How to Whiten Jeans

by Chance Henson

Whitening a pair of blue jeans can be a time-consuming and difficult project, because manufacturers use indigo dye to give the garments their distinctive blue look. Unlike other dyes, which are absorbed by materials, indigo clings to the outside of the material's fibers, making it impossible to remove without partially damaging the garment. One way to whiten blue jeans is by using the corrosive properties of chlorine bleach to deteriorate the indigo pigment.

Choose a well-ventilated place or work outdoors. Turn on a fan or open a window to ensure that the workspace has adequate air circulation.

Cover your work surface with newspapers or plastic trash bags. Slip on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from the harsh bleach. Wear old clothes or an apron to protect your clothing from bleach splashes.

Fill a plastic bucket or washtub with a solution of 12 parts hot water to one part bleach. Make sure that there is enough water to submerge the jeans completely.

Soak the jeans in the bleach solution for five minutes.

Rinse the jeans with fresh water, then soak them in the bleach again. Repeat the process until the jeans are sufficiently lightened.

Remove the jeans from the solution and carry them in a plastic bag to the washing machine to avoid dripping.

Wash the jeans alone in warm water and mild detergent. Dry the pants in the dryer or air dry.

Items you will need

  • Newspapers
  • Buckets or washtub
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Plastic bags
  • Laundry detergent


  • Use extreme care when working with bleach.
  • Never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or acids -- doing so will create a toxic gas.

About the Author

Chance Henson earned a B.A. in English literature and a writing minor from Lamar University. While interning at the "University Press" newspaper and "UP Beat" magazine he received an award for news feature writing from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. Henson went on to serve as content editor for "CUSH Magazine," eventually leaving to pursue the development of an online secular humanist educational publication.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images