How to Bleach Paper

Three Methods:Bleaching paper with bleachBleaching paper in the sunBleaching paper designs in the sun

If you are looking for a way to make paper even whiter, whether that be because of stains, marks, or for appearance, you might want to look into bleaching that paper. Alternatively, you might be looking to bleach designs onto the paper. Both approaches are explained in this article.

Method 1
Bleaching paper with bleach

This method may assist in whitening areas of paper that have gone a little dull. Do not use it on anything valuable, as the bleach may ruin the paper or create a worse stain.

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    Get a bottle of bleach. Do not use full-strength bleach, as this risks disintegrating the paper. Instead, dilute the bleach in a ratio of approximately one tenth bleach to nine parts water.
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    Over the sink, start to apply drops of the watered-down bleach with an eyedropper to parts of the paper (or the whole paper if necessary). Alternatively, use a spray bottle and spray the mixture onto the paper (this will capture more areas of the paper though, which is something you may not want to happen).
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    Let the paper air dry for one hour at a minimum. Be aware that bleach will weaken the paper. While this may temporarily brighten the paper, it will also likely have set up the disintegration process, and over time this paper will turn yellow, then begin to fall apart. It's a temporary fix at best.

Method 2
Bleaching paper in the sun

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    Place the stained or darkened paper in the sun.
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    Weight the paper down at the outermost edges. This will prevent it from blowing away.
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    Spray lightly with distilled water. Be careful to only just dampen the paper; do not soak it.
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    Leave in the sun for a few hours. The paper will bleach under the sun's rays.
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    Bring back inside after a few hours. Don't leave the paper out for too long or it will become brittle and might get dirty or dampened by dew, soil moisture or rain.

Method 3
Bleaching paper designs in the sun

This is a craft method, for bleaching interesting designs on dark paper.

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    Choose the design objects. These could be block letters a child plays with, leaves from a tree, a toy, stencil cut-outs, etc.
    • Don't use anything that won't last in the sunshine; avoid anything that might melt.
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    Decide on the pattern. This could be random or carefully designed, depending on what you're after.
    • If using letters, perhaps make a word, or an alphabet frieze.
    • If making a landscape, draw the design first, in readiness for placement of the design objects.
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    Choose a sunny place to lay down the dark construction paper. Put rocks, pebbles or other weights on the tip of the corners, to keep the paper from flapping in a breeze.
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    Arrange the design objects on the construction paper. Wherever an object is placed, the sun will bleach the paper.
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    Leave in the sun for a few hours. A design should be bleached on the paper within three to five hours.
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    Remove the objects. Your artwork is now ready for framing.


  • The amount of time it takes for a bleached paper to dry after using Method 1 may vary, depending on how much bleach has been applied.
  • Clean up any bleach that is left over; always be sure to replace the cap immediately after use.


  • Wear gloves while bleaching paper because it will burn your hands.
  • Do not inhale bleach. Doing so will cause lung damage.
  • Don't get any bleach on clothing, fabric, soft furnishings, etc.; the bleach will turn any affected area white.

Things You'll Need

Method 1:

  • Reduced-strength bleach
  • Stainless steel sink
  • Paper
  • Gloves
  • Mask and goggles (while optional, these are recommended if spraying the solution)

Method 2:

  • Sunny day
  • Clean outdoor spot to lay the paper
  • Spray bottle of distilled water
  • Weights to prevent blowing away
  • Paper

Method 3:

  • Dark colored construction paper (it must be dark, in order for the contrast to show properly)
  • Stencils, blocks, leaves, etc. for creating the bleached pattern; items must be able to sit in the sun
  • Something to hold down the paper in case of breezes
  • Poster tack or frame for hanging up your artwork

Article Info

Categories: Crafts