Bleach Spritz Clothing

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Introduction: Bleach Spritz Clothing

About: here: http://www.artiswrong.com But really, I'm just this guy. For up-to-the-minute, action-packed updates on my life (and occasional drawings of tapeworms getting it on), check out my blog here: http://ww...

Renewing my all-too-brief love affair with bleaching my own designs into clothing

Step 1: What This Is

This is a really simple way of putting text or other designs onto a T-Shirt. It takes about 1 minute, once you have all the materials. Basically, I put bleach into a perfume spritz bottle, spelled things out with magnetic refridgerator letters, and then spritzed over them onto a dark thrift store shirt. It works really well--Check it out!

enjoy,
alex
http://www.artiswrong.com

Step 2: Get Your Stuff

You need:
Bleach. Get it from any market/gas station/convenience store. Costs about $2
A dark cotton T-shirt. Support your local thrift store. Costs about 20 cents
A cheap perfume spritz bottle. The finer the spray, the better. $1 from Jax, a cheap retail outletish thing. I went for the JOOP variety of perfume. It smelled like joop.

Magnetic fridge letters. About $7 from your favorite toy store. Go Stellabella toys!

Step 3: Bleach=perfume

Pour the perfume into the neighbors' backyard, or douse yourself in it. Refill the bottle with bleach, and put the cap back on.
It's probably a good idea to label the bottle, since even if you're smart enough to remember that it now is full of death-and burning liquid, rather than the original, more benign foul-smelling liquid, your friends/husband/dog/cousin you keep locked in the attic probably will mistakenly perfume themselves with bleach at some point. Bleach is a really good perfume, in that a really small amount will make you smell like it for days.

Step 4: Send Your Message to the World!

This is a good outside project. That way you don't have to worry about bleaching the hardwood floors your landlord is sooooo proud of and would whack you over the head with a cattle prod if you mess them up.
(I wish I had thought about that before etching circuit boards. EIT!)

Anyway, put on your best collection of punk covers of the song "Hole in my heart(all the way to china)" by Cyndi Lauper and spread your shirt out flat on the ground.

Spell something out on your shirt with the refridgerator letters. Alternatively, put something cool on your shirt, like a buzzsaw or chains and sprockets or your neighbor.

Now, spritz that bleach like you were born to do it!

You don't need much--don't soak the fabric, but just get bleach all around the letters. It starts changing color instantly--it's magic!

Step 5: Finish Up

Let the shirt sit for a minute or two, to make sure the bleach can fully destroy the color (how does bleach suck color out of stuff? Isn't that absolutely terrifying?)
Then, take the letters off, being careful not to smear any bleach, and rinse the shirt in a sink for a minute or so, kneading it. Rinse it until the water running off the shirt is clear.

Now, put your shirt out into the sun to dry.
Go take a shower--it's a hot day.
The shirt will be dry by the time you get out.
It it's not, take another shower. Or write an instructable or something.

By now, it's about 2 in the afternoon--time to get to work. Put on your creation, and go dazzle your friends with your artistic ability!

happy shirting!
alex
http://www.artiswrong.com

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68 Discussions

I did this with a bag I have made out of a shirt. I used a doily for a stencil. Worked great! I'm gonna try it with letters too!

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i have been doing this for a few years. but i use to make stencils. i use to print on to normal paper then cover it in clear contact (not sure what you guys call it around the world, book contact....??) or cover it in clear sticky tape so it was semi water proof then cut the stencil to shape.

you can also spray it with peroxide to deactivate the bleach

Fun foam like you would buy in a craft store (Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc) makes for a good stencil too. It's sold in flat sheets like sheets of paper. They can also be found in various pre-cut shapes. I bought a box full of fun foam snowflakes of all different shapes and sizes, dropped them randomly on a dark blue t-shirt, bleached, and voila! Pumpkin stencils work too for ghoulish t's.

1 reply

Foam sheets are a really good idea. Never would have thought of that.
I was using card stock just because it's all I had on hand. Haha

We used this technique for entertaining the kids at a nurses' union sign making event. It worked out perfectly. By the end of the event, the adults were lining up to have their union-issue red T-shirts personalized. The kids did the layout, and the rinsing with a hose. Adults did the bleach application, as nobody wanted to see a kid get a face-full of bleach, even within spitting distance of a hundred RNs. We used steel baking pans inside the shirts. and magnetic foam letters for a resist. We also used DIY'd foam stencils with a dusting of Elmer's spray adhesive for the graphics. As we had most of these things on hand, cost was $4 for a new T-shirt, or free if you had your own.

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My question that I have been hunting all over the net to find is... Is it possible to bleach dye to get different colors. At least is it possible to do a heavysolution and then a lighter one later on the same shirt to atleast make two shades. Would adding food coloring to the bleach solution cause a slighty different color tint?

2 replies

 I think the fod colouring would just wash out; but what you could do is either use clothes dye applied directly in certain spots after bleaching, or:
-Bleach in a design (Eg, onto a blue shirt)
-Dye the whole shirt with red (Making the bleached bit red and the rest purple)
-Bleach some of the red section (Making it ~white/pale)
Giving a three tone result.

The problem with a heavier solution is it might burn through the fabric. If you did 50/50 and maybe 75 % water and 25% Bleach it might work. I don't know about the food coloring but that seems interesting.

I used a cleaner spray bottle and it worked fine. I over sprayed though and when I rinsed it 5 minutes later after blotting it with a paper towel and waiting 2 more minutes, the bleach bled into the back of my shirt which I can deal with but I don't like. Also, using colored shirts instead of black shirts are really cool. I've done a orange one which turns out kind of pink w/ the bleach. The blue one turned out kind of purple. Depending on how much you spray it seems like it would change the color

great idea - i've been looking for a better way to put writing and stuff on shirts than just using sharpies, and this is terrific. one question - any idea how you might do images or designs that aren't purely black and white?

6 replies

Many black fabrics are actually another color underneath and can be stopped at that point by rinsing in cold water and placing in an Anti-Chlor (from www.prochemical.com)solution. In some cases, manufacturers have an over-run of a particular color of fabric so they will dye it black and use it for something else. The underlying color may or may not pop up. It depends on the initial dye process and whether direct dyes (like Rit) were used or whether a fiber-reactive dye like Procion MX was used. There are several other classes of dyes as well. Some are dischargeable to a rust, cream or near white from black. Some can't be discharged at all. As a dyer, I alway ask for a small sliver of any black fabric I want to buy and go do a bleach test in my car. I do this EVERY time because different bolts from the same company can discharge to different colors. Some colors cannot be discharged with bleach such as Procion MX turquoise. I also use other colored commercial fabrics to bleach besides just black. It makes sense to pick a dark color rather than pastels since you're looking for contrast. There are some very interesting results. Virtually all dyed fabrics are a mixture of dyes to get a particular color. One of the colors used in manufacturing may not be dischargeable and the others will so you will get one of the underlying colors and it will never go to cream or white. Sorry to be so windy here but it is really an involved process that some people have made a career of. Personally, I am a hobby dyer but love the process. Besides spraying, you can make up a thickened bleach to paint on specific area altho now that the Bleach Pen is available I don't do the thickner anymore.

nope. well, actually, I'm lying. I don't pretend to understand the chemistry, but most shirts seem to have an intermediate color that they bleach to as they bleach to white. Black shirts, for example, tend to turn orange first. The longer you leave the bleach in, the more white it gets. So if you put on a mask, bleach is, wait a certain amount of time, and then wash it out, you could do several masks, waiting different amounts of time for each one, and get a kind of 'grayscale', except going from white to orange to black. try it!

I tried this bleach spritz and everything went smoothly except it ended up that when I rinsed the shirt, the bleach went onto other parts of the shirt and it looked terrible. Even tried a vinegar/water rinse to stop the bleach. Any suggestions on rinsing while keeping the bleach away from the rest of shirt? THANKS.

i wasnt paying much attention in science today, but somewhere in there "bleach is a pretty strong base" actually go into my consciousness. i know that lemon juice is an acid of fair strength and seeing as acids and bases are opposites(but both can be corrosive), if you wanted to neutralize the bleach the chemical knowledge in me would say spray some lemon juice on there. at the least you'll smell lemony and nice :)

yeah but to confuise matters further, chlorine gas makes acid then bleaches litmus... unless it's like chlorine hydroxide... or something

I had one semi-failure when I use just a paper stencil. Some of the bleach soaked through the paper and 'sort-of' bleached the area around my intended design. I tried to correct it and ruined it, or I would show you a pic. I was using half bleach-half water. by the way.

I did this bleaching technique about 10 years ago in wearable art class I took. Try making the stencils out of freezer paper. Cut them out and then iron them on to the fabric with a medium hot iron. Spritz on the 50% bleach LIGHTLY and wait only a minute or two, then plunge into a vinegar and water bath...sorry, don't remember how much vinegar...then wash immediately in cold water.