A New Way to Keep Jeans From Fading

limited-trouser-jean_300Hate when your vibrant jeans start to fade in the wash? Try this smart DIY tip: Just add salt!

While it’s wise to follow the care instructions for fabrics, Catherine Ryu, creative director of jean outfitter Citizens of Humanity, recommends, “If you want to go a step further with dark indigo, black, and colored jeans, add two tablespoons of salt to your cold water wash, making sure jeans are inside out.”

Check out more unexpected natural cleaners.


  1. Janny

    how come adding salt can preserve jeans color.

    October 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm
  2. Rachel Stein

    Hi Janny, great question! It has to do with the iodizing mineral properties in salt. Dark denim will bleed the first time no matter what, the experts say, but the salt wash helps stabilize it.

    October 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm
  3. tcpr

    What kind of salt — Iodized table? Pickling? Sea? Kosher? Rock?

    October 30, 2013 at 1:35 am
  4. Rachel Stein

    Hi, Catherine Ryu recommends table salt (iodized). No need to use their fancy (and sometimes expensive) sea or rock salt for jeans.

    October 30, 2013 at 10:56 am
  5. MaryLynn Byerly

    Do you need to do it every time or just the first time?

    October 31, 2013 at 6:36 pm
  6. karl

    Do you add it in the begining? or during a rinse cycle?

    October 31, 2013 at 8:36 pm
  7. Rachel Stein

    Thanks for the questions—I’ll have answers for you hopefully by Monday. Stay tuned!

    November 1, 2013 at 1:38 pm
  8. jon

    why weren’t all the questions above addressed in the original posting? they are all quite simple and natural questions.

    November 1, 2013 at 5:10 pm
  9. Rachel Stein

    Very sorry about that, Jon.

    November 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm
  10. Carol W

    Will adding salt to your washing machine damage it?


    November 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm
  11. Dean Burns

    No it won’t damage it. It dissolves in the water.

    November 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm
  12. Lenora

    Is it okay to have items (not quite as dark) in the load when you add the salt?

    November 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm
  13. Doug Mac Farlane

    Who the heck EVER wanted their jeans to stay the original color? The more washed out and more WORN looking – – – – THE BETTER THEY LOOK!!!!

    November 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm
  14. durocher

    Not everyone want their expensive indigo jeans to lose their color.

    November 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm
  15. Mike in N.H.

    I purchase Black Color Jeans, as they go with Anything. And Prefer to wear them to Church on a Cold Fall or Winter Day… Had used Purex 2 in my Wash, and it took the
    dye right out of the Jeans… Leaving them WORN looking. Just bought them a few months ago and this was perhaps the fourth time in the wash. Used the Warm / Cold Or Cold / Cold Cycle. Contacted Purex Company Customer Service. They sent me a Letter and a Self Paid for Return Label wanting me to Mail the Faded Jeans to them along with the Box of Purex 2. Guess they wanted to do a Test on the Jeans ? Regardless, I am asking tem to Refund the cost of the Jeans to me since their Product Ruined them. I Always used Clorex 2 Powdered Bleach for a long time. Only switched to Purex when it was on Sale. Regret doing So now. Will be mailing the Jeans to the Purex Customer Service Dept. will wait for what they decide to do. Meanwhile, I am out of another piece of decent clothing to wear. Never knew about the SALT added to the Wash Idea. Will Try it the Next Time I get New Jeans Again….

    November 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm
  16. Rachel Stein

    I’ll be back soon with answers to all of these—thanks, everyone!

    November 4, 2013 at 10:50 am
  17. bob

    Will this work for all dark fabrics?

    November 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm
  18. Rachel Stein

    @MaryLynn Byerly: You can do it as often as you like.

    @karl: Catherine says: “If you want dark dark, fill a large washtub with cold water and 2 tablespoons (or even a cup) of salt.” A basin can be used as well. After soaking, flip jeans inside-out and wash again on cold setting. Jeans should soak for a couple hours minimum or salt can be put in machine with the jeans during the rinse cycle. (So this would be for home machines where you can watch the water fill up and add ingredients directly into the machine, not the detergent slot.)

    @Carol W: No, the salt should rinse out like powder detergent or sand.

    @Lenora: Catherine would not advise washing with other items, as the salt rinse is to keep dark jeans dark. It’s likely that bleeding will occur, you may not want your other items turning colors because of those dark jeans.

    @bob (and Lenora, as well): The salt wash only works on natural fibers; that means no Lycra or polyester.

    Thank you for your thoughtful questions!

    November 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm
  19. Lorianne J

    My mom had taught me this trick many years ago. I use it to stop colors from bleeding, not just jeans. Ironically, I should have used it on my quality, black jeans I washed last week. They now have grey streaks in them.

    November 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm
  20. Mary

    so are you saying to use the salt only during the rinse cycle and not at the beginning of the wash cycle?

    November 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm
  21. Mike NH.

    What About Buying RITZ Black Color DYE and Putting the Jeans in a 5 Gal Bucket With the DYE Mixed in Cold Water and Letting the Jeans Soak for a Day Or so. Then Take them out and rinse them in the Washing Machine ? Would That Work or Not ??? Let me know. I have several pairs of black jeans that turned faded black after a wash or two. You can Email Me at mbnh.1950@yahoo.com. Thanks.. ~ Mike.

    November 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm
  22. Rachel Stein

    Our expert is currently out of town, but I’ll have the answer to your questions as soon as possible. Thank you!

    November 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm
  23. FARIZ

    Mam, u said salt wash only works for natural fibre. i brought alot of black jeans made from lycra. can u suggest any tips for other fabric too. Any suggested will be appreciated

    November 27, 2013 at 9:51 am
    • Mike NH.

      You mention just Add Salt. OK. How Much Salt should you add to a Wash ?
      AND what happens to other articles of clothing if you wash them in the same wash?
      Or Should you just wash the Jeans Separately ? Waiting for your Reply. Thank you for your time and consideration. Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving…

      Nov. 27, 2013 11:40 AM.

      ~ Mike in N.H.~

      November 27, 2013 at 11:41 am
  24. FARIZ

    Mam, u said salt wash only works for natural fabric. i brought alot of black jeans made from lycra. can u suggest any tips for other fabric too. Any suggestion will be appreciated

    November 27, 2013 at 9:53 am
  25. Rachel Stein

    Fariz: I’m not sure about Lyrca, very sorry about that.

    Mike: 2 tablespoons of salt. Wash the jeans separately—dye bleeding may occur. Hope that helps!

    November 27, 2013 at 11:44 am
  26. Sherry

    Thank you for your great tip! Much appreciated!

    February 25, 2014 at 5:45 am
    • Mike NH.

      Wanted to say THANKS Rachel, and others for your information and understanding. Have a Great Day… Spring is Here Finally up in N.H. No More SNOW to deal with till Next Winter…~ Mike.

      April 28, 2014 at 11:28 am
  27. Diana Seaford

    Ok Great answers to the fading grey streak question. I also had never realized the mak black soap powder, or Vingar, or salt. I can’t believ they don’t read all the comments they answer all questions. READ! Don’t gripe. Anyway great answers thanks,…

    March 26, 2014 at 9:58 am
  28. Rochelle

    i have a pair of denim jeans too . i wanted to ask if its okay to add both salt and white viniger in the washing process ….. do ii have to use washing powders too?

    July 8, 2014 at 11:46 pm
  29. Leona Benedict

    I have a pair of jeans that have been washed at least a dozen times and every time I wear them the dye comes off on my hands from touching my pants. The inside does not turn my legs blue. They are a cotton/polyester blend. I’ve washed them in hot thinking that would get the excess dye out, but not so. I usually everything in cold. What should I do.

    November 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm
  30. Jacquie Sorby

    I have a set of indigo pants jack shirt and shorts I purchased in Thailand. I was told to soak them in salt water for several hours before washing in cold with mild detergent. It makes quite a difference.

    December 4, 2014 at 4:46 pm
  31. souren chatterjee

    has anybody tried these advices? did it work? I bought a new pair of designer black jeans, I don’t want them to fade at all… but i am afraid to soak them in salt./vinegar etc. What if they fade it even more?
    So… has anybody tired these tips?

    January 5, 2015 at 4:54 am
    • sharone

      @Souren I tried soaking a t-shirt in salt water when I was about 9 years old and it worked. It was a school P.E. T-shirt, everyone else’s had faded except mine. Washed it normally after that, never faded

      January 26, 2015 at 8:48 am
  32. sharone

    @Souren I tried soaking a t-shirt in salt water when I was about 9 years old and it worked. It was a school P.E. T-shirt, everyone else’s had faded except mine. Washed it normally after that, never faded.

    January 26, 2015 at 8:46 am

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s