Black jeans, like any garment made of natural fibres and dyed black have a propensity to fade. If you have a look at your new black jeans, the care label will read “designed to fade”. This covers the manufacturer against the fact that denim, generally a 100% cotton twill weave fabric, does not hold dye well. The fading of jeans is not only a black issue but also happens with blue jeans that fade into the soft comfortable light blue. (Synthetic fabrics tend not to fade as the colour is part of the manufacturing process of the yarn.)

So you have bought your wonderful new black jeans; how do you keep them looking sharp?

The short answer is you can’t. BUT you can slow down the process with these tips.

  • The first time you wash your jeans throw a handful of salt in the wash. This is a mordant and will help set the dye.
  • Always wash them in a dark coloured load because you don’t need your whites going grey.
  • Wash in cold water, the warm or hot wash leeches out colour and can shrink them.
  • Wash them and hang them inside out. Washing them inside out helps reduce friction on the outside of the garment wearing the dye away and hanging them inside out helps avoid fading from sunlight.
  • Hang them to dry in the shade. This again is the sunlight thing, sunlight bleaches fabric so hang your whites in full sunlight and blacks in the shade.
  • Try using a fabric detergent designed to be used on blacks or dark colours, there are a number of brands out there. I use Radiant Black in Australia and Dreft Dark in the UK. These work quite well at staving off the colour leech.
  • If you are brave enough you can redye your blacks using commercially available dyes such as Dylon. I recommend you read the instructions throughly, wear old clothes and rubber gloves and do not attempt it on favourite pieces of clothing for your first go.

Using these tips will not stop your black jeans and clothes from fading but it will slow down the downward spiral into off-black and washed-out grey. Also bear in mind that there are a number of services that will dye your blacks back to black at a reasonable charge.

A small side note. Radiant Black, the washing detergent has a quite distinctive smell. In the Melbourne goth scene you can literally pick the large number of goths who use the product from the smell.

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