Denim Transfer, The Bane of Handbag Lovers Everywhere

Welcome to the 470th Metamorphosis Monday!

Update: I found a much better product that has worked for removing denim transfer from my car’s leather seats and from my office chair. I’ve linked to it at the very end of this post.

I fell in love with wearing denim jeggings this past fall, those and the “ankle-slim” pants have become my faves. Unfortunately, having never worn really dark denim jeans in the past, I had some hard lessons to learn.

Frye Boots, Jeans, L.L. Bean Plaid Shirt, L.L. Fisherman Sweater


For starters, my dark denim jeans turned my white underwear, blue. They also left a bluish cast on the edge of my office desk chair. 🙁

White & Navy Polka Dot Shirt with Orange Cardigan Sweater, Navy Jeggings


Fortunately, I noticed these things were happening before the jeans claimed my red, wallet-on-a-chain bag (seen below) as their next victim. It escaped with just the tiniest darkening along the very bottom piping, something no one would ever notice, and I only noticed because I went looking for it. Now when I carry that bag, I loop the long chain under the flap of the bag to shorten it so the bag no longer comes in contact with my jeans when I’m wearing it cross-body or on my shoulder.

I would insert a photo of how the back of the bag looks in this post, but right now it’s on vacation in New York having its snap closure repaired. After using it for the past 1-1/2 years, the snap eventually wore down to the point it would no longer stay snapped.

Boot and Shoe Storage


Denim Transfer Epidemic

This dark-denim-dilemma has me worried. I’ve been doing a bunch of reading online and denim transfer is a major problem for a lot of women, especially when it comes to their handbags. I found story after story online of women asking for any help they could find to remove denim dye stains from their bags. A lot of these bags were expensive designer bags, many ruined by a $60 pair of jeans.

After reading so many stories, it kinda makes you wonder why there hasn’t been some major uprising against the denim jean manufactures to do something about this issue. Just Google any phrase regarding getting denim stains off a handbag, and you’ll find there’s a denim-transfer epidemic going on.

In the past, I would normally not wash new jeans until I had worn them a few times. I prefer that my dark jeans stay dark as long as possible. From what I’ve read,  some jean manufactures recommend you don’t wash jeans more than a  couple of times a year! Crazy, huh?

When I wash my jeans/jeggings, I always wash them inside-out in cold water and on a very short cycle. Then I hang them up to dry since the heat from dryers is hard on clothes. This is great for maintaining the dark color of the jeans, but it doesn’t in any way help reduce the likelihood the jeans will permanently ruin whatever they next rub up against.

After I started noticing the denim transfer occurring on my undergarments and my office chair, I washed all of my new, dark jeans, including the ones I hadn’t even worn yet. It helped, but it didn’t totally fix the problem. I know this because I “tested” my jeans using a method I had read about online.

Barbour Rain Coat, L.L. Bean Fisherman Sweater, Ralph Lauren Boots, Talbots Jeans


The article suggested rubbing a white cloth firmly on your jeans and if the color is still capable of transferring, you’ll see it on the white cloth. I tested a pair of blue jeans and a pair of black jeans and here are the results below. The stain on the left is from a pair of dark, black jeans, while the stain on the right is from a pair of dark, blue jeans. The cloth I used was not damp or wet, it was totally dry. So discouraging!

Would you get a gallon of paint out, paint your pants, then put them on wet and go places in them? No, of course, you wouldn’t! But that’s just about what we are doing when we put on a new pair of dark jeans, or a pair that’s only been washed once or twice, and then wear them out. It’s a disaster waiting to happen!

So I wonder–what’s the point of buying dark, denim jeans if you have to wash them several times (which is bound to lighten them up a lot) to keep them from ruining everything they touch? Grrrr! Why can’t the denim manufactures come up with a system for “setting” the dyes so it doesn’t ruin our nice handbags, chairs…and everything else it touches?!

Denim Jean Color Transfer


A few weeks ago, the day before my birthday, I stopped by Hermes to pick up something that was being held for me. While I was in Hermes, I was talking with my sales associate about the denim-transfer problem, and she agreed that it’s definitely a problem. She told me that one of her customers just brought back a new Birkin bag that she had only purchased two weeks ago because it was badly stained by her denim jeans while she was away on vacation. After enjoying it for just two weeks, the bag is now on its way back to France where Hermes artisans will attempt to restore it back to its original appearance. She probably won’t see it again for six months.


Home Remedies

In reading online, I have found various home-remedies for “setting” the dye in denim. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but I’m seriously thinking about it. I thought I’d share some of the ideas I read with you in today’s post, but please understand that I haven’t tried any of these methods, and have no idea if they will work.

So if you try any of these ideas and it ruins your favorite $100 pair of jeans, or it fails to protect your handbags/chairs/otherworldly goods from future denim-transfer, I can’t be held responsible. I’m just sharing what others online have recommended, it’s up to you to test/try these methods (if you so choose) to see if they work for you.

One method I read about that I’ve already mentioned was to wash new, dark jeans several times before ever wearing them. If you do that, I would suggest doing the “white cloth test” afterward before letting your jeans get anywhere near the things you care about…like your handbag. I can tell you now, washing my jeans twice in cold water didn’t set the dye in my denim jeggings. They failed the white cloth test afterward.

Another suggestion I read online was to soak/wash dark jeans in vinegar or salt. The person who suggested this said it would set the dyes, but an article I found in Good Housekeeping says this used to work but no longer does because the dyes denim manufacturers are now using has changed over the years.

That same article says that treating jeans with a fabric protector like Scotchgard can help, but that the Scotchgard will eventually wash out. In the article, they recommend the old standard of just washing your new jeans multiple times before wearing them, preferably with a detergent that is designed to protect/preserve color fabrics. Can we have it both ways? Can we use a color-protective, fabric detergent to wash out and set excess dye? Sounds like the least complicated measure to try.

I think I’ll purchase some color-guard type detergent and give all my jeans a few more washings. As much as I’d like for my jeans to stay really dark as long as they can, keeping them that way just isn’t worth the risk of ruining all my cross-body handbags. Actually, it’s not just the cross-body/shoulder bags that are being ruined, since denim transfer has also happened to folks while carrying hand-held bags. All it takes is the bag rubbing up against new jeans a few times to transfer the dye and potentially ruin the handbag.

Update: I’ve also had denim transfer appear on the driver’s seat in my car. My seats are leather and I’ve tried cleaning them with various leather-cleaning products. It helped but left much of the stain still visible. In the comments on this post, someone suggested a product they had tried called Magic Eraser, and it totally worked on my leather seats.

Magic Eraser is a product that’s designed to get marks off walls and I’ve used it for that in the past with excellent results. I don’t know exactly how it works, but I think it’s slightly abrasive and that’s how it gets a stain/mark off a wall. In any case, I had nothing to lose by trying it on the leather driver’s seat in my car since it was already pretty much ruined by the denim stain.

It worked and it worked well! I first sprayed a little 409 on a cloth and used it. Would normally never recommend using that on a leather car seat, but I had nothing to lose since the seat looked so bad anyway. The 409 removed a lot of the denim stain. Then I followed that up with a very light use of the Magic Eraser. My seat looks a billion times better now, so I’m super happy with the results.

Again, I’m not recommending you try this on your leather handbag or leather seats, just sharing that the Magic Eraser a BNOTP reader suggested, worked like magic on my car seat! So thankful that she suggested it! If I ever get denim transfer onto a leather handbag, I would be very tempted to try the magic eraser on it after seeing how well it worked on the leather seats in my car, although the leather on the seats in a car appears to be much thicker/strong than on a handbag. Still, if the handbag is ruined anyway, it might be worth a try.


Removing Denim Stains-Denim Transfer From a Leather Handbag

In reading online, I found a whole slew of suggestions for removing denim dye/transfer from leather bags. Some folks recommended baby wipes, the type that doesn’t contain alcohol, while other folks said that it was bad to use baby wipes. Several folks recommended various leather cleaners, saying that they probably wouldn’t get rid of all the denim stain, but should help.

Two cleaners I saw recommended were Apple Brand Leather Cleaner and Lexol Cleaner. I’ve never used either of those cleaners and know nothing about them, so proceed with caution! I did recognize the Apple Brand because a YouTuber I sometimes watch used it to treat/protect the Vachetta leather on her Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis, and was happy with the results. If you would like to watch that video, let me know and I’ll be happy to share the link. I don’t own an LV bag with Vachetta leather but apparently, that type of leather can be a bit tricky to maintain, especially if you get caught in the rain.

Have you run into this denim-transfer issue before with your jeans? Do you have a denim-transfer horror story or two to share? Ever had a handbag or anything else damaged by a pair of dark jeans?

What’s your method for dealing with new, dark jeans? Do you have a great technique that you always use to set the dyes in denim jeans before wearing them? Please share your tips and stories in the comments because I always learn so much from you!



This is the product that I’ve found does the best job at removing denim transfer. So far I’ve used it on my car’s leather seats and on a faux-leather chair in my home office and it worked great on both! Be sure to test it in an inconspicuous spot before using it on whatever you are trying to clean, just to make sure you don’t have a problem.

This amazing cleaner is available here: Super Cleaner. Be sure and check out the reviews, they really speak for how well it works!

You can see how well it worked on the chair in my office in this post: My Absolute Favorite Cleaner for Removing Denim Transfer Stains. For now it’s my go-to product for removing denim stains from my leather car seats.

Super Cleaner for Leather Seats Upholstery and Carpet, Works for Denim Transfer


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  1. Eileen Jalet says

    hi Susan, my mother always told me that before I wear dark denim wash it and add salt to the water, that sets the color. So, my advice to you is always wash your dark denim before you wear it. Hope that helps

  2. Quilters used to be told to wash their fabrics with vinegar in the washer water prior to sewing with them, partly to finish shrinking the fabric, partly to set the dye. You might check that method out, maybe even talk to some quilting shop. Dark denim didn’t used to rub off–like 4 years ago. I used to buy Lee dark jeans and no problem, but maybe they’ve changed the dye they’re using. Again, because we no longer make our own fabrics in the USA but choose off shore discount everything, it seems we’ve abandoned the whole notion of quality fabric. You can barely find decent terry cloth anymore, can’t hardly buy real cotton–the list goes on. Tees used to never bag at the front of the neckline, now everything behaves as tho’ it were disposable. I’d rather pay a little more and buy it once. jw

  3. I’m not sure if this suggestion will help but I always use color catcher sheets in the washer when I wash my jeans. Also I wash them on warm wash cold rinse. Good luck!

    • Yeah, I love using those in the wash. Maybe they need to invent a color catcher type product that sets the dyes in jeans! I would totally buy that!

  4. SharonFromMichigan says

    My favorite “dark colors” clothes detergent is Cheer for dark colors. When I went looking for detergent made specifically for dark colored clothing, the stores in my area only carry two brands; Cheer and Woolite. Woolite’s bottle was way to small for the many loads of dark colors that I wash, so Cheer was the winner. My son wears black dress slacks to work and in order to keep them black (not dark gray) Cheer has been doing the job quite well. I throw in a color catcher sheet with every wash and even though his slacks have been washed many many times with the Cheer, the color catcher sheet still picks up some dye. So its not just the denim manufacturers dye 🙁

  5. I have the dk denim dilemma also. My Lexus has light leather seats. I now have some discoloration on those beautiful seats. We have tried several products to remove the stain but so far nothing has helped. I have washed the jeans in cold water several times. It has helped alittle. Lots of washing products I can not use due to skin irritation. Would love to hear what other people have used to reduce this problem.

  6. Your closet makes me swoon Susan! I am always amazed at your organization and research skills, good luck with the jean thing!

    • Thanks, Jenna! I changed it up a bit after that photo was taken…moved my handbags to a top shelf of another closet since I don’t change handbags daily, and put all my winter sweaters on the shelf. That’s worked out great.

      • Cami Camello says

        hello, I have a question regarding your closet? Do you display your bags or keep them in their dust bags? The top shelf of my closet gets so dusty I would never keep bags in there uncovered. Also, did you mention if products like apple guard actually work to prevent color transfer? If we cant fix the jeans maybe we can protect the bag?? I have apple guard but I’m terrified to use it on my blue $2000 Chloe bag:(

        • I ended up purchasing a Billy Oxberg with glass doors from Ikea to keep my handbags in because I enjoy seeing them and it makes me much more likely to change out my bag and use a different one when I can see them and reach them so easily. The Oxberg keeps them pretty much dust-free. If you do that, just make sure the cabinet is in a location where sunlight from a window can’t shine in on the bags which could cause fading.
          I haven’t used Apple Guarde on a bag yet but I’ve heard a couple of YouTubers say it does a great job.
          Here are two videos where YouTubers used it on their bags:
          Jennifer used Appleguard on Vachetta Leather on her LV Speedy:
          And here’s a video where Shea used it on a bag to protect the bag:
          I know, it’s very scary to think of spraying something on your bag. You may want to Google some phrases like “how to protect Chloe bag from rain or stains” or “Using Apple Guarde on a Chloe bag” just to see if anyone has tried that and blogged or videotaped it.
          Mostly I have just tried to make sure when I’m wearing dark jeans, that I’m wearing a longish top that comes down far enough where the bag doesn’t rub against my jeans. This is primarily just a problem for me in the fall and winter since in spring and summer, I’m normally wearing lighter-colored clothing and white jeans.

  7. Thanks for the party, Susan. I have never had my dark jeans transfer to a purse BUT I have had them transfer to the leather seats \in my car! It does clean right off though, thank God! I sure wish manufacturers would figure out a way that we could keep our dark denim DARK!!!!!!!

    • Pinky, I’m so glad you caught it before it became permanent! BTW, I think I saw on FB where Joe had surgery and is doing well! Keeping you and him in my thoughts! XXX

  8. Good Morning, Susan

    I also noticed the color transfer from my dark jeans – on my camel colored recliner and my pale grey leather car seats! I used Resolve to clean both and the color transfer disappeared.
    Not sure if this would work on a handbag, but it worked on my furniture and the car seat. It’s so frustrating when this happens!
    Hope you find a solution. Have a great day – so glad you are feeling so much better!

    • Wonder if Resolve would fix the color transfer on my leather seat…worth a try! My car is very old and I will probably be replacing it this year, definitely don’t want this issue on a new car! Thanks, Susan!

  9. Linda Scarbrough says

    I use SHOUT ColorCatcher with new jeans and anything with a lot of color and have never have had a problem!

    • Unfortunately, the Color catchers only catch the dye in the wash, wish they would create a similar product that would set the dye in the jeans to prevent any color transfer to handbags/leather seats, etc… Would totally buy that!

  10. Sheila Cartelli says

    Hi Susan,
    Glad to see you have been up and out for the last few weeks after your nasty bout of flu…
    I wear dark jeans and luckily haven’t had the transfer problem, but I always have the black ones dry cleaned to save their color… Maybe your dry cleaner can help solve your problem.
    Good luck,

    • I wonder if the dry cleaning process helps set the dye so it doesn’t rub off onto seats and such…definitely worth looking into!

      • Margaret Bergeron says

        My dry cleaners recommends having dark color jeans dry cleaned before washing them for the first time. They indicate it should help set the dyes. I personally have not tried it yet, but worth a try!

  11. Mary Ahern says

    Hi Susa, so sorry to hear of your transfer issues. I wear jeans form Talbots and one pair is very dark. The label recommended precasting to prevent color transfer and I did that . I’ve worn them for at least a year with no problems. I also have black jeans frorom Macy’s that came with the same recommendation and I’ve not had a problem with those either. I’m sure you wash your jeans inside our, that does help maintain the color. Hope you are able to find a solution.

    • Unfortunately, mine have continued to rub off, even after washing a couple of times, maybe I didn’t wash them long enough…was trying to preserve the beautiful dark color. Yup, I do wash them inside out. Thanks!

  12. donna a zoltanski says

    One would think in today’s world there HAS to be a way to prevent ruining our fashions, purses, even furniture from wearing denim! Thanks for all your research. I just love pink bags….oh no……..yes, more than dark denim!

  13. Hi Susan,

    When my girls were young, I smocked all their dresses, using cotton or silk fabrics. I was taught to wash the fabric before cutting it out-soaking it in vinegar/salt mix before I washed if it was dark fabric-and to put it in the dryer, even though I always hung the completed garments to dry. The dryer heat helped set the fabric color as well as took care of any potential shrinkage. These were also the years when decorating/painting tee shirts was popular-and the painting “tips” always included ironing finished product before wearing or washing to set the color. I wonder if it would help if the jeans were dried in the dryer once-at a fairly high heat. I also have been told that dry cleaning them helps to set the color-but have no experience with that. Good luck with your pursuit-and please keep us updated.

  14. I wear Levi’s leggings, had them on yesterday, no problem with color transfer.

  15. Ann E Friend Seigman says

    Hi Susan, I too have blue underwear from a new pair of dark blue jeans. I always wash them inside out hoping that the color on the outside will last longer. I don’t know that it helps. It certainly doesn’t help with the color transfer. I put a color catcher sheet in with them in the wash and it always comes out with color on it. If you find a solution I know that you will share it. Thanks!

    I am thinking about painting my guest bedroom. I love the color that you have used, the Duron Sugar Cookie and the Duron Sea Biscuit. Do you know if they are still available? I think that it is such a beautiful color and would lighten up that room.

    Have a great day! Ann

  16. I haven’t had a problem with color transfer but my Talbot ‘s
    leggings (which I love thanks to your recommendation) had a strong odor. I washed them several times and it disappeared but you do wonder what they are using in the countries where these garments are being manufactured.

  17. I was very interested in your post about dark denim transfer. I recently wrote a post about how I had to buy slipcovers for my beautiful yellow matelasse sofas because they had become dingy and uncleanable. I now believe that denim transfer was the culprit. How can they make pants you can’t sit on furniture in or wear with a handbag? It’s crazy!

  18. Katherine G says

    Ugh…its not just handbags and underwear – we have white sofas, and lately they are getting dark transfer stains on the seating and arm rests. Its become very expensive to get them professionally cleaned a couple times a year…This has only been happening in the last few years, so it must be the newer dyes.
    The Woolite for dark colors really helps maintain the colors. I buy the limit of large containers whenever Costco offers a sale on these.

  19. A female guest at a party I held at my house years ago was wearing dark blue denim jeans. She stayed talking by the same bit of wall all evening. The next day we found a dark blue patch on our cream wall at the spot where she’d been standing.

  20. Susan, is your Denim jeans 100% cotton? IF so, from my personal experience ‘turn your garment inside out’, use a ‘liquid detergent’ made for dark colours and a ‘cold water’ wash plus use a ‘delicate’ machine setting. (FTR, it is agitation that releases the dye so you may also wish to add an old towel or similar to act as a buffer if only washing one pair at a time. ) Also, in event the fabric is a blend of cotton denim, spandex or rayon you may wish to add some ‘Retayne Colour Fixative’ to your wash (often used by Quilters) and partially dry your garment on a low setting which will also assist in setting the colour. To conclude; as it is the initial dying of the textile itself that dictates its colour fastness it really is a catch twenty-two situation as to what works and what doesn’t so good luck but hopefully these tips will help. -Brenda-
    P.S.: Re transfer of dye on your leather purses; Murphy’s Oil Soap being a fantastic cleanser might be a solution as it is often used for the cleaning of bridles and saddles.

    • Mrsben – I have always done the process you describe. Unfortunately it has had no effect on preventing the color transfer. I’ve had 2 purses & my leather car seats are blue. I have used a Mr. Clean sponge on the leather even though I’m sure I shouldn’t have. 🙂 Glad to hear Murphy’s Oil Soap might clean it from my purses. I gave one away already. ugh…

  21. I have had the same problem with dye transfer with jeans and pj’s. Red pj’s on white sheets. I used Oxyclean to get the dye out of the sheets. I don’t know how to get dye out of leather, though.
    Thanks for hosting this week.

  22. Cyndi Raines says

    What a bummer! I always wash my jeans before I wear them because they are so stiff and irritate my skin, but they have been the medium blue, not the extremely dark blue, so I have not noticed a demin transfer. However, I have noticed the rinse water showing the black die from my black jeans after several washings. I hope you find your answer Susan either through googling or from the information that the readers pass on. By the way, speaking of denim, I am finally getting to the fun denim project of making napkin rings out of the waistband loops and the silverware holders from the pockets. We are under a winter storm watch all day with us getting another 3-5 inches of snow, it is pouring down, so this is a great project to be working on. Eager to hear your transfer solution. Good luck!

  23. I have yet to find a solution. I’ve got jeans from decades ago that still tint my undies, so I don’t think it’s a brand new problem, but I do agree it’s probably partly an overseas manufacturing issue, as well as a tree-hugger save-the-planet issue.

    I think it’s also just intrinsically something in blue dye used for denim, because all jeans do fade eventually, even our old 501s, so obviously there has ever been a way to stop the fading completely.

    I think pebbled leather resists transfer slightly better, but that’s all I got as far as advice, other than I only carry black bags with my dark jeans!

  24. I used Lexol to remove denim transfer from my light pink leather handbag and it worked like a charm. It also removed the transfer from my leather car seats. It can be found at Amazon and Walmart.
    Good Luck!

  25. Thank you for all the dye tips! I’m off to the store for Color Catcher and Cheer. My question is: could you share info on the yellow raincoat in your picture?

  26. Good luck with these methods. My daughter had a favorite pair of dark jeans that would not stop transferring dye. We tried every single method we could find – salt, vinegar, hot water, cold water, color catchers – nothing worked. Multiple washings over a period of months did not slow it down either. It is a maddening problem with a lot of jeans. She finally had to just quit wearing them.

  27. So far, I haven’t had this denim problem, but I’m glad you made me aware of it, since I wear denim jeggings almost all the time. I do wash them before wearing, and I’ve never heard that you’re only supposed to wash jeans a few times a year! That was a shock to read. Interesting post. Thank you.

  28. Wash your jeans in white vinegar to set the color. I live in Wyoming and we know our jeans!

  29. Brends smith says

    I’ve had that problem with a couple of purses , but fortunately they weren’t expensive ones . However , you haven’t felt dye-transfer terror until you wear new dark jeans when driving your brand new car with ivory leather seats ( a wonderful gift from your husband ) and you see that dye has transferred ! Thank goodness the spot was small ! It took most of a bottle of leather cleaner to fix the problem, then lots of leather conditioner to soften the leather back up.
    After that experience, I no longer care if my super-dark jeans lose a little darkness, and I wash them several times with Shout Color-Catcher sheets before wearing until no color transfers onto the sheets.

  30. Linda Gardepe says

    I totally agree with you that there should be an uprising about the dye in dark denim jeans!! It is a terrible situation. I now keep a cover on my beige desk chair and light ivory sofa, which isn’t very attractive, but I don’t want them stained blue! If you try any of your above methods and find that they work, pleas do a post about it. I LOVE your blog and learn so much from you! Thank you for all your useful and fun information.

  31. Linda Gardepe says

    I totally agree with you that there should be an uprising about the dye in dark denim jeans!! It is a terrible situation. I now keep a cover on my beige desk chair and light ivory sofa, which isn’t very attractive, but I don’t want them stained blue! If you try any of your above methods and find that they work, pleas do a post about it. I LOVE your blog and learn so much from you! Thank you for all your useful and fun information.

  32. Bobbi Duncan says

    Those denims!!!!! I’m with you on the” why buy dark jeans if they need to be washed several times first”. I learned my lesson many years ago when I was cleaning and backed up against a wall in jeans already washed a couple times–yep, butt marks on the wall! Seeing that, I’ve always protected any light fabrics with a washable cover if we’re wearing jeans and keep towels on our car seats. I double my handbag chains if I’m carrying a light colored bag so they don’t come in contact with the denim. I use color catchers but they still off-color. I love wearing jeans as they go well with all my sweaters but you have to be so careful when wearing them. Manufacturers, listen up! Hugs!

  33. The color catcher sheets are awesome added to a wash load to capture color, and should keep other items in your load from staining. If salt and vinegar dont work to set dye anymore, I have no clue. Maybe talk to your dry cleaner and see if they have any ideas? Or contact the national cotton council for info, or the brand itself for info. Sounds like great blog topic! Good luck!

  34. This has been an epidemic for years. I have a friend who, at the time, had teenage daughters–they now are grown with children. But, they each got dark jeans, rubbed/touched the jeans, and ended up with stains on their hands and around their mouths. Their mother saw this color, was alarmed and started looking for medical symptoms. She found: “Cyanosis is the name for poor oxygen circulation in the blood that causes bluish discoloration of the skin.” She was panicked until they kept mentally working on this and figured out it was just their jeans. Alarming, then funny, but true.

    • Sandra Davis, Joliet says

      The American Housewife sitcom just had an episode about that! The husband was actually hospitalized (tends to be a hypochondriac) until a family friend looked it up on the internet and solved the problem. Doesn’t say much for the doctors on the show. It did make for a funny episode but in real life I’m sure it wasn’t

      • That’s too funny! Wonder how many folks go to ER’s thinking they have something terrible wrong with them. lol You would think they would notice it on their underwear and realize it’s the pants, because the underwear was the first thing they turned blue.

  35. Hi Susan, I have not tried this but I am throwing it out there for consideration. I listen to a monthly question and answer type video about quilting and invariably the question comes up about quilt fabrics bleeding color onto other fabrics in the quilt. The product that the quilter recommends is called Synthrapol and its purpose is to take the excess dye out of a fabric and they use it for prewashing fabrics but the hostess says that she uses it for all of her laundry. I think that she said that she buys it at quilt shops but I imagine that it is available online as well. Maybe worth a little time spent researching.

  36. Yes, the dye from denim is just awful. The driver’s seat on my Mercedes is the victim of this dye! The upholstery is beige. I did manage to get most of it off with just a little Dawn and water and then I used Mrs. Meyers cleaner. I have a white leather office chair in my sewing room that I use with my sewing machines and sergers; when I purchased this chair I put an old white towel on the seat and the back because I wear jeans a lot. You can see the blue on the towel. ugh!

  37. This does really suck…my year old volvo suv has some darkness on the pale gray leather, using a towel there now, not too lovely.

  38. Wow! What are they doing to the fabric? I have worn dark jeans for years and have never had this problem. I only wear Gloria Vanderbilt brand because they are the best fit. Even my most recent purchase have not bled, on me or in my washer. I wash everything on a delicate cycle, inside out, cold water and hang dry. It sure helps to preserve my clothes. I hope some of these suggestions help. If not try changing your brands.
    I also use Lexol on my leather furniture, with no problems. Not sure how it would work removing color stain. Did you check with a shoe repair store? They may be able to help with the leather.

    • Ann E Friend Seigman says

      I too wear Gloria Vanderbilt jeans for the fit, but my dark navy blue ones were the culprit for my blue undies! I always launder them exactly like you do. I’m not sure that the brand you buy and the method of washing is even a guarantee. 🙁

  39. I’m with Jocelyn – nothing gets between me and my Gloria s…including dye! franki

  40. You know Ladies……your concerns may be about the wrong thing. I would be thinking about a urinary track infection. Those garments are made in countries that have no rules or regulations. Dye is not some of our leading American retail companies concerns. BOTTOM LINE PROFIT IS THEIR ISSUE. That’s why they send off shore for mfg. Ladies, start thinking…..

    • Ann E Friend Seigman says

      Hmmm…I, personally, have never had a urinary track infection, but I’m sure that those dyes cannot be good for us.

  41. Just an FYI
    You also have to be careful if you wear dark denim and have light leather seating in your vehicle. (possibly fabric seats as well but I had leather)
    It can transfer to the seats.
    I was aware of this and used a towel to prevent it.

  42. I, personally do not like jeans stuffed in boots, I always think of Grandpa Jones a banjo playing musician. I always laugh when I see this. I wash jeans in water , with a cup of salt in the first wash. This does help, but true denim does fade, not a lot to do about it. I prefer slim leg jeans with pointy toe flats or loafers. Boots with skirts or flared jeans is my choice!

    • I love that look, especially with jeggings. You are missing out, Jackie! Get yourself some jeggings and tall boots and come on over to the banjo-playing dark side. lol Yee-Haw!

  43. Has anyone tried using a dye fixative like Retayne or Rit on their dark jeans?

  44. I agree with Margaret above. My husband paid good money to purchase me a beautiful garnet colored “real pashmina” shawl in India….assured that it was good quality and at a reputable store (not off the street). The first time I wore it it turned my neck red and got color on my clothes. I contacted a woman in this country who died wool and she suggested laundering it in cool water until it no longer bled…..well… never STOPPED bleeding and now it is a light red! Lesson learned. Garments made in other countries do NOT have the quality control that garments made in the USA have. The sad thing is that all the major brand companies have outsourced to other nations and the standards are just not the same. On a recent trip to China we went through an area that went for miles with every major brand you can think of having big companies located there. Very sad. Profits is the bottom line it seems. I don’t know what the answer is….you just don’t get what you pay for any more it seems.

  45. A long time ago I had some new jeans that I didn’t wash first. After I wore them my underwear ended up blue as well as my skin! So I washed and dried them which seemed to be enough. I have seen the blue transfer to the leather seat in the car too so it’s a little unnerving when you get the new jeans and have to worry about the color bleeding on things. I wonder if dry cleaning them would help set the color? I was told at the store where I got our leather recliners that you can use a bar of regular ivory hand soap with a damp rag and wash to help clean the stains but when I do I always make sure to come back with a clean damp cloth to remove any soap residue- then you can apply the recommended leather cleaners which will also add some moisture back to the leather. Do a test spot on the very bottom to experiment with. I’ve also used one of those white sponge Magic Erasers to gently clean the leather. It really works but I would be super cautious and test on the bottom first. You can go too far easily.

  46. Ugh, yes – a thousand times, yes. I don’t think there’s an easy answer for the dye transfer and you’ve obviously researched all the remedies out there. Just that little color transfer on your lovely red Chanel would have given me the vapors! I’ve used Apple leather conditioner and cleaner on vachetta and it works wonderfully, up to a point. (It would be great on your Frye bags though!) Any marks/smudges or handle darkening on my beautiful bags really bug me, and sometimes it’s impossible to keep them pristine. That’s why I’ve gravitated to carrying satchels in the crook of my arm. Enjoy your beautiful new blush bag, and now that you’re keenly aware of the denim dye issue you’ll be able to protect it.

  47. Thank you Susan for sharing and asking others about dealing with denim discolouring clothing and leather. Thank you too for hosting today.

  48. I have several dark denim pieces and yes the transfer issue is an issue. My hubby’s truck seats have blue denim on them. I need to see if I can get it off. P.s. I wish I was as stylish as you Susan!

    • I don’t know about stylish, but it’s fun to play. 🙂 Pamela, someone recommended that I try Magic Eraser and amazingly it worked! My driver’s seat looked terrible, so I first sprayed a little 409 on a rag because I had nothing to loose and that got a good bit off. Then I wiped that off and then gently used a Magic Eraser…it got all the rest of it off! I followed that up with some leather conditioner for good measure.

  49. Terry Beaudry says

    Hi Susan,
    You might try Rytane Color Fixative, found on I use it all the time to set colors such as reds and dark blues for quilting cottons and fabrics.
    So happy you’re feeling better again my friend!

  50. Yes I do have this problem as well. It transfers to my underwear, skin and tops of shoes/boots. I have never found a solution yet. What kills me is how easy it rubs off onto other things, but is very hard to get off these other items! sigh Maybe one day they will address this issue. Hugs, Brenda

  51. Oh, wow, Susan, I thought it was only me! I’m so glad to read this post and can’t wait to read through all the comments to see if there are additional ideas to try, too. I ruined one of my chairs due to this denim transfer nightmare! I’ve been at a total loss of how to solve this! Off topic – sorta, lol Have you done a post before of your closet? Because that sneak peak above is so awesome; makes me want to reorganize mine pronto!

    • Thanks so much, Donna! That closet needs a full makeover but when/if I renovate the master bath, that closet will probably get absorbed into the bathroom, so I just gave it a mini-makeover to make it more functional for my use. You can see the makeover in these two posts:

      I actually ended up moving the handbags to the top shelf of the closet in my dressing area on the other side of the master bedroom since I don’t swap out handbags on a daily basis. Now I’m using the shelf space to store sweaters which I do use on a daily basis throughout fall and winter. I thought I posted a photo of that change in a post somewhere, but couldn’t find it just now.

      I also returned one of the brown pairs of tall boots on the bottom shelf shortly after I got them, so I only have three pairs on the bottom shelf now. The ones I returned were the exact same style as one of the other pairs, and I decided I didn’t need two so similar in color. If I find that other photo with the sweaters, I’ll link that post for you, too.

      That closet functions so well for me now. That was a very inexpensive update, but it works really well now.

  52. Susan, I don’t have an answer for the demin bleeding onto your leather but I will share what I use to remove the denim off of the light grey leather seats in my car. I simply wet a Magic eraser and with one swipe the stain is removed. I follow with a moist clean cloth and swipe across the area again. Then uou can use leather conditioner if you like.

    • Nicki, I am so trying that because just cleaning hasn’t worked! Brilliant idea! I love Magic Eraser for my walls…never thought about using it on the seat. It can’t make it look any worse, so worth a shot! Thanks for the suggestion!

  53. Susan, dye transfer is not only frustrating but also dangerous for our health! The chemicals jeans (and not only cheap jeans!) are dyed with, are poisonous and their toxic substances go through our skin and can cause liver cancer! To minimize risk I always wash my new garments several times before I wear them and to avoid hours-long skin contact I always wear tights under my jeans. I don’t really care of their colors fading, nevertheless I use a detergent that is formulated for dark colors and if one day I don’t like them anymore you taught me I can always make pretty flatware holders, napkin rings, wreaths, banners, etc. with those jeans! 🙂
    ~Hugs to you~

  54. Research: Retayne, Synthropol, Rit Due fix.

    • I’m thinking about ordering the Retayne, but in the questions/answers section on Amazon, a couple of folks said it didn’t work on jeans. Another person said that it will not work on Indigo dyes and that’s why it doesn’t work on jeans. I still may give it a try, though. Wonder if Synthropol works on indigo dyes.

      • I commented about the Synthrapol earlier, not having tried it but had heard about it from a quilting video. I found one of her videos and listened again and she described the the Retayne as being good for keeping the color in vintage fabrics, not allowing the color to leave. She doesn’t specify if this is only during the washing process or if the effect continues when the fabric is dry or if it helps with color rubbing off. She described the Synthrapol as working differently. That product allows the excess dye to enter the wash water but then not be reabsorbed by the fabric or other fabrics in the quilt. Her concern with the Retayne is that if you washed the quilt again without the Retayne that you could have the same problem of the dye leaving the fabrics. This is the link to the you tube video that I watched and the question comes up at about 10:20 into the video.

        • I have shared each of these nightmares of denim transfers has been a number of years since I drove my new car home, got out, and noticed the ivory seats were blue as well as my hands. After freaking out, making phone calls, whatever I used took the dye right off and it has never happened again. Knowing me, I probably went back to the dealer for advice and he did it for me. LOL! However, that is an idea, either call your service guy or stop by the dealer and go to the service department for help.

          I wash my jeans in cold water and dry them in the dryer. Have tried the vinegar or salt method and that didn’t help. From everyone’s comments, it truly appears that we are fighting a losing battle.

  55. Beverly Anderson says

    You’re right – Washing dark denim in vinegar doesn’t work for “setting” the color. I prefer wearing dark denim, so here’s what I do in the store prior to purchasing them: I rub my knuckles back and forth vigorously over the denim. If the color transfers to the skin over my knuckles, the jeans go right back onto the shelf, because the color will NEVER stop transferring onto your other clothes or items. It was an inferior dye-setting job top by the manufacturer to begin with.

  56. Beverly Anderson says

    You’re right – Washing dark denim in vinegar doesn’t work for “setting” the color, nor do most other home remedies. I prefer wearing dark denim, so here’s what I do in the store prior to purchasing them: I rub my knuckles back and forth vigorously over the denim. If the color transfers to the skin over my knuckles, the jeans go right back onto the shelf, because the color will NEVER stop transferring onto your other clothes, skin, or items. It was an inferior dye-setting job by the manufacturer to begin with.

  57. Sherie Frank says

    It’s not only denim. My grandson wore a pair of black polyester sport pants and they left black stains on my cream leather sofa. It did come off with a good leather cleaner ( called worrynomore) but now I make sure that he sits on a towel if he has those pants on. By the way, I really enjoy your blog.

  58. Marcia Lewis says

    I’ve had this problem with denim staining my leather car seats. I have used car leather cleaner. It doesn’t completely get rid of the stain, but makes it less noticeable.

    • Marcia, another BNOTP reader recommended trying a Magic Eraser on my leather seat. I had already cleaned it and it looked much better. This evening I gently tried the magic eraser on it and it worked! It’s looks so much better! My car is quite old and I’m probably going to be trading it in for a new one either this year or next year, but still, hated to see the leather seat stained that way.

  59. This is why I wear white jeans year-röund.

  60. I love dark wash jeans and have experienced this before too. I do usually was them after two or three wears so that problem doesn’t last long. I wore a new navy blue sweater recently and it turned my bra blue! It didn’t wash out either. Not pretty!

  61. First, I always wash jeans before I wear them for the first time. Second, I only wear dark jeans in the winter. Since I am wearing a coat when I have my handbag, it acts as a buffer between the denim and the bag so there isn’t any transfer but I usually wear a dark bag in the winter anyway. I also don’t sit around in my dark denim – I find it uncomfortable. I change in to sweatpants when I get home. I would never sit on a light colored couch with dark denim.

    However, even in the summer I have had dye transfer on my lighter bags when rubbing against my pants (no coat buffer), especially canvas bags. Honestly, I just don’t buy light bags anymore unless they are inexpensive canvas ones.

    Jeggings tend to be made cheaply so I think those are more likely to transfer dye. I would ditch the jeggings and get a good quality jean or try a quality black legging (if you are wearing a long shirt) or a pant, like a dress pant.

  62. Joyce Fowler says

    Hi Susan. Interesting post. There is a company called Dharma Trading Co that sells fiber art supplies and clothing blanks. I have only ordered a white silk pillow case and a couple of white cotton items from, but they always have lots of information about all kinds of dyeing. Maybe they would know something about the denim dye.

  63. I was two minutes away from rushing my mom to an urgent care last summer. The palms of her hands were turning blue and we thought she was having a circulation issue. We had a great laugh and a big sigh of relief when we realized it was her jeans!

  64. Ugh, I wish I had known about these cleaners before I tossed my leather handbag. My jeans ruined my off-white leather Sak bag. AND my jeans have ruined my tan sofa. If you have an idea for cleaning a sofa let me know. I’ve been reluctant to try anything for fear of making it worse. My lesson here is two-fold, one, no light color handbags for me, and never, ever buy a light color sofa. I always have had dark sofas, until I listened to everyone gush over neutral furniture. My next sofa will look like pizza.

  65. Susan, I also had a BIG problem with denim transfer on a new white sofa from a visit of a friend. Imagine my shock and dismay when I saw the blue color on the cushion! Fortunately, I was able to use a light bleach solution on a damp rag and wiped it against the stain. I followed up with a damp water rinse to remove the bleach. But, how awful that not any of the manufacturers have taken steps to correct this problem!

  66. Just thinking out loud here and I haven’t read all the responses so I hope this isn’t a repeat but I wonder if a Magic Eraser would remove the dye from handbags or leather/vinyl furniture stained by jeans? Of course, after being tested on a hidden spot. Worth trying.

    • Ginger, you are so right! I never thought of trying that but it did work. I was shocked! It will help greatly when I go to trade in my car…not having a blue driver’s seat. 🙂 Thanks for suggesting it, I definitely need to do a follow up post and share this tip!

  67. Oh, never mind! I see the Magic Eraser was mentioned. Sorry!

  68. I haven’t had any trouble with Denim Transfer since I changed my laundry routine. I use an essential oil non toxic powder I get from a fantastic supplier in Tennessee along with Borax to wash items along with a vinegar rinse. I dry them along with wool felt dryer balls. Good luck with your issue. Glad you were able to order your handbag after all! Vanessa in Atlanta

  69. Oh my goodness, you should see the chair I use to blog sitting in. I don’t know what to do with it because I left my mark on the seat from wearing dark jeans all the time. Now no one sits in the living room with dark jeans on. I throw something under all the butts so there’s no staining the furniture. It’s crazy, why do we put up with this nonsense?

  70. Susan, A few years ago I had a light leather purse that picked up the dye from a dark pair of jeans. I handled the cleaning the same way as I cleaned my light leather car seats. I sprayed a good leather cleaner/conditioner on the handbag and lightly rubbed with a Magic Eraser….the key work being lightly! Then I wiped clean with a soft cloth. Good as new.
    I used the leather cleaner/conditioner that came with the purchase of an overstuffed leather chair and ottoman. I have also used a leather car seat cleaner purchased at Target. Both worked just fine.

  71. DebbsSeattle says

    And to all of the dark jean lovers…when you are going to be someone’s dinner guest, please refrain from wearing those dye transferring evil garments. It pains me that I had my furnishings stained in the two spots where my guest sat…in the dining room and the living room.

  72. I JUST cleaned my ecru Coach purse with a magic eraser, and it worked well. I did it with a light touch, but I had nothing to lose, as the staining was so bad. And, I discovered I had a tear on the bottom of the purse. So now, this purse will be for knocking around, not for special occasions. But at least it looks way better…..thanks for posting this idea. I lightly rubbed in a leather conditioner and the finish looks just fine!

    • Yay! So glad it worked Rosie! That’s how I felt about my leather car seat…had nothing to lose since it looked terrible. Whoever invented Magic Eraser is a genius! 🙂

      • That is so true. I have had good luck cleaning many things with that little eraser. Thanks again for researching this!

  73. Adrien Journee says

    I read your blog and you share the awesome leather purse and shoes. I like the leather purse. Leather products are good quality and strong. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I appreciate it very much!

  74. Julianne Applegate says

    Hi! So happy to find your post. I noticed my custom upholstered sectional and my husband’s vachetta upholstered chair are picking up the indigo from his jeans. I would love to see the video you mentioned about LV bags and denim transfers. Great post!!

    • The video I saw was how to treat Vachetta leather when it’s new to protect it…it’s this video:

      The product I finally found that did the best job at getting the denim stains/transfer off my leather car seats is this:
      It’s amazing! Read the reviews and questions before you use it on your leather chair, though. It worked great on my car seats, the looked great and it got it all off/out, even the blue that was down in the creases of the leather.

  75. Wow, sorry to hear of this problem. At least you didn’t say that you had Blue legs!

  76. Crystal T says

    So based on your article did you actually attempt to use anything on your handbag? I am trying to find out how to get it out of the stitching (the threading not the liner) as I can easily get the color transfers off of the leather itself however it shows mostly within the stitching :/

  77. Here’s my story: I just bought a Dooney & Bourke Barlow “City” leather handbag. First time out, while wearing midnight blue jeggings — that I have already washed several times! — I experienced the horror of dye transfer. I was still away from home and all I had on hand was a pick of those “Big Ones” antibacterial wet wipes from Target. Thankfully, that got off 98 percent of the dye. (I would only caution that this particular leather is a textured/treated leather. I probably wouldn’t have used the wet wipes on a vachetta surface.)

    I should have known better because I had an ivory pebbled leather bag damaged on the first use years ago. On that bag I used baby wipes and when that didn’t cut it, I used Apple leather care cleaner and conditioner, which took off about 90 percent of the dark denim dye transfer. (I also own D&B Florentine leather and a Louis Vuitton. When I have my choice, it’s always Apple products followed by baby wipes because I’ve never had a baby wipe ruin anything yet. Apple leather care products have been around decades for a reason — they’re the best I’ve found. It’s worth noting that all vachetta will darken a bit but it’s very minimal with Apple products and only mild-moderate with baby wipes. (The worst I’ve seen from use of a baby wipe on this kind of leather is the look of a patina, which can be a plus depending on how you look at it.)

    As to the philosophy of not washing jeans, my experience is that most jeans will keep their color quite well if you wash on cold, use only a minimum amount of detergent and put in a splash of vinegar. (Vinegar makes fabrics soft and is supposed to help the dye set although it’s not foolproof.) If you’re really paranoid about losing color, it’s better to let clothing line dry because fading, much like shrinkage, is more typically related to using too much heat to wash and dry.

    Back in the 1990s I don’t remember any dye transfer issues with the multiple colors of dark denim that were popular then. If I had to guess, the manufacturers are trying to use more environmentally friendly dyes and the consequence of using less toxic dyes is that they don’t set as well, hence the ongoing issue with transfer.

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