Acid washing is a process of partially bleaching jeans with chlorine bleach. Many people like the style of acid washed jeans, but buying them from a store can be expensive. You can make homemade acid washed jeans with a bleach mixture, an old pair of jeans, and a well ventilated area.
Beginning the Acid Washing Process
- Select an old pair of jeans. Acid washing jeans will remove a lot of the color. You should not acid wash a pair of jeans you are attached to. Select an old pair of jeans for the acid washing process.
- If you do not have an old pair of jeans, stop by a local thrift store. You can find a cheap pair of jeans there, which you can acid wash at home.
- Tie each jean leg in a bunch with rubber bands. This will help give your jeans the patchy, tie-dye like appearance of acid washed jeans. Work with one jean leg at a time, tying parts of the legs with rubber bands.
- There is no exact method for tying the jean legs. It depends on the kind of pattern you want. If you want a very tie-dyed appearance, twist your jeans in multiple places up and down each leg and secure these twists with rubber bands. If you want a less chaotic look, only twist and secure a few parts of the jeans. You can try concentrating on a particular area, like the lower legs or knees.
- Once you’ve added as many twists as you want, roll up each pant leg. Use a large rubber band to secure each pant leg in a tight roll. Your jeans should now be tied together in a small, lumpy bunch.
- Fill a bucket with 2.4 liters (800 ounces) of cold water. Choose a bucket big enough to comfortably submerge your jeans. Make sure to use cold water. If you have to, run the water in your sink until it becomes cold.
- Make sure to measure the water. Your bucket may have measurements written on the side. If it does not, use a separate measuring cup or container to measure out 2.4 liters of cold water.
- Add 1.4 liters (48 ounces) of bleach to the water. You want to use a chlorine bleach, which you can purchase at most hardware stores and supermarkets. Make sure to use gloves when handling the bleach. Pour your bleach into the water, making sure to measure out 1.4 liters.
- If you want a higher contrast look, add slightly more bleach than 1.4 liters. This will make the bleach solution more potent, stripping more color from the jeans.
Completing the Acid Washing Process
- Submerge your jeans in the bleach. Wear gloves when you do this. Dunk the jeans into the bleach solution until they’re more or less fully submerged.
- If part of your jeans are not submerged in bleach, this is okay. You will be flipping the jeans later. Just make sure the jeans are mostly submerged in the bleach solution.
- Turn your jeans over every 20 minutes. Set a timer to make sure you’re turning them over regularly. Always use gloves when handling the jeans. Turning your jeans over regularly will make the acid wash effect even throughout.
- You will begin to see the jeans change as you turn them over. Some color should be leaving the jeans, giving them a whiter look.
- Soak your jeans for 30 minutes to an hour. How long you soak depends on the effect you want. For a more defined acid washed effect, soak the jeans longer. This will strip them of more color. For a mild look, only soak the jeans for about half an hour.
- Check on the jeans regularly if you’re unsure of how long to soak them. Once you see the effect you want forming, you can remove the jeans.
- Rinse your jeans with cold water. Make sure to soak out all the bleach. You can run the jeans under cool water in your sink. As always, wear gloves when handling jeans. Bleach should not touch your bare skin.
- You can also hose down the jeans in your backyard.
- Make sure to rinse every part of the jeans to remove all the bleach.
- When you’re finished rinsing, wring out the jeans.
- Wash and dry your jeans. Use a cold cycle in the wash. You will want to run two cycles. Run one cycle without detergent, and then another with detergent.
- After two wash cycles, hang your jeans to dry. Do not put them in the dryer.
- You should now have a pair of acid washed jeans.
Taking Safety Precautions
- Wear gloves when handling bleach. It can be dangerous for bleach to come into contact with bare skin. Wear a solid pair of plastic or rubber gloves when handling bleach.
- Examine the gloves prior to handling bleach. Make sure they are free of any tears. Throw out and replace torn gloves for your own safety.
- Work in a well-ventilated area. The build up of bleach vapors can cause dizziness, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. When working with bleach, always work in a well ventilated area.
- If possible, acid wash your jeans outside. This will provide the most ventilation.
- Wear eye protection. Safety goggles are important when working with bleach. Bleach can cause serious damage if it gets in your eyes.
- In the event you get bleach in your eye, flush with water for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove any contacts you were wearing.
- Call poison control shortly after getting bleach in your eye.
- Wash your hands after handling bleach. This is especially important if you’re going to be eating after handling bleach. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after the acid washing process. Bleach should not stay on your hands for long, and should never be ingested.
- For an ombre effect, you can dunk the top or bottom of your jeans solution into the bleach bucket and slowly dunk more and more of the jeans in over the course of 1 hour. Remove and wash without detergent.
- It’s a good idea to wear old clothing when acid washing your jeans.
Things You’ll Need
- Rubber bands
- Chlorine bleach
- Rubber gloves
- Outdoor work space
- Washing machine
- Spray bottle
- Nylon brush
- Old work clothes