How To Clean Black Jeans Without Washing

How To Clean Black Jeans Without Washing

I love wearing black jeans, but when they turn grey they just don’t look very good. Black jeans are notorious for fading in the wash so I was wondering how to clean black jeans without washing them?

Cleaning your black jeans without washing them to keep the colour and fit is something anyone can do at home. There are several ways to freshen jeans without water. The most effective is to choose the ‘steam refresh’ option on your washing machine or dryer. If you don’t have that then misting them with vinegar and essential oil will deodorize them and give them a sweet smell.

Of course, the other reason not to get your jeans wet is that jeans tend to shrink in the wash. No one wants to find that their favourite jeans don’t fit any longer.

However, you can’t get away with refreshing jeans forever. At some point, you will have to wash them. If you wash them carefully in cold water and avoid the dryer, fading and shrinking will be minimized, and you can enjoy wearing your jeans for as long as you want.

Read on to find out more about the best ways to clean your jeans without washing them and how to launder them safely when it comes to the time you need a thorough clean.

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How to clean black jeans without washing

If you don’t want your black jeans to shrink or fade, your best option is to avoid washing them and only do it when absolutely necessary. Fortunately there are several options available to you keep your jeans looking good between washes.

1. Use a ‘steam refresh’ cycle

Check the available cycles on your washing machine. Many of us are guilty of picking a standard 30 or 40-degree wash for everything. If you take a closer look at the different cycles available you might well be surprised at what is available.

Does your washing machine or dryer have a refresh cycle? Some washers and dryers come with a ‘steam refresh’ option that uses steam to sanitize items without getting them wet. This is perfect for clothing you would ordinarily send to the dry cleaners or you just don’t want to get wet. The steam refresh cycle is great too for items you want to wear immediately or to help remove creases.

  1. Fasten up the jeans.
  2. Turn them inside out.
  3. Pop in your dryer or washer and choose the ‘steam refresh’ cycle.
  4. When finished air until completely dry.

The best place to air your jeans is outside on a clothesline if you can.

  • Always hang your jeans from the hemline, this way they dry quicker and help smooth out any creases.
  • Always turn your jeans inside out when you dry them outside to prevent fading.

2. Spray with vinegar and essential oil

Vinegar is effective at killing most germs and is also a good deodorizer. Vinegar contains 5% acetic acid which is what gives it its familiar smell and germ-killing properties.

The best kind of vinegar to use is white distilled vinegar. You can buy it in most supermarkets usually in the sauces and condiments aisle.

  1. Fill a spray bottle with white distilled vinegar.
  2. Add your favourite essential oil.
  3. Mist all over.
  4. Leave your jeans to air.

Your jeans will smell of vinegar to start with but as you air them out the smell should dissipate and you will be left with fresh-smelling jeans again.

Hanging your jeans outside out is the best option for getting them smelling the freshest.

3. Freeze

Some folks recommend freezing your jeans to kill the bugs. This won’t kill everything because some bugs can survive the freezing process.

I’m not sold on this option because it doesn’t kill everything, so why bother? You could combine the vinegar option above with freezing for better bug-killing results.

If you want to give it a try:

  1. Fold and wrap your jeans in a bag.
  2. Pop in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.
  3. Defrost and air your jeans.

4. Dry clean

If you don’t want to wash your jeans and cause fading, get them dry cleaned instead. This is the more expensive option of course, but if you want to keep your jeans looking good without fading it can be worth the investment.

How to spot remove stains

Black jeans are great of course at hiding all sorts of stains. However, if you know you have a stain it is best to treat it if you can. If it’s a greasy stain you will definitely want to remove it as they don’t hide so well on jeans.

A rule of thumb is to always use cold water on stains. Hot water will seal the stain into the fibres making it hard to remove.

There are several methods you can use to remove stains on clothing without having to do a full wash.

  • Stain remover bar. Vanish and Astonish both do stain remover bars that don’t bleach clothing. Simply wet the bar and rub into the stain.
  • Dish soap and water. Ordinary dish soap works too. Dilute some dish soap and apply it to the stain and rub.
Spotless Punch Ltd Vanish Stain Remover Bar 75g
Spotless Punch Ltd Vanish Stain Remover Bar 75g
Astonish Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning System (Stain Remover Bar)
Astonish Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning System (Stain Remover Bar)

Be gentle when you rub stains. Rubbing too hard will remove the colour and you will have a permanent faded mark. The only way to recover from that would be to re-dye your jeans (see below for more on that).

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How to wash black jeans and prevent fading and shrinking

How to wash black jeans and prevent fading and shrinking

As we said, the best way to clean black jeans without washing is not to wash them at all!

Of course, there will come a time when only a proper wash will do, but how do you do that without fading colours and shrinking the denim?

Here are some tips.

Pretreat stains

You are going to be washing your jeans in cold water on a short cycle which isn’t good enough for removing stains especially greasy marks.

Most stains will be imperceptible, but grease tends to show up.

Grab some stain remover either in a spray or in a bar. My favourite stain remover is Vanish Stain Remover bar. It’s the best option because it contains enzymes which are good for removing greasy marks and it doesn’t fade colours.

If you are using a stain remover bar like Vanish or Astonish, wet the bar and lightly rub it onto the stain. Then add your jeans to the wash.

Always wash with cold water

Washing your jeans at a cold temperature stops the fibres in the denim from expanding and contracting as much. It also prevents fading which is critical for black jeans.

If you don’t have a cold cycle on your washer, select the next coldest option, or opt for handwashing instead.

Make sure you fasten your jeans and turn them inside out before you wash them.

Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the fabric conditioner compartment, which softens the denim plus it helps to sanitize your jeans.

Choose a short wash

Black jeans are best washed on their own due to colour bleed. Choose a short wash or if you have it the ‘Jeans’ cycle. The longer your jeans are in the water the more they can potentially fade, so the shorter the better.

Dry naturally

Dryers are best avoided because they can cause jeans to shrink.

When you dry your jeans outdoors turn them inside out to minimise fading and hang them from the hemline. If you have to dry them inside try to hang them from the hemline on a hanger that way they stretch lengthways and the top of the jeans can dry more quickly.

If you don’t have time to wait for your jeans to dry naturally the next best option is to dry them in the dryer until they are still a bit damp. That way shrinkage is minimised. Finish them off on the line or in your airing cupboard. You could even put them straight on and let your body heat do the rest.

Related reading:

How to wash your jeans for the first time

When you first get your new jeans it is a good idea to wash them straight away to help seal in the colour. Machine wash them in cold water with a vinegar rinse. This is best done before you wear the jeans for the first time.

Vinegar contains acetic acid which is responsible for killing bacteria. It also affects fibres helping to lock in colour.

  1. Select a cold temperate on your washer.
  2. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the conditioner drawer.
  3. Add the jeans on their own.
  4. Dry naturally.

Related reading:

Why do black jeans fade?

All colours fade eventually. Black is a bold pigment. When black fades you notice it much more than you would on a light blue teeshirt for example. Unlike other colours (apart from white), there is only one type of black. Once it fades it becomes one of the many shades of grey.

As you wash denim in warm water and soap, the dye will gradually wash out. The sun plays its part too by naturally bleaching colours which is why it is always a good idea to dry coloured clothes outdoors inside out.

How to make black jeans black again

If your jeans have already faded, do not fear because it is possible to make them black again. Avoid sending them to landfills or the charity shop and give them a new lease of life by dying them back to black.

Best black dye for jeans

Dyeing clothes is a messy job and I like to keep it very simple by using a method you can get done in your washing machine alone. There is no soaking or messing around with buckets.

The best and most convenient I’ve found is Dylon Wash and Dye. Simply add it to your wash and add the clothes that you want to become black again.

Your jeans will come out looking new. If you have anything else to dye at the same time, one packet is good for 1kg of clothing.

Dylon Wash & Dye Fabric Dye Velvet Black
Dylon Wash & Dye Fabric Dye Velvet Black

This option is only for front-loading washing machines.

How to dye back jeans without dye

If you prefer a natural option, why not try coffee?

  1. Put your jeans in a bucket.
  2. Make up a pot of coffee.
  3. Pour the coffee over your jeans.
  4. Leave to soap overnight
  5. Wring out and then put them in your washer on a gentle cycle.
Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.

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