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Bleach Spray Shirts: 7 DIY Tips for Beginners

If you are new to making DIY bleach spray shirts - I have some tips for you today to make sure your first bleach shirt is a huge success! 

These five tips will help you make an awesome bleach spray shirt at home....and then once you know the basis you can get fancy by making vinyl stencils and sublimation bleach shirts. 

Get the Best Shirts for Bleaching

Not all shirts will bleach so you want to start by making sure you have the right type of shirt. This is especially important if you are going to make a bleach sublimation shirt.  I found heather shirts work the best - but not all heather shirts. You want to pay attention to the polyester count in the shirt and make sure there's at least a 65% blend of polyester. 

I used the Gildan brand Women's Softstyle cotton shirts in Dark Heather and the Augusta Sportswear Tri-blend in Navy Heather for bleaching. Both of these brand and color shirts worked really well. The Gildan is 65% polyester (which is minimum if you are sublimating) and even though it's dark, once it's bleached the bleach area becomes much lighter which is ideal for sublimation. 

Here's another hint, if it says DO NOT BLEACH on the tag, it will bleach easily. 

I got both on Amazon and was able to figure out which Heather colors to steer clear of based on the blend. 

Cardboard is Your Friend

Not only do you want to protect the back of the shirt from bleach bleeding through you are also going to want to protect your work area. 

I would highly suggest you slide a thick piece of cardboard into the shirt before you start bleaching as wel as placing a large piece of cardboard under the shirt to protect the work area. 

Use a Bleach Spray Not a Stream 

One of the best t-shirt bleaching techniques I found in all of my t shirt bleaching testing was to make sure the spray bottle was on a spray not a stream.  The spray gave a better coating especially for the vinyl bleach shirts and the shirts I was prepping to make sublimation bleach shirts where you want a big bleached area for the design to go. 

You can see what happens when the spray bottle nozzle is on kind of creates lines. They're easy enough to even out with a few additional sprays on the stream, but unless you're going for this look, I'd stick with the spray not the stream. 

Less is More...At First

A little bleach goes a long way...especially if you're like me and do not dilute the bleach at all.  I was a little heavy handed on my first attempt at making a DIY bleach shirt and not only did it make the shirt thin where it was overly bleached, but it wasn't as gradual as I would like. 

Just remember you can always add more bleach but you can't take off what you've sprayed. So my suggestion is to spray the area where you want to beach and you'll get some natural overspray which looks kinda cool.  

The bleach shirt should be exposed in the sun and almost immediately it will begin to change colors. you'll be able to see if you missed any spots and where you might want to give another quick spray. 

Wait for a Sunny Day

The t shirt bleaching process will work best when you let the bleach spray shirt start the drying process in the sun. This is a far faster process than I expected. You can literally going from spraying your shirt to the full bleach effect in about 5 minutes. 


You Can Control the Bleaching Process

It's actually kind of crazy how fast the bleach starts working when it's in the sunlight. Basically as the bleach dries more and more and is absorbed into the fibers of the shirt it goes from the color of the shirt to a deep orange to kind of a coral and then a white. You'll notice that in more saturated areas of the shirt it takes longer for the bleached area to turn white. While in overspray ares they turn white while the more saturated areas may be in a state of orange.  

Depending on the look and color you're going for you can stop the bleaching process at any point by putting your shirt into a rinse of half hydrogen peroxide and half water.  

I found 1 cup of each was the perfect amount of rinse for three women's t shirts.

If you like the look of the orange area put the shirt into a mix of 50/50 hydrogen peroxide (I used hydrogen peroxide 3%) and water at that point and the bleaching process will be stopped. If you want more of a white out look, then just keep waiting until the bleached area reaches that level then put it in the rinse. 

Get Creative with Bleach Shirts: Use Vinyl and Sublimation

Now that you know the basics of how to do bleach spray shirts you can get really creative by making bleach shirts with adhesive vinyl to block out areas NOT to bleach and also to bleach out areas where you want to later sublimate.  

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  1. Tip #6: Wear old clothes in case the wind blows some of the bleach spray onto you.

  2. I’m looking for ways to make my Cricut T-shirts more cool and edgy, and THIS is a quick and easy way to add “splash.” πŸ˜³πŸ™„πŸ’πŸΎπŸ˜¬

  3. I really didn't want to get into screen printing for just a few shirts, this will be a great alternative! Thanks!


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