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Thread: dye rubbing off of dark blue jeans

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    dye rubbing off of dark blue jeans

    I'm not super into jeans but I like having at least one nice good pair. I've had many pairs in the past before but they were usually from Gap or Old Navy and I've never had a problem with the material's dye rubbing of. I recently got a new pair of dark blue Levi's and I made a point to wash them before wearing them thinking it would take care of any concerns with the dye rubbing-off but nope. They've been washed twice thus far, and although it's helped minimize any rubbing-off, it is still happening. How do I know? Well, a cream colour fabric chair in my living room now has an indigo imprint of where I was sitting the other day. Thankfully the chair is old and practically worthless.

    Anyway, I'm interested to know if anyone has experience with a solution that will eliminate or minimized the dye rubbing-off. Is it worthwhile to soak my jeans in a bucket of cold water and white vinegar? Is there a better way? From what I can find online, I think this is about it.

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    Junior Member J.M.S.'s Avatar
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    Is sounds like you have raw denim. Unfortunately, dyes are different today than they were in the past. I am not sure that'll work, but there really doesn't seem to be much of a risk to it.


    Try sandwiching a section of the jeans between two paper towels. Then wring it hard. It should help break them in, as well. Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.M.S. View Post
    Is sounds like you have raw denim. Unfortunately, dyes are different today than they were in the past. I am not sure that'll work, but there really doesn't seem to be much of a risk to it.


    Try sandwiching a section of the jeans between two paper towels. Then wring it hard. It should help break them in, as well. Good luck!
    Thanks for your input.

    Sent from my SM-G530W using Tapatalk

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    Which model of Levis are these?

    I've got a pair of shrink-to-fit 501s in raw navy that transfer dye like that. When I soak them they turn the water blue. I have another pair of 501s in a very dark blue and slightly distressed finish that doesn't transfer or bleed at all. So there is clearly some difference in the way they were made in terms of the way the dyes were set.

    I could be dead wrong but I suspect Levis and other mfg's may be using intentionally weak dye setting processes to help speed up the formation of cool looking fades, as desired by the vintage raw denim crowd.

    I also know that Levis is promoting sustainability in the manufacture of their products. I wonder if dye setting methods that are less effective may also be more environmentally friendly -- ie use less water and less toxic chemicals, specifically the mordants that bind the indigo to the fibers which are typically pretty nasty.

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    Member AlejandroLopez's Avatar
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    Raw or not, sounds like you're dealing with denim that hasn't undergone sanforization, a treatment process that involves moistening, heating, and stretching the garment and is typically used to prevent shrinkage. When applied to denim, it has the added benefit of significantly reducing if not eliminating dye transfer altogether.
    @Slubby Linen The shrink-to-fit models of Levis are not sanforized and have always been known to bleed dye, not much to be done about that unfortunately.

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    Okay, interesting. I knew sanforizing reduced shrinkage but didn't know it affected the dyes. My pair that bleeds is indeed the unsanforized shrink to fit pair while the sanforized pair does not.

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    I've never bought true shrink to fit raw denim but have a couple pairs of raw sanforized denim from DSTLD and have never had a major issue with dye transfer with any of them. Occasionally if I wear them on a hot day in the car they'll leave a little blue on my leather car seats but that wipes off with a little Armor-All. Never had an issue with it with fabric upholstery.
    “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slubby Linen View Post
    Which model of Levis are these?

    I've got a pair of shrink-to-fit 501s in raw navy that transfer dye like that. When I soak them they turn the water blue. I have another pair of 501s in a very dark blue and slightly distressed finish that doesn't transfer or bleed at all. So there is clearly some difference in the way they were made in terms of the way the dyes were set.

    I could be dead wrong but I suspect Levis and other mfg's may be using intentionally weak dye setting processes to help speed up the formation of cool looking fades, as desired by the vintage raw denim crowd.

    I also know that Levis is promoting sustainability in the manufacture of their products. I wonder if dye setting methods that are less effective may also be more environmentally friendly -- ie use less water and less toxic chemicals, specifically the mordants that bind the indigo to the fibers which are typically pretty nasty.
    They are 511 Commuter jeans from a couple of years ago but I have only started to wear them recently so they're 'new' and have been washed 2-3 times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amesbury View Post
    They are 511 Commuter jeans from a couple of years ago but I have only started to wear them recently so they're 'new' and have been washed 2-3 times.
    According to the Levi's website, the 511 commuter jeans are made with stretch fabric. To me that makes it unlikely that they are either raw or unsanforized. I'm kind of surprised they're rubbing off like that, especially after you've washed them a few times. Seems like the vinegar rinse described in the liveabout link might be worth trying, although I have a feeling that for it to be effective you'd need to use more than a cup of vinegar per tub of water. I'm no chemist but that just seems really dilute.

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