Controlled Bleach Staining





Today i'll show you how to use bleach to stain patterns into fabric! For this example i'll be using a cheap black shirt since i like the orange-like stain i get from it! Different collors yield different stains, so give your favourite color a shot and find out what stain you can create!

Note: Don't wear any clothes you don't mind ruining. Bleach is no joke and will stain almost anything it touches!

I'll include the stencil i used for download!


Step 1: Parts List!

There are 3 basic things you need for this project.

- A piece of clothing ( I use cheap cotton shirts!)
- A spray bottle filled with 50% water and 50% bleach
- A stencil of some sort ( you can use anything. I chose to print my stencil and cut it out! I've used painter's tape before and it works great.

Step 2: Preparing the Pattern!

Patterns can take all shapes. I printed mine on paper and used a sharp blade to cut it out. not that crisp lines show up better! you can add in freehand sprays later if you feel like experimenting a bit!

For all those who understand Dutch. This shirt will be a christmas present for my sister in law. If i don't post anything after 25 december, you know what happened.

Step 3: Finishing Preparation

As we're using a water based 'stain' we need to make sure it doesn't seep through to the other side.

Measure the width of your shirt and cut a piece of cardboard to that size. Tuck your shirt over the cardboard. It should be a snug fit but don't stretch it out.

The last step is to cove everything. And I mean everything. We will be spraying a thin mist over the shirt. Those little droplets will get everywhere. ( make sure to wear a dust mask and cover all bare skin. this stuff is not healthy!)

On to the actual staining!

Step 4: Staining!

Now comes the exciting part!

There are different techniques for different results so experiment with cheap fabric!

Spraying from close range wills give a spot blended finish.
Spraying from far away will create a dotted finish.

Make sure to try and don't be afraid to ruin anything, it'll look great anyway, it wasn't a mistake, call it design!

Once you've sprayed the mixture on, the waiting game starts. The longer you let the solution sit on the fabric, the longer it gets to effect the color!

Don't panic if the color doesn't change immediately. It might take a while.

Once your satisfied with the color. Rinse the shirt in cold water. Squeeze the water out regularly before rinsing it again!

Step 5: Finished!

Celebrate! You just made something awesome with infinite possibilities!

Every differently colored shirt gives different results! So try a few! Don't forget to share what you made!

Dyeing for Color Contest

Runner Up in the
Dyeing for Color Contest



    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest
    • Gardening Contest

      Gardening Contest
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest

    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I am planning to bleach stain a black turban of mine. So that it will have stripes al along it's length. This seem so easy! I am looking forward to doing it ;D


    3 years ago

    It seems like you aren't very fond of your sister in law ?
    I hope for you she'll take it as a joke.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    she absolutely loved it!!


    3 years ago

    I've just recently done some bleach discharging. I found a couple of tips online that might help.

    There is a bleach thickener specifically for this. In the US this company is one that sells it along with 'bleach stop' to neutralize the reaction so it doesn't eat holes in the fabric or remove too much color.

    But alternatives are in the US, I suspect Europe may have equivalent products, a bleach 'pen' with already thickened bleach and a wide and narrow tip for removing stains or using on vertical surfaces for cleaning. There is also a bulk bottle of this gel. I don't think it is as strong as liquid bleach but easier to use. You can write with the pen/gel bottle, or pour out the gel and sponge it on a stencil, use a brayer or palette knife. When its the color you want, use hydrogen peroxide in water to neutralize the bleach.

    I had a dressy outfit I wanted to be sure didn't get bleach in the wrong places so I had a big 7 gallon container of cold water with about 2 tablespoons of oxyclean powdered peroxide dissolved into it ready. made sure the parts with bleach gel hit that first, swished it around to neutralize the bleach and then put the whole thing in and swished it around for several minutes before hand rinsing in cold running water and then dropping directly into a washing machine already filled with water and more peroxide. Did I say I really wanted to avoid any problems with this? :)

    I also am working on a test project right now. My sweetheart ordered a long sleeved shirt in orange. Didn't see that it was fluorescent and way too bright. I did a variation of tie dye hand pleating the long way down sleeves and body, then twisted each sleeve, wrapped heavy string in a spiral up and back down, and used straight bleach poured over it, let it sit for about 5 minutes and threw in a washing machine with peroxide again. It's now about 3 shades of orange from pale to bright with vertical wavy stripes and sharp bands where the string was. Next step is using a resist and then another dose of bleach on parts and final stage will be using a resist on what is left and dyeing the other areas blue. The resists I'm experimenting with are in the US, Elmer's washable school glue, tapioca flour mixed with water, cooked until clear, and potato starch cooked the same way. The glue can be used out of the bottle to write with or spread in any manner you want. The others can be made thick or thin as you want, stamped, spread, etc. Make sure it goes all the way through the fabric, let it dry, then do your bleach or dye as usual, rinse and wash.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Very cool, looks like you're a big fan of this stuff! Will you make an intstructable about it when you figured it all out? :)


    Reply 3 years ago

    Will try to get some pix of the current project at the appropriate stages. I started dyeing leather and didn't like the leather dyes as they are not very light fast and not true dyes compared to commercial tanneries. They will lift with alcohol, water, perspiration and such if the sealer starts to wear off. And fabric dyes can be used on leather, found one instant set dye for silk and wool that is easy to use and other alkaline based dyes work also but need to neutralize the pH later to protect the leather--high pH will break it down so vinegar or citric acid soak afterwards helps protect it. And was also frustrated with the application methods usually used with leather. I found the fabric resists work well on leather as do the products that help prevent spreading. So fine details are easier.
    I was practicing on fabric and then had some clothing I wanted to kick up a notch and started using dyes, fabric paints, foils and most recently 'rust dyeing' which is very simple. Take any object that will rust, soak fabric in vinegar, put the metal on the fabric, cover it to keep moist, put it somewhere warm and check it every few hours. Wash off, soak in salt water to stop the reaction and wash thoroughly, redo if you want more of the effects.
    More fun than tie dye!