Why Denim Clothing Turn Yellow and How to Prevent It

Prevent Our Denim From Yellowing

As we know, denim clothing tends to change color over time – usually becoming more faded and lightened in color. But sometimes, they can also turn yellow. So why does denim turn yellow, and is there anything you can do to prevent it?


The Reasons for Denim Yellowing


  • High percentage of cotton

Denim is mainly made from cotton, which is a natural fiber that is prone to absorb stains and colors from the environment. Even if you wash your denim clothing regularly, over time they will begin to pick up color from the things around them – like the dye from your carpet or furniture, or even the color of the water you wash them in.


  • Indigo dye itself

From the perspective of denim fabric production technology, this is because the indigo dye on the colored yarn is peeled off during processing such as denim fermentation and washing, and it stains back on the original white yarn, while in other words, the indigo dye itself is easily to affected by reducing and oxidizing environment and more likely to turn yellow.


  • Chemical residues

During washing, sometimes chemical detergents e.g. potassium permanganate, bleaching water, oxalic acid, etc. easily remain on denim clothing, which easily interacts with denim fabric and goes through a reducing and oxidizing process. So when the fabric is exposed to the air and happen a chemical reaction, it is easy to get yellow.


  • Sun Exposure

Sunlight can also cause denim to fade and change color undoubtedly. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight can break down the fibers in denim, causing them to change color.


  • Inproperly storage in a humid environment

When denim clothing is stored under not dry enough environment, the humid position would become yellow after time passes.

humid position would become yellow after time passes
humid position would become yellow after time passes

What Can We Do to Prevent Our Denim From Yellowing?


There are some tips for preventing denim from yellowing:


  • Apply color-safe detergent in washing

Try washing your denim apparel in cold water with a color-safe detergent. This can help prevent the transfer of color from other clothing or items in your wash load.


  • Sort your clothing when washing.

Make sure that your delicate garments are laundered separately, not mixed in with bulky items or active wear.


  • Completely dry your clothing before packing it into boxes.

Make sure your hands are clean when handling the clothing, as some lotions cause discoloration.


  • Choose an appropriate container.

If you have delicate fabrics, store them in a protective garment bag using archival tissue paper free from lignin and acid.


  • Store the denim clothing somewhere dry, cool, and dark.

Avoid hot places like garages and attics. Try to avoid storing them in direct sunlight. If you must store them in a sunny spot, consider placing them in a dark-colored bag or box to help protect them from the light.



In conclusion, denim fabric applied with indigo dye can’t fully avoid yellowing as the indigo dye itself easily to happen to reduce and oxidizes while long exposed in the air. But with our proper way of storing and washing, we can extend the life of our beloved denim clothing and make them a versatile member of your wardrobe.

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Thanks for reading!



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