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How to Bleach Dye (aka Reverse Dye)

Want more unique blank apparel to decorate? Maybe you’ve got a coffee stain on your t-shirt. Either way, the bleach dyeing technique might just be the answer to all your problems.

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    Whether you call it bleach dyeing, bleach tie-dyeing, or reverse dyeing; It’s all the same thing, and boy, is it a game-changer!

    Stand out from the rest with one-of-a-kind creations that can be done in batches and at a super fast pace. Need I say more? In the blink of an eye, you could turn a boring bunch of t-shirts into a wicked-awesome batch of decoration-ready blanks.

    If you love the tie-dye look, and don’t want to manage multiple bottles of dye, bleach tie-dye (sometimes called reverse tie-dye) is a great way to achieve a similar look with unique colors.

     

    Bleach dyeing is such a fun technique that requires working with household bleach –which means that you’ll need to work in an area that has plenty of ventilation (preferably, outside).

    If you’re working indoors, open the windows, and keep your air conditioner or fan running to help circulate air. You can protect yourself even more by wearing a mask or respirator. You don’t need to go full Breaking Bad but an extra layer of protection is always good thing. 

    Finally, when working with bleach, be sure to wear gloves and avoid handling the liquid by hand.

    Products We Used

    Blank

    • Port & Company - Long Sleeve Essential Tee #PC61LS
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    • As always, we encourage you to use the same products we’ve already tested and approved, but if you’d like to go your own way, we salute you! Just make sure the blank you are using is a similar fabric.

    • Additional blanks we recommend you use for this project are also listed at the bottom of the tutorial.

    Supplies

    • Water

    • Household bleach

    • Squirt bottle

    • Rubber gloves

    • Eye protection and mask

    • Protective sheet or tarp

    • Rubber bands (optional)


    The Making - Bleach Tie-Dying Your Shirt

    Step 1: Prepare your work area

    Lay a protective sheet or tarp over your work surface. Plastic is recommended because it won’t absorb the bleach or discolor. 

    Now’s the time to put on eye protection and a mask too, if you’re using them.

    Step 2: Fold, twist, and scrunch your t-shirt

    On top of your protected surface, lay the dry t-shirt out flat. 

    Fold, twist, and scrunch the shirt until you have smooshed it into a circular shape. At this time, you can use rubber bands to hold your scrunched t-shirt in its shape.

    Step 3: Bleach your t-shirt for a reverse tie-dye effect

    Fill the squirt bottle with equal parts bleach and water (1:1 ratio), then shake until fully mixed.

    Squirt the water and bleach mixture onto the t-shirt (front and back) in various places. THIS WILL GET MESSY! That’s the point. Think five-year-old, desperately trying to get the ketchup onto a hotdog. There’s nothing exact about this.

    Let the water and bleach mixture soak into the t-shirt for about 10-15 minutes or when it reaches your desired color. 100% cotton will bleach quicker than other fabrics, so be sure to keep a close eye.

    Don’t let the bleach soak for too long

    Keep in mind that the longer the beach soaks, the lighter the fabric will become. Do not let it sit for too long! Greenday and Nirvana looked cool with holes in their shirts and jeans but, assuming that’s not the look you’re after, be careful.

    Reverse Tie-Dye Tip

    Step 4: Rinse your t-shirt

    After 10-15 minutes, or when the fabric reaches your desired color, carefully carry it to the sink and thoroughly rinse the t-shirt under cold water. 

    Once the water runs clear, wring out the t-shirt.

    Next, wash and dry the bleached t-shirt separately from other clothes.

    No matter what decoration technique you decide to use, bleach dyeing is always a great start. With this skill, you can create a spiral tie-dye look with bleach or make it look more grunge-y –which is super trendy right now.

    Ready to start making?

    Check out these inspirational and educational articles to get you started.
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