How to preserve dark denim dye

9:17 pm - 11/25/2008
I work in retail, which is somewhat higher end and we sell designer jeans and the like. So, what I heard from my coworkers is that by soaking your dark denim in a bucket of lukewarm water and a cup of salt overnight, you're helping to set the dark dye. And then give them a rinse, of course. Apparently it helps the denim from losing its colour in the wash as well as keeping the dye from rubbing off on things.

I told my mom I was doing this, but she told me not to because apparently salt damages the fabric and makes it wear out faster?

I'm confused! Has anyone heard anything about salt ruining fabric?

wendye 26th-Nov-2008 02:24 am (UTC)
I've always thought salt ruined denim in particular. I remember a jeans wash was called "sea washed" or something like that and the wash was faded and streaky, as if they'd been tossed around in the ocean.
It could have just been hype though.
bitterascandy 26th-Nov-2008 02:28 am (UTC)
They salt the walkways here all winter long since everything ices up, and the bottoms of my jeans ALWAYS get especially bleached out and discoloured at the bottoms. It could possibly be the salt, but this idea sounds like bad news bears to me.
_snowandlights 26th-Nov-2008 06:42 am (UTC)
2nd. its the salt.

although sea salt is different from the salt used on sidewalks to melt ice as far as i know, so maybe sea salt wouldnt affect denim in the same way?

i'm no chemist. i really don't know.
seren5 26th-Nov-2008 02:30 am (UTC)
I think it's vinegar that sets the dye.
greenandgrey 26th-Nov-2008 02:39 am (UTC)
second this. soak in vinegar before the first wash, dark dyes won't fade or bleed onto other fabrics.
mich_ish 26th-Nov-2008 02:58 am (UTC)
oh dear.
we've been telling customers to soak in salt.
will double check with others...
lelah 26th-Nov-2008 03:01 am (UTC)
third this!
zannah 26th-Nov-2008 03:24 am (UTC)
Third this. My friend werked at a Nordstrom and said this is what she learned while werking there.
caliginous 26th-Nov-2008 05:45 am (UTC)
Neither one really does anything. You don't use an acid based dye in a vegtable fiber, so vinegar won't do anything. You can however wash in salty water. The salt ions take up some of the available space in the water, so that there are fewer water molecules available to 'grab' excess dye. THis also means that less dirt comes out, but considering the huge volume of water and the small amount of dirt that really is on most clothing it's not a difference that will be noticed.
Always wash in cold water, gentle cycle, and with the minimum of detergent required. Detergents like Woolite Dark aren't a bad investment.
Drying is a major culprit in fade, don't over dry anything you like. I either hang dry all my stuff I paid real money for, or if it's heavy I dry it in the dryer until it's damp enough to dry fully in a few hours hanging, but never fully dryer dry it. has more info and some other products to look at.
xhollydayx 26th-Nov-2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
I don't know about the salt OR the vinegar. However, with my dark denims, I wash them as little as possible (sounds gross, but whatever) then turn them inside out to wash in cold water. Then hang dry. I hang so much of my stuff dry that my basement can pass as a closet! I hang dry all of my good clothes that dont get sent to the dry cleaners, my undergarments, and jeans. They last so much longer that way. I feel like the dryer ruins so much.
dreamertheresa 26th-Nov-2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
drchickenhead 26th-Nov-2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
the very nature of indigo denim is that it has loose dye. it will lose colour. you should never wash denim above 30 degrees anyway or tumble dry. these are the best ways to keep the colour of dark denim. and always wash inside out with the buttons/zip done up. I've never heard of the salt technique and I've worked in retail over 10 years including 2 high end denim companies.
lgoin 26th-Nov-2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
as echoed by others, the only way to preserve dark denim is to not wash as much and not dry. i've gone months without washing my jeans- and no, they don't stink. if they do, just stick'em in the freezer. gross, but it works and it keeps your jeans together.
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