – meaning, how light do you want them to be?
Odds are if you’re looking to lighten and fade your jeans that you’re not looking to wear them anywhere formal.
Having said that, keeping your jeans on the darker side can make you look a little more put together, while super light jeans give off more of that edgy rebel vibe.
It’s important to note that the more you lighten your jeans, the more you will weaken the fabric, which isn’t always the most ideal look unless you’re planning on ripping your jeans as well.
Can You Lighten Jeans Without Bleach?
Although bleach is usually most effective, there are several ways to lighten your jeans without bleach, including the “natural bleach” of lemon juice!
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to fade jeans, both with and without bleach.
Best Way to Fade Jeans
We’ve rounded up the best ways to fade jeans, which can all be achieved with products or ingredients you already have at home.
Lighten Jeans with Bleach
Let’s start with the most obvious way to fade jeans, which is lightening them with bleach.
There are several options when it comes to fading your jeans at home with bleach that don’t just involve immersing the entire pair in a bucket of the stuff.
You can take a whack at tie-dyed look by tying your jeans up, so the bleach only reaches some of the fabric, or even use a sponge.
As mentioned above, it’s important to remember that this method will most definitely weaken the fabric of your jeans, so keep a close eye on the process and proceed with caution.
While there’s not necessarily a right and wrong way to lighten your jeans with bleach, here is a general idea on how to do it:
Cover your work area thoroughly with newspapers and grab some gloves.
Throw on an apron or some clothes you don’t mind ruining with possible bleach splatter. Use a large bucket, a bathtub, or your washing machine for the bleaching process.
Fill up with hot water and half a cup of bleach. If your goal is to achieve that all-over bleached look, then make sure your jeans don’t relax too much and keep them as flat as you possibly can using a stick.
Keep an eye on your jeans. Once they get to a shade that you like, take them out of the water and hang them to dry. Once dry, wash them in a regular washing cycle.
Fade Jeans with Lemon Juice
We know that lemon juice is a natural bleach, but can it really fade your jeans?
Yes, in fact, it can! Lemons are a great way to fade jeans without using chemicals, and it only requires a few lemons to complete the job.
How to do it:
Use a bucket of water, your bathtub, or even a hose to completely douse your jeans in water, making sure they’re completely soaked.
Next, ring out your jeans to remove all the extra water and empty the rest of the water from the bucket.
For the lemon juice, you can either squeeze the lemons yourself or buy 100% lemon juice and smother your jeans in it completely.
It’s important to note that lemon juice will not immediately bleach your jeans, so don’t expect quite the same power that you might get from bleach.
This process will take a few hours or more, depending on how faded you’d like your jeans to look.
Once you’ve achieved the perfect fade, remove your jeans from the bucket and hang them to dry.
If you’re hanging them outside, you can hose down your jeans first to stop any additional fading, but if you don’t mind the lemons working their magic, let them hang in the sun!
Fade Jeans with Sandpaper
This method works best if you’re not trying to fade your entire pair of jeans (unless you’re up for many hours of manual work).
This is a great method to use if you’re trying to fade patches on the knee or you’re hoping to achieve that naturally ripped jean vibe.
All you need to do is get 180 grit sandpaper or even a pumice stone before rubbing it on the area you want to lighten.
You will eventually rub away the fabric completely if you’re not careful, so keep that in mind if you’re not aiming for a rip.
Once you’ve achieved your desired look, simply throw your jeans in the washing machine to get rid of excess dye, and you’ve got faded jeans!
Lighten Jeans with Coffee
Most coffee varieties are acidic (especially when brewed), making this an ideal choice to fade your jeans quickly.
While this method is easiest to pull off when you’re just trying to lighten patches, you can definitely lighten your entire pair of jeans with them if you’re willing to put in the work.
To lighten your jeans with coffee, all you need to do is take a good handful of coffee beans and rub them into the areas where you want your jeans to fade.
Once they’re at your desired shade, pour boiling water overtop of your jeans to rinse them. Run your jeans through a regular cycle to remove the coffee residue, and enjoy telling people that you faded your jeans using your morning coffee.
Fade Jeans with Salt
Another great natural way to lighten your jeans is with an ingredient that you’re guaranteed to have in your cupboard – salt.
While the salt itself is not going to lighten your jeans much, it will soften them enough so you can more effortlessly scrub the areas you wish to fade further.
You can achieve the perfect faded look for your denim jeans with salt by mixing about a cup or two with water in a 5-gallon bucket and letting it soak for a day or two.
While this process clearly takes a lot longer than any other method, it gives you a nice faded look overall.
How to Fade Jeans Naturally
While all of these methods are very well and good, you may not want to risk ruining your favorite jeans with bleach or another acidic substance.
We get it. So, what else can you do? You can let your jeans fade naturally by just wearing them as much as possible.
That’s right, we’re suggesting that you wear your jeans for days straight without washing them, sleeping in them to expedite friction, and generally just wearing the heck out of them.
For sanitary reasons, you may want to just wear your jeans at home while you figure out this fading process, but you do you.
When you do decide to wash your jeans, you’ll notice a nice, natural fade that didn’t require bleach, lemons, sandpaper, or coffee.
Wear Your Jeans Inside Out
Another interesting way of fading your jeans naturally is actually to try wearing them inside out.
Probably another method you only want to try at home, but it does work due to the friction of your skin rubbing against the denim fabric.
While not the most comfortable for you, it does help speed up the fading process, so you can naturally get that coveted worn-out look.
There are several great ways to fade your jeans at home, many of them using natural ingredients that you can find in your cupboard.
While it may be easier to go out and buy your own perfectly faded pair of jeans, they’re not going to have that same worn-in feel as your favorite pair and are probably going to cost you exorbitant amounts of money.
Who knew that a naturally faded look would cost so much more than a regular pair of jeans?
Try any of these methods above to effortlessly fade your jeans at home and let us know which worked best for you when fading jeans!