5 Best Ways To Fade Black Jeans (Without Wrecking Them)

Black jeans are essential for nearly any ensemble, a staple in everyone’s closet. But a pair of faded black jeans is a specific color that emulates a rugged and worn style. Not to mention, they look super cool. It’s easy to drop another 50 bucks on a new pair of deliberately faded jeans, but why spend the cash when you’ve got the perfect pair to fade in your closet? Regardless, the question of what to do with them remains unanswered. So, how do I fade black jeans?

You can fade your black jeans using everyday household items. Lemon juice, bleach, sandpaper, salt, and even coffee are some of the best options for lightening your jeans safely and effectively.

On the contrary, you may be worried that employing any of these products will only cause damage and waste you a good pair of pants. While that thought is entirely rational, understanding the best ways to utilize each one will allow you to fade your jeans to your ultimate desire with ease.

To help you in your DIY journey, we’ll cover five super simple methods that will leave you with the faded black jeans of your dreams.

Last-Minute Advice

Before you go dumping bleach on your favorite pair of black jeans, it’s necessary to first decide on how light you’re hoping to go and set a realistic goal.

Denim will weaken as you apply any acidic product to it. So, if your jeans are jet black, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get them to fade to a zombie’s skin tone without destroying them along the way.

Also, make sure that you won’t miss your black pants once you’ve already faded them because there truly is no going back on this one.

Now that we’ve discussed the important pre-fade considerations let’s jump into some effective tips for fading your jeans from the comfort of your own home.

1. Lemon Juice

If you’re looking to only lighten your jeans a shade or two, lemon juice is one of the best methods for naturally fading fabric without overdoing it. Not to mention, it doesn’t smell as strong as bleach.

Lemons have citric acid, a natural oxidizing agent that works to lighten when applied. And, when placed in the sun, the lifting process speeds up quite a bit.

How to Fade Black Jeans with Lemon Juice

Since lemon juice is a weaker solution, it’s essential to use a large amount to reach the correct concentration. In that case, you’ll need about a gallon of lemon juice.

For starters, soak your jeans in water. You’ll want them to be doused and dripping—not a single dry spot left. Then, thoroughly wring out any excess water.

Fill a bathtub or bucket with a few inches of concentrated lemon juice and submerge your (still wet) jeans in the solution. Ensure that the lemon juice can reach every inch of the pants—no pockets left behind.

The process will take a few hours depending on your desired shade, so check back every hour to see how they’re doing. Keep in mind that your jeans will look darker when wet, so take them out when they reach a few shades darker than the desired shade.

Last but not least, rinse them super well and let them dry in the sun. Give them at least a few hours outside to allow the lemon juice to do its thing. Then, you’re good to go!

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2. Bleach

Bleach can be a bit riskier when it comes to fading your black jeans. But, it can also be one of the best ways to get the “acid wash” look from the 80s or merely add some depth to specific areas with a sponge.

Regardless, it is super quick and effective when done right. If you’re going the bleach route, it’s crucial to pay some mind to a few things:

It may damage the fabric

You’ll need to be careful with your skin and eyes; make sure you wear gloves and safety goggles if possible.

Bleaching can cause jeans to come out blotchy if you’re not paying close attention since it takes effect so quickly.

How to Fade Black Jeans with Bleach

You’ll need a 3. Sandpaper

Using sandpaper is super effective for fading only specific areas of your jeans, such as the knee, pocket areas, etc. While it’s typically a better and easier method for fading without chemicals, it does require some elbow grease. However, it’s a great way to fade your jeans exactly how you want them.

How to Fade Black Jeans with Sandpaper

You’ll need 180 grit sandpaper to sand your jeans. If you don’t have access to sandpaper, a pumice stone will also do the trick.

Prepare a work surface. It’s generally useful to lay your jeans on a flat surface to sand.

In the areas that you want to fade, take your sandpaper and begin to rub back and forth on the fabric, applying even pressure to the area. Be sure to avoid rubbing too hard as you can easily sand straight through the jeans. Repeat this step on any sections you’d like faded.

Once you’ve sanded to the desired look, give them a wash and toss those bad boys on. You’re ready to go.

4. Salt

This technique might sound a bit weird. But trust me, it works. Table salt has just the right amount of abrasive properties that allow it to fade even the darkest jeans without any damage. This method is best used if you are hoping to only fade your jeans slightly; it won’t change the color altogether. But, it’s a safe and mild trick to barely and modestly lighten your jeans.

How to Fade Jeans with Salt

You can use any salt for this method; even table salt is perfectly acceptable.

Begin by filling a bathtub or bucket with cold water and add two cups of salt. Then, toss your jeans in the mixture and ensure they’re completely submerged.

Allow your jeans to sit in the saltwater bath for 30 minutes to an hour, and occasionally stir them to keep things even.

Once they reach the desired fade, which will also be a few shades darker while wet, remove the jeans and thoroughly wring out the water. Let them dry in the sun. Come back to find the perfectly faded jeans that you’ve been hoping for.

5. Coffee

Believe it or not, the drink that gets you out of bed has other advantages, too. The acidic properties in coffee beans are a great way to fade black jeans quickly and easily. The unbeatable smell is just a plus.

How to Fade Black Jeans with Coffee

To achieve the best results, you’ll need green coffee beans – also knows as unroasted coffee beans. If you don’t have access to those, roasted beans will also do the trick.

Lay your jeans on a flat surface and take some coffee beans by the handful. Rub them on the areas you’d like your jeans to fade, such as the knees, pockets, etc.

Once they’ve faded how you’d like, boil some water and pour it over your jeans to rinse. Then, wash them with detergent and fabric softener and dry them normally. Good news: you’re ready to rock and roll.

Bonus Tip: Fade Your Black Jeans Naturally

If you’re not committed to dousing your favorite pair of black jeans in homemade chemical solutions, don’t fret. I’ve got some tips for you, too.

It’s no secret that black jeans will always fade naturally with wear and tear. But fortunately, there is a trick that requires very little effort to help expedite the natural fading process:

Wear your jeans for a few days without washing them. Sleep in them if possible. The more friction they encounter, the quicker they’ll fade. After a few days, wash them in super-hot water and put them in the sun to dry.

Repeat as necessary!


While it may seem like the only effective way to fade black jeans is to wear them for ages and let them naturally fade, that’s not always the case. If you’re anything like me, you’d rather not wait for results, and utilizing some of the most common household items can be a quick and easy way to speed up the fading process.

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