How to Bleach Wash Jeans

by Heide Braley

Bleached jeans were the rage in the late sixties and early seventies. Kids went to great lengths to make their jeans look as worn as possible to the point that manufacturers even started selling bleached and torn jeans. It is a practice that some people cannot understand as they enjoy the new look of purchases and wouldn't think of paying money for an old-looking garment. While the practice of selling bleached jeans has continued, the process of bleaching your own at home is a little less popular. With a few tools, you can make your jeans have that well worn and faded look.

Items you will need

  • Bleach
  • Baking soda
  • Rubber gloves
  • Sponge
Step 1

Choose a pair of jeans. They can be new or old, it doesn't matter. Make sure there is nothing in the pockets and remove any belt if necessary. Lay them out on the kitchen counter or any other surface that won't be harmed by the bleach.

Step 2

Mix 1/2 cup of bleach with 1 cup of water in a glass bowl. Put on the gloves and dampen the sponge in the liquid and dab on the seams around the pockets and the inner seams of the legs, the bottom hems and on the zipper and button seams. Turn the jeans over and continue on the seams that line the pockets.

Step 3

Turn the jeans back over so the front is facing up. Using the damp sponge, (not dripping wet) wet the area around and at the knee. Try not to let it run through to the back side, wetting the knee the most and working up the thigh.

Step 4

Drop the jeans into a wash machine with cold water. Add a half cup of baking soda to neutralize the bleach. Do not mix them with other laundry. Allow the machine cycle to run through (without any detergent) and then dry the jeans as usual.

Step 5

Check the jeans for the desired affect. If necessary, repeat. Be careful not to leave the bleach solution on for very long as it will cause the threads to deteriorate and fall apart, leaving you with a rag instead of a cool pair of jeans. The jeans can now be worn and washed as normal.


  • If you are not too conservative, try different variations, like tying the jeans in knots and then dipping them in a bucket of bleach solution.


  • Bleach fumes are strong and proper ventilation should be used for safety. Rinse off any counters or work surfaces with water.

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About the Author

Maryland resident Heide Braley is a professional writer who contributes to a variety of websites. She has focused more than 10 years of research on botanical and garden articles and was awarded a membership to the Society of Professional Journalists. Braley has studied at Pennsylvania State University and Villanova University.