Jeans are turning my legs blue!
March 5, 2007 10:57 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought new jeans, but they turn anything that rubs against them blue -- including my legs and hands! I've already washed them, to no avail. What can I do?

The jeans are Old Navy painter's jeans, and they're quite dark in color. The laundry instructions say to wash only in cold water, which is what I've done so far (the color doesn't seem to run in the wash, in any event). I don't care if they fade. Is there anything I can do that would allow me to wear these jeans without comical, potentially embarrassing results?
posted by goingonit to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
These are some cheap ass motherfucking jeans. You best cut your losses and get rid of them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:09 PM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Jeans are dyed with indigo, which is supposed to (in non-crappy fabric) get stuck inside the fibers. Obviously, that's not working so well for you. I doubt there is any way to fix it, except by rubbing every surface until the excess dye is removed. Maybe you could do that on an old-school washboard (with gloves), but it probably isn't worth the energy.
posted by janell at 11:14 PM on March 5, 2007

Soaking them in hot water will help get some of the dye out, but may shrink the jeans.

A vinegar rinse after washing helps set some dyes, and might or might not help. Would need to be done after each washing.
posted by yohko at 11:15 PM on March 5, 2007

You could bleach them.
posted by yohko at 11:17 PM on March 5, 2007

How many times have you washed them already? Try a few more cycles.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:19 PM on March 5, 2007

I found this online, FWIW:

...You can fade jeans artificially, but realize that the results will be slightly different than if the indigo-blue dye faded naturally over time. To fade jeans, skip the washing machine — too hard to tell what the heck is going on in there, so your chances of bleaching your jeans evenly are slim.

Instead, fill a bathtub with about eight inches of water and, using a pair of waterproof gloves, pour in between a quart to half a gallon of bleach (depending on how much you’d like to fade your jeans). Realize that the more bleach you put in, the more you’ll weaken the denim. Take a long stick (like the kind given out in paint stores) or some other disposable tool and stir the bleach in thoroughly. Be careful not to splash on yourself, or you’ll get bleach spots on whatever you’re wearing.

Add your jeans into the mix by laying them out flat — no folds, twists or wrinkles. Any of these will cause your jeans to lighten unevenly. With your tool, poke the jeans down so that they are submerged. Turn them every five minutes or so — again, laying then down flat. Check the color after a half hour of turning. Take the jeans out about two shades before the one you want (fabric looks darker when wet). Rinse the jeans in cold water — three times — and then hang them over the shower to dry. Drip-drying is best to ensure that dye doesn’t accumulate in the folds.

Once dry, you’ll notice they stink — bad. Throw them in the washing machine and then into the dryer. Use good-smelling dryer sheets to help with the smell.

If the jeans are that cheap... don't be surprised if they disintigrate in bleach, though. ;)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:24 PM on March 5, 2007

If you're set on keeping them, set the dye, if possible. Try a craft store for a commercial dye fix, or just dump a pile of salt in the wash.
posted by kmennie at 11:26 PM on March 5, 2007

Leaving them in vinegar a while might also be worth a shot, but, as mentioned above, if it's a fabric issue and not a dye issue, that probably won't work.
posted by fvw at 11:48 PM on March 5, 2007

salt, as noted above will work, a thick brine. though you may want to dry clean them. this may very well be an "old wives tale" but all my black clothes, or dark denim i dry clean first. just once. it seems to alter the fabric, or something.

before i started doing this, i had to re-dye all my black clothes every couple of months, and they never kept their black. now they do. and denim seems to bleed less. it's spendy, but seems to work. I honestly don't know why.
posted by metasav at 12:23 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

No, no, no, you've got to use cornstarch! ...I'm kidding, but... maybe try warm water to get the dye out but not shrink them. Or if you aren't worried about them shrinking a little just have at them and the dye should come out. Funny story about my friend, he got a new pair of jeans and they made his legs blue and he didn't know what the hell happened so he went to the hospital and nobody could figure it out and they were going to get experts from across the land to figure out why his legs were blue, until one of the doctors took a swab of rubbing alcohol and rubbed it on his leg and then told him to get the fuck out of there. Ha.... It could be that they missed a cycle in the manufacturing that was supposed to get the dye out. But Old Navy is cheap, so who knows.
posted by who else at 12:41 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

That sounds like manufacture-level flaw right there. Don't waste your time: take them back and get your money back - full price, or only take a replacement pair from the hands of the manager telling you earnestly that your experience was atypical and come on back if it happens again. I would ask those folks to recommend the most comparable pair at the Gap (I for one have never had dye issues with jeans there) and get them ordered for delivery wherever is most convenient for you.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:13 AM on March 6, 2007

If you're keen on keeping them, give them a good soak (overnight) in a nappy soak. That'll rip the colour right out.
posted by Jilder at 1:52 AM on March 6, 2007

My Old Navy jeans did the same thing but it started happening less and less over time. I still have to be careful not to wear white sneakers with them though.
posted by Menomena at 5:35 AM on March 6, 2007

AV has it right - take them back and trade them for a different make and model.
posted by grateful at 6:27 AM on March 6, 2007

Taking them back is more hassle than it's worth, and obviously if you like the jeans, replacing them with a different style and pair isn't going to solve the problem.

Like the folks said above: You just need to fix the dye, and can do so for like $3 worth of stuff you probably already have in the house.

Soak in salt water--like a box of kosher salt in just enough hot water to cover the jeans and allow them to move freely. Let soak until the water is cold. Follow it up with a soak in warm water and white vinegar, rinse in cold water. Repeat if neccessary (though it probably won't be)
posted by kumquatmay at 7:32 AM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Second kumquatmay. Their advice is exactly what I was going to type.
posted by Mitheral at 8:58 AM on March 6, 2007

Thanks everyone for the advice. I'll try the salt & vinegar treatments, and if that doesn't work I'll break out the bleach. The funny thing is that I've bought Old Navy jeans before and nothing like this has ever happened. Oh, well, caveat emptor and so forth. And at very least, now I know where not to buy my jeans...
posted by goingonit at 10:12 AM on March 6, 2007

It's worth noting that you can also pay lots of money for jeans that do the same thing. A friend bought some Levis Premiums and the damn color came off on his hands all the time. So maybe consider your Old Navy purchase a rare bargain?
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:19 PM on March 6, 2007

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