Painting with Bleach

I spotted this idea on one of my favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess, and I was dying to try it out.  In just a few hours, you can easily revamp that old shirt you never wear.


Using bleach, you can permanently set  your favorite quote on any dark-colored top. First, you will need a bottle of fabric-safe bleach, which is cheapest when you chose the generic store brand. I used the Safeway brand from Vons. You will also need chalk and a small paintbrush, which are both available at Michael’s. Choose the cheapest synthetic paintbrush because the bleach will most likely eat away at the bristles. That’s what happened to mine. You will need a piece of cardboard, a ceramic bowl, a white towel, and some kind of clips.


Start by inserting the piece of cardboard between the front and back of the shirt to prevent the bleach from bleeding through. Use the clips to hold the shirt in place. Next, outline your design in chalk. I came up with the line “Be the Outlier” based on the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

If you mess up with the chalk, simply dampen the towel, and use it to erase your mistakes. Add some bleach to the ceramic bowl, and dip the paintbrush in the bleach. Drag the brush against the side of the bowl to avoid drip marks. Carefully trace your chalk outline with bleach, and wet your brush often to make clean lines on the shirt.


The design should show through quickly. Take your time, and trace over the areas that you feel need filling in. After letting the bleach set for at least 10 minutes, hand wash it with cold water. The longer you let the bleach set, the lighter it will be.

On my black shirt, the bleach faded the brush strokes an orange tint because I only let it sit out for about 20 minutes. Once the shirt is washed, you should be able to machine wash and dry the shirt normally. The bleach is set and your shirt is ready to wear.



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