How to Bleach Dye Your Clothes

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Tie-dye is SO in right now, and I’m here for it. I’ve always been a fan of tie dye, whether I’m buying it pre-made or making it myself. (Okay, let’s be real: I’m not usually doing it myself.)

Lately, the whole bleach-dye trend has also been taking over the internet, and what better time to use a powerful disinfecting agent for something other than disinfecting? Oh, corona, you have us doing crazy things.

Major point of clarification: I did NOT go out and purchase bleach during a pandemic just to make a cool pattern on a shirt. The products I used have been in my house since November!

Back in 2008, I DIYed a pair of destroyed jeans by ripping, shredding, and bleaching them, and they were my faaaav. Eighteen-year-old me thought I was the shit when I wore them (but in 100% honesty, I did get compliments!). So, I like to think I’ve got some prereqs.

I decided to try the “official” technique, and ohhh baby, bring it on! I started by going through my pile of clothes I was already planning on getting rid of, just in case it didn’t work out, but let’s just say I’m no longer getting rid of some of those clothes, and will probably be bleaching much more!

Here’s what you need:

  • Bleach, or a bleach-based product (disinfecting spray, toilet bowl cleaner, etc.)
  • Clothing items (start with ones you’re not afraid to ruin)
  • Rubber bands, hair ties, string, etc.
  • A spray bottle or squirt bottle, if the product isn’t already in one

Like I said, try a few pieces you’re not sad to ruin, in case it doesn’t work out. Darker colors–black is my favorite–work best, but material makes the most difference: 100% cotton, or a high percentage of cotton, is ideal. The gray sweatshirt in the pic below is a polyester blend. That was after bleaching–nothing happened!

Ideally, it’s best doing this outside, but if you’re inside, make sure the area is well-ventilated.

Lay town an old sheet or towel, or do it in your bathtub to ensure nothing gets bleached that you don’t want bleached. Seriously. My dumb ass put my Lysol bottle on my beautiful gray rug in my bathroom…and now I’m sad.

How it’s done:

  • Start by pinching, twisting, crumpling, or whatever-ing your items. Tie ’em up, or don’t. Whatev!
  • If you’re using pure bleach, the recommendation is mixing 1 part bleach to 1 part water. Because I used Lysol Bleach Multi-Purpose Cleaner, I just went straight from the bottle.
  • Spray, squirt, or splash your clothes with your bleach mixture/product, then flip ’em over and do the same on the other side. No need to be precise! (I read some tutorials that suggested wetting the clothes first, but I like the results I got with dry items better.)
  • Let it sit until the bleach has done its work–around 10-15 minutes.
  • Throw your clothes in the wash on a cold cycle with a bit of detergent.
  • Once they’re washed and dried, they’re ready to wear!

That’s it! Can it get any easier?! I’m so excited to do more! I fear my entire wardrobe might be bleach-dyed by the time quarantine is over.

Here’s a couple of dos and don’ts that I find helpful!

  • Do wear gloves when spraying/splattering, removing the ties, and transferring clothes to the wash. Bleach can cause chemical burns!
  • Don’t forget to rinse your bathtub!
  • Do try different patterns and styles. I like how my twisted-but-not-tied hoodie came out the best!
  • Don’t let your clothes sit too long, because the bleach can eat away at the fabric.
  • Do use dark colors and 100% cotton for the best results!
  • Don’t forget to wash before wearing!
  • Do work with dry clothes.

Have you hopped on the bleach-dye train yet? Do you have any suggestions or tips? I’d love if you shared them in the comments!

Until next time,

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