Tie dyeing is a fun way to give new life to clothes, but darker colors don’t always take dye very well. If you’re looking for a way to update your dark clothes, try tie dyeing with bleach! You'll get a cool white design that stands out well against dark or bright colors.
EditFinding a Garment and Work Area
- Work outside or in a well-ventilated area. The fumes from bleach are extremely strong and they can be dangerous, so make sure you set up your project in an area with plenty of fresh air. If you can, try to work outside. If that’s not an option, choose a large room and open a window or turn on a fan.
- Protect your hands with heavy rubber gloves. Bleach is a strong chemical. Even when it’s diluted it can cause chemical burns on your skin. Be sure to wear heavy rubber gloves (like the kind used for cleaning) to protect your skin while you’re tie dyeing your clothes with bleach. You can get these wherever cleaning supplies are sold.
- Choose cotton clothing in a dark color. Black is the best color for tie dyeing with bleach because you will get the best contrast, but you can use any color as long as it’s dark enough to produce an effect. Experiment with different colors to find what you like!
- Avoid garments made from delicate or synthetic fabrics. Bleach won’t affect synthetic materials like polyester because they are designed to be colorfast. In addition, bleach can damage more delicate fabrics such as silk.
- Lay down old towels or a drop cloth. If you’re working inside, you’ll need to protect your work surface from bleach, so cover it with a drop cloth or old towels that can get messed up. If you’re using an absorbent material like a towel, be sure it doesn’t get soaked or the bleach will seep through and ruin whatever’s beneath it.
- If you’re working outside, you’ll want to have something laid on the ground to protect your garment from getting dirty during the tie dyeing process.
EditCreating Cool Designs
- Twist your garment to create a pattern and secure it with rubber bands. Space the rubber bands several inches apart. The parts of your garment that are rubber-banded will stay the original color, while the exposed fabric will turn white when you bleach it.
- You can get creative with your designs or you can just bunch up the fabric and put rubber bands on it to get a random and totally unique look.
- Twirl the garment to create a spiral pattern. To create a traditional spiral tie-dye pattern, hold your garment with 2 fingers and twirl it so it twists tightly. Keep twirling until the entire garment is twisted into a tight knot. Secure the twirl with several rubber bands, then apply your bleach mixture.
- Create several patterns on the same garment with knots. If you want to create a haphazard tie-dye, try using rubber bands to create several tight, small knots on the garment. Bunch these all together and secure with more rubber bands, then apply the bleach.
- Relocate the rubber bands and re-spray for a multi-hue effect. If you want to create a layered look, twist up your garment and apply rubber bands, then apply bleach to your fabric and let it sit for about 5-6 minutes. Take all of the rubber bands off your garment, twist your garment again, put the rubber bands back on, and re-spray the garment with the bleach mixture. Leave the second batch on for the 8-10 minutes, then rinse.
- Create an ombre effect on your garment by dipping it in a bleach mixture. After you’ve tie-dyed your garment, you can make a cool faded effect by dip-dyeing the fabric. In a large bucket, dilute another mixture of 1/2 bleach and 1/2 water. Dip the bottom few inches of your garment in the bucket and leave it for 5-10 minutes to create an ombre effect.
EditApplying the Bleach
- Fill a spray or squeeze bottle with a mixture of 1/2 bleach and 1/2 water. You can get a bottle for your project at almost any store which sells cleaning supplies. You can use either a spray bottle or a squeeze bottle. A squeeze bottle may produce a slightly more precise effect than a spray bottle, but the results will be similar with either one.
- Apply the bleach mixture to the exposed fabric of the garment. Spray or squeeze the bleach mixture from your bottle onto your garment. You can vary the amount of bleach that you use depending on how intense you want the color change to be. A heavier application of bleach will cause the fabric to lighten more, and you can create different looks by applying the bleach only to some areas and not to others.
- Allow the bleach to sit on the fabric for 8-10 minutes. You should be able to see the bleach changing the color of the garment within about 2 minutes, but it will take 8-10 minutes for the bleach to really seep into the fabric. If you leave it on much longer the bleach could damage your garment.
- Wash the garment in a mild detergent when the time is up. You want to wash your garment right away to stop the chemical bleaching process. You can either put your clothing in the washing machine with a mild detergent or you can hand wash it in your sink or bathtub.
- If you hand wash your garment, make sure to leave on your gloves until you’ve finished rinsing it so you don’t come into contact with any bleach.
- Hang your garment to air-dry or place it in the dryer. Once your garment is thoroughly rinsed, you can either air-dry it or put it in the dryer, depending on how you normally prefer to dry your clothes. After it’s dry, it’s ready to wear, so put it on and enjoy your new style!
EditThings You'll Need
- Heavy rubber gloves
- Rubber bands
- Spray bottle/squeeze bottle
- Old towels or drop cloth
- Clean colored T-shirt
- Mild laundry detergent
EditSources and Citations
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