How To Get A Brown Belt. The Wrong Way.

So here I am, looking for methods to get an old white gi white again.  My gi bag is built from one of my kids old gis, and it was getting a bit dingy as well.  I thought, hey, there’s lots of things out there on the net for doing this, so I’ll try some of the methods and let my SimpleBJJ readers know what worked best on various age white gis.

Last night, I took a nearly brand new gi and my gi bag and put them in the wash with Borax and White Bright.  I’ve used this combo before with good, but not spectacular results.  However, this is the first time I put my gi bag (which has a purple strap on it), and my purple belt in with the wash with this cleaning combo.

Rewind a couple weeks, and I noticed that when my purple belt was saturated with water, it looked more brown than purple.  Ha-ha, that’s funny, I must be projecting my desire for a brown belt.  So when I looked in the washer as everything was soaking and I see my purple belt looking a bit brown, I thought nothing of it.

When I pulled it out of the dryer. . . well, let’s just say this isn’t how I imagined getting my brown belt.


This is going to be nothing but hassle.  I’m going to buy some purple dye and this little escapade will be an aside when I finally update everyone on getting white gis white again.

The only good news is the faded purple fabric on the gi bag can be replaced, and the NAGA patches on the gi bag were invulnerable to this cleaning combination.  My best guess at the moment is that polyester thread does not lose its color easily, but cotton is perfectly happy to give up purple at the first insult.

UPDATE 2014-09-14:

Yesterday I used some purple dye to try to restore the belt to purple.  This is what I got:


And now I have a blue belt.  This is not progress.  The blue belts at the academy are literally laughing at me and welcoming me back into their ranks.

No matter how many times I asked my family if this was not indeed purple, they always replied that it was blue.  This meant another trip to the store to get more dye.  This time, I added color remover to the list.  I also resolved to find another way to cook the belt because I was scolded for using a nice stainless steel pot.

After giving a semi-private lesson today (wearing a white belt, no less), I got home and ripped off the rank bar so I wouldn’t do any further damage to it, then put the belt in the color remover bath.  Let me tell you, that color remover took away the purple blue in a flash.  Inside 10 seconds I was back to the pale brown belt.  Now it’s time to get a little scientific.

I made a new dye bath, and I cut strips of white fabric to test the color.  I obtained some very nice purple strips, so I put the belt in the basket of a canner and did another 30 minute stint of dyeing the belt.  When I pulled it out, this is what I got:


I’m fairly certain that despite my ability to see some purple in this belt, most people would look at this belt and wonder why I decided to promote myself to black belt.  Like you, I’m starting to question my judgement and sanity.  I now have roughly 4 hours and $30 into trying to recover from a mistake I should never have made.  Kurt Osiander is going to breeze in here and tell me I fouled up a long time ago.  My black belts, Marc and Jordan, are clearly the voices inside my head wondering why I didn’t just buy a $10 belt and do something more productive.

This is a challenge.  It’s not about efficiency, it’s about success.  Failure is an option, but not one I’m willing to take yet.  As I write this my belt is in the dryer after a stint in the washer.  I’ve already accepted that I’ll never get the purple color I had before.  The belt will be unique.  I’ve even considered getting another belt and sewing my current rank bar on it.  That’s a thing, right?

I’m worried that the belt is going to start talking to me.

UPDATE 2014-09-15

I now have a wine belt, and only a light scolding for using the canner.  There’s a reason I do this after everyone else is asleep.


I feel like I’m documenting my own slow motion train wreck that I can’t avert my gaze from, and I can’t figure out why I’m compelled to do so.  I think it’s something like when skateboarders post videos of themselves taking a rail to the crotch.  My trauma is emotional, but it’s real to me.  Maybe by sharing, the pain will be reduced. (to a laughingstock.)

UPDATE 2014-09-20

As much as I tried to explain that the belt color is Bordeaux, and that really is purple, it just wasn’t cutting it.  So today I cleared the color, again:


Then I very carefully measured water, dye, and salt.  I also cut some test strips from some white fabric and checked everything over.

Finally, after a brief 20 minutes in the dye bath, I checked the color, and it looked good.  After a trip through the washer and dryer, this is the final result:


This is the first time in nearly two weeks that I could show my belt to someone in my family and have them say it was purple.  It’s not as bright as it used to be, but it is finally back to not-brown-not-blue-not-black-and-definitely-not-white.

Let this be a warning to you.  It’s good to wash the belt, but watch out for anything that might bleach it.  White Bright is bad for your belt.  Rit color remover does exactly what you think it would do.  Oxyclean is not a problem.  Laundry detergent is a good thing.

Perhaps now I can get back to doing productive things with my time.


Final update since this post has been linked to several times. I did get my real brown belt, and I retired my faded (yet still purple) belt. How To Get A Brown Belt. The Right Way.

My purple belt has been retired to reinforce my other old belts: motivating

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