Can You Dye Denim Black? (How to Dye Denim Any Color Easily)

Paint brightens up a home or a room covering past mistakes with ease. Dyes can hide a multitude of fabric sins just like paint covers those home sins. Choosing the right dye for the fabric is another issue. It has to be made for the fabric you want dyed.

Can you dye denim black? Yes, you can dye denim black. It is always advisable to go with a darker color than what is on the fabric. The easiest way to dye denim is to use your washing machine, hot water, and the liquid dye made for denim materials. Then follow the instructions on the dye packaging.

To learn all about dyeing denim just continue to read our article. It explores the topic and brings you the necessary information to help you get this task done correctly. Just a few minutes of your time should put you on the right dyeing denim path.

Can You Dye Denim?


Yes, you can. You should be able to dye denim most of any color you want except white. For some reason, the indigo dye used by denim makers is very hard to turn to real white color. You may end up with a bad off white once the process is over.

Also, it is possible to bleach denim to white color and that process is easier than trying to dye the fabric white. Without the indigo dye, it would have been easy to dye your denim material a great pure white color.

Other colors do not seem to have this problem

Can You Dye Bleached Denim?

It is possible to dye bleached denim but the process may be too long and complicated and may discourage you from attempting this task. The first step is to neutralize the bleach and you need to do this soon after the bleached spots appear.

There are different products you can use including oxy bleach or simply rinse the denim in cold water. If the bleach spots are small, you may get away with using a simple permanent marker to color in the bleached area.

It is not always easy to match the color of the rest of the denim with the color that will appear on the spot. That means you may end up dyeing the whole garment instead.

How To Dye Denim Black

  • Step 1: pre-wash the denim clothing item you want to dye black. This gets rid of any chemical that will resist dyeing.
  • Step 2: you need to know the weight of the denim when dry so us ea scale to get the exact weight before washing. You will need a 1/2 bottle of liquid dye per pound of fabric.
  • Step 3: wet your denim with warm water and squeeze out the excess. Then fill a bucket with 3 gallons of hot water (140 degrees F or above)
  • Step 4: next mix in the liquid dye, 1 cup of salt, and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Adjust the color by either adding more dye for darker results or more water for lighter ones
  • Step 5: Put your denim item in the mixture for 20 minutes, making sure it is fully covered. Then check the results and if not at the desired color re-submerge and check every 10 minutes till you get the color you want.
  • Step 6: Remove and rinse in cold water till the water runs clear. Then wash in warm water and mild detergent then let dry.

How To Dye Denim Jacket or Pants

The process for these denim items is exactly the same as described above. You can also use your washing machine if you want to but you may be left with a mess inside the tub because of the dye.

What Dye To Use For Denim


One good dye to use would be the same type of dye that denim manufacturers use-- indigo dyes. These are generally made from natural ingredients but lately, the makers of this dye have gone to synthetic ingredients. Also, indigo dyes are known as vat dyes which is difficult to replicate at home.

Or you can try a good all-purpose dye. They seem to work well on denim fabrics especially if you are staying with the denim blue color. Remember that the fabric color will look darker when wet and will dry lighter when the process ends.

Dye Denim With Coffee

This is not a difficult process and the time-consuming part is finding the right filter for the 2 bags of coffee grounds you will need to do the job right. Fill a 3 to 5-gallon bucket 3/4 full with hot water and then add the beans inside the filter.

Wait for 15 to 20 minutes while the coffee brews and the darker the coffee the darker the stain. Drop-in your jeans making sure they go completely under the water without spilling any of the dye and let sit overnight.

When the next morning comes, put the jeans into your washer and wash then dry normally. You should have coffee dyed jeans at the end.

Can You Dye Denim With Food Coloring?


Yes, you can but the best results using food coloring as a dye comes if you use that product on angora or wool. Usually, a reactive dye works well on denim because of the plant fibers used to create the material.

At best when you use food coloring on denim you end up with a temporary color change, one that may wash out fairly quickly. That temporary state includes when you sweat or get caught in the rain.

To avoid any embarrassing moments that may come it is best to avoid using food coloring as a dye for denim.

Dye Denim With Tea

The process of using tea is similar to the process of using coffee. You need to use about 40 tea bags and let them steep for about 15 minutes. Plus, the water needs to be about boiling hot or a little less for the dyeing process to work. Cold water won’t do it here.

Also, don’t forget to wash your jeans or other denim for tea as well as coffee dyeing. After the tea is ready, stir in your denim and make sure it immerses in the mixture. You can wait only 1 hour if you want but overnight seems to help set the new color better.

After this, you rinse the denim in cold water then soak it in a vinegar and water mixture for about 10 minutes. If the color is too light, just repeat the process. Let dry and iron and the denim should be ready.

Dye Denim With Rit

This is another good way to dye your denim materials to the color you would like. The main reason you go with RIT dyes is that they also have other products, like RIT Colorstay dye fixative that helps cut down the bleeding and fading. You just need to use this option immediately after dyeing your denim fabric and before washing.

The all-purpose dye this company makes works well with denim and the instructions are on the package. Don’t deviate from those if you want top results.

How To Dye Denim Darker


It is not hard to dye denim darker. If you follow the procedure mentioned earlier you can use 1 bottle of dye for every pound of fabric instead of 1/2 bottle. Adding more dye to the mixture is the way to make denim colors darker when they are dyed.

Another way would be to let the denim sit in the dyeing mixture a lot longer. That gives the dyeing time to really soak into the fibers and get as dark as you want. But letting the dye stay in longer doe snot mean you do not check on the material. You might go too dark and it would be hard to lighten the fabric once that happens.

Can You Dye Denim White?

If your denim is in its raw state, no indigo dyes have been added yet, then it is relatively easy to dye those materials white. Raw denim is an off white color and only turns blue when the manufacturer adds the blue indigo dyes.

Bleaching is the best way to get close to a white color as dyeing the material white after it has received the indigo dyes is almost impossible to do. Put bleach and water in a spray bottle and mix.

Then spray the denim and you will see an immediate change in color. Rinse with cold water then cold water and vinegar to neutralize the bleach.

Dye Denim Purple

They say that dye colors are transparent and that the color result you get will be the combination of the blue in the fabric and the dye color you are using. To get purple you may need to add a reddish-purple color of dye.

The problem is that dyeing is not an exact process and it takes a lot of trial and error to get the denim the color you want. It would be smart to know which mixed colors produce a third color and then test to see if you like that result.

Dyeing Denim Red


This may not be a good idea if you are trying to dye the blue denim a red color. The indigo dyes have a purple or lavender undertone so you may end up with a weird-looking pair of pants or jacket.

Also, keep in mind that the end color is usually a mixture of the original denim color and the dye color. So using a red color dye on white denim is going to produce the best results.

Dye Denim Brown

The different dyeing processes are the same no matter which dye color you choose. The key to dyeing your denim fabrics brown is to note what their original color is. Blue and red make a brown color so you may try that if you are choosing to dye blue colored denim.

If you are coloring white or faded denim you may get away with a straight brown color. As we have said dyeing is not an exact process and your results may be different than anyone else’s.

Where Can I Dye Denim?

There are lots of locations where you can dye denim. That flexibility makes this process easier for you. Just make sure you cover anything you do not want to re-color with old materials or a canvas tarp, etc.

There is the sink in your laundry room or kitchen, the bathtub in your bathroom or you can use a movable tub or water bucket. Whatever location that is big enough should handle the dyeing process.

Also, you can use your washing machine, which is probably the easiest location and the one to make the least amount of mess.

How Long To Dye Jeans


Part of this process depends on how light or dark you want your jeans to be. The lighter the color the less amount of time the denim has to spend in the dye solution. Standard beginning time is 20 minutes give or take the type of dye you are using.

If you are using coffee or tea one hour is the minimum and all night is the maximum per attempt. You may have to repeat the process with tea and coffee to get a darker color but with commercial dyes, you only have to leave the jeans in the solution for up to an hour approx.

Best Clothes Dye For Denim

Usually, you want a reactive dye to change the color of your denim materials. These dyes are not that hard to use and the all-purpose kinds handle denim quite well. Then you should get a dye brand that works on denim as all commercial dyes are not as flexible as all-purpose dyes.

The easiest to use may be the iDye brand as it comes in a packet that dissolves in water and can be used in your washing machine.

Is Denim Dye Toxic?

Some of the indigo dyes used to create the nice blue denim color are made from synthetic ingredients. Those ingredients require the presence of lye as the active ingredient and lye can be very toxic.

The commercially sold dyes like RIT and other brands should say whether they are non-toxic or not. RIT does not use toxic ingredients so it is a safe brand to use when dyeing your denim fabrics. Make sure to read the labels before you buy.

Some brands may use toxic ingredients to achieve better results.

Where To Buy Denim Dye


Like fabrics, you can get denim dyes just about anywhere. It will depend on what kind of dye you want and which brand that may limit your access to them. The first place to check would be those big box stores that try to save you money.

Then if they do not carry any or do not have some in stock check out your local department stores, fabric outlets, and even Michael’s and its competitors. Those are your main local places if you do not like buying online.

When it comes to online shopping, Amazon should be your first stop. If that marketplace doesn’t have it at a good price then there are lots of other outlets that will. All you need to do is pour yourself a cup of coffee and take your time searching the internet.

Denim Dye Rubbing Off

Friction is one of the main reasons that any denim dye will rub off. That means that if you are very active, other people, chairs, sofas, car seats and more will rub some of the dye away. It is a good thing that most denim dyes are placed on the surface of the denim so the toxic ingredients do not rub off onto your skin.

Then if you are using your own dye product a bath in the vinegar helps set the new dye color and makes rubbing off harder to achieve. Food coloring dye will rub off very quickly and even faster if it gets wet.

How To Get Denim Dye Out Of Clothes

If the dye got onto other fabrics by mistake, a good stain remover should remove those spots very easily. Once it has transferred to the clean cloth, rinse the fabric in warm water then wash normally.

Then if you want to remove the dyed color that came with your denim outfits, there are products other than bleach that do that for you. They are usually called dye color remover or something similar.

Some Final Words

Yes, denim can be dyed and the reason for that ability is that it is made from natural fibers. It is the synthetic blends that you have to worry about and some denim materials are blended with synthetic fibers making dyeing a lot harder to get done.

Leave a Comment: