Transforming a Boring Old Black T-shirt Using Bleach!




About: Born in England many years ago, moved to California in 1980, moved to New York in 1993, became a US citizen. Favourite place to visit, besides London England, is Lake Winnipesaukkee in New Hampshire, home o...

Do you have a few boring old black t-shirts that you are sick of? Here's a way to transform them into "something else". It's sort of like tie-dying, but using bleach to remove the dye, instead of adding dyes. It's also a much quicker process, which I am sure "the have-it-nows" will appreciate!

Step 1: Purloin Your Boring Old Shirt

I have kidnapped an old black shirt from my son! You can also use boring old dark blue shirts for this transformation too! It is really cool! Be sure to use 100% cotton for this. First you need to wash the shirt (for who knows what perils lurk within its folds!) Once washed you can spin it dry and you are ready to begin!

Step 2: You Are Now Spoiled for Choice...

Now that you have boring old you know what, you have so many choices ahead of you. How are you going to transform it into something amazing (with bleach.
Choice One: You can pretend you are doing a rainbow swirl tie-dye and place the shirt face down, place a dowel rod in the center and twirl it anti or clockwise to achieve "pie", and put rubber bands on to hold its shape

Step 3: Second Choice

Choice Two:
You can scrunch up your shirt in an irregular pattern and then keep in shape with rubber bands back and front.

Step 4: Bullseye Choice

Third choice:Hold the shirt by its middle (back and front together) and let it free fall while you are holding the pointy end.  Then put on rubber bands round it, as many as you like and fairly tight.

Step 5: Choice Du Jour!

This is the method I quite like! Take boring old you know what and lay it face down, upside down, sideways down, any old down you like and beg borrow or steal marbles, stones, small rocks, or those litte weird glass shape things that you can buy to decorate vases or whatever! You are going to tie these into the shirt with rubber bands in either a regular or random pattern, whichever you like (by the way you can also do this with tie-dying)

Step 6: Band the Foreign Objects!

Now you have chosen your design and picked out some assorted foreign objects, start putting the marbles, etc. on the t-shirt and fix rubber bands around them. Make the rubber bands very tight and insert your marbles from both sides of the shirt as it makes a more interesting effect on the back and front. These pictures are over exposed so you can see the effect more.

Step 7: The Bleach Solution - Be Very Careful!

Prepare a mild bleach and water solution, using common household bleach. BE VERY CAREFUL, YOU ARE DEALING WITH BLEACH! Do not get bleach in your eyes or on your skin, accidental splashes rinse off immediately. Do not splash on your clothes as you will bleach them. Wear rubber gloves and old clothes (instead of old clothes you could wear a strategically adapted trash bag!) When you have mixed your bleach solution (about 1/3 bleach to 2/3rd cold tap water) place your bobbled, banded shirt into it and make sure it is completely submerged. This is the hard part, as depending on the dye used in the t-shirt when it was manufactured, there is really no hard and fast rule as to how long you should leave the shirt soaking in the bleach. I suggest that after 10 minutes, check the shirt by looking to see if it looks less black, and if there is dye in the water. It's not very scientific I'm afraid, but....... on no account get bleach on your skin or clothes.

Step 8: Yes! It Is the Same T-shirt

I have un-banded my shirt, rinsed and washed in the washing machine, and here's what it looks like. It's brown with black splodges! Now all I have to do is to tell my son what I have done with his shirt! Ooops! The last pictures in this step are of a couple of shirts I bleached last year. They were both black to start with, but the bleach has made them very different colours. They were tied in what they call "the flower fold". The first picture is of the fronts and second the backs.

If you use a dark blue shirt, you will get pink with blue splodges! With black it depends on the dye of the original garment as to whether you will get brown or grey. Bottom line, it's not boring and it's quick!

Quick Note: for more bleach dyed effects go to

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    100 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Most of black and white bleaching creams are cheap and ok, but sometimes they just don't work as you wish.


    Reply 2 years ago

    did it sucessfully but not happy with the orange black halloween dress look


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 8

    Very cool! How do you get the patter of the one next to the diagonal (the "tiger" one)?


    3 years ago

    How do you do the design in the big picture after the diagonal one with the splotches. (the one that is kinda like fanning out from the center) ?


    3 years ago

    How can u make it actually white instead of brown or Grey? And once I do get it white(if I do) can I use another color on the white areas? I'm trying to do this with a black shirt but need yellow and white on it. Please someone help.... Thanks

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Do it in reverse i think is the only way.... tie dye a white shirt black then put colour in the remaining white parts? :)


    3 years ago on Introduction

    It's Wonderful!! Thanks for sharing this. World appears beautiful for these reasons! I'll try it for sure and would place it here as well.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your pictures and instructions! I have tried to do the same with bleach on a black shirt. I did not get your beautiful results because I was too impatient. I kept adding more bleach until I see the black shirt changes colour.. I did get beautiful tie die results for a split second before ugly holes start to appear and the whole shirt falls apart. We should follow the proportion of water and bleach you provided!

    So would this not work for synthetics? I kind of want to try it with a pair of basketball shorts.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If you want additionnal spotty effect, when you take the shirt out of the bleach, lay it down flat on a table (outside!) and sprinkle straight vinegar on it.

    The vinegar reacts violently with the bleach and burns deep spots in the fabric.

    WARNING: This releases *very* nasty fumes, do it outside!

    5 replies
    nina rabbitLance Mt.

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    According to Wikipedia: "Mixing with chlorine-containing products or strong oxidants, such as household bleach, can lead to hazardous compounds such as chloramines" (see Ammonia is generally irritating to mucous membranes such as in the eyes, nose, sinus, lungs, mouth, etc. Exposure to industrial strength ammonia for 30 minutes or more is considered hazardous to human respiratory health and injurious to the lungs. The fumes produced when ammonia and chlorine mix creates a gaseous release of compounds with even greater toxicity. In conclusion: DON'T MIX AMMONIA WITH BLEACH.