Does Denim Fade? Reasons & Preventions
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Does Denim Fade? Reasons & Preventions

This guide discusses denim fade effects, their names, and how they develop over time.

Nothing looks better than a pair of clean, brand-new jeans, but after a few washings, you might notice the color fading. When water and soap erode the dye and discolor them, denim jeans in either black or blue can fade.

Although there are many causes of fading, below are the nine most common reasons why denim fades.

Does Denim Fade?

Denim fades, just like glory, and it’s all because of the long-running conflict between cotton and indigo. So stay with us while we explain why jeans fade.

One of the earliest dyestuffs known to man is indigo. Since almost 5,000 years ago, we have been blueing ourselves. It started with the plant Indigofera tinctora aka “natural indigo,” but most of what you find in denim today is synthetically generated in a lab and hence known as “pure indigo.”

Technically speaking, both are terrible dyestuffs, but that is precisely why we adore them so much. In a similar way to oil and water, cotton and indigo do not want to stick to one another. Indigo does not simply dye anything when dissolved in water as is commonly believed.

Indigo doesn’t naturally adhere to a cotton fiber because its molecular structure is quite rigid and stable. In order to create a dye bath, which oxidizes back to rigid indigo when exposed to light and oxygen, other ingredients must first break the indigo’s molecules at that level.

Does Denim Fade? Reasons & Preventions

Does Stretch Denim Fade?

Your stretch denim might actually fade. Because they fade in a different way than regular jeans do, they might not appear to be authentic. When the stretch denim in your wardrobe begins to fade, there might not be much contrast.

Additionally, stretch denim fades more slowly than regular denim. You might assume as a result that that particular denim style does not fade at all. The trick is that stretch jeans are made to withstand fading. They must maintain the best possible version of their original appearance.

Does Sanforized Denim Fade?

When wearing sanforized denim, you might experience the same amount of fading as when wearing unsanforized denim. This response is appropriate because the sanforize procedure is meant to prevent shrinking rather than fading.

Unsanforized jeans can shrink up to 10%, while sanforized jeans can only shrink by 2%. We have found nothing that says sanforizing stops fading even though the process helps the fabric stabilize

Does Heavier Denim Fade Faster?

Denim that is heavier and thicker may fade more quickly than regular denim. This conclusion is supported by the fact that heavy jeans have a lower thread count. One theory regarding denim that is heavier is that.

The majority of manufacturers actually only brush the dye onto denim fabrics, which is the truth. Due to the shallowness of the dye’s encapsulation, jeans of any weight are susceptible to rapid fading. This means that only one side of denim is colored, protecting your skin and enabling you to fade them however you like.

Does Denim Fade? Reasons & Preventions

Reasons Why Denim Fade

Recognizing the causes of denim jeans fading is the first step in stopping this from happening to your clothes.

Raw Denim

Raw denim jeans are more likely to fade than jeans made of washed denim. This is due to the lack of washing during the manufacturing process of raw denim. It’s called “raw” denim because the denim is untouched and unwashed. Even though some people prefer the deep shade of raw denim, these jeans are more prone to fading than washed or dry denim.

Hot Water

You run a higher risk of fading your jeans if you wash them in hot water. The dye in the denim fabric is released when it is exposed to hot water. Even though you wash your denim jeans in hot water, they won’t always turn white. If you keep washing them in hot water, however, they’ll deteriorate to a lighter shade.


To help clean and remove stains, millions of people add bleach to their washing machine loads. The color of your clothes, including your jeans, will be affected by bleach even though it is effective for this purpose. Your jeans may become a lighter shade with even a small amount of bleach.

Does Denim Fade? Reasons & Preventions

Wash With White Clothes

Why not wash your jeans with your white clothes? Washing your jeans with white clothing will make them fade unless they are completely white. Even white clothing is produced using dye (it is white, of course).

In addition, some of the white dye will be released every time you wash your white clothes with them, causing a gradual fading of your white jeans. This won’t happen overnight. A pair of jeans will typically not fade for several months or even years.

Sun Exposure

The sun is a strong natural force that can fade fabrics, including jeans, with its ultraviolet light. Indigo-colored denim jeans will likely deteriorate if worn outside on a daily basis. Unfortunately, you can’t really stop this from happening.

Cheap Detergent

Don’t undervalue the significance of washing your jeans with a reputable, premium laundry detergent. Using cheap detergents increases the risk of fading in addition to their poor cleaning performance.


It’s okay to iron your denim jeans to remove creases and wrinkles, but you shouldn’t go overboard. The fabric of your jeans will be stressed and harmed if you iron them after each wear. You might not notice any damage right away. But eventually, the denim fabric’s top layer might burn, giving it a lighter, faded shade.

Does Denim Fade? Reasons & Preventions


It should come as no surprise that faded jeans are more likely to be dirty than clean. Jeans will fade if they are exposed to dirt because dirt particles will rub up against the denim fabric, releasing the dye compounds.

Low-Quality Denim

The use of inferior denim in jeans is likely the most frequent cause of fading. Not every denim is created equally. Some businesses produce their jeans with subpar materials and workmanship. An inferior product with a higher likelihood of fading is the end result.

How to Prevent Denim from Fading?

Raw denim should be washed frequently with a variety of products if you don’t want it to fade. These items are used on their own, not with every wash cycle. Soak the jeans in water and vinegar is one method.

Alternatively, you could hand wash the denim in dark Woolite. You can then regularly iron your unwashed denim to prevent creases if you enjoy doing extra laundry.

The simplest way to stop denim from fading is to purchase those jeans, blouses, etc., that are chemically treated by the manufacturer to stop fading. That helps you save a ton of time and hassle.

You can also wash your jeans less frequently. Since jeans are designed to be dirt-resistant, you can go long periods of time between washings while still maintaining great-looking denim.

Final Words: Denim Fading

Denim does indeed fade in the sun, and it can also fade during washing when using lemon juice, bleach, or even vinegar and salt. You can choose the style you get and how much they fade.

Luckily, you can preserve your jeans and keep them looking like new for much longer by making a few easy changes to your laundry routine.


How Long Does It Take for Denim to Fade?

With a vigorous lifestyle, you can expect to see fades emerging in three to four months. If your way of life is more relaxed, you’ll have to wait a little longer.

Does Denim Fade in the Sun?

Just set your jeans out in the sun, and voila—you’ll find a great slow fade over time. For jeans, exposure to direct sunlight might take some time to produce the desired result.

Which Denim Fades Best?

Pick raw, unwashed selvedge denim. One-washed denim is great, but if you want high-contrast fades as quickly as possible, you need to start with unwashed denim.

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