Why Do Jeans Fade At The Knees? (Reasons/Solutions)

Why Do Jeans Fade At The Knees? Jeans with darker colours like Denim tend to have faded patterns around areas that experience friction with regular use over time, although some of the patterns are a design choice by the brand while in other cases it may be due to some external factors.

Denim Jeans are typically dyed with “Pure Indigo” (pure indigo is a chemical used to dye cotton to make jean fabric) which fades over time in areas that experience a lot of friction as mentioned above, Areas like the Knees. To put it simply, your jeans fade at the knees because they rub against other objects at the knee area while you’re wearing them.

If your jeans fade at the knees, don’t worry much about it, the fade gives it character and makes it cool aesthetic-wise. Your jeans can also fade at the knees for a variety of reasons such as—


There are detergents that contain bleaching agents or chemicals which are made for white clothing, if you use them to wash your jeans— they will inevitably fade. If you notice your jeans fading at the knees or around other areas, ensure you’re using the ideal detergent. So you don’t end up with randomly faded jeans.


If you depend on a bicycle as your primary mode of transportation, then it should not be surprised when your jeans begin to fade at the knees. While biking your legs are in constant motion and your knees are in regular contact with your jeans, the sweat and friction around that area gradually cause the material around that region to fade over time.

Amongst all the possible reasons your jeans may fade at the knees, this is the most rapid way it happens. With the bulk of the motion at your knees while paddling.


If you engage in activities that require you to constantly squat, like working at a daycare taking care of kids or you have kids of your own. The range of motion required to squat includes your knees bending at an angle that constantly rubs against the knee area of your jeans.

Kids are a gift and should be treasured but we know they can be a handful, especially toddlers who just discovered the joy of running around with the wind or breeze in their case, in their tiny faces. If you find yourself squatting a lot your jeans may fade at the knees.

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There are certain jobs that require you to constantly be on your feet, restock shelves and clean up after customers. Jobs like “Sales associate” at a retail store or “Waiting tables”. You often find yourself kneeling while engaging in your daily tasks, or you simply are on your knees for other reasons. No judgements, *winky face*.

Whatever it may be, kneeling causes your jeans to rub against the floor and the friction between your jeans, knees and the floor causes the area to wear which makes it fade.

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Design Choice

Some jeans are designed to have faded all across the trousers which often includes the knees, therefore over time with constant use and wash. The knee and other target areas will continue to fade to adapt to the aesthetic it was designed to have.

Take note when purchasing new Jeans, if you don’t want faded jeans. Do NOT purchase faded jeans.


After washing your pair of jeans, if you dry them off using a dryer, the intense and excessive heat will weaken the material of the jeans which will inevitably cause the dye in the cotton to begin to fade. It’s a slippery slope.

Also, “Pure Indigo” is typically mixed with other additives that are heated for it to adhere to the cotton which is used to make jeans. Therefore, it is a given that if you apply said heat to your jeans it will undo the dyeing process which leads to the fades at the knees and other areas that are loose due to constant motion.

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Uv rays from sunlight

When you wash your jeans if you dry them off under direct sunlight or you store them in an environment where they get exposed to sunlight for an extended period.

The ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause your jeans to fade, and although the fade isn’t targeted at the knee region. The areas that experience the most friction on the jeans are loose which will make them fade faster than other areas, the knee is an example of said area.

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When drying your jeans, it’s best to air them out. Avoid drying under direct sunlight over extended periods.

Old age

When you’ve had a pair of jeans for a while, maybe for years and you wear it regularly. You may begin to notice that it fades at areas that experience friction like your thighs, pockets and knees.

No matter how great of quality your jeans are, time is a factor that catches up with most things. Constant usage and time will inevitably make your jeans fade at the knees and other areas.

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Warm wash

I mentioned heat being detrimental to the quality of jeans, this doesn’t just apply to heat in form of radiation but convection as well.

If you wash your jeans in warm water, it will loosen the material which will cause a cascading effect that will lead to your jeans fading quickly and not in a “cool” way. Always cold wash your jeans, “spot clean” if it just stains you’re trying to get off.


Well, it may sound ridiculous but the fact is, while you are driving, especially driving a stick shift. Your legs are slightly bent at the knees to access the pedals to switch between gears and brake.

This constant motion will cause you to sweat on your legs and the friction at your knee area of the jeans will begin to fade over time. This may however apply to individuals who are regularly in an automobile, in the driver’s seat of course.

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Finally, if it isn’t obvious, the most common reason jeans fade at the knees is when you wear them regularly and walk, especially if you have an active schedule that requires you to be on your feet all day.

If you’re fortunate enough to have the ability to walk with ease, the constant motion will create friction around your knees and other areas. Not to sound like a broken record, the friction will cause your jeans to fade.

No matter the reason your jeans fade at the knees, if you don’t like the aesthetic and you want to get rid of the fade pattern, you can always restore the colour using the eco-friendly Denim Blue Purpose Powder Dye. It will have your jeans looking good as new, note that this is not a permanent fix though.

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How do I keep my jeans/pants from fading at my knees?

Although you can’t completely keep your jeans from fading at the knees, you can limit the fade by minimising your engagement in activities that involve friction along the knees. The lesser the friction, the less the fade, another way is to use Iron-on patches to reduce friction which in turn will limit the fade.

How to prevent jeans from fading

By avoiding practices that cause Jeans, especially denim jeans, to fade. Practices such as Using Detergent infused with bleaching agents, instead use Detergents like Woolite All Darks Liquid Laundry Detergent help maintain the colour after wash.

After washing to avoid drying your jeans off in the dryer, the heat will cause the material to loosen and it will begin to fade.

Over-washing will inevitably make your jeans fade quicker, jeans are not made to be washed after every use. By knowing how to properly maintain your pairs of jeans you can minimise and stop your jeans from fading.

Why do blue jeans fade over time?

Blue jeans fade over time because the cotton used to make the jeans Fabric is usually dyed and the aforementioned dye usually fades over time with regular use. No matter how high quality the jeans are, when you constantly wear your pairs of jeans, constant friction and grinding causes wear which makes the jeans fade.

Is it better to wash jeans in hot or cold water?

If you want your jeans to last long and not fade easily, then it’s best to always cold wash your pair of jeans. As spoken about above, heat causes the dye in the jeans fabric to fade off easily which will end up ruining the aesthetic of your pair of jeans.

If you don’t want your dark denim to bleed and lose all its colour, then avoid warm water wash. For white denim, however, you can use a warm wash.

Why Do Jeans Fade At The Knees – Conclusion

Fading at the knees of your jeans is nothing to fret over, with some brands even going as far as making it a design choice. For most “raw denim” enthusiasts, faded patterns are considered “beautiful accidents” because it gives your jeans character. The faded patterns are even named, faded patterns are not the end of your jeans. Own it!

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