You already know that fast fashion, which requires us to keep purchasing new, cheap clothes, has detrimental effects on both society and the environment. For instance, the production of a single tee and a pair of jeans uses 20,000 liters of water. And around the world, we consume more than 80 billion pieces of clothing each year. What an insane number! With that in mind, perhaps one of your new year’s resolutions was to make more eco-friendly choices. But hey, I can understand your pain: The urge to add a new lease of life to the wardrobe is simply irresistible. That’s why the Eatnlivewell team has come up with this exciting DIY project: Tie dye shirt with bleach!
But First, What Is Bleached Tie Dye?
Once the preserve of punks, hippies, and Grateful Dead fans, bleached tie-dye has now made its way into the mainstream. Online influencers have fueled the trend, and after a few minutes spent on Tiktok or Instagram, you will see countless social media stars rocking those tie-dyed tube socks, jeans, and shirts.
Tiktok Reverse Tie-Dye With Bleach Compilation
Perhaps you already know that the regular tie-dye technique uses dye to create patterns on fabric. Tie-dyeing with bleach, just as its name suggests, uses bleach as the dye. Instead of adding a new hue to your textile, it will lift some of the colors, lightening the places it is added and creating the tie-dye design.
Apparently, this method is meant to refresh your colored items. What I love most about bleached tie-dyeing is the immediate gratification: While colored dye needs to rest on the fabric for a few hours, the bleach will show results right away. That allows you to rock your creations the same day that you make them!
Does that make you want to step into my Tie-Dye lab and experiment with this unique method now? Hold on a moment! As harmless as it sounds, bleach is still a toxic chemical, so I will go over some safety precautions first.
Tie Dye Shirt With Bleach: A Warning
As a powerful cleaning and disinfecting agent, bleach is strongly alkaline, which can seriously irritate or burn the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth. It also contains a strong chlorine odor and fumes, making it harmful to the lungs when inhaled.
Hence, although reverse tie-dying is a simple process, you should still handle yourself with extra care. Protect your eyes and hands by wearing goggles and rubber gloves, and wear clothes you don’t mind staining, just in case.
In addition, I’d recommend doing this craft outdoors to lower the risk of fumes. If you have to do it in the house, crack a window and turn on the fan.
Let’s Get Dyeing, Bleaches!
Alright, it’s time to give your old t-shirts a makeover! Below is my step-by-step guide to tie dye shirt with bleach like a pro. Worry not, you don’t have to be too crafty to do it!
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
While tie-dye kits are available for sale from most craft stores, if you want to do it with bleach, you will have to gather your supplies by yourself. Most of the things you need should be available in the household already, though:
- A dark (or brightly colored) tee (preferably a 100%-cotton item).
- Bleach. Most household bleaches that contain chlorine, such as Clorox, work well for this method. At room temperature, fresh bleach (from a newly-opened can) will yield the best result. Do not use bleach for colored clothes since it won’t be able to remove the colors and create tie-dye effects.
- Hydrogen peroxide.
- Rubber bands, hair ties, or plastic cable zip ties.
- Rubber gloves.
- A face mask.
- A large squeeze bottle.
- Tie-dye rack.
- Plastic bin/bucket.
- Access to a sink or tub.
Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace
Make sure you protect the work surface with old cardboard or newspaper, even if you try this method outdoors. I’d suggest setting up a box for a spraying area so you can contain any overspray.
Step 3: Make The Neutralizing Solution
After a few tries, I’ve decided it’s best to get the neutralizing solution ready first. It doesn’t take long for bleach to work, so prepare the neutralizing solution ahead of time will make it easier to stop the bleaching process once you get your desired lightness.
So, how to neutralize bleach? Simply combine one part of hydrogen peroxide with ten parts of water. You can do this in a bowl or plastic tub. Keep in mind that your item should be totally saturated, so prepare enough solution to do so.
Step 4: Apply Bleach “Dye”
Tie-dye bleaching can be done on both damp and dry fabric. However, since we are trying this method on a soft, light-weight cotton tee, leaving it dry is the best choice. This ensures that your item won’t be flooded with liquid and allows you to control the patterns easily.
Next, use rubber bands to tie up your t-shirt. It’s time to let your creativity run wild: You can create countless unique tie-dye patterns using various folding techniques!
Easy tie-dye patterns & folding techniques for beginners
After binding it, place your tee on a tie-dye rack. Then, fill up the squeeze bottle with half water and half bleach. In case you don’t have a squeeze bottle, you can dunk the item in a bucket filled with bleach and water for a quick and simple dye bath.
Step 5: Rinse And Dry
As the previous part mentioned, bleach works its magic really quickly. For something as thin as a tee, you will see the result after a couple of minutes. Thicker items, such as a sweatshirt, will take up to 3 hours, so just watch over it until you are satisfied with the look.
Rinse the tee in running water as soon as you get the shade you desire. Then, toss the item in the neutralizing solution and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.
After it has been soaked, rinse it thoroughly once again before placing it in the washing machine. Remember, nothing but your bleach-dyed t-shirt should be in the wash cycle. Wash it with a small amount of detergent. You can dry the tee normally by following the instructions on the tag.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pretty simple, right? In fact, some of my friends have tried this tutorial on various garments, including jeans, sweatshirts/sweatpants, or tote bags, and below are the questions I often receive:
What Items Are Best To Bleach Tie Dye?
Again, bleached tie-dyeing is meant for colored fabric. It works best on materials that are 100% natural, like linen or cotton. Since acrylic and nylon fabrics tend to resist bleach, this technique won’t work on them.
There is a common belief that the darker the color, the more distinct the patterns. Nonetheless, I have tried dyeing these light-colored tees with bleach, and they turned out lovely!
Bleached tie-dyed patterns look cool on a black or navy sweatshirt, too. It will take longer for the bleach to work, but the outcome is definitely worth the wait!
How to DIY a bleach tie-dye sweatshirt?
What Color Will The Bleach Tie Dye Be?
Well, you can’t tell which color your item will turn in the bleach solution. Various dyes are used to create various fabric colors, so the result can be really unexpected. But hey, that’s part of the fun!
However, since it’s more difficult to remove the red color, your bleached items will have some shades of red remaining. In most cases, black garments might turn red, tan, or faded orange. Navy ones can also have faded red-orange patterns, while purple and maroon turn pink. Most neon blue items will turn white after being bleached.
What if you still want to see the bleached colors beforehand? Dab a small amount of bleach on the inside part of the sleeve cuff or waist to review!
How To Take Care Of Your Bleach Tie Dye Garments?
After the first wash, it’s a good idea to keep washing your bleach tie dye items alone. Three or more washes and you can be sure that it won’t ruin other clothes.
To make them last a long time, wash them in the gentle cycle mode and with cold water. You will want to remove your shirt from the machine right after the cycle finishes because the colors can bleed if you let it stay damp for so long. If possible, always air dry your bleach tie-dye clothes.
You Don’t Have To Spend A Lot Of Money To Look Great!
There you have it, the super simple and straightforward guide on how to tie dye shirt with bleach. What’s so special about this method is that you can update your wardrobe and turn your old clothes into masterpieces without spending a bunch of money. Imagine wearing these unique patterns out knowing that they’re totally one-of-a-kind – that’s the best feeling in the world!