Why won't they stay black?!
The question many of us cry when trying to keep our black jeans black! Oh the woe! You go out and buy a pair of black jeans, you absolutely love the shape and cut, which makes your butt look peachy. Then comes wash day, along with dread and trepidation. It's like a hitchcock movie! Will they still be as black as you bought them?
When you look on the web there are so many ways to wash and keep black jeans black, but believe it or not I'm not going to add anything different or new, instead I'm going to back up some of those tips with some of my own background knowledge of fabric dyeing. Did I mention I have a degree in Surface Design and my speciality was fabric dyeing? Well let me tell you, I absolutely love love loved it! Understanding how to successfully dye different fabrics whilst maintaining colour was like a scientist discovering life on other planets: Mind-blowing! So I'm going to back up four of the top most tips with a little extra something...
The only time I actually do a 40º or above wash is when washing whites or bed sheets. But darks and colours I always wash on a 30º or less. Why? because any hotter and it will bleed the colour out faster!
Science: When rinsing dye from fabrics I would always rinse in cold water until the excess dye left, leaving the rest of the colour fixed into the fabric. This way colours always remained vibrant and true, rather than washed out and faded.
Tip: Wash denims on a cold or cool wash to preserve colour. TBH wash all colours in a cool wash to keep vibrancy!
Ok, now your going to tell someone like me, to not wash my jeans regularly? Me, who is obsessed with cleaning? But thats exactly where I went wrong. Every time I wore my black jeans I put them straight into the wash. This did two things: Faded them and shrunk them! Apparently, jeans don't need to be washed until the 4-5th wear unless you've spilt food onto them. Other than that hang them inside out.
Tip: The closest part of the jeans to your skin is the inside part! Hanging them inside out between wears, airs them out, delaying the wash a bit longer. For stains damp a cloth and wipe it off!
Washing Machine Vs Hand wash
Who has time to hand wash clothes? I hear you say. I agree the idea of hand wash brings me to a time in my youth when we had no washing machine and had to hand wash everything in the bath including the bed sheets! So no, I do not wish to relive that time. However, there are some things that require special attention don't you agree? Well you can try both that is, if your prefer Machine over hand, wash your denims on a gentle wash i.e. hand wash/delicates (or any of the gentle washes on your machine). This way your denims feel the love whilst being washed. If you prefer on the other hand to hand wash, as mentioned previously, wash in cold or tepid water, allow to bleed out until water runs clear, don't wash vigorously and use a soap for coloured fabrics.
Tip: Pre-soak dark denims in cold water with no soap, this will fix the dye into your denims then wash gently using a colour protecting fabric soap.
Salt/Vinegar Another tip you might come across is soaking your jeans in or adding salt/vinegar to your wash, to keep the colour. Now, I'm not sure about the use of vinegar on plant fibres as I would use it on protein fibres such as silks when dyeing. That I can get back to you about.
Science: I would always pre-soak my fabrics in Soda Ash (salt), then add the same solution into the dye! This would help to fix the dye into the fabrics and gain the pure colour rather than a washed out version. Tip: Pop in to your local Wilkinson and pick up a bag of soda ash for a £1. Weigh out your fabric and for every 100g of weight in fabric weigh out 25g of soda ash to a litre of cold water and leave to soak for 20mins and then hand or machine wash on a gentle cool cycle. The gentler the cycle the less bleed you'll get from the fabric.
So now, you can wash your black jeans happily knowing to use one or all of the suggestions given. Like my last blog I mentioned investing in denims. Here are a few you could try worth investing in: