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DIY: How-To Bleach Tie-Dye

I’m sure you’ve seen the tie-dye trend on Instagram during quarantine. However, a new style of tie-dye has become popular lately. Instead of colorful dye, this new trend uses bleach. I’ve done fun crafts and tie-dyed before with basic white t-shirts, but I’m ready to try something different and make bleach tie dye shirts!

This new method allows you to take out that old, oversized black sweatshirt and transform it into an awesome tie-dye piece! This style looks even better with a paired matching sweatpants to make it into a stylish fit. I’ve decided to take this trend on for myself and I’ve made a step by step guide to help you achieve this DIY look, too!

Photo by Santina Cillo

There are lots of different ways to create tie-dye patterns, but this method is a great way to take your clothes to the next level! And instead of a tie-dye kit you can use things around the house! The point of this easy craft is to bleach away parts of the original color on a shirt in an easy way to reveal a unique and stylish patter.

Here is the scoop on how to bleach tie-dye!


For this easy and cute DIY project you will need just a few things:

  • Dark-colored Sweatshirt or any dark color monochrome sweatshirts of your choosing- You can also use light colors, but the reverse tie dye stands out more against dark colors. Make sure the shirt is made out of cotton fabrics so that it absorbs the bleach. Find one on Amazon or at your local thrift store. For an oversized fit get a size up.
  • Bucket – Make sure you have a clean bucket to work in. This is important to keep any dirt or debris away from your finished product. You can use a gel cleaner to get out any dirt particles before starting.
  • Rubber Bands– You will use these to create different designs with the bleach.
  • Spray Bottle – You will use this spray bottle to spray bleach on to your shirt, creating the pattern from the bleached areas.
  • Clorox Bleach– Just regular household bleach will be used in this DIY. You will pour bleach into the spray bottle to create the reverse tie-dye.
Photo by Santina Cillo

Step 1: Soaking Sweatshirt

For your first step, make sure you are wearing rubber gloves and old clothes. Working with even just a small amount of bleach can be very messy.

You will be soaking your sweatshirt using the bucket method. Fill a bucket with about 12 cups of water at room temperature water. When the bucket is filled halfway, submerge your black shirts in the water.

Photo by Santina Cillo

Step 2: Scrunch Sweatshirt

For the next step, you will scrunch your sweatshirt. Once the entire shirt is soaked, take it out of the water and wring it out well. After it’s wrung out, place the sweatshirt on a flat surface.

Working with damp fabric for the first time can be tough so take extra time on this step.

When finding a work surface make sure that you won’t stain or ruin anything! Find a room with open space like the laundry room to work in.

It’s helpful to lay down a towel or garbage bag so that you don’t make a mess. After you’ve laid out the sweatshirt flat on the surface, scrunch it up into a tight ball.

Photo by Santina Cillo

Step 3: Place On Rubber Bands

When your sweatshirt is all scrunched up, it’s time to secure it with rubber bands. A good tip is to use at-least 5 rubber bands. This will help make your tie-dye design even better!

I placed all of my rubber bands around the center of the shirt in a spiral shape, but you can make lots of different patterns! Make sure the rubber bands are each in a straight line and not bending in weird places.

The great thing is that there is no wrong way to place the rubber bands, but you can find youtube videos that show traditional tie dye methods and other fun ways for how to place them like accordion style or in a spiral pattern. Each rubber band placement will give you a different look.

Photo by Santina Cillo

Step 4: Tie-Dye Shirt With Bleach

After the rubber bands are placed tightly onto the whole shirt, grab your squirt bottle and fill it up halfway with straight bleach.

For a less saturated tie dye effect you can adjust how much bleach you use. You can also create a bleach solution out of bleach and water to use less bleach. You will combine 1 part bleach with 1 part water, so if you use 2 cups of bleach you will mix in 2 cups of cold water.

Another optional step is to make a solution using 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 10 parts water to spray on the shirt after you bleach, to stop the bleaching process where you want.

Use the plastic squeeze bottle to spray the top and bottom sides of the sweatshirt with the bleach mixture. Start spraying bleach. Make sure you spray liberally, so the bleach soaks through the sweatshirt.

You can also use a bleach pen in addition to the liquid bleach to make random spots of color change for a more dotted look.

Step 5: Finished Design

Once you’re done spraying, let the sweatshirt sit for at least 12-15 hours for best results. The exact amount of time is up to you.

You can then take off the rubber bands, give it a quick rinse and make sure the water runs clear, then throw the sweatshirt into the washing machine. Wash it with hot water and a mild detergent and to make sure the bleach smell is gone.

After the washer, place the sweatshirt into the dryer for a full cycle to dry on high heat, not low heat otherwise it will not set.

There you have it! With just a sweatshirt, rubber bands, a spray bottle, a little bit of bleach, and not much money you can have this adorable end result in no time!

You can easily bleach tie dye other home textiles like pillow cases to elevate your home style. This craft is perfect for kids of all ages. Make sure that you only limit kids’ access to bleach, and any younger kids doing this bleach dye craft need adult supervision.

Now you can take mirror selfies and have so much fun with your cute, bleach tie-dyed sweatshirt for high school and Instagram. Good luck!

For more DIY scoop check out DIY Holiday Centerpiece – Reuse Your Sparkling Ice Can and DIY Bleached Two-Tone Jeans.

For more do-it-yourself inspiration, check out more DIY ideas here!

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