How to Make a Bleach T Shirt

Why buy a pricey bleached t-shirt at a boutique when you can make one from things you already have around the house? To make a bleach t-shirt, follow these instructions.


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    Thoroughly read the warnings at the bottom of this page. It’s important to know about chemical spills, chloramines, and chemical disposal before you begin.
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    Think of a t-shirt design. This can be something you sketched, an image you saw online, lyrics from your favorite song, or even a picture of your favorite celebrity. Visualize where and how you will put this on the t-shirt. Will it be on the front, back, or both? Will it be centered? Will it continue onto the sleeves? If necessary, make a sketch of a t-shirt showing the design so you can get a sense of the balance and proportion.
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    Put on gloves and an outfit you aren’t too attached to. This project tends to be messy and can ruin nice clothing.
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    Set up your workspace. Find a well-ventilated area (working outdoors or in a room with more than one open window will do) and spread newspaper out where you will be working. Spread your shirt out on the newspaper and place the cardboard inside of the shirt.
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    Prepare your bleach or toilet-bowl cleaner. Never use both at the same time; doing so can produce toxic fumes that cause permanent damage to your brain. Open your chosen product and pour just enough so that it barely fills the bottom of your cup. Tightly replace the lid and remove it from your work area.
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    Get your paintbrush or q-tip and dip it into the bleach. Remember that synthetic brushes will dissolve into bleach so be careful.
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    Paint your chosen design. The design may not appear at first, but after your first few strokes, watch as it slowly fades in. You can stop and wash the bleach out before it completely fades if you wish.
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    Immediately wash and dry the shirt. Put your shirt into the washing machine without any other clothes or detergent. If you don't have a washing machine available, rinse thoroughly in the sink. Dry as usual.
    • For the first few washes, make sure that you only wash the shirt by itself.
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    Dispose of the bleaching agent. If any bleach remains in the cap, pour it down the sink and let the water run for a few seconds. If any toilet bowl cleaner remains, pour it into the toilet and flush.
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  • Try practicing painting bleach on a piece of scrap material before beginning the actual project.
  • Splatter bleach onto the shirt for a more decorative look.
  • Try experimenting different colors of shirts or different types of cleaners, which can produce different colors and looks.


  • If bleach or toilet bowl cleaner comes in contact with skin, rinse thoroughly.
  • Do not drink or eat while doing this project.
  • If you experience dizziness, wheezing, chest pain, shortness of breath, or watery eyes (more than normal), you could have created a chlorine gas which is an asphyxiant. Move to a different well-ventilated room; if the symptoms worsen or don't go away in the next five minutes, contact poison control.
  • Look at the back of the bottle in advance for information about what to do if you accidentally get bleach or cleaner in your eyes or ingest them.
  • Never mix bleach and toilet-bowl cleaner. Toilet bowl cleaner contains ammonia, which, when mixed with bleach, produce deadly chloramines (fumes). Failure to heed this warning could result in brain damage or even death.

Things You'll Need

  • A colored t-shirt (any color will do); look at big box or young-adult stores for the simplest, cheapest shirts
  • Pure bleach or liquid concentrated toilet-bowl cleaner
  • Gloves
  • A small disposable cup (to pour bleach or cleaner into)
  • A paint brush (one that is not synthetic) or a few q-tips
  • Newspaper
  • Old clothes that can get dirty
  • A piece of cardboard that will fit inside of the shirt
  • A nearby washer and dryer (best) or a sink/shower

Article Info

Categories: Fabric and Clothing Decoration