Quick Reverse Tie-Dye





Introduction: Quick Reverse Tie-Dye

This could possibly be the fastest and easiest way to tie-dye a shirt ever.

I found these navy and black tees on sale and I loved the fit, but I thought that they were a little plain.  I wanted to jazz them up a little, but in a subtle way, so that I could still wear them under a jacket or with jewelry.

Typically if you want to tie-dye something, you have to let the dye set for 6-8 hours.  With this method, you can be done in less than ten minutes.

Using bleach in a spray bottle, I was able to control how much of the shirt was altered and how much color was removed.

Step 1: Supplies and Stuff

You will need 
  • a clean dark tee shirt - the darker the better
  • a spray bottle
  • some rubber bands
  • bleach
  • a bleach-proof space 
Put a little bleach in your spray bottle. Label the bottle so that you don't accidentally mistake it for hair spray some day.

Arrange your tee in your bleach-proof space.  I have a plastic mannequin set up on my work table.  But you can just lay it flat on some plastic bags.  

These two instructables may give you some ideas for layouts:

1) Transforming a boring old black t-shirt using bleach!
2) Bleach Spritz Clothing

Step 2: Don't You Hate Delayed Gratification?

Now this is going to happen fast, so don't blink, or stop to check your email.

Gently mist your tee shirt.  Like magic, every where that a drop of bleach touches, color is removed.  Black turns brown and navy turns pink.

How does this happen?  According to http://www.howstuffworks.com/question189.htm, 

"When you buy a gallon of bleach at the grocery store, what you are buying is the chemical sodium hypochlorite mixed with water in a 5.25-percent solution. You're buying salt water that has been changed slightly by electricity.  

"Natural stains (as well as dyes) produced by everything from mildew to grass come from chemical compounds called chromophores. Chromophores can absorb light at specific wavelengths and therefore cause colors. When chlorine reacts with water, it produces hydrochloric acid and atomic oxygen. The oxygen reacts easily with the chromophores to eliminate the portion of its structure that causes the color."

I understood that completely.  Didn't you?

Anyway, the more bleach you use and the longer you leave on, the more color is removed. So, for subtle effects, mist lightly and go to the next step quickly.

On the example photos, I misted the black tee lightly and in an irregular pattern. For the navy blue tee, I went for a more dramatic tie-dye effect by tying rosettes into the fabric, using rubber bands. I also sprayed more heavily.

Step 3: And... You're Done!

To stop the chemical reaction, rinse and wash your tee immediately.

I just dumped mine in the kitchen sink with a little dish soap.

Its ready to wear when dry.



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    If I get a purple shirt what color would the bleach make it? Or, what color tee-shirt, when bleach is applied turns it purple?


    Oh I am so trying this! I'm a huge fan of bleach effects and I love this kind of pattern you did too. Thanks for posting!

    hi all
    take care when mixing bleach with detergent or soap, like you said in your last step... this can be dangerous as toxic fumes can be released. I once did this by mistake (in larger quantities) and my dog ran to the front door and stuck his nose through the letter-box! I had to dash out too and it wasn't safe for a few hours. Bleach and soap don't mix.

    Are you sure that detergent and bleach cause toxic fumes? If so, I should be dying every time I wash a load of whites. :-)

    You might be thinking of mixing bleach with ammonia. See http://chemistry.about.com/b/2010/08/20/why-you-shouldnt-mix-bleach-and-ammonia-bleach-and-ammonia-chemical-reactions.htm

    I read that you cannot safety mix bleach with dish soap or other soaps. LAUNDRY- soap is specially formulated, so it wont kill of the socker moms. I tried it and it is true.

    You killed some soccer moms by mixing dish soap with bleach?

    Hi Bitsi,
    maybe the detergent I was using had amonia in it, and your doesn't? Glad you replied as it alerted me to exactly what to avoid! Thanks for that...sorry for any confusion...
    it's a great Ible anyway... now I feel a bit more reasured! So I will try it,, taking care what NOT to mix.

    You are mixing up your medaphors and soaps...
    Not quite accurate. See my comment below... Cheap crap Discount Detergent mite do this,(react with bleach). not Tide or Cheer.
    Did it 50 times.

    Don't use vinegar to stop the bleaching process. It reacts with the bleach to form even more caustic compounds and will make your fabric deteriorate faster. Hydrogen peroxide is available at most drugstores/grocery stores if you just want to try this once or twice. If you want to do more, look for sodium or potassium metabisulfite where wine-making supplies are sold, it's cheap and you don't need to use very much. http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/neutralizingdischarge.shtml has more information if you're interested.

    Yes , leaving residue of bleach will disintagrate your fabric in time So .Use Peroxide. I find rinsing well and then damp dry , then a little peroxide works fine. Peroxide is cheap on sale 75 c a pint, and most everyone has some , its good for mouthwash ,gives whiter teeth and on and on