Skip to main navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

How to Reverse Tie Dye with Bleach

Learn how to use bleach to make different tie dye patterns on colored clothes, including spiral tie dye. Follow our step-by-step instructions and create unique designs on shirts, dresses and hoodies.

More from Clorox experts
By Mary Gagliardi

The color from tie dye kits never seems to last that long and is difficult to maintain when the color easily comes out in the wash. That doesn’t happen when you use Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach to remove or change the color in already dyed clothing. So get creative!

Related products

Twist some rubber bands around your shirts, dresses, and even sweatshirts, then soak them in the bleach and water solution. Create designs like circles, swirls or bands of color where you twist on the rubber bands. By working with a bleach and water solution, you won’t have to worry about how to get tie dye off your hands or skin, how long to let tie dye sit, or how to wash tie dye shirts for the first time.

Sometimes the color of the original shirt changes to a new color where it contacts the bleach and water solution (like blue turning pink or purple). Other times the color is almost completely stripped away, resulting in an off-white color of the treated areas. Using bleach to remove or lighten the color of a shirt is also an important first step when you want to apply dye to a dark shirt.

Choosing the right shirt

Look for 100% cotton. Avoid polyester and spandex. How cotton is dyed determines how well it will respond to the bleach solution. Reactive dyes are not colorfast to bleach and will change color easily. Color printed onto cotton using binders varies in how it responds to bleach exposure. Pigment dyes have very high colorfastness to bleach and you may not see that much of a color change.

You won’t always know in advance how an item will respond, so test first by applying a drop of a solution made with 2 teaspoons of Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach added to ¼ cup water to a hidden part of the item. After a few minutes, you will have a preview of what to expect when you bleach the entire shirt.

Related articles

What you need

Steps to tie-dye a shirt with bleach

  1. 1

    Tie your shirt using rubber bands

    To make multiple circles, gently pinch the shirt where you’d like the center of the first tie dye circle to be and pull up the fabric, forming a tube. Twist a rubber band tightly around the end where you pinched, and then add more rubber bands at intervals down the tube. Repeat starting in a different part of the shirt. Try to make as many rubber-banded circles onto the shirt for the most dramatic effect.


    To create one large swirl or spiral, lay the shirt flat on a surface. Find the center and slowly twist the entire shirt into a round flat disk, then secure with rubber bands.

  2. 2

    Prepare the bleach solution

    Wearing gloves, add 1 cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach to 1 gallon of cool water in the first dishpan, and swirl to mix.

    bleach pouring from bottle
  3. 3

    Prepare the peroxide fixing solution

    Rinse the measuring cup with clean water. In the second dish pan, add 1 cup hydrogen peroxide to 1 gallon of water. 

  4. 4

    Submerge your shirt in the bleach solution

    Be sure you have gloves on! Make sure the shirt stays all the way in the solution and swirl it around. Be careful not to splash any solution on yourself or your clothing. 

  5. 5

    After about 2 minutes, check the color change

    Remove the shirt completely from the solution (hold it over the dishpan to catch drips) and slightly pull back a rubber band. If desired, return the shirt to the bleach solution for a greater color change. 

  6. 6

    Stop the bleaching action

    When satisfied with the color change (or if 5 minutes have passed), transfer the shirt to the second dishpan with the hydrogen peroxide solution. Use the scissors to carefully cut away the rubber bands, being careful not to cut the fabric. Swirl the shirt around in the peroxide solution until the fabric stops fizzing. 

  7. 7

    Rinse with water

    Thoroughly rinse the shirt several times with cool water. 

  8. 8

    Allow to air dry

    Roll the shirt in the towel and squeeze out excess water before hanging it to air dry. 

Frequently asked questions

How do you wash a tie dyed shirt the first time?

Home application of dyes to fabric tend not to be very colorfast. When washing clothing you have hand dyed, use only very gentle washing techniques. Choose a mild liquid detergent and use cool water. Air dry to avoid exposure to any dryer heat, which will further lighten the colors. Remember that when you use bleach to create tie dye effects on a commercially made shirt, you don’t have to worry about this!