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Can You Dye Blue Jeans Black? [How to Dye Denim Jeans or Jacket]

Blue jeans are my go-to garment for comfort. I wear them everywhere. They’re getting old and looking tired though. To give them a boost, I’m going to dye them this year’s on-trend color, black. Is it possible? Can you dye blue jeans black?

Yes, blue jeans can be dyed black. Denim jeans are simple to dye as they are cotton, a natural fiber. Fabric containing synthetic fibers can be dyed but will be more tricky. Choose a dye suitable for the fabric blend and follow the instructions on the packet. Going darker than the original color will work best.

Read on to find out how to dye your denim jeans or jacket. We’ll look at the different dyes available and the best tips for dyeing your blue jeans black.

Can You Dye Blue Jeans Black

Can You Dye Blue Jeans Black?

The quick answer is yes, you can. Dying blue jeans black is a simple and effective way to rejuvenate your favorite denim clothing. Thanks to the denim weave in your blue jeans, it’s also very easy to do.

Things are never straightforward, though. There is more than one type of denim. Some of it is natural fiber-based and some denim contains synthetic material. Your favorite jeans might not even be blue. Denim comes in a whole range of colors, from plain white to its polar opposite, black.

Whether you can dye blue jeans or not depends on the fabric blend in your jeans and the color you’re starting with. So, how do you know if the jeans you own can be dyed black? To answer that, we need to look at the difference between denim and blue jeans.

Originally produced in France, the popular weave of the fabric was known as Serge de Nimes. Over time, the French term was anglicized into de-nim or denim. A denim weave creates a heavy and durable fabric, almost canvas-like in appearance but softer to wear.

Traditionally, denim was made from cotton. The cotton yarns were dyed in indigo. This gave the woven denim fabric the classic blue color. Back in 1853, Levi Strauss designed hardwearing denim work pants for the Gold Rush miners in San Francisco. Blue jeans were born.

These days, denim and blue jeans are interchangeable terms used to describe a specific pants style, possessing the famous blue color. A denim weave is used to create more than just blue jeans, though. Jackets, skirts, dresses, and skirts are also made from classic blue fabric.

While cotton is easy to dye a different shade, the synthetic fiber content in the denim weave may prevent the fabric from being dyed. Synthetic material is notoriously difficult to dye post-production. This could mean your blue jeans have to stay blue. Particularly if they are stretch denim or the denim is a synthetic blend.

It’s also difficult to change from a dark color to a lighter one. Dying your blue jeans white could be a recipe for disaster. The white will have trouble covering the darker pigment, leading to streaks and blotches, or worse. An off-white color with a bit of a dull tinge. Dying your light-colored denim to a darker shade will always work better, especially if it’s cotton-based denim.

Another thing to consider before you look into how to dye jeans is, are there special finishes? Some denim is bleached or acid-washed to create an attractive effect. Any chemical additive to the finish of the fabric will need to be removed before dyeing. It could alter the way the dye works or stop it from working altogether.

If your denim is specially treated, it might be easier to forget dyeing it. Buy a new pair of jeans in the shade you want instead.

Why Dye Jeans?

Dye jeans black

Now you’ve identified your denim fabric can be dyed, you’re probably wondering why you need to. There are several reasons to dye your jeans a new color.

If you have an old pair of jeans, the color may have faded. Denim is a fabric that bleeds color when washed the first couple of times. Dyeing your blue jeans back to a vibrant blue will make them look new and stylish.

You may find fashion has changed since you purchased your jeans. A strawberry red may have been the on-trend style a few years ago. Suddenly, it seems dated and it’s ruining your fashionable status. Changing the color to a more up-to-date shade will lift your jeans into the present and boost your street cred.

Blue jeans are known for being a working garment. Because of this, they can get dirty quickly. While some stains can be removed, you’ll always find stubborn marks so embedded in the fabric fiber, you can’t budge them. Dyeing your jeans a darker color may help solve this predicament. It won’t remove the stain, but it will help make it less noticeable.

How to Dye Jeans Black


How to dye blue jeans black 2

Before you begin dyeing your blue jeans black, you’ll need to make sure the denim fabric is clean. Any kind of surface dirt could end up staying on the fabric as you add the color. This could cause isolated spots where the dye hasn’t been able to reach the fibers.

There are three methods for dyeing jeans. The one you pick is determined by the color effect you are looking for and the space you have available.

Using a Sink or Bucket

Ideally, the temperature of the water for the sink or bucket method should be 140ºF. Make sure you use rubber gloves to protect your hands from the heat of the water. You’ll also need to protect your work surfaces from both the dye and the hot water.

If you are not using a sink, make sure your bucket can withstand hot temperatures. As you will need to stir the dye mixture and hot water, you’ll need a long spoon or laundry tongs.

Step 1: Fill your sink or bucket with 3 gallons of hot water. The water level should allow the jeans to move around freely. If you cannot get the water from your faucet or tap hot enough, boil the water on the stove until it reaches 140ºF and add it to your bucket or sink.

Step 2: Add 1 cup of salt. This will give a more vibrant result.

Step 3: Adding a teaspoon of dish detergent will promote an even spread of dye throughout your garment.

Step 4: Check your dye packet for instructions on how much dye to use. Add your dye to the hot water and test your color with a paper towel. If it isn’t dark enough, add more dye.

Step 5: Wet your jeans and remove any excess water. Wearing rubber gloves, add the jeans to the dye water. Stir with a long spoon or laundry tongs continuously. Use a slow swirling motion for at least 10 minutes. This will ensure an even color distribution.

Step 6: Leave your garment in the dye for between 10 minutes to 1 hour. The longer it is in the dye, the darker your clothing will be. When you have reached your desired shade, remove the item. Squeeze to get rid of excess dye. Remember, the fabric will look darker while it’s wet and will dry lighter.

Step 7: Follow the instructions on your dye packet for adding dye fixative. If you need to use some, it will need to be added before the final rinse.

Step 8: Rinse in cool water until the water runs clear. Then wash in warm water with a mild detergent to remove any excess dye. Dry as you would normally.

Once you have finished dyeing your clothing, make sure you clean your bucket or sink. Leaving the dye to dry on surfaces may cause staining.

Using the Stovetop

The first thing to do with the stovetop method is to protect your stove and splashbacks. As the water bubbles in your cooking pot, you might find it spits, covering your stove, countertops, and walls with little drops of dye.

Grab some plastic sheeting or plastic table cloth and cover your work surfaces and nearby walls. For your stovetop, keep some paper towels handy to mop up spills as you go. Protect your hands with rubber gloves.

Step 1: Fill a stainless steel cooking pot with 3 gallons of hot water. Make sure you can swirl your jeans in the water. Cover the pot and heat the water to 200ºF.

Step 2: Add 1 cup of salt to add vibrancy to the color. You will also need to add 1 teaspoon of dish detergent to help the dye spread evenly through the garment.

Step 3: When the water starts to simmer, add your dye. Follow the instructions on the packet for the amount of dye to use based on the size of your jeans. Test your color on a paper towel to see if you have the desired shade. If it’s too light, add more dye. For a lighter shade, add more water.

Step 4: Wet your jeans and add them to your dye and water mix. Simmer at a consistently low temperature throughout your dyeing process. Stir slowly in a circling motion continuously for the first 10 minutes. Use a spoon or laundry tongs to stir. Don’t use your hands.

Step 5: Leave your jeans in the dye for between 10 minutes to an hour. When you have your desired shade, remove your jeans from the dye. Bear in mind, the jeans will look darker when they are wet but will dry lighter. Squeeze out any leftover dye.

Step 6: You might need to use a dye fixative. Check the instructions on your dye packet for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Step 7: Rinse the jeans in warm water. Gradually reduce the water temperature as the dye comes out. Rinse until the water runs clear. Wash in warm water with a mild detergent, rinse and dry as normal.

Using a Washing Machine

How to dye denim

Dyeing your jeans in a washing machine is the most convenient method. It’s quick and easy, allowing you to go off and do something else while the machine does all the work.

You need to make sure your denim is cotton. Synthetic denim or denim containing artificial fibers will need to be dyed using the stovetop method for best results.

  1. Check the instructions on your selected dye to see how much you should use according to the weight or size of your garment.
  2. Pre-wash the clothing to make sure it’s free from dust and debris. Do not use fabric softener and do not dry the garment.
  3. After the final rinse on the pre-wash, leave the wet garment in the machine. Set the machine to the hottest temperature with a wash cycle of at least 30 minutes. You can leave it for longer if you want. The more time the item is in contact with the dye, the darker the final color will be.
  4. Mix your chosen dye with the recommended amount of hot water and stir. The dye packet should tell you how much water to use. Always carry out this step wearing protective rubber gloves, so you don’t dye your hands. Protect your work surfaces from accidental spills.
  5. In a second container, mix one cup of salt with 4 cups of hot water. Add 1 teaspoon of dish detergent to the mix. This helps the dye spread evenly through the wash.
  6. Pour the dye solution into the machine, then pour in the salt solution. If you have a dispenser, remember to flush the dye out with clean water.
  7. Add your dye manufacturer’s recommended fixative before the rinse cycle. Your selected dye should give instructions on whether this step is needed and how to add it.
  8. Re-wash the garment on a warm wash with a mild detergent to remove any excess dye.

A slight downside of this method is there may be some residual dye left in the machine after the dyeing process. Make sure to run the empty machine through a full wash cycle immediately after the dye run has finished. This will ensure any leftover color has been safely removed from the drum.

How Do You Set Dye Color in Blue Jeans?

Commercial dye manufacturers like Rit will recommend you use a dye fixative when you use their dyes. The fixative helps seal the color into the fabric, making your color last longer. These products are available from the same retail store you bought the dye from.

If you don’t have any specially formulated dye fixative, there are some natural products you can use. Salt and vinegar can both be used to set the dye color into the fabric of your blue jeans.

Simply mix 1/4 cup salt with 1 cup of white vinegar. Stir them together and add them to your dye wash before you start to rinse. The salt and vinegar help open up the fibers allowing the dye to penetrate deeper, so it becomes trapped inside the fabric. Allowing your color to last longer.

Although salt and vinegar have been used for generations, newer dyes can be less susceptible, so you may find this fix is only temporary. The best way to prevent color bleed from newly dyed garments is by changing the way you wash them.

Dark colors will fade in hot washes. Once you’ve dyed your blue jeans black, make sure you always wash them in cold water. Adding a little white vinegar to the rinse water can help any escaping color get re-absorbed into the fabric. It’s not an exact science, though. Some colors may still break free, so always wash your dark colors separately from lighter ones.

How to Dye Jeans Black Without Dye

You can dye your jeans black without using a commercially made dye. Simply brew a pot of extra-strong coffee. Make it as strong as you can, and then pour the whole pot of hot, strong coffee all over your jeans. It might be a good idea to put your jeans in a bucket first, so the coffee doesn’t go all over the floor.

It sounds strange, but coffee can be an effective colorant for denim. Better still, you can add coffee as many times as you like. The more coffee you use, the darker your jeans will be.

Step 1: Put your jeans into a heatproof bucket. Make sure the bucket is big enough to be able to move the jeans around. Pour a full pot of hot coffee over your jeans. Stir with a long spoon until the coffee covers all the fabric. Don’t use your hands as the coffee will be hot.

Step 2: Leave the jeans to soak in the coffee overnight. Check the color. If it doesn’t look dark enough yet, brew some more coffee and repeat step 1. Allow standing overnight every time you add more coffee.

Step 3: Once you are happy with the shade, it’s time to wash your jeans. Set your machine on a cold, gentle cycle. Don’t use detergent as this will wash the coffee out. Add a mix of 1/4 cup of salt and 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse to help set the color. Once the cycle has finished, air dry your jeans.

If you’re not a coffee drinker, you can also use tea. Using a similar process, make a brew from around 40 tea bags and allow it to be steep until it is super strong. Then follow the steps above.

Although using a manufactured dye is the best way to dye your jeans black, using coffee or tea can be an effective alternative. It’s also a lot easier to clean up afterward. Bear in mind the coffee and tea may fade after a few washes.

If a temporary dye option is one you are looking for, try using food coloring. This can create some unique and fun color combinations depending on the food color and shade of your jeans. As it’s temporary, if it turns out badly, you can wash it out and start again.

How to Dye a Denim Jacket Black

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Dyeing a denim jacket black is relatively simple. It follows a similar process to dyeing blue jeans black. As both garments are made with the same denim weave, they should react to the dye with comparable results. Follow the steps listed in the How to Dye Jeans Black section above.

However, the fiber content of the fabric in your denim jacket needs to be considered. If it’s made from cotton fiber, it should soak up the dye like a sponge. Any synthetic material included in your garment may have an adverse effect. Synthetic fibers don’t dye well, so you could end up with blotches.

As jackets have more seams, pockets, and buttons than jeans, you’ll have more stitched areas. This means you may have more synthetic material than you realize. With more stitching, you’ll have more thread. As thread these days can contain polyester, your seam lines may not dye as well as the rest of your jacket.

If you don’t want your seams to show, you may find you need to dye your jacket twice. Once with a dye to cover the cotton content. Then once more, with a dye suitable for synthetic content to ensure your threads are covered too.

Best Dye for Jeans

Rit Dye 88150 All Purpose Liquid Dye, Black, 8 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)The best dye for jeans is one designed to be used on clothing. Known as reactive dyes, clothing dyes react with fibers to form a mutual and coexisting bond. In less scientific terms, they become one.

It doesn’t matter if you use a liquid dye or a powered dye, as both types are equally effective. The main difference is the clean-up afterward. The powdered dye can be a bit messier to use.

There are several dye manufacturers who make efficient clothing dyes. Rit and Dylon are possibly the most well-known. Another company, Jacquard, makes iDye which is a water-soluble dye designed to be used in hot water.

All the top brands make dyes suitable for synthetic, natural fibers or a blend between the two. Finding a dye compatible with your jeans should be simple.

Important Things to Remember When Dying Blue Jeans

Dylon Machine Dye 350g 12 Velvet BlackAlthough dyeing blue jeans black is straightforward, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Probably the most important is the original color of your jeans and the color you want to end up with.

The easiest color to redye is blue. Denim fabric starts as an indigo blue fiber, so dyeing it again with a darker blue or even a black dye will work out fine. If you bought your denim jeans in a canary yellow, you could have a few issues.

As the blue denim has already been dyed yellow, any color you add to the mix might react with the yellow. Similarly, if you want your black jeans to go to a lighter color, like white, you may end up with a dyeing disaster.

For best results, always go darker than your original color. If you want white jeans, buy them that way. Dyeing denim white never ends well.

Always check the care label on your garment to know the fiber content you are working with. Different fibers need specific dyes. You’ll have a better dyeing experience if you match the dye to the fiber.

Remember, the color of your dye will appear darker while the fabric is wet. It will always dry to a lighter shade. If you want the darkest shade possible, leave your clothing in the dye for the longest time possible. Follow the instructions on the dye packet for best results.

How to Redye Black Jeans

You can redye your black jeans in the same way as dyeing them. Choose a black dye suitable for the fabric and follow the instructions on the dye packet.

For faded black jeans, you can also try soaking them in coffee or tea. Make sure the brew is as strong as you can make it. Leaving your jeans to soak overnight will ensure they come out as dark as possible.

Redyeing black jeans to a lighter color could be problematic. Although going from blue to black is easy, going the other way isn’t. It might be easier to buy a pair of jeans in a lighter shade.


Now you know how easy dyeing your jeans can be, why not give it a go? Let me know in the comments what color you choose and how you get on. Have you tried going from blue to a lighter shade? How did it turn out?