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How to Dye Jeans

Rit Dye

By Rit Dye Team

April 14, 2017

Project Description

Do you love the fit of a pair of old jeans but wish you could update the color? You only need a few supplies to take that favorite pair of faded jeans and make them new again and it's super simple!


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Prep, dyeing & Rinse time: About 2 hours

Rit Products Used


You'll Also Need

  •   4 gallon pot

  •   dishwashing liquid

  •   large metal spoon

  •   rubber gloves

  •   salt

Step By Step

  1. Gather supplies. Prewash jeans to remove any finishes that may interfere with dye absorption. Estimate the weight of your dry jeans. (If possible, use a food scale.) These jeans weighed 14 ounces. As a guideline, ½ cup (half bottle) of liquid dye will color up to 16 ounces of dry weight fabric. To achieve a dark, more intense color, Rit suggests doubling the dye so I used 1 bottle of dye.

  2. Wet jeans in warm water and squeeze out excess water. The wet fabric will absorb the dye more evenly and prevent splotchy results.

  3. Fill dishpan, bucket or sink with 3 gallons very hot tap water (140° F). Note: If water is not hot enough, heat some water in a tea kettle or in the microwave. Wearing rubber gloves, shake dye bottle and pour into the water.

  4. Measure 1 cup of salt; dissolve with 2 cups very hot water and stir well. Add to dye bath.

  5. Add squirt of dishwashing liquid.

  6. Stir well. Test dye color to be sure you are satisfied. Note: If color is too light, add more dye. If color is too dark, add more water.

  7. Immerse jeans in dye bath and stir continuously for 20 minutes, then occasionally for 10 minutes or until desired color is achieved (up to one hour).

  8. The longer the jeans remain in the dye bath, the darker the color will be. (Color will appear lighter when dry.) Stirring helps to ensure an even color.

  9. Remove jeans from dye bath and squeeze out excess dye.

  10. To enhance the color and reduce color bleeding, use Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative immediately after dyeing and before washing. Add four tablespoons of ColorStay Dye Fixative to three gallons of hot water. Stir well. Place dyed jeans into the bath and stir occasionally for 20 minutes.

  11. Rinse in cold running water until water begins to run clear. Then wash jeans in warm water with mild detergent, rinse, dry and iron.

  12. And done! It's like having a new pair of jeans!

  • Kimmi Tyler

    Do they need to be 100% cotton or should this work with the more common jeans with 1-2% spandex content?

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye


    The salt might act to dry out the pine needles, not sure if that would be helpful.

    Thank you,
    Rit Dye

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Natalie,

    Our Rit All Purpose will work effectively on this fabric. However, removing indigo from the jeans will not be effective. Here are some tips to help you:https://www.ritdye.com/techniques/the-basics/how-to-dye-101/. Hope this helps!

    Thank you,
    Rit Dye

  • angie pike

    Help! I dyed my old faded jeans using Navy, but they came out looking lavender. Can they be saved?

    • missbike

      Just do the process again. Use more dye, in the bucket. You got lavender cause there wasn’t enough dye to build up to navy.

  • http://www.ritdye.com Julie Borrelli

    I am dying a pair of jeans that
    61% cotton
    35% polyester
    4% polyerthane
    Which formula would you recommend? They are white jeans that I am dying gray.

  • Crystlrayne

    I attempted to dye a pair of shorts black and they barely turned a dark purplish denim. I used the washing machine method and one bottle of liquid dye. I threw in a couple white shirts that were stained. They came out a darker grey. I’m not sure if I had too many items, not hot enough water or what?
    Any suggestions?

    • missbike

      You need to use more dye. Do it in a bucket, washing machines are easy, but don’t work best. You need the soak for dark colors – and enough dye.

  • https://www.ritdye.com RitDye

    Hello Cherylann, It isn’t necessary however, it is highly recommended for color retention and reduced bleeding. The vinegar isn’t to help set the dye it’s for color intensity. Thanks! Sade’@RitDye




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