How to Lighten a Denim Jacket With Bleach

by Kimberly Johnson

If your dark denim jacket looks drab instead of fab, a total denim makeover may be in your future. Consider lightening that dreary denim by using tried and true chlorine laundry bleach. In a single afternoon, you can transform that frumpy dark color into a lighter blue, a stonewashed look or even a crisp, clean white. The final color is limited only by the amount of time you want to wait for the dye to bleach out.

Use a plastic container, such as a storage tub, that's large enough to hold your jacket with at least 4 to 5 inches left above it. Take the container to an outdoor location that won't be damaged if the bleach spills.

Put on disposable gloves, and fill the tub with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 4 parts lukewarm water.

Put the denim jacket in the bleach-water solution, and push it down with your hands until it is completely submerged. If needed, place a small rock on top of the jacket to keep all of it underwater. Any part that remains above water will not lighten as much as the submerged portion.

Leave the jacket in the bleach for five minutes.

Remove the jacket from the bleach and examine the coloring to determine if it is light enough. If you prefer an even lighter color, place the jacket back into the bleach and check the color every five minutes until you get the color you want.

Pour the bleach water down a drain and refill the tub with clean water. Submerge the jacket in the clean water, and agitate it with your hands to rinse out the bleach residue.

Fill a washing machine with cool water and add one cap full of laundry detergent. Put the jacket in the machine and turn it on. Remove the jacket when it's done.

Hang the denim jacket to air dry or place it in a dryer set to low heat.

Our Everyday Video

Brought to you by LEAFtv
Brought to you by LEAFtv

Items you will need

  • Plastic container
  • Bleach
  • Disposable gloves
  • Rock, optional
  • Laundry detergent
  • Rubber bands, optional


  • To achieve a tie-dye look on the jacket, wrap rubber bands around the fabric before placing it into the bleach water. Once you remove the jacket, cut off the rubber bands with scissors. Wash the jacket to remove the bleach residue, and then dry it.

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images