Dying a Shirt with Bleach Update 07/2022

A shirt bleach dyed in tie-dye is a great option if you love tie-dye but prefer dark clothing. You can use this technique to make reverse tie-dye by applying color to the bleached areas of a dark garment or to add mottled swirls to a dark shirt. A shirt can be given a unique look by bleaching and dyeing it, so keep reading to find out how!

To bleach-dye a black or dark-colored shirt, the most common methods are to soak it in bleach or to spray it with a bleach solution. Blotches of bleach appear on a shirt when it is folded or squeezed, or twisted in any other way. It is possible to produce a stained glass look by re-dyeing the garment.

Bleach dyeing and reverse tie-dye are explained in this article. You’ll learn how to bleach color a garment using five simple approaches. Working safely and on schedule is now at your fingertips with these helpful hints.

How to Bleach Dye a Shirt

What is Bleach Dyeing?

Textiles like shirts, hoodies, napkins, and tablecloths can be dyed with detailed designs using bleach. In some respects, it resembles tie-dye since it creates the similar patterns like swirls, spirals, or Shibori squares, but rather than adding color, it removes it.

Before applying the bleach, you need to fold, twist, or bend the fabric into a specific form, exactly like you would when tie-dying a garment or textile. Bleach can then be applied in a variety of methods, including by soaking, spraying, or even sprinkling it on.

There is a big difference in cost between tie-dye and bleach dyeing: bleach dyeing often costs less than five dollars! Even the most basic tie-dye kits may run you a pretty penny.

Bleach dyeing is also faster than traditional tie-dyeing, saving you both time and money. A minimum of eight hours of resting time is required for most tie-dye projects. Bleaching, on the other hand, is a much faster process.

The bleach will chew through your clothes if you don’t rinse it off quickly enough.

Bleach dyeing poses a serious risk to your clothing if you don’t take necessary precautions. You prevent bleach from splashing on you, make sure to operate in a well-ventilated environment, wear gloves, and handle the bleach slowly and carefully.

Bleach dyeing is a quicker and less expensive option for redecorating your dark-colored apparel, provided you follow the necessary safety precautions.

What is Bleach Dyeing

What is Reverse Tie-Dye?

A bleach-dyed clothing can be transformed into a piece of art with the addition of vibrant dyes on top of the bleached pattern. This provides a stained-glass-window effect with multicolored patterns etched into the bleached outlines!

You begin by folding, twisting, or otherwise shaping a piece of clothing in the same manner that you would for tie-dyeing. Apply bleach in your preferred technique, such as soaking or spraying. Once the garment has been properly rinsed, vivid dyes are applied to the bleached areas to restore the garment’s original color.

Because it is a two-step procedure, reverse tie-dye takes longer than conventional tie-dyeing or bleach dyeing. Tie-dyeing black or dark-colored clothing using this method is the greatest approach to create gorgeous textiles. Colorful dyes applied on a black garment won’t do much because the original black of the garment won’t show up against the color!

Reverse tie-dye kits can be purchased with “color changing” solutions, which are simply bleach! The garment can be bleached at home before being dyed with a tie-dye kit or other fabric dyes of your choice.

How to Bleach Dye a Shirt: 5 Methods

In addition to soaking the shirt in bleach, you can also spritz the clothing with bleach using a spray bottle. Each approach produces a distinct look.

Using five distinct approaches, you’ll learn how to bleach a garment step-by-step.

1. Tie-Dye Black Shirt

An effective “tie-dying” method for black clothing is to soak it in white vinegar before dyeing. Since no dye will be applied, you are not technically “tie-dying” the black shirt. Instead, you’ll use bleach to erase the shirt’s color and reveal a variety of patterns and motifs beneath the surface.

A black cotton shirt or a shirt with at least 60% cotton fibers is ideal for this procedure. Any dark-colored cotton shirt can be properly treated with this procedure. The bleached areas won’t be as noticeable if you wear a light-colored, pastel, or fluorescent clothing.

  1. Set up a place where you can focus on your task without distractions. To get rid of the odors, open a window or turn on a vent fan. Tablecloths made of plastic may also be useful in the event of a spill or splash.
  2. Next, run cool water over your garment. This can be done in a chilly bucket or a clean kitchen sink. Soak your garment with water, but don’t let it soak through.
  3. Fold, twist, or bind the shirt to achieve the desired form. In the “Bleach Dye Shirt Patterns” section of this article, you’ll find further information on how to prepare a shirt for specific patterns.
  4. Next, pour a gallon of chlorine bleach into a clean plastic bucket. In the event that you’re wearing a large shirt or sweater, you may need to purchase an additional set. You’ll need enough to completely submerge the clothing.
  5. Next, pour a gallon of chlorine bleach into a clean plastic bucket. In the event that you’re wearing a large shirt or sweater, you may need to purchase an additional set. You’ll need enough to completely submerge the clothing.
  6. In the meantime, fill a clean plastic bucket with chlorine bleach. You may need more if your shirt or sweater is really huge. Submerge the entire garment in the solution.
  7. As soon as you’re satisfied with the degree of color change, carefully transfer the item to the sink using your tongs or gloves once more. Using a pair of scissors, cut the rubber bands or twine you used to fold the garment.
  8. After a thorough rinsing in cold water, wash the shirt in cold water in the washing machine. If you like, you can use soap to mask the bleach odor, but you don’t have to.
  9. You may now wear your freshly washed shirt with confidence!

2. Spray Bottle

In order to achieve this splattered effect, spray a shirt with bleach. This is a good technique to attempt if you want to create a galaxy or star swirl tie-dye design.

You don’t need to use as much bleach, and you get a one-of-a-kind design that can’t be replicated any other way. The negative is that it will not clearly delineate the folded/twisted pattern of the tie-dye design, as the soaking approach will.

  1. Consider working outside if you can, to prevent inhaling bleach fumes while you apply it. Use a plastic garbage bag or plastic tablecloth as a base.
  2. Wring out your shirt until it is moist to the touch and then put it in the washing machine.
  3. Either tie-dye your shirt or use bleach spray to create a galaxy pattern on a flat shirt is an option now that you have folded, twisted, and bound it. Alternatively, spread the garment out on a flat surface and scrunch up handfuls of it before sprinkling bleach on.
  4. Fill a clean plastic spray bottle halfway with bleach and shake it well.
  5. Spray the garment where you want the design to appear. Larger blobs will appear in your design if you spray more forcefully. You may achieve a splatter or galaxy effect by simply misting the surface.
  6. After five to ten minutes, have a look at the shirt to check how it turned out. You may need to repeat the process multiple times before you achieve the desired results.
  7. Rinse your garment after it reaches the desired level of color change. If you’re doing this step outside, consider using a garden hose.
  8. To clean the shirt, put it into the washer and then into the dryer.

3. Reverse Tie-Dye with Bleach

To go beyond just bleaching patterns into a dark shirt, reverse tie-dye uses bleach. In addition, it adds color back in, like stained glass window panes inside the leading!

To begin, any of the bleaching methods described in this section can be used. Soaking, spraying, or ice are all viable options. They’re all going to provide for fascinating backgrounds for re-coloring the shirt.

For the re-coloring part of the process, you can utilize a variety of dyes. Any tie-dye kit designed for use with cotton shirts will do the job. It is possible to achieve brilliant and long-lasting color with any fiber-reactive dye. To avoid washing out and fading, you might use an all-purpose dye.

  1. A bleaching process from this section should be used before moving on to the next. Spraying creates a more delicate galaxy pattern, which you may prefer. Soaking works best for strong designs. Using the icemelt method, you may achieve a watercolor effect that is all your own!
  2. Rinse the shirt in water and hydrogen peroxide before washing and drying it. Before adding color to the shirt, you must completely neutralize any lingering bleach residue.
  3. The shirt should be washed and dried.
  4. You should follow the dye package’s or tie-dye kit’s instructions for preparing your dye bath. It’s up to you whether you want the effect of a stained-glass window or a stark contrast with the shirt’s remaining black areas.
  5. After the dye bath, it’s possible that the shirt will need some time to dry. Use the dye packet’s time instructions.
  6. It’s time to wash the garment in accordance with the dye’s instructions.

4. Ice Dye With Bleach

Watercolor effects can be achieved using ice as the medium for slowly dispersing bleach onto a garment.

  1. You’ll need a place where you can work for 12 hours without interruption. It’s best to use a large rubber tote for this. If you don’t need to use the sink for 12 hours, you can use a sink instead.
  2. The shirt doesn’t need to be moist before you start. It’s best used on a dry piece of cloth.
  3. Begin by lining the bottom of your bag with either a large cooling rack, or by crumpling up handfuls of foil. As the ice melts, the shirt will rest on an elevated area, preventing it from becoming soggy.
  4. Once the garment is dry, use a rack or foil to smooth it out.
  5. Thickly cover the clothing with ice cubes.
  6. Sprinkle the ice cubes with powdered bleach. For this procedure, powdered bleach is required rather than liquid bleach. Some sections will need more bleach, while others would only need a little amount. This will aid in the creation of an eye-catching pattern with a variety of complementary hues.
  7. Allow the ice-covered clothing to sit for 12 hours.
  8. The shirt should be washed and dried after it has been rinsed and dried.

5. Wet vs Dry Bleach Tie-Dye

When you tie-dye a shirt, it’s easier to bleach it when it’s damp. You may find that a dry shirt works better in some cases, such as when you utilize the ice method, to keep the unique melting pattern of the ice and bleach powder.

Is there a difference between wet and dry methods? When the fabric is wet, both bleach and dye penetrate the fabric differently.

It’s easier for damp fabric to fold, twist, and retain its shape. For bleach tie-dyeing, this is a better option for traditional tie-dye designs like a starburst. The water in the fibers of the fabric also aids in the smooth and rapid diffusion of the bleach into the fabric.

The bleach does not spread as much into the fabric when applied to dried fabric, allowing for more exact designs. For example, you may use this technique to produce striking striped patterns.

Bleach Dye Shirt Patterns

Depending on how you fold, twist, or bind the garment before adding bleach, you can make an almost infinite number of unique tie-dye designs. Simple scrunch designs, starburst designs, and Shibori designs are all covered in this section.

Scrunch Bleach Tie-Dye Design

The scrunching method is one of the simplest tie-dye methods, resulting in a design that looks like crumpled paper. The crumple tie-dye process is another name for this artwork.

It has a lot of wacky corners and edges. As long as you add rubber bands to step 6, you can use it with either the icemelt or spray approach.

  1. Avoid using fabric softeners while pre-washing the clothing. The scrunching works best on damp material, so don’t put it in a dryer!
  2. Use a plastic tablecloth or a huge garbage bag to shield your workspace. A huge wire rack should be placed on top of this plastic sheet.
  3. On a metal rack, hang the wet shirt.
  4. Using your hands, scrunch up a few pieces of fabric in the shirt’s center. Make your crumples tighter if you want a more striking appearance. Squeeze a few handfuls of the moist fabric to create a looser, more flowing design.
  5. Work your way out to the edges until the entire shirt is creased.
  6. Rubber bands can be used to keep the shirt’s crumples in place while you soak it in bleach. You can skip this step if you prefer to employ the spray approach.
  7. Finally, use bleach in accordance with your preferred bleach dye procedure!

Starburst Bleach Tie-Dye Design

Pops of bleached color explode all over your shirt thanks to the starburst design! In addition, because it is so simple to assemble, its design is ideal for novices.

  1. When the wash cycle is complete, remove the shirt from the washer and wash it in cold water with a mild laundry detergent.
  2. Place your sopping wet shirt on a protected work surface and let it to air dry.
  3. Make little cones out of small portions of the shirt by pinching and squeezing them together, and then secure them with rubber bands. If you choose, you can use more or fewer cones to suit your needs. You’ll end up with a more complex design as you produce more!
  4. Any bleaching procedure will work once the cloth cones have been attached with the rubber bands. The spray approach will give your starbursts a galaxy-like backdrop!

Shibori Bleach Tie-Dye Method

Japanese art form Shibori has various forms but all of them include folding and tying the fabric before to adding dye or bleach. A dark-colored shirt may be transformed into a work of art with this easy square fold method.

  1. In order to make the sleeveless shirt lay flat, fold it in half from shoulder to shoulder.
  2. Longways, fold the shirt’s left third toward the center.
  3. In a long, wide fold, fold the right-third of the shirt over this. In the end, you’ll get a long, rectangular shape.
  4. From the short side to the short side, measure the rectangle’s width. To produce squares, you’ll want to make the following folds the same size as that measurement.
  5. Fold the rectangle in half from the bottom, accordion-style. As close as possible to your previous measurement, fold each fold in the same way
  6. Place two little wooden blocks on either side of the cloth square. Using the square shirt as a sandwich filler, secure everything together with five or six rubber bands.
  7. Finally, follow the directions in the preceding paragraph and soak a sponge in bleach.

What Bleach Should You Use for Tie-Dye?

If you’re going to bleach dye or reverse tie-dye your garments, chlorine bleach is the finest option you have.

When it comes to cleaning discolored or dirty clothing, oxygenated bleaches like OxiClean are far safer than traditional alternatives. In contrast, bleach dyeing requires a strong chemical agent like chlorine bleach in order to remove the original color from your clothing.

How much bleach should I use to colour my shirts, and should I dilute it? It’s a tricky one, and no one in the textile art community knows the answer!

It takes longer to use diluted bleach, but the shirt’s fabric is less likely to be damaged. Straight bleach makes bolder designs and speeds up the process, but there is a risk that the strong bleach will harm the shirt.. You’ll have to make that decision on your own.

How to Bleach a Black Shirt White

Using an extended soak in a solution of bleach and water, you may be able to turn a black shirt white. A lot of the time, even prolonged exposure to bleach isn’t enough to make a black shirt completely white. Your skin tone will be tanned or ivory. This method works well with cotton, but not with polyester.

  1. In a plastic bucket, combine one gallon of bleach with four gallons of cold water.
  2. Allow the clothing to soak in this solution for ten to one hour before removing it. After the first 10 minutes, keep a close check on it to notice how much it changes color.
  3. Prepare a second bucket of hydrogen peroxide and water while the shirt soaks.
  4. Near avoid leaking bleach, bring the bleach bucket to the sink. Rinse the clothing in the sink with cold water after removing it.
  5. Submerge the garment in the hydrogen peroxide solution in the second bucket to neutralize the bleach and stop it from chewing into it. 15 to 20 minutes is a good amount of time for this
  6. The clothing should be washed in your washing machine and then put in the dryer.

Can You Bleach Tie-Dye Any Shirt?

Bleach tie-dyeing is most effective on dark-colored cotton shirts, according to widespread consensus. Polyester can be dyed, although the procedure is time-consuming and doesn’t always work. This is because cotton absorbs water-soluble dyes, whereas polyester chemically bonds with synthetic dyes that can’t be bleached as easily as water-soluble dyes can.

Because it’s easier to re-dye cotton than polyester, you can employ the reverse tie-dye technique of adding color back onto your shirt if you want to go beyond bleach dyeing.

You can easily find out what type of fabric a piece of clothing is made of if you’d want to spruce it up a bit. Simply locate the manufacturer’s label inside the garment. This tag is usually found on the inside back of the collar or inside one of the side seams.

You can learn from the label whether the shirt is made of cotton, polyester, or a combination of the two. Bleaching and dying should be successful as long as the garment comprises at least 60% cotton fibers.

A cotton shirt or sweatshirt won’t produce perfectly white spots when bleached, which is another consideration. What hue will it finally take on? Test a tiny drop of bleach on the shirt’s inside seam to see if it’s safe to wear on skin.

After five minutes of letting the bleach soak, immediately rinse the affected area. The bleached area may have turned yellow, green, grey, or even white after drying. When you bleach-dye your shirt, you’ll get this shade of yellow.

How to Bleach a Sweatshirt

It is possible to bleach a sweatshirt in the same manner as a shirt. In order to get the greatest results, you’ll want to use cotton sweatshirts or sweatshirts with at least 70% cotton. A second consideration is that a sweatshirt has a greater volume and therefore requires a longer bleaching time.

You can also use the soaking, spraying, reverse tie-dye, or ice-melt procedures to bleach a hoodie!

Making use of an old, comfortable sweatshirt has never been easier. The bleach tie-dye procedure can also be used on a cheap black hoodie to make it look like an expensive name-brand model!

How Long Does it Take for Bleach to Dye Clothes?

For a vibrant tie-dye design, it takes anywhere from five to twenty minutes of bleaching before the fabric changes color. You’ll need to wait for the ice to thaw if you’re using dry bleach powder on it.

A half-hour is often the maximum amount of time you should allow bleach to remain in a cloth before washing it.

How long does bleach take to make something white? Garments that have been bleached won’t come out perfectly white. Underneath the dye, the underlying material is frequently a shade of gray or even black. A clothing that has been bleached may seem yellow, tan, pale orange, or greenish brown.

How to Bleach Colored Clothes

You can use the same method to bleach dark-colored clothing as you would black clothing. Bright red, navy blue, or forest green will stand out against the bleached background, resulting in an eye-catching pattern and pattern contrast for your design. You won’t be able to notice the bleached patches if you use light-colored clothing for bleach-dyeing.

You can use any of the bleaching methods outlined in this article to lighten dark-colored clothing.


A shirt can be bleach-dyed in a variety of ways, including by soaking or spraying the garment with bleach. Before applying bleach, fold or twist the garment in a pattern to create a tie-dye look. A dye bath can be used to recolor the bleached sections of the shirt for a reverse tie-dye look.

Black and dark-colored cotton shirts are ideal for bleach dyeing. Chlorine bleach is the most effective and fastest-acting solution.

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