How to Break In and Fade Blue Jeans

The right question here is whether or not to further fade blue jeans. This is a question for which there is more than one answer. It all depends on the type of blue jeans that you have bought, and your attitude towards the honesty, the truthfulness, the integrity of the scars that you want your second skin to bear.


You should by all means first read the manufacturer’s care label, and determine if he recommends dry cleaning, professional laundering, or a wash at home.

  • Dry Cleaning: This process can remove some of the natural oils from fabrics, not usually a problem with jeans. It will prolong the life of a deeply distressed or destroyed pair, as there is little friction involved in the process. It is highly recommended for embellished jeans, whether embroidered or with stones. The bright colors of the embroidery threads will last longer and there is less of a chance of losing some rhinestones. Tears and fraying will be minimally disturbed. A perfect fade blue jeans pair will have a longer life in that ideal shade. Your dry cleaner can be of great help if you let her know about any specific stains that you want removed. Also, let them know what caused the stains.
  • Professional Laundering: This is usually done in the same establishments where you do dry cleaning, and the process is a wet one, much like what you would do at home. Make sure they fold your blue jeans correctly, inseam to inseam. You will have no control here of the degree to which each wash will further fade blue jeans.
  • Wash at Home: This is where you can have the most control. If you are into aging your jeans with grace, this is the only way to go.

Here are some laundry tips for washing your jeans at home:

  • For a first wash: Always wash pants inside out. Soaking your brand new jeans in water and vinegar will reduce fading. This will help set the color so that you can slowly reach the perfect fade blue jeans. Wash them in cold water, pouring one cup of vinegar in the machine, set to medium load. Stop the machine, letting the jeans soak for a few hours, overnight is better. Turn the machine back on and complete the wash and rinse cycle. Don’t dry your jeans fully in the dryer.
  • Take them out while they are still damp and let them dry fully on a hanger, smoothing out the wrinkles just with your hands. The dryer is the killer. Think of all of the lint that you collect: this is part of your jeans being worn and thrown away!
  • If you feel you have reached a perfect fade blue jeans, prolong their life by spacing washes, washing always in cold water, or dry cleaning
  • If you are going to iron them, do so before they dry completely. Be careful to line up inseam to inseam and out seam to outseam as evenly as possible to avoid creating a center crease, as you would with other types of pants.
  • Hang your pants pulling both legs at once through the hanger, re-creasing them carefully. Hanging them full-length from the bottom will ensure that they don’t develop a crease or wrinkles at the knee level. If you’re hanging them from the middle, make sure they rest evenly on the bar of the hanger.

“Dry Denim”

This is the term used to refer to untreated , unwashed jeans. When you buy washed jeans, you are getting an item that has undergone washes and other processes that can be the equivalent of up to 25 natural washes. They will therefore not last as long as dry denim. Dry denim will also give you the most personalized aged product. The dry, unwashed coat of indigo will be scarred by the everyday use or abuse that you subject your pants and yourself to. This is to both preserve the natural wear look you’ll create in them with creases and such and prevent a washed-out look.

These are the recommendations made by Nudie Jeans:

  • Keep them in a “dry”, unwashed state for as long as possible. Some aficionados claim to have used their jeans up to eight months before their first wash. They believe that the more you use them before their first wash the better they will preserve the natural wear look you’ll create in them, including the creases and prevent a washed-out look. They are looking for much more than to fade blue jeans, they are looking to preserve evidence!
  • Don’t try to clean any spots, as the indigo will be removed and you will be left with a faded spot.
  • First Wash: Turn them inside out to avoid unwanted marks from the washing machine. Wash them in 60 degrees to achieve the best fading effect of the dye, using a washing powder with no bleach. If you want less fading, wash at 40 degrees. The result you want is to bring out the natural worn effects where they actually happened.
  • Turn them back and lay them on a hanger, flattening them with your hands. Line up inseam to inseam and outseam to outseam, stretching the inseam as needed.
  • Let them dry naturally, hanging by the leg opening.
  • If you would like to prolong the dark look, have them dry cleaned. All future washes should be in cold water to minimize the blue jeans fade.

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