Image showing the different shades of bleach

How to Bleach Denim Jeans: A Step-by-Step Guide to DIY Denim Bleaching Techniques

Denim jeans have always been a staple in fashion, but trends come and go. If you find yourself with a closet full of outdated denim, don’t fret! 

With a little bleach and some creativity, you can update your style and give your old jeans a new lease on life. We will walk you through the process of bleaching denim jeans step by step in this complete guide. You’ll learn the best techniques, safety precautions, and how to care for your newly bleached garments.

Safety Precautions

Before we dive into the bleaching process, it’s crucial to prioritise safety. Bleach is a dangerous chemical that can be harmful if not handled properly. 

To protect yourself and your environment, take the following precautions:

  • Never mix bleach with any other chemicals. This can result in dangerous reactions.
  • Wear safety equipment such as rubber gloves and safety eyewear.
  • Choose an adequately ventilated area to work in.
  • Cover your work area with plastic tablecloths or old newspapers to prevent splashes.
  • Conduct a patch test on a hidden spot of the garment before proceeding.

You may ensure a safe and successful bleaching procedure by following these safety precautions.

Choosing the Right Bleach

When it comes to bleaching denim, it’s essential to choose the right type of bleach. Regular household bleach is the most common option. 

Avoid using concentrated bleach, as it can damage the fabric. If you opt for bleach powder, dissolve it in water before applying it to the denim. 

Remember, equal parts of bleach and water are typically used, but you can adjust the ratio to achieve your desired fade.

Preparing the Work Area

Before you start bleaching your jeans, it’s crucial to prepare your work area. This will help you avoid accidents and damage to your environment. 

Follow these steps to set up your workspace:

  • Lay down plastic tablecloths or old newspapers to cover your work area.
  • Ensure proper ventilation by opening windows or using a fan.
  • To protect your skin and eyes, put on rubber gloves and safety eyewear.
  • If you’re working with a specific design, use tape or plastic to cover the areas you want to keep unbleached.

Taking the time to set up your workspace properly will make the bleaching process more efficient and minimize any potential mishaps.

Bleaching Techniques

Now that you’re ready to begin the bleaching process let’s explore the various techniques you can use to achieve different effects on your denim jeans.

  • The Soak Method

The soak method is the most popular technique for fading denim jeans. It allows you to achieve an even fade and control the level of lightness. 

Follow these steps for the soak method:

  • Fill a bathtub or a large basin with equal parts hot water and bleach.
  • Submerge your jeans in the bleach solution, making sure they are fully soaked.
  • Stir the jeans occasionally to ensure even exposure, and check for your desired colour.
  • After achieving the desired fade, wring out the jeans and transfer them to a washing machine.
  • Wash the jeans in cold water without detergent to stop the fading process.
  • Air dry the jeans to assess the final shade. If you want a lighter fade, repeat the process.

The soak method is versatile and allows you to fade the entire garment or specific sections for a customised look.

  • The Spray Method

If you prefer a more artistic approach, the spray method is perfect for creating unique designs on your denim jeans. 

Follow these steps for the spray method:

  • Equal parts of water and bleach should be placed in a spray bottle halfway.
  • Lay your jeans flat on a covered surface, ensuring easy access to the areas you want to lighten.
  • Spray the bleach solution onto the jeans, focusing on the desired sections.
  • Allow the jeans to sit for five minutes, then transfer them to a suitable container to prevent dripping.
  • Wash the jeans in cool water without detergent.
  • Let the jeans air dry to reveal the final result.

The spray method allows for creative expression and is an excellent way to achieve a distressed or vintage look on your denim jeans.

  • The Splatter Method

For a more artistic and unique style, try the splatter method. This technique involves using a paintbrush, dropper, or toothbrush to splatter bleach onto your denim jeans. 

Follow these steps for the splatter method:

  • Protect your workspace with plastic sheeting or newspapers.
  • In a container, mix equal parts water and bleach.
  • Arrange your jeans to expose the areas you want to lighten.
  • Dip a brush or toothbrush into the bleach mixture and flick droplets onto the denim.
  • Alternatively, use a medicine dropper to create specific designs with the bleach mixture.
  • After achieving the desired effect, wash the jeans in cool water and air dry them.

The splatter method allows for maximum creativity and can result in a unique, artistic look on your denim jeans.

  • The Salt Method

If you prefer to avoid using bleach, you can try the salt method to achieve a faded and distressed look on your denim jeans. 

Follow these steps for the salt method:

  • Fill your washing machine with cool water.
  • Add two cups of table salt to the water.
  • Place your denim jeans in the saltwater bath and let them sit for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Run your jeans through a regular wash cycle to remove the salt.
  • Air dry your jeans to assess the final fade.

The salt method abrades the fibres of the denim, resulting in a faded and distressed look without using bleach.

  • The Washing Machine Method

For a simple and hassle-free approach, you can use the washing machine to bleach your denim jeans. 

Follow these steps for the washing machine method:

  • Add half a cup of bleach to your washing machine and fill it with cool water.
  • Place your denim jeans in the machine and let them soak for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Drain the water and run a cool water cycle without detergent.
  • Air dry your jeans and assess the final result. Repeat the process if a lighter shade is desired.

The washing machine method is convenient and allows you to bleach your jeans without extensive manual labour.

Bleaching Stretch Jeans

If you’re working with stretch jeans, it’s important to take extra precautions to preserve their elasticity. 

Follow these tips when bleaching stretch jeans:

  • Use less bleach in your solution to avoid damaging the synthetic fibres.
  • Limit the exposure time of the jeans to the bleach solution.
  • Immediately after rinsing the jeans, soak them in a hydrogen peroxide bath for approximately 20 minutes to counteract the fading process.
  • Wash the jeans on a cold cycle in the washing machine and air dry them.

By following these steps, you can safely bleach your stretch jeans while minimising the risk of damaging the fabric.

Bleaching Black Jeans

Bleaching black jeans can be a bit more challenging than bleaching lighter denim. To achieve the desired fade, you may need to expose the black fabric to the bleach solution for a longer period of time. 

Here are some tips for bleaching black jeans:

  • Using the washing machine approach, submerge the jeans in hot water and bleach for about one hour.
  • To prevent yellowing, hang the jeans to air dry instead of using a dryer.
  • If the jeans develop a yellow hue, wash them again in cold water with a bluing agent to counteract the yellowing.

Bleaching black jeans requires patience and careful monitoring to achieve the desired result without compromising the fabric.


Bleaching denim jeans is a fun and creative way to update your wardrobe and give your old jeans a fresh, new look. Whether you prefer a subtle fade or an artistic design, the techniques discussed in this guide can help you achieve the desired result. 

Remember to prioritise safety, choose the right bleach, and take proper care of your bleached jeans. With these tips and a little creativity, you can transform your denim jeans into fashion-forward pieces that reflect your unique style. 

So go ahead, grab your bleach, and start experimenting with different bleaching techniques to create your personalised denim masterpiece!