Controlled Bleaching With Discharge Paste





Introduction: Controlled Bleaching With Discharge Paste

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.

This is more of an introduction to discharge paste than an instructable. Yes, the name is terrible and the stuff is white and gooey which makes it even more wrong. But it's pretty damn cool, so you just accept it and move on towards greatness.

Where bleach is incredibly thin and can destroy natural fibers if you're not careful, discharge paste is the opposite. It's gooey so it doesn't spill easily and can be used with silkscreens. It's also nice to natural fibers, which is good as well. It removes most fiber reactives, direct dyes and acid dyes and typically leaves a light golden color when it's done.

Everything you need to know about this is printed right on the label. To use it, you just apply it to a fabric, let it dry, and then iron it on the lowest steam setting for a few minutes to activate it. To make sure it works on a new fabric, test it by putting a small spot in a hidden area of the target material (assuming you're using a shirt) and see how well it works before spreading it everywhere.

Available in the U.S. from Dharma Trading Co.

Step 1: Apply to the Fabric of Your Life

Put down a stencil or a silkscreen or forgo all premade plans and apply the paste directly to the fabric. If you want to let the goo seep in a little deeper, you can thin it out with some water. You can just go for it or keep on testing on more spots on the fabric.

Used shirts are cheap to play with, but for consistency and thin shirts, go to the underwear aisle and get the dyed t-shirts. They're usually less than $5 each for a decent one and tend to be thinner than the Beefy T's that make me sweat like I still live in SoCal.

Step 2: Make Magic With Your Iron

At first there's not much to see on the shirt. Even when you wait until the paste dries, there's still not much to see. This all changes dramatically when you put the iron on the fabric. The color quickly disappears and POW! there's your design.

One more thing, be sure to be in a well-ventilated area. This stuff stinks and when your fabric is done it too will stink until you wash it. So don't run out to a bar to show off your new clothes to your friends because you'll destroy your shirts first impression on them.

Now clean up your mess and plan out your next project.

Step 3: BONUS! Before and After... Again.

One more example of how the paste looks dried on black cotton and right after it's been ironed.



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    116 Discussions

    Hydrogen peroxide is available in the medical aisle of a large store, near the rubbing alcohol.

    I was thinking that.
    There doesn't seem to be anything similar on eBay UK, so...
    ... how about a pack of hair colour, but just use the bleach part without mixing in the dye?
    Gotta be worth a try!


    2 years ago

    I have a huge container of it. I've made about 5 projects and have more than half still remaining but the last two projects haven't worked out. It is not pulling the color out anymore. I suggest a smaller bottle unless you are planning on doing a LOT of projects pretty quickly. It may be losing it's "power" to remove the dye.


    2 years ago

    Can I set discharge with clothes dryer on "hot" instead of using and iron?

    Thanks :)

    Why do you need discharge paste? Couldn't you just mix up a bit of cornstarch an mix in some bleach so it's thicker? Then just wash it off?
    Idk maybe that's a stupid idea.. But it sounds good to me :p

    1 reply

    because bleach runs the risk of destroying the fibers of the cloth and putting holes in it and discharge paste does not

    Does it work on spandex?

    How many of those swan thingys do you think I could make from 8oz. of discharge paste?

    How would I go about using this technique on a white shirt? I want to put some text on a plain white shirt but have it be black and also red. Is there a dye or something I can use to make that happen?

    1 reply

    For that, you need to do silk screening. Here's an instructable I recommend:

    I tried this out on a purple linen dress and it worked beautifully! I did freehand painting rather than a stencil. Thanks for the instructions!

    2 replies

    I am planning on doing this with some red fabric for a flag, my question is though, will the color be bleached through the fabric or just on one side?

    1 reply

    When I did it on a shirt, it did go all the way through in some spots. More than likely you will not get an even reverse image on the other side. If you want to do a mirror image, just mark it off after you do the first side. If you want a different design, you'll have to do it with two pieces of fabric and sew them together.

    thanks for this... did this with middle schoolers at a summer day camp and they were amazed and enjoyed it a ton.

    1 reply

    Do you have any idea of what colour it becomes for different coloured shirts, or if the amount of paste changes it at all? I just bought the 8 ounce one... expensive!

    1 reply