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How to Do Bleach Art on Clothes

Feeling creative? You can make unique DIY bleach art on fabric with Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. Transform your closet by learning how to do bleach design art on shirts, jeans and other clothing here.

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By Mary Gagliardi

Whether it’s refreshing clothing you already own or turning a thrift store find into a unique art piece, you can use a simple bleach and water solution to create one-of-a-kind designs on your shirts, jeans and even a onesie for a baby. The technique is simple: apply the bleach and water solution, wait a few minutes until you are happy with the results, then use a hydrogen peroxide solution to stop the bleaching action. 

Get creative! To make galaxy art, simply spray the solution lightly onto a t-shirt. Or use stencils to apply stars to blue jeans. Painter’s tape can make perfectly even stripes. Plastic cookie cutters can be used to stamp designs onto fabric. While we’ve written about using bleach to create reverse tie dye effects before, the goal here is to further unleash your creativity — the possibilities are endless!

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Choosing the right garment for bleach art

Some dyes are actually colorfast to bleach and water solutions. You won’t always know just by looking at the color, so before you start test for colorfastness to bleach and make sure the item you want to update actually will change color. 

Fiber type matters, too. Cotton, rayon and linen are more likely to lose or change color than synthetics like polyester, acrylic or nylon. And remember to avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather and spandex because these fiber types aren’t safe for bleach. Care labels include fiber content, so be sure to read them to confirm the fiber content before you start. 

What you need

Steps to use bleach to make art on clothes

  1. 1

    Prepare a work area

    Choose a work area with a bleach-safe surface like a kitchen countertop. Clear the area and wipe the counters down before starting. 

  2. 2

    Prepare the clothing

    Insert cardboard pieces cut to fit inside a garment to prevent any bleach and water solution from bleeding through from the top to the bottom. 

  3. 3

    Plan the design layout

    If using stencils, lay them out on the garment to see where they look best. When you are satisfied, secure them in place with the spray adhesive. 

    If you don’t have pre-made plastic stencils, you can make your own with manila file folders, cutting out simple designs with a utility knife. 
    To make stripes with painter’s tape, apply the tape to the fabric evenly and smooth it in place. 
  4. 4

    Prepare the bleach solution

    Label the first spray bottle “bleach solution” before adding ½ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach followed by 2 cups of water. Replace the sprayer mechanism and set the nozzle to mist. 

    Before spraying any bleach onto your project, spray a few times into the sink to make sure the nozzle setting is set on mist. 
  5. 5

    Prepare the fixing solution

    Label the second spray bottle “hydrogen peroxide solution” before adding ½ cup hydrogen peroxide followed by 2 cups of water. 

  6. 6

    Apply the bleach solution

    Carefully spray the bleach solution onto the garment (inside the stencil if using) until the fabric is wet. Let stand for a few minutes as you monitor the color change 

    When spraying a stencil, blot up any extra bleach and water solution with a paper towel so it doesn’t spread beyond the edges of the stencil. 
    For galaxy art, just spray a little bleach solution lightly in a few places; don’t saturate the shirt. 
  7. 7

    Stop the bleaching action

    When you are happy with the color change, before removing the stencil, spray the treated area completely with the hydrogen peroxide solution to fix the color and stop any additional color change. It’s important to spray both the stencil and the clothing to prevent bleach drips from discoloring untreated parts of the item. 

  8. 8

    Rinse thoroughly

    Rinse thoroughly, removing the stencil as you work. 

  9. 9

    Air dry

    Roll the item in a clean dry towel and squeeze it to remove excess moisture before hanging to air dry.