A Cheap Dye Job

By Kate Riley April 27, 2011

A favorite pair of jeans is like … a favorite pair of jeans.  Really, once you’ve broken in a pair that fits your backside to perfection, they really are an irreplaceable treasure.

I was switching out my winter and spring wardrobe the other day and pulled out my most favorite pair of summer capris I’ve ever owned.  Ever.  I confess I’ve even fallen asleep in them a few times, they’re that comfortable, and I don’t ever say that about denim.  I’m more of a lover of yoga pants, but these denim capris have the perfect amount of stretch and softness.  They are my favey faves. 

I’ve washed them a zillion times and they were showing it.  Everyone has their preference when it comes to the perfect shade of denim, but for me, these were way too faded to be worn out of the house.  These days as I creep closer to 40, I’m hopelessly devoted to dark wash, it’s just a little more slimming ay?

Meet my beloved crop denim jeans in their saddest state.

faded capri jeans before


Notice the excessively deep crouch lines.

faded jeans before


No, I did not say crotch, I said crouch.  I would never use the word crotch in a blog post, I’m too much of a lady.  I’ve earned these crouch lines cleaning up after kids and all those squats I do every day for the benefit of my gluteus maximus.  Actually that last part isn’t true, I can’t remember the last time I did a squat for the sake of exercise alone. 

I simply could never part with these jeans because they fit me so well, but mostly because this pair tells me two things I want to hear every single day of my life and it’s written right on the Jolt tag.  They are my daily affirmation.

“Live Your Own Dream, Follow Your Heart”


“You’re a size 5!”

live your dream affirmation


My scale begs to differ.

scale talking

Must be all that cheese

Scales are such Debbie Downers.


Anyway, in a desperate attempt to restore my beloved cropped denim pants, I bought this $2 dollar pack of Rit Dye. 

rit dye for jeans


According to the directions, there are several methods: stovetop, washing machine, or bucket. 


As an amateur, I was too chicken to put dark blue dye in my washer, or in a pot I cook with.  It was then that I had a Lucy moment.  Hey I’ll just use my husband’s car wash bucket, he’ll never know!  I’ll get rid of all the evidence before he comes home! 

I mixed up about 10 cups of boiling water and the dye powder, and then (biting my nails in trepidation) dipped my jeans into the mix. 

dunk in dye


Then I stirred and stirred and waited five whole minutes.  Then I couldn’t take it anymore, I could hear my jeans crying out to me to save them from the torture. 

stir dye mix


I pulled them out, and wrung the dye out as best as possible with my hands.

violet hands

Note to self: in the future, wear gloves to avoid Violet Beauregarde hands.

Second note to self: moisturize more often.

After rinsing the jeans till the water ran clear in my bathtub, then drying them in my dryer, I was pleased to discover I had a ‘new’ pair of jeans. 

before jeans


jeans after dye


I was shocked how the threads stayed mostly true to their color too, maybe because I left them in for only 5 minutes?  Anyone know?  I’m just amazed how these jeans came back to life with a cheap dye job.

*Reader update: it’s because the threads are synthetic.  Good to know!

new colored jeans


Most importantly, my daily affirmation remains, albeit a little muddied from the dye.

affirmation darker

“Live Your Own Dream, Follow Your Heart”


“You’re a size 5!”

Thank you beloved jeans, thank you.

How cool to have a new pair of old jeans that fits me to perfection!  And ones that can be worn out of the house and won’t embarrass my husband or children.

new dyed jeans


So now I just have this little problem called a full bucket of dye that I’m thinking shouldn’t be dumped down the drain or near where it could affect a water source (but then again, you can use this stuff in a washing machine).   

A big bucket of dye.  Sitting in my husband’s weekend carwash bucket.  That I sheepishly hid around the back corner of our house cause I’m worried about dumping it down the drain.* 

Come Saturday afternoon, this conversation will occur. 

carwash bucket

Oh wait, he reads my blog. 

I’m thinking the jig is up. 



* YAY, reader update: there is a safe way to dispose, thank you Sarah!



  1. Wow!! What a great transformation!! I have always wondered how well it worked! I have a pair of black jeans that faded on me, now after seeing how easy it is, I think I will try it!! I also want to dye my housecoat!! Thanks for the review!!!

  2. Fantastic posts, one of your best and funniest. I’d love a follow-up on what you do with the dye water. :)

  3. Okay, first of all, totally hilarious post. Love your sense of humor. Secondly I am blown away by the success with the jeans. I never would’ve thought the thread would stay true to color and they seriously look brand new. Maybe we could start dying our yoga pants back to dark black too. haa-haa. I have almost purchased dye several times in the past couple of months and just haven’t taken the plunge yet. Definitely need to try this.

  4. heheheh I dont know how many times I have done that same thing with the hubs car wash bucket. He now hides his. I love the idea of dying the jeans great job they look brand new.

  5. Laughed out loud with your crouch/crotch distinction. I never would have guessed that would work and the color looks so even! Denim on a Dime! ~Tracy

  6. OMG!! I have been looking at my favourite pair of jeans and been getting upset by their fadedness. I was always wondering if there was a “denim dye”. Thank you thank you thank you for this!!! *runs off to buy some dye*

  7. I have a favorite denim pencil skirt and jeans I have been wanting to do this to for awhile, yours turned out so well!!! Be careful about the first few washes though, some of the dye might come out!

  8. What a great idea! I never would have thought of that, but it’s amazing how good those jeans look! You’re right, it’s like a completely new pair. AAHHHmazing.

  9. Renewed. Thanks for sharing – sure turned out well. Are you going to ‘evaporate’ the dye water? Hope you post your solution.
    – Joy

  10. I would think you could pour it down the drain since that’s where it would go if you were to use the washing machine method

  11. Ha! I’m worried about that too Lisa!!!

    And yes Brianna, I’m thinking the first couple of washes will definitely be in cold water, probably in the bathtub!

  12. Wish I would have read this way back when I got rid of my favorite capris :( I loved those things but they were extremely faded and I’m always giving away things to my mother in law when she comes over and now I regret half of the clothing items I have given her :(
    Your Jeans look amazing!!

  13. Haha! Those look awesome and I never would have thought to dye something. And you are totally a size 5! :) And p.s.-thank you for not ever saying crotch in your posts. That’s just wrong.

  14. Great job!

    The thread stayed the same because the thread is synthetic and doesn’t, for the most part, absorb the dye.

  15. Thank you for sharing this! I have two pair of pricey jeans that are my favorite, but like you I prefer the dark denim and my fav’s are getting embarrassingly (a word?) light…and well my shopping days are being monitored…so what a great idea to have come across!
    Thanks again for sharing!

  16. Wow!! that turned out well…I too do some dyeing occasionally to revive old clothes…In this part of the world the thread used is usually polyester, to which most dyes dont adhere too…could be the same thing there too…but aint that a good thing. it really looks good that way…

  17. I am so glad you did that, I would never have thought they would come out looking so nice, you have inspired me to make the “plunge” and do it too. Thanks. I am curious about how much is the dye?

  18. I dyed a pair of beloved jeans back in high school with rit dye- i was impatient with the process and they came out less than perfect, but I loved them dearly anyway. Eventually they started ripping right between the legs in a most inappropriate way and we had to say our goodbyes. sad day.

  19. OMGosh…I’ve been wanting to try this on an old pair of my fav comfy jeans. I had seen some dye that was ‘denim’ as the color, but didn’t buy it. Went back later & it was gone & I’ve not seen it since. Never thought to look for the navy blue. Thx for posting- I’ll definitely try it now.

  20. They turned out great! The thread didn’t dye because RIT is a dye for cotton, I believe, and thread is almost always poly. Makes for a great effect! I dye a lot for my business (but use Procion dyes) and can drain the excess dye down the drain. I wonder what’s different about RIT?…

  21. Yay for new old jeans. Whatta great post. You could probably do 2 more pair with the left over dye. : )
    ~ Deanna

  22. I seriously have to do this! I have a this pair of jeans that are intentionally super super light but that was 10 years ago and its not so good anymore. This is perfect!

  23. I have to chime in and answer everyone’s question about why the dye affected the jeans but not the stiches. Jeans are cotton – highly absorbant. The thread is most likely polyester or another not-so-absorbant synthetic material.

    I’d also like to hear how you end up disposing of the dye.

  24. Yeah, what Rebecca said – synthetics don’t take dye well. And I have dyed in my washing machine – trying to turn a faded sweater back to black – without any lasting harm, or even any staining, to the machine. Just in case you want to try it again some day!

  25. Thanks Rebecca, Kari, and Melissa Jane for the answer about the threads!!! I feel educated now!

    You’re right about that washing machine method and the water rinsing down the drain, no law against it I gather, but it just feels ‘wrong’ to pour it down the drain, am I right or wrong? Everyone’s so sensitive to ‘green’ issues around here, is it harmful to a water source?

  26. They look great! Beware of sitting on light colored furniture with them until they have been washed a few times. Just like with any brand new dark jeans…the dye could rub off onto the fabric. Also, to help set the dye wash them in cold water with a cup of vinegar. And, if you wash them inside out the color will last longer.

  27. I have a stack of jeans in my closet hanging around for this very project!! I thought it would be best to collect them so I would only have to do it once…you have inspired me to get er’ done!!

  28. Bravo for revivng your favorite pair of jean/capri’s. Sadly mine had to depart to the great here after when a hole tore in a very ummm drafty location the last time I wore them. I hope that you get many more years of enjoyment and affirmation from your pants.

  29. I would pour the dye in a 2 liter bottle or milk jug and dispose of it in the trash.

  30. This is my first time to your blog and I have to say, this post has got me! I have a few pair of jeans that I just WILL NOT part with, but they are super 80s style in the color lol. They fit like a glove and I never want to get rid of them and now I know what to do! I’ve always wanted to try dyeing items that I didn’t want to give up, and now I see how easy it is. Thanks for sharing!

  31. That is so totally awesome! Nice job and fantastic idea!! I’ve bought mostly dark denim lately, but I think there’s a pair or two that could use a dye job in the future years. I’ll keep this on tap! Dontcha love it when a project goes perfectly right?

  32. Thank you Sarah for that link for proper disposal, updating the post now!

  33. You always make me laugh : ) I think it’s because you write your blog in the way that I think. This is such an awesome idea – thank you for giving us a way to salvage our old favourites! Now if only we can do something about the holes … that doesn’t include icky hole patches. :3

  34. Wow! Incredible transformation! I love how quickly you can get answers in blogland. I was wondering about the thread, too, but then read the comments and voila! answers! Thanks for sharing.

  35. Wow! Seriously, can’t believe you did that and it worked! I would have never thought of it! So impressed!

    ~ Ali

  36. This has to be your funniest post ever. Loved it.

    I bought Rit Dye a few months back (years, maybe) and when my husband saw it, he told me I was absolutely not allowed to use the washing machine. I wholeheartedly agreed I would not taint the washer. I never did use that dye. I wonder where his carwash bucket is …

  37. Hmmm…I wonder…

    I have two white fake down comforters that I bought for my son’s and stepson’s room. I figured I would mix them with some dark blue blankets and grey sheets. And if anything got on them I could just bleach them. Now I’m thinking…mayyyybbbbeee…I could dye them? I was digging a nice bright orange…hmm…may have to do some research.

    And…if you can FIT into those comfy capris…then you ARE a size 5 and I’m beginning to hate you now…lol…jk. Wish I could fit into a size 5…:(

  38. That’s amazing! I would have never thought the before and after pictures were of the same jeans! Wow! And $2!!!

  39. I’m blown away by the difference! They look great, totally revived. I’m going to get some this weekend!! I have about 5 pairs that are waiting for this. Thank you for this post, I loved it!! Made me giggle a few times, too :)

  40. I do this all the time, only in my washing machine. I just run a full cycle afterwards with a cup of bleach which cleans the washing machine. Love having new “old” jeans again!!!

  41. @Amiyrah – I tried dyeing my late 80s “washed” jeans more solid black in college, since the woman I was nannying for was doing several turtlenecks, pants etc. The wash “pattern” was still visible, but not as bad. She also dyed everything in the washer – I just ran a load of darks after the dye cycle to thoroughly “rinse out” the machine for light/colored loads to come. Never ever had a problem with doing regular laundry after the dye load.

  42. I have been thinking about dying my living room curtains, I have NO idea how they would turn out, LOL. Your jeans however turned out awesome!

  43. Thank you, Kate. Thank you. I have a pair of jeans that I’m downright embarrassed to put on, they’re so faded. . . and yet they’re my favorites, because they fit so well. I have wondered if I could dye them with Rit, but I’ve been too chicken (or too lazy–or maybe both!) to try. Now I know that I should go for it!

  44. Umm…You are a riot!!!!!! hahahahaha!!! Your poor hubby! ;) Buy him a few buckets…that way he will never ask again. Or if he is like mine…he will…:) I loved the results and I will be doing the same thing to my jeans…You are a size 5…I saw you on Nate…Hello?! A doll! Have a great weekend!

    Xo, Meme

    BTW, If you get the chance stop by my blog…I am back to blogging and am loving it!

  45. Oh my word…it’s a blue jeans resurrection! You totally brought those back to life. They look like new. I’m now thinking I ought to go find those teeny tiny khaki Abercrombie shorts from college and frame them as incentive to go back to the gym. Or maybe I could just hang them by magnets on the fridge? I’m so glad you didn’t use “crotch” in your post…that would have been shocking. And I bet the search engines would go wild….

  46. I have dyed things for years, but never tried dyeing jeans. As a home economist, I would guess the threads were made of a polyester or nylon that didn’t grab the dye like the cotton. I have dyed my favorite black pants several times…in my washer, no less. I just run a cycle of hot water through afterwards and have never had a problem. Love your blog!

  47. G’Day Miss Kate!

    You shall be stylin’ and profilin’ in your newly dyed duds! Very cool. You must wear those to The Royal Wedding!!


  48. Funny post Kate!

    I’ve dyed garmets (even used black dye) in my washer will no ill effects. I just run a empty cycle afterward with soap and bleach to clean out the washer.

    Good dye job..(you look like a size 5)!

  49. Wow, what a different between the before and after! Thank you so much for sharing. There are a few pieces in my wardrobe that could use a color update but I’ve always been afraid to do this.

    Have you worn your redyed jeans a few times now? Just wondering if the new dye fades faster than the original wash.

  50. Size 5? I don’t think we can be friends :) Just kidding of course. Your jeans really do look great. Glad you took the chance.


  51. Hey Lindsay, I’m actually wearing them now, I’ll be sure to update the post after a few washings! I plan to wash them in cold the first few times.

  52. Good post, Kate. I am wondering if any of the dye has rubbed off on your furniture?

  53. OMG, perfect timing! I have a dark denim pair of jeans that are looking a bit sad and faded, thought about dying them black! Thanks for the inspiration, and the tutorial. Not to self: don’t use washer. Darn!

  54. Impressed!!! *side note…I like the tag in the jeans all womens clothing should come with inspiriational tags! Just a thought =)

  55. They look great!! Just to add to what some of the other commenters have said about dyeing in the washing machine. I have done it several times also with great success and, like them run an empty load after with hot water, soap and bleach. I also just make sure that my next load of clothes is either a dark load (if I have used dark dye) or a load of towels/rags. That way if there is any run over of dye, there is no harm done! But I have never had any problems with “unwanted” dyeing. :)

  56. I literally said, “Oh my gosh!” aloud when I saw the after picture. The capris look brand new! What a smart solution!! Sadly, my denim problem is the pockets that rip @ the top corners. Lame! Thanks for the great post!

  57. Awesome!

    I have a giant pile of black clothes that are perfectly wearable except for being a little faded, and I’ve been thinking about using Rit to re-dye all of them. Hm.

  58. Beautiful! But how is it that the stitiching didn’t also dye navy blue? I would’ve thought Rit would bomb all the threads equally.

  59. Hahaha…what a great blog post! I’d be laughing out loud if I wasn’t at work! I can’t believe how well that worked either – they look incredible!

  60. The jeans look great! Are your hands still stained? I haven’t used dye in several years, had a lot of experience with tie-dye t-shirts for camp, school, swim teams….you name it. The t-shirts would fade out pretty quickly so be careful. Did you do anything special to “set” the dye? If so, what did you do? Would love to dye some white slipcovers that are no longer looking so white.

  61. I have used the machine method several times with no problems. Others I knew had used this method many times before I attempted it. I was shocked that there was no after affects (dye left behind) in the machine. Came out perfect!

  62. Kate, I wouldn’t pour the dye down a storm water drain (like the drains on the street) because those drains go straight to local water sources without treatment. But it would be okay to pour the dye down your household drains, as the water from your house will be brought to the water treatment plant. unless, of course, there is some warning on RIT dye. What chemicals are in it? As long as there is nothing too toxic, you’re fine putting it down the drain. If you’re truly worried, you can call up your local college’s chemistry department and ask about whether or not the RIT dye is safe.

  63. No fair showing off that you’re a size 5! I dyed some tan Ikea velvet drapes gray with a combo of 2 packages of black and 1 package of blue Rit dye. I did it in the washer and the washing machine came out fine after a rinse. I used the the drapes to make a couch slip cover and it looks great!

  64. This is such great timing! I’d been thinking about doing that with a couple of my jeans that I wear ALL THE TIME that are just getting so faded. I’ll have to give it a go this weekend.

  65. I need to pick up my jaw off the floor!! This is amazing! I never would have guessed that old jeans could be brought back to life like this. I have a couple of pairs that are really looking sad, but oh, I love them so! There is hope!! Thank you!!

  66. Wow, what a great idea! Guess what I’ll be doing to my favy faves this weekend? ;-) FYI, most threads are polyester which won’t take the Rit dye.

  67. So Fabulous! The jeans really did come out the perfect shade of true indigo blue and I admire your bravery risking your favey faves to an uncertain chemical treatment… luckily, you scored!
    – Catherine at The Spring

  68. What an inspiration!
    I’ve been thinking about dyeing a slipcover for the sofa will be using in her college apartment. It’s beige twill now, and she wants black. Has anyone made that drastic a change in color?
    Anyway, I’m definitely buying navy blue dye for my favorite jeans that are in the same shape. Thanks, Kate!

  69. Shannon, I am sooooo not a size 5! I think I’ve stretched these out so much I can fool myself into thinking that, but alas, I’m at least a size bigger, maybe 2 sizes!!! I’ve got the mini love handle to prove it. Better hit the gym, or get started on some real squats ASAP.

  70. Kate: I wonder what happens when you wash them? Should you treat them with vinegar or something to set the dye? Oh well, you could have another adventure with dye!Love your blog!

  71. I have tried this and did not get the same amazing results! :( I first used the navy blue. They ended up looking almost purple. NOT a natural denim-look. Then I did it again with a denim blue/black combo, and they got one step closer. Then I did it AGAIN with solid black, and they are ALMOST a dark denim. Still looks a bit off of “real” denim, but close enough that I might wear them in public. Somehow yours turned out looking a lot better than mine. Hmmmm . . . wonder what I did wrong???

  72. I was just thinking today how I need to dye a few things black…since they are an old faded black. And after reading this I need to do it! I can’t believe how great your jeans look!!!

  73. Amazing! Update us once you’ve worn and washed them. Also, how did you end up disposing of the dye?

  74. You are such a sensational writer, loved every thing you have said about dying your pants, it was even better than reading a magazine ( excluding decor magazines)

  75. Thanks so much for that ! I died laughing through the whole entire thing! They turned out great but your sense of humor throughout the whole thing was a much needed laugh! Thanks!

  76. Your dye job turned out SO MUCH better than mine. I attempted to dye some drop cloths a couple months ago for curtains and it was a tremendous FAIL. So bad.

  77. Great timing! I was thinking about dieing my fave black coat just TODAY! Has anyone died anything black with no problems of a greeny-black appearing after a few washings?

  78. I did this in the 80s – the results did not look nearly as good as yours.

    The white threads that didn’t dye are probably nylon. Synthetic fibers require a different sort of dye.

  79. gosh, they look marvelous ! :)

    I’m trying this, this weekend, my fave Gaps are looking a little faded.

  80. Yay, “new” jeans!!! I love dark wash also, and hate when they start fading. My trick is to mix a little black dye in with the blue dye, and they always come out looking like new.

    One tip… you might want to wash and dry them twice before wearing them. I’ve found that they dye can sometimes rub off onto furniture if I don’t wash them a few times first. :)

  81. I would love an update after you’ve worn them post-dye… my biggest fear with re-dyeing clothes is that the dye will come off all over me and/or anything I rub up against!

  82. Wow! Those turned out awesome! I am also curious if the dye will rub off on you, furniture, etc. Also, can you watch/dry them with other clothes or will you need to wash/dry them separately for fear of leaching dye?

  83. Wow! They look great! Let me know if the die rubs off on anything, I’ve always wanted to die some clothes but have been too afraid to try.

  84. Yes! I recently did the same thing with a pair of super low rise trouser jeans from Fossil that I’d had since the super low, light wash trend of the early 2000’s. Why would I want superlows in 2011 you ask? Because they button under my 4.5 month pregnant belly and make me feel less like a big ol’ Betty and more like a trendy wendy! I will say that after about 10 washes, my jeans were faded considerably, but still much better than the original dated light wash look I had. Well done!!!

  85. They look fabulous! I need to try this… I’ve been too chicken. I’m so afraid of making a ginormous mess!

  86. Wow! That turned out great! I’m always leery of the Rit dye packs, especially on jeans. But wow, I’m definitely surprised!

  87. About dye disposal…right after I dumped the easter egg dyes down the drain, I realized that I should have saved it and my kids could have used it to paint on paper, might have been like watercolors! Anyone ever try this?

  88. I have heard that you should soak them in salt water before you wash them to retain the dye? And not to wash them with anything else the first time you wash them? Let us know ok?

  89. hi..great idea! I am currently wearing jeans that are way too faded to be called acceptable to wear to work..btw, I’m at work, so..who’s embarrassed right now?..umm ME!…lol…so I’ll be buying some RIT after work today & the next time I pull these jeans out of the closet, they’ll be nice and “new” again!

    Bernadette @ agirlandherhome.blogspot.com

  90. Thank you SO much for posting this project! I have been playing around with dyes on things like place mats and such, but my hubby is deeply skeptical of dying clothing (or painting walls, or staining furniture…basically changing the original color of anything) unless you are a trained professional, and since my “trust me, I’ve tried it before on other things” argument hasn’t convinced him, perhaps a true clothing victory will :) They look awesome!

    TMJ astitchsublime.blogspot.com

  91. Mine did not rub off on furniture or my hands like I’ve had other dark denim do but they did rub off on light stuff in the wash with cold water so I’d suggest either doing something to set the dye or only wash with dark stuff.

  92. Those cannot possibly be the same jeans!!! They look amazing! I’ve always wanted to try Rit Dye, but have been a little intimidated. Not anymore. Let’s see . . . what can I dye this weekend? :-) Thanks for sharing XO Laura

  93. That’s amazing! I have heard lore of this but have never seen it in person (or on the computer!)

  94. Wow, they look great! I can’t believe you got such a deep color with Rit dye. I always thought you had to use fiber reactive dyes to get that kind of color. Also, I’ll bet that is polyester thread and that’s why the dye didn’t take.

  95. I love dying my old clothes. I’ve dyed clothes in a white washer and it doesn’t stain. I’ve also dyed clothes in a pot and dumped the water in my white sink and it does leave a slight tinge if I don’t rinse it out right away.

  96. I have never thought of doing this! So darn clever! I would just keep the bucket for your next dye job and get hubby a new one!

  97. These turned out awesome – I have some jeans that I roll up and wear as capri’s, and they have an annoying stain on the leg plus they’re pretty faded. Now instead of throwing them out I’m definitely trying this method!! Thanks SO much!!

  98. I just discovered rit dye too! I used it to dye my sheets-pretty awesome basically! :) You are honestly hilarious, I just kept laughing throughout the post!

  99. What, am I the only one who tie dyed t-shirts with Rit back in the 80’s?
    I do seem to recall a salt solution for making the color last. And less likely to continually bleed on other clothes. Is the dye better these days? Let us know how it goes!

  100. I’m so glad to have you as the guinea pig. I’ve had a bottle (I read use liquid instead of powder) of Rit dye for about 5 months now, but I’ve been afraid to take the plunge. Now I have more confidence to go for it!

  101. Your jeans look great. Great post, I enjoyed the humor. Love all your posts and your blog information is second to none.

  102. I used rit to dye a shower curtain and hand towels. I used the clothes washer method and it worked fine, although I had to do an empty cycle with soap afterwards to clean it out. Also, the first several time I washed them I noticed some color run so be careful with what you wash the jeans with. In additiona, I have noticed the hand towels getting lighter and lighter with each wash. So much for true staying power…

  103. Adding 1/2 cup vinegar to the dye solution will help set the color and keep it from washing out over multiple washes. Rit’s website recommends adding it 5 minutes after you put in the dye; I always add it right after the dye and everything comes out fine. You can also add regular table salt to the dye solution (about 1 cup), which helps certain types of fabric take up the dye more evenly. Rinsing your dyed item with cold water right after it comes out of the dye bath can remove some of the excess dye that may rub or wash off, but I always wash dark, newly dyed items separately or with like colors (and usually several Shout color catcher sheets) a couple of times before putting them in with “regular” clothes.

  104. Thanks this is great! I just pulled out an old favorite pair of summer pants and alas! There is a dark blue area on my stone washed pants! Some other jeans must have bled! I’m going to have to try this …

  105. Oh. My. Word. Love it. How clever are you? Its late and I cant sleep and I was all LOL the scale has thought bubbles! While i read this on my phone under the covers. And then I got busted cause the hubs was all, go to sleep, freakazoid. And does it make me a weirdo that I still want to wear some of my maternity tops that were super cute and non maternity-ish, but cut out the tag that says “maternity” because I couldnt BE more over it? A little? Meh.

  106. I can totally relate to the size “5”, it reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld episode where he changes the tag on his jeans. Sometimes I get lucky, and google the brand name and the style number and can find the same item again. I love how the dye changed the look of those jeans, they are rockin now!

  107. VINEGAR – You know vinegar is great for just about everything, now add it to your laundry to “set” the colors. The first wash should be with just straight, white vinegar, cold water. This sets the color to prevent fading. I do this with all my new sheets and towels and some better type clothes. It seems to work. Adding vinegar to the dye seems to help too.
    GREAT Post.

  108. I didn’t read all the comments so hopefully no one else sent this. Put them thru the wash on their own with a bit of vinegar to prevent the dye from running onto your other clothes, legs, hands, shoe laces etc. Works like a charm. I’ve have never dyed jeans but quite often do black clothes. Who knew??? Thanks for the tip, great blog. :)

  109. I saw that you have front loaders. I was wondering how you were gonna dye those jeans. I used to dye tons of things in my top load machine, but never since I’ve gotten front loaders. I’ve dyed clothing, sheets, down comforters (yes, I did!), a rug and an expensive new shower curtain. I ALWAYS wash my item after I’ve dyed it to prevent the color from rubbing off on something else. I look forward to your post on the “blue” underwear that will be occurring after your first wear especially if you are doing anything exhaustive like house renovation!!! I was wondering, has anyone tried dying something in a front load washing machine?

  110. well…I did it ! Love the idea but … they have a purple tinge. If I re-dye them should I add some black ? If yes how much ? I used the powder,navy blue. They were not 100 % cotton.

  111. I seriously just LOL-ed. I have the same exact pair of jeans (even the same size) and they are my absolute faves but like yours they faded into a terrible shade. Definitely going to take your advice because your’s turned out so well!

  112. impressive. haha…It’s amazing about the color of the threads. Looks like they haven’t been dyed at all. Does this also work in bags? I’ve been thinking of dying it black! ;)

  113. When I worked at Outback Steakhouse our jeans had to be super super dark and we would use 2 Navy Blues and 1 Black dye packs. I don’t advise using your Grandma’s washing machine…but the apartment facilities are excellent. Just avoid the maintainance manager for a week or so.

  114. Hello i have a nice cream pair of curtains and i am changing the decor of my living room can i dye these curtains?

  115. Hiya! just wondering how well the color held up after a couple of washes? Are they still good and dyed the darker blue or has it faded really quickly? I’m thinkinig about trying this with some jeans I just never loved the color of (but fit great). Thank you!

  116. Run the washer through a cycle with hot water/soap after you do the dye job. I’ve done it many times with no problems.

  117. Did you have any trouble later like turning your underwear into blue after wearing the jeans for a couple of hours?

  118. I did this exactly the same and mine turned out very purple-ish! Eek! I had to bleach them to get them faded again and get all the purple out :(

  119. I’ve done this for years, particularly on black jeans that fade to that yucky greyish black colour. Another thing I sometimes do is when your white bras start looking a bit wishy-washy after too many wash and wears, I dye them white. It really works. Its a trick that I learned from my friend’s mother. Every now and then she adds white dye to her white washing load – her white shirts and socks are always sparkling white and look like new.

  120. Thank you! I’m going to use the reader recommended 2 navys 1 black to darky dark siome faded skinnies of mine. I’m also going to try the reader recommended white dye for some whites!! Genius.

  121. Thank you for posting the world most easy directions. Did you wet the jeans before soaking them in the RIT solution??

    • Nope, I just dunked them Aysha, it’s been a year, they’ve only faded a little bit but still looking good!

  122. Thank YOU! I discovered your step-by-step guide in June, but was kind of chicken to tackle it until this very day. I used 2 navy Rit dye packs. In a bucket – yes, the hubs carwash bucket. I thought, why mess with a plan. 5 minutes, just as you did, with my fave jeans that had just been washed right out. They look PERFECT now! Just like new. The only thing I found to be a bit of a challenge was rinsing the dye out of the jeans after the 5 minute dye job. I used a garden hose for a while, then put them in a plastic garbage bags to take up to the tub. Rinsed them a few times, the last time in cold water and a cup of vinegar. Then I got frustrated and grabbed some old towels to roll them up in and soak up the excess like I would with a sweater. After that, I put them in a warm wash with detergent as suggested on the box. Now they are in the dryer – and PERFECT! Did I say that already? I’m so pleased. Thanks for the funny process complete with pictures. It gave me inspiration, incentive, and I finally just said ‘why not’, I’m not wearing them anyway. The worst didn’t happen – now I have my NEW old comfortable jeans to wear. You ARE centsational GIRL. (oh, and my bathtub got a really good cleaning too:!)

  123. The threads ( if polyester or synthetic) will stay the same color always because they are solution dyed extruded fibers and so can’t be chanded. They won’t bleach out either. If you are dying a white shirt blue then the thread would remain white, unless it was cotton. that’s a good thing to know.

    Thanks for the post. I am going to try this on a pair of jeans. I can’t wait!

  124. Thanks for this funny and useful tutorial! I can probably use my old jeans again! You don’t know how exciting this is for me. Actually you probably do.

  125. How did the dye job stand up? I have 5 pairs of jeans I want to do this to, including a pair of skinny’s that are blue that I want to try to dye black (am I going to ruin them??). Did you wash them alone the first time in case of dye-running? Thanks –

    • They held up well Nichol! I’d say through about 10 washings but slowly faded a bit by the end. :)

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