How to Distress Jeans Without Using Sandpaper. There are several ways to distress jeans without using sandpaper that gives that worn out, faded old look you love. Distressing occurs when you remove the top layer of indigo along with some of the broken thread filaments and fray the material. The distressed look has to seem like it happened naturally, from wear.

Place your jeans on a table laying flat. Make sure that you have placed an old towel or sheet underneath them to protect the tabletop from bleach damage.

Dip a sponge into a small bowl of undiluted bleach, squeezing out the excess. Wipe the sponge over the legs of the pants using long sweeping motions where you want the faded look. Repeat the process on the back of the jean's legs and on any of the areas of the jean's body where you want the effect.

Wash the jeans in cold water as soon as you have finished the bleaching process. Make sure to run them in a full cycle wash without any other clothes.

Allow the jeans to dry naturally or place them into a clothes dryer.

Put a piece of wood, such as a small board or a cutting board, inside the jeans where you are going to distress them.

Shave the fabric with a sharp knife or a cheese grater, being careful not to cut all the way through. Either method, or a combination of the two, creates different distressing effects.

Rub the jeans with a pumice stone dipped in bleach, for a well-worn look around pockets, or holes.


If you want to keep the bleached effect in either the front or back of the jeans, place sheets of plastic or plastic bags in the legs and body of the jeans. Experiment with using a washcloth or a spray bottle instead of a sponge, to create a slightly different bleaching effect.


Always wear protective gloves and goggles when working with bleach. Remember that bleach causes damage to fabric fibers. Complete the bleaching process quickly to avoid permanent damage to the jeans.