tie-dye has been a fun summertime activity ever since i started high school back in 2012. tie-dying with bleach, or “reverse” tie dye has recently become a trend. it’s a fun easy, diy project that anyone can do, however, bleach dying is a little more tricky. i am going to give you in-depth tips on what they DON’T tell you about bleaching your clothes.
- if you leave the bleach on too long, you may end up with holes in your clothes. i have a friend who wanted to bleach dye some jean shorts so that she could put color on them and they just turned yellow and completely disintegrated in her bath tub. on average, it takes about 20 minutes for the color to start lifting and about 2-4 hours for the color to lift almost completely. you need to watch your clothes closely when you are bleaching them so that this doesn’t happen.
- make sure you know what fabric you are using. depending on the fabric you are using, the bleach may take more or less time. the shirts that i dyed in the picture above were 100% cotton gildan shirts and i left the bleach on them for upwards of 3 hours and they still did not lift all the way to white. Maybe if i had used a thinner fabric, the color would have lifted better.
- is the bleach that you use is strong enough to tackle the fabric you are using. i used cheap bleach from the dollar store which clearly was not strong enough to lift the color off of the shirts i used as well. one product i have seen a lot of people have success with is clorox toilet bowl cleaner. it sounds a little out there but it is a form of bleach that is a little more viscous and sits on top of the fabric better.
- another problem i ran into with bleach dying with regular bleach was it almost dyed my whole shirt!! if you look at the shirt in the top right corner of the image, it looks cool but it is too saturated. i was basically dumping the bleach on these shirts and that was dumb too. bleach is not like fabric dye in the way that fabric dye wouldn’t even do that to my shirt overnight, let alone in a couple hours.
- temperature has an effect on your bleaching as well. i had to bleach mine outside due to the fumes from the bleach and i believe the cold probably made them bleach differently. if i had been able to bleach my shirts in the warm sun, they might not look the way they do now.
- when i put the color on the shirts, i put it on each of the shirts while they were open by hand, which was extremely time consuming. next time i reverse tie dye, i think i would just re-tie my shirts and dye them that way. the blue also hardly showed up on the reverse dye, so i probably would have made my blue dye a little stronger.
overall, i loved the challenge of dying many shirts at one time, and i would do it again. i would like to try again with thinner shirts, different bleach(probably toilet bowl cleaner) and warmer temperatures. when i try it, i will definitely make another blog post with more detailed, step by step photos.