Want to know how to bleach a white shirt? How about what to do with all of that leftover bleach? Try making these custom DIY bleached shirts to wear all summer and fall long.
Why Bleached Shirts?
I never knew that kids could be so messy. I mean, sure I sort of knew but this summer took messy to a whole new level as we tried out all the things on our summer bucket list.
Ketchup stains from a family barbecue. Grass stains from playing outdoor games. And the worst, blood stains from a stubbed toe we didn’t notice until too late.
DIY Bleached Shirts
Okay, now for the fun part. You know how you have all that bleach at home already? It’s good for more than just disinfecting floors, fighting stains, and keeping whites white. It’s also fun to use to create custom shirts in a quick and simple way!
And if you don’t have Clorox bleach at home, go get some at Walmart or order it on Walmart.com first. You’ll need it for this tutorial!
I’ve made a couple of bleached shirts before but thought it would be the perfect way to make a shirt inspired by one of my favorite movie characters because it’s so unlike her – practically perfect in every way – to bleach a colored shirt.
But oh so fun so who knows, maybe it is like her after all. She does like to find the fun in everything.
But back to the shirts!
Supplies to Make Bleached Shirts
Making these bleached shirts takes just a few things you probably already have at home and one you may not. If not, you get all of these things at your local Walmart or on Walmart.com.
- Navy blue colored t-shirt
- Clorox® Bleach with CLOROMAX®
- Spray bottle
- An old drop-cloth, a plastic tablecloth, or something else to spray on
- A large piece of cardboard that fits inside your shirt
- White Iron-on vinyl (optional)
- This free cut file
- Vinyl cutter*
*I cut my vinyl with my vinyl cutter for the shirts. You could totally cut these by hand, use a die-cutter, or get someone to cut the vinyl for you if you don’t have one yourself!
How to Make a DIY Bleach Shirt
Pretty sure these are the easiest shirts I’ve ever made and the best part is that unlike movie costumes, they don’t need to be practically perfect. You want them to be messy, fun, and unique! I mean they are custom bleached shirts after all.
First things first, cut your vinyl. I used both the umbrellas and the text on my shirts but you could totally just do the umbrellas if you want something a bit more subtle. I really like to make matching shirts, so I went with the text as well!
Once your umbrellas are cut, place them however you’d like them on the front of your shirt. I just did the front because I knew I’d be wearing this under a cardigan or jacket, but you could totally do both sides if you want as well!
Once your vinyl is placed, go into either your garage or outside where there is fresh air to counteract the smell of the bleach as you’re working. Also helps make sure you don’t accidentally spill bleach inside your house where you don’t want it.
Place your drop cloth down then put the shirt on top of it. Place the cardboard inside the shirt to keep the bleach from soaking through to the other side as you’re spraying.
Last but not least – put about 1/4 cup of bleach inside the spray bottle. You can dilute it if you want with a 1/4 cup water and a 1/4 cup bleach, but I didn’t because I wanted the bleach to really pull the color out of my shirt.
And then you spray bleach all over on the shirt to create your design!
Tips for Spraying Bleached Shirts
Just a few tips and tricks I learned while I was making these bleached shirts. A number of these things I did on purpose but want to give you a heads up about them so you can choose whether to do them or not.
- Turn the nozzle on your spray bottle to the finest mist possible so you don’t end up with huge spots like I did where it was a direct spray instead of mist.
- Test the spray out on cardboard or even the thing underneath the shirt first to see how much comes out and how.
- If you don’t want little spots all over the shirt like I have, be super careful about letting the spray bottle drip onto the shirt as you’re spraying. Those medium spots are from drips of bleach.
- Make sure to pick up the shirt and spray where the sides will be as well.
- A little bleach goes a long way, spray the entire shirt lightly once then look and see what you think. If you want to get rid of more color, spray lightly again.
- Know that what you see right now is not what the final shirt will look like. Mine was initially a really nice dark red color then when the bleach really soaked in it changed once and then once it was washed and dried it finalized its color.
How to Finish Your DIY Bleach Shirt
You’ve sprayed your shirt with bleach, now what? Quickly and carefully remove the vinyl umbrellas from the shirt, trying your best to not wiggle them around and screw up the lines. You should see nice clear umbrella designs where the vinyl used to be.
Toss your bleached shirts in the washer ALL BY THEMSELVES and run on a quick wash to get rid of any remaining bleach on the shirt that might ruin your design. And don’t forget my tip to run another quick rinse wash after you take the shirts out to get rid of any remnant bleach.
Once your DIY bleach shirt has been rinsed, either toss in the dryer if its dryer-safe or let hang dry. After it’s dry, you can add on the iron-on vinyl if you want using this tutorial.
I went with one of my favorite movie quotes for the vinyl – I never explain anything – and created this free cut file to make it. I think it goes perfectly with the perfectly messy nature of this shirt.
Once the vinyl is on, you’re done! You’re now the owner of a custom DIY bleach shirt that I hope you absolutely love. Wear it now, wear it to a movie night, or whenever you’re feeling the need to add a bit of fun to your day!