I am looking for something that can fix the dark denim dye in a pair of jeans. 

Name: Ann

Message: I am looking for something that can fix the dark denim dye in a pair of jeans.  I have washed them at least 10 times in hot water, cold water, water with vinegar, etc. Your site says that Retayne will not work with denim. These jeans "bleed" on my hands and on cushions, etc so I can't even sit on light colored surfaces! They are expensive jeans made in the US (60% cotton, 40% "expand PES" whaatever that is). I love them but they are a pain to wear!  Can you recommend anything?  Thank you.



G&K Craft Industries Retayne 4 oz

G&K Craft Industries

Retayne is a color fixative for commercially dyed cotton fabrics. It stops colors from bleeding out into the rest of your laundry! Read complete directions and warnings before use. Not for use on indigo denim.

There is only one thing I can recommend: return the jeans to the store from which you bought them.

If jeans continue to crock dye after ten washings, they are certainly badly defective, and the retailer is legally bound to accept them for replacement or refund. When a manufacturer sells a garment, there is an implicit warranty that the garment will be suitable for use. Crocking dye is a serious manufacturing flaw caused by a failure to follow well established dyeing practices. ("Crocking" is the word describing dye that rubs off of fabric even when it is dry.)

Blue denim jeans are dyed with indigo, a vat dye. Dyeing with indigo is a complex procedure in which dark colors should never be obtained by applying too much dye at one time. Instead, the fabric should be dyed with a series of dips into the dyebath that each add a small amount of dye at a time. The indigo dye is water-soluble when in its yellow leuko form, and can penetrate into the cotton fiber; it then turns blue and lodges inside the fiber when the fabric is exposed to air, which oxides the indigo and makes it turn blue. When, as a shortcut, instead of proper dyeing procedure, a small number of dips in overly concentrated indigo are used, most of the dye is unable to penetrate inside the fiber and instead sits on the outside of the fiber, ready to rub off on anything it touches. Although synthetic indigo made from petroleum products is now used, the process is exactly the same as has been used for many centuries for natural plant-derived indigo, which is chemically identical. The manufacturer of the fabric used in your jeans has no excuse for selling such a poor quality product.

Unfortunately, Retayne, which is an excellent dye fixative for most commercially-dyed garments, will not work on indigo. This is because the indigo molecule has a neutral electrical charge. Retayne sticks to most dyes only because they have a negative charge, while the particles in Retayne have a positive charge. A negatively-charged dye attracts Retayne like a magnet, but neutrally charged indigo has no such effect.

"Expand PES" appears to be a form of polyester which stretches. Polyester and other synthetic fibers do not accept indigo dye inside their fibers, so only the cotton portion of the blend can be dyed with indigo.

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Posted: Thursday - February 21, 2008 at 11:34 AM          

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