Denim Stains And Indigo Bleeding – How To Avoid And Clean

Indigo Staining can happen anywhere

Indigo Staining can happen anywhere

One of the risks of starting to break in a new pair of raw denim is the great amount of indigo dying that will occur on furniture, your hands, your boots, and anything you put in your pockets in the first couple weeks as the dye sets itself. If this is something you want to avoid (and in the case of furniture, you almost definitely do), there are a few simple steps to minimizing damage and reversing any dying that does occur.

Firstly, too minimize ruining furniture with denim stains, the first (and most obvious) thing to take care of is to simply avoid coming into contact with any white or tan surfaces. In the case of white furniture, if you absolutely have to, be sure to not rub back and forth at all or to get damp or overly warm while sitting down. Avoiding excess warmth and moisture should keep you from getting noticeable stains on other colors of couches as well, though these will be much less likely to show through.

Indigo Stained Couch

Indigo Stained Couch

If you do get a little bit of denim staining on your furniture or another piece of clothes, saddle soap or your other favorite cleaning product in a warm water wash will most suffice in battling any indigo bleeding. You’ll likely need to rework the stained area a few times, but it’s more important that you clean as soon as possible so as not to allow the dye to settle.

Indigo Stained Boots

Indigo Stained Boots

The saddle soap option is also the most reliable for cleaning indigo stains off something like leather boots which can take on the dye in wet weather or through excess rubbing. I’d recommend avoiding high boots which will definitely rub the denim as well as avoiding water immersion near the contact areas. The same goes for sneakers, though these can also be easily just be washed with soap. I would recommend avoiding soap on leather, as this risks ruining the leather in the area you wash.

Indigo Stained Sneakers

Indigo Stained Sneakers

Your hands are probably the easiest to take care of, as all you really need to consider is washing them with soap and warm water until the dye eventually comes off. The good thing here is that it isn’t all that common, some denims will get a ton of dye on your hands, but luckily most won’t so your hands and whatever you put in your pockets should be fine.


In summary, there are a few simple steps to be taken to avoid lasting denim stains on any surfaces:

  1. Prevention – avoid whites, high boots, and wet weather’
  2. Rapid Response – if you detect any sort of stain, get soap to it as quickly as possible, and ideally don’t rub it in too much with water beforehand. Warm water will help prevent the indigo from settling and though saddle soap is the best option, any cleaning solution should be effective. You may want to stop short of bleach unless the item is pure white to begin with.
  3. Repeat – Continue to scrub with soap until the stain has come off or at least faded. Keep the warm water coming.

This simple guide should work for most indigo stain prevention and removal, but if you have other suggestions, hints or improvements that you favor, we invite you to leave your comments below.


Based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, Connor grew an interest in raw denim thanks to the process, maturation, patience and craft that goes into each individual pair. He also writes at REPOSITORY which he started alongside Rawr founder Nick Coe.

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  • Devan Prithipaul

    not anything super groundbreaking but i guess its good to have an article like this just in case. i got a lot of indigo bleeding on my G star high tops, and it is only on the insides of the shoe that you can see it and i actually like it, it is almost like an extension of the denim fading process, in my opinion.

    • Jun

      Best way is to make sure all furniture, shoes, seats etc are made of raw denim as well…. problem solved!

    • Shut Up

      Nobody cares about your opinion Devan or about your G Star high tops. You’re some 16 year old twat that doesn’t know shit about denim yet feels the need to give his opinion on every article on this site. Nobody cares if you don’t like Ironheart workshirts or don’t like the cut of something. Everything in the denim world wasn’t catered to your fucking style preference and nobody gives a shit if you’re going to pass on something or not. Please stop writing dumb shit.

      • Devan Prithipaul

        if you dont care so much why do you reply to all of my comments. if you dont care then dont comment. i know a lot about denim.

        • Shut Up Reply

          I’m sure your years of wearing N&F have left you with a lot of knowledge of denim.
          This is actually my first reply to you.I just get tired of checking this site every week to see what’s up, & see that some 15 year old kid who wears N&F and G Star, is bashing every article on here. I just really don’t think companies care about what some 15 year old kid who thinks he’s fashion forward has to say about their workshirts & denim cuts. You come off like an asshole & don’t really say anything constructive. Hence, why people keep hating on you. Stick to StyleForum bro.

          • Devan Prithipaul

            I dont exclusively wear n&f, i have oni denim, samurai denim, kamikaze attack denim, and some momotaro denim. i dont know what’s wrong with G star, they have a lot of raw denim. and companies do think what 15 year olds think because im the future generation, i have a lot of influence in how menswear and streetwear will change. denim a little less.

          • stfu please

            i don’t know what’s wrong with G star? it’s ugly

            This isn’t a menswear site. Go to styleforum to express your opinion on menswear. you’re one person, you don’t influence over shit, especially not the direction of the denim world. I really doubt companies like Iron Heart care what you think when they’re constantly selling out of everything they sell.

          • bryan solid

            You don’t say anything constructive either. It’s all just trolling and hate. Some might say that your comments are worse than Devan’s simply because rather than responding like an adult to his points, you just immediately resort to insults.

          • back off bryan

            The community of raw denim wearers is small and tight knit. The people who write these articles aren’t getting paid and are writing them because they love denim. They spend time outside of their busy work & school schedules to put something up on this site because they love denim. I don’t appreciate some kid commenting on almost every article in a negative way. Talking shit about the writing, or how he doesn’t agree with the direction of the article, or that this article is shitty because X and Y; nitpicking about this and that. Devan is the fucking troll. I really don’t think it’s fair to the writers who devote their time to this site.

          • Devan Prithipaul

            i offer constructive criticism.

          • Somar

            I’m sorry, but you definitely DON’T offer constructive criticism. I have looked at a few of your comments and I also left you with some questions here and there.
            It’s a shame because you really got a lot of energy. You only have to put some effort in thinking before you’re going to post something. Read it through once or twice and think about what you really want to tell everybody.

          • Devan Prithipaul

            Somar i think i should explain to you that during this time, anything i would comment would illicit a negative response. now i do NOT want to re-open a somewhat closed wound, but basically i feel that my presence here has become too important, im not saying this out of vanity, but it seems that a lot of things here (activity wise) revolve around me, i wish they did not.

          • Somar

            You didn’t answer my question.

          • Devan Prithipaul

            there was no question here. i answered your questions that you asked below.

      • bryan solid

        You pretty obviously care, because you reply to every single comment he makes. One might even think you’re obsessed with him. Maybe you’re angry at your burgeoning sexuality?

    • Nic

      Wow… G-star high tops… you just completely invalidated any style opinion you have ever or will ever write bro…

      • Devan Prithipaul

        im 15, i cant afford the 600$+ Viberg shoes, or those Junya Watanabe Man X Tricker’s, sorry.

        • adsfghkj

          >implying everybody here use viberg or other $600+ shoes


          • Rodspeed

            No. That is not what he is implying.

            His statement, issued in defense of an attack on his sense of style, implies that he considers $600 Vibergs and Junya Watanabe Man X Tricker’s to be stylish shoes that, had he not been 15 and hence unable to afford them, would have provided external validation of his sense of style.

            So, adsfghkj, I guess the lol is on you!

    • Ralph Elliott

      Shut it fool.

    • Somar

      Hi Devan, got some question for you:

      1. Should every article be groundbreaking? Is this an important aspect of an article?
      2. You say ”its good to have an article like this just in case”. I don’t understand, what do you mean with that?

      • Devan Prithipaul

        1. No, and it was not important for this article. but this article was really quite basic, i don’t think it said anything that people didnt already know. what i meant with that comment is that nothing new was really said, it was very much stating the obvious.

        2. by that i meant that if someone does get an indigo stain on something important, or for some reason someone needs to get information on indigo stains, its good to have at least one online reference where you can get information. it’s good to have articles like this on common denim problems.

  • Benzak

    some may call it damage – I simply call it beauty

    • chewBACA

      Real talk, I love the indigo that rubs off on my leather boots, just adds to the wear and personalization of it.

  • Rodspeed

    Yo listen up: here’s a story
    About a little guy
    That lives in a blue world
    And all day and all night and everything he sees is
    Just blue like him inside and outside
    Blue his house with a blue little window
    And a blue Corvette and everything is blue for him
    And himself and everybody around
    ‘Cause he ain’t got nobody to listen:
    I’m blue da-buh-dee-da-buh-dy

  • Grandier

    Connor, maybe sometime in the future you can make an article about collection of photos of clothings, shoes, or even furnitures that has been bled on by raw denims? just an idea because sometimes things like that is so personal and has its own beauty

    • Connor

      Hi Grandier – that’s a really good idea. We’ll definitely put that together, and if you’ve got anything you’d like to submit as part of it feel free to get in touch. You can reach me at



  • Grazfather x

    Suede Eraser!

    • Chris

      Magic eraser might work on sme things :)

  • trehsu

    I don’t care what people say about the purity of denim stains or adding to character. I hate blue dye bleeding all over my beautiful new shoes. I freaking hate some brands of jeans because they bleed too much. Actually that’s a major determining factor in buying raw denim for me. I’m staying away from unbranded because just holding and handling them for like a minute in the store made my hand completely blue.

  • bocah

    it’s so simple, just don’t ride your bike, don’t wear your shoes, don’t wear your sneakers.

  • Chris

    I’m certainly not alone in having seen this constant stream of junk that is posted in the comment section of nearly every article. It’s tiresome and really unncessary. Regardless of whether i think Devan deserves all the hate can everyone remember he is 15 years old. 15. Yes he should have accountability for what he says but the reaction is consistently disproportionate to what he has said. And i happen to agree with him this article is not groundbreaking, should every article be groundbreaking? No, but it should educate someone with knowledge rather than common sense. The use of product to clean denim bleeding is useful, telling me to prevent sitting on a sofa and rubbing my raw denim all over it isn’t….. But it is part of the article which is fair. Yes, i wish this article had a bit more to it and that is where this comment section should provide advice and tips… not petty arguments.

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  • Jeannie

    I’m not sure many people enjoy paying upwards of $100 for dark indigo skinny jeans, give’em a pre -wash, and then find rub off on their leather upholstery in their Lexus, their expensive Ethan Allen sofa set, and on a $300 Coach bag. We want real answers, not “I like rub off on my sneakers b/c I’m only 15 & I think it’s cool!”

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