Spray Bleach Shirt: How to Do It Yourself? Update 06/2022

Upcycling a handful of your t-shirts using spray bleach is one of the simplest ways to freshen up your summer outfit! With just bleach, water, and a stencil or some lace, you can quickly make bespoke designs. Are you ready to learn how to spray bleach a garment at home?

Applying a mixture of bleach and water over a stencil is one of the best ways to DIY spray bleach a shirt. The negative area around the stencil is bleached, resulting in a design on the garment. Bleaching a section of the shirt and then putting a sublimation print or a Cricut design to the bleached area is another popular option.

You’ll discover how to safely apply spray bleach to your clothing in this post. You’ll learn how to embellish shirts using spray bleach in six easy steps. Finally, there are instructions on how to bleach specific types of clothing.

How to DIY Spray Bleach Shirt

Can You Use Spray Bleach On Clothes?

By following a few measures, such as diluting the bleach in water, you can safely use spray bleach on clothes. You don’t want to expose your clothes to pure chlorine bleach since it is so strong that it can eat through fabric fibers in some situations.

You must also keep a close eye on how long the bleach remains on your garments. Spray bleach should not be left on garments for more than five or ten minutes before rinsing it away.

While chlorine and oxygenated bleaches can clean clothes in your laundry when handled properly, chlorine bleach is required for crafts such as t-shirt decorating. Chlorine bleach will take color from even black shirts! Oxygenated bleaches are designed to clean and brighten garments without destroying color, but chlorine bleach will remove color from even black shirts!

Sodium hypochlorite and water make up chlorine bleach. In truth, the chlorine chemicals used in swimming pools and drinking water are extremely similar to the bleach you use in your laundry, but at very different doses! This concoction has remarkable disinfectant qualities and can kill a wide range of microorganisms.

Chlorine bleach also removes color off garments by oxidizing the dye or dissolving the bonds between carbon atoms in dye particles, without getting too technical. This prevents the molecules from absorbing light, making them look colorless! It’s crucial to note that chlorine bleach will destroy the color from almost any surface it comes into touch with!

Chlorine bleach has a variety of purposes around the house, but it should always be handled with caution. It should never be used with anything other than water, since it can produce harmful fumes. Also, if at all feasible, operate near a fan or an open window, and wear gloves and eye protection.

How to DIY Spray Bleach Shirt: 6 Methods

Making personalized t-shirt designs is one of the most enjoyable ways to utilize spray bleach. You may execute this in a variety of ways, such with a freezer paper stencil or a pale background for sublimation printing.

Make sure you’re working with a freshly washed and ironed t-shirt before you start any of these techniques. Any dirt or creases on the shirt’s surface may ruin your design!

1. Stencil Spray Bleach

Using spray bleach over a freezer-paper stencil is one of the most popular ways to put it on a garment. The polyethylene covering on freezer paper feels like very thin plastic. When exposed to heat, this melts, temporarily adhering the paper to a fabric surface.

Please keep in mind that freezer paper and wax paper are not interchangeable! You’ll need freezer paper for this project.

  1. First, choose a design that appeals to you. For your first project, you might wish to start with a simple graphic. You can either create the contour of the design by hand on the freezer paper or use a laser printer to download a picture and print it onto the freezer paper. Place the freezer paper shiny side down if printing the design so that the ink goes on the papery side.
  2. Remove the design’s outer border. If you want a triangle, for example, cut along the outside edge of the triangle until you have a solid paper triangle that you can stick to your shirt.
  3. Inside the shirt, place a thick piece of cardboard. This will keep the bleach from penetrating any unsightly portions of the clothing.
  4. Set your iron to the lowest setting and iron the freezer paper stencil in place neatly. Make sure the shiny side of the fabric is facing up.
  5. In a spray bottle, combine one cup of bleach and one cup of water. To combine the water and bleach, close the bottle and gently shake it.
  6. Remove your shirt and set up a clean work place outside, such as a tarp or picnic table. Spread the shirt on the surface, with the cardboard inside.
  7. Set the spray bottle to mist rather than squirt mode. This is the nozzle turn that produces a large number of small holes rather of just one.
  8. As you stand over your garment, point the spray bottle down.
  9. Mist along the edge of your stencil lightly. Spritz lightly to avoid soaking the stencil or the clothing.
  10. Allow ten minutes to observe if the bleach has stained the clothing in the desired way. If the bleach appears to be too faint, reapply it and wait another ten minutes.
  11. After that, quickly rinse the clothing under cold water using a hose or faucet. During the rinsing, the stencil should peel away.
  12. Allow the clothing to air dry before washing it with regular detergent.

2. Bleach Splatter Shirt

Try this method if you want a splattered look on your clothing with bigger blobs rather than a tiny, foggy mist of spots. In this process, you can use freezer paper for the stencil or sticky vinyl for a more complex and intricate pattern.

  1. Begin by looking for or designing a design that you like. Use your electronic cutting machines, such as a silhouette or a Cricut, to send the digital file. Make certain to use self-adhesive vinyl.
  2. Remove the excess vinyl from the paper backing, leaving only the piece of the pattern that you desire.
  3. Remove a corner of the design off the sheet and place it on your shirt. Remove the backing of the vinyl and press the sticky side of the vinyl onto the shirt gently.
  4. Place a piece of cardboard behind the vinyl stencil inside the shirt.
  5. In a spray bottle, combine 50/50 water and chlorine bleach.
  6. Set the spray bottle to squirt mode and leave only one, two, or three holes visible.
  7. Set up on a level platform outside. With the spray bottle pointed down, stand immediately over your clothing. Because the bleach will not soak through the vinyl stencil this time, you may spray it on! To drop larger drops onto the shirt along the edge of the stencil, use rapid, short quirts.
  8. Wait ten minutes to see if the design appeals to you. If not, you can squirt a little extra now.
  9. After rinsing the shirt, carefully take away the adhesive vinyl.
  10. In the washing, wash the shirt by itself. If you don’t, you risk getting strong chlorine bleach on your other clothes.

3. Cricut Spray Bleach Shirts

Using HTV vinyl on top of a bleached area is another interesting technique to use a Cricut or cutting machine for your spray bleach shirts. Unlike the sticky adhesive kind utilized in the previous approach, heat transfer vinyl adheres to the shirt permanently.

One of the best aspects of using a Cricut or Silhouette is that you have access to a digital design space where you can create or change the shape you want to cut out. If you want to employ letters, this allows you to create more detailed designs or elegant typefaces.

  1. Prepare your digital design first. Before transmitting the file to the cutting machine, you must mirror the image for HTV designs. Your design will not appear backward on the shirt this way!
  2. Next, weed out any HTV that isn’t part of the image to create negative space around your design.
  3. You should now proceed to prepping your shirt. To avoid stains or wrinkles, make sure the shirt is clean and pressed.
  4. Place a large piece of cardboard inside the garment behind the bleached area.
  5. Place the garment outside on a clean surface, such as a tarp.
  6. In a spray bottle, combine one cup of water and one cup of bleach. Make sure the twisted nozzle is set to a multi-hole spray mode.
  7. Using a light spray of bleach water, spritz the portion of the clothing you wish to embellish. It’s not necessary to completely saturate the garment because the design appears better with small droplets of bleached fabric rather than a large splash.
  8. Allow ten minutes for the droplets to settle. If the bleached area appears to be too light, repeat the process.
  9. After rinsing the garment in cold water, wash and dry it on its own in your washing machine.
  10. Iron the garment again to achieve a smooth surface before applying the heat transfer vinyl. Then, following the instructions on the vinyl container, use your iron or a heat press to adhere the HTV.

4. Spray Bleach for Sublimation

Spray bleach can also be used as a sublimation print background. In fact, if you wanted to, you could use spray bleach to produce a high-contrast background for a variety of printing processes!

Why would you want to spray bleach on a garment instead of printing directly on it? Generally speaking, most prints look best when worn with a light-colored or white shirt. You can use bleach to generate a contrast behind the writing or printed picture if you wish to print on a black or dark-colored shirt.

Because sublimation printing uses heat to bond a unique type of dye with polyester fibers, you’ll need to use a polyester shirt for this process. For a more faded look, pick a shirt that is made up of a mix of polyester and cotton.

  1. Make a digital version of your design with the software of your choice. You can create writing by downloading an image, uploading a photo, or simply using a fun typeface.
  2. Using special sublimation transfer paper, print the design. You can also skip this step if it’s easier for you by having a professional company print the patterns onto transfer paper and mail them to you.
  3. After that, head outside to begin the bleaching procedure.
  4. Put a piece of cardboard or a plastic bag inside your shirt to prepare it.
  5. If you’re washing a polyester shirt, use a stronger bleach solution, such as one and a half cups bleach to half a cup water. Straight bleach is recommended by certain artists, but do so at your own risk!
  6. Standing over the garment and spraying downward at the fabric, create a splattered or cloud-like picture. Allow the drops to soak in and perform their work without soaking the garment.
  7. Alternatively, you can cut out a frame from cardboard to fit behind a printed photo if you want a specific shape, such as a rectangle. Then, with the bleach, spray inside this frame to form a nicely defined shape!
  8. Take the shirt to your washing machine and run it through a hot cycle as soon as the fabric turns white. To prepare it for printing, run it through the dryer as well.
  9. You’ll need a heat press to adhere the sublimation print to the transfer paper. Simply position the transfer paper over the bleached area of the garment and push the ink into the cloth!

5. Spot Bleach

Using a spot bleach procedure, you may create a galaxy-like design on cotton shirts. A black cotton shirt is required for this procedure. Plastic bags and white fabric paint or acrylic paint are also required.

  1. Begin by putting plastic on the inside of the black shirt. You can simply do this with a tiny supermarket bag.
  2. Mix a strong bleach and water solution next. In your spray bottle, mix 34% bleach with 14% water.
  3. Over the entire surface of the shirt, spray bleach at irregular distances. Make some larger bleach splashes and spritz certain areas lightly. To give the idea of a galaxy spinning through space, leave some black spots!
  4. You may also twist a little portion of the shirt into a spiral to form a larger galaxy image. Apply extra paint to the bent section.
  5. Dry the shirt in a warm, sunny location.
  6. Wash and dry the shirt as usual once it seems dry to the touch, but do not put any additional clothing in the washing machine.
  7. Using a paintbrush and white fabric paint, add brighter white “stars” as a last ornamental touch. Dip a small paintbrush into the white paint and splatter it across the shirt. The microscopic white particles will blend in with the bleached galaxy and seem as stars!

6. Bleach Spray with Lace

To generate a lovely design, spray bleach over lace as a version of a stenciling technique!

Simply use a huge piece of lace instead of a freezer paper stencil for this method. To produce a lovely border, sew a piece of lace around the hem of the shirt, or cut out a lace heart or other form and use it as a stencil.

After that, all you have to do is squirt bleach on the lace!

Old lace tablecloths or drapes, as a pro tip, typically work nicely for this procedure.

How Long Does it Take to Bleach a Shirt?

Depending on the method you use, bleaching a shirt can take anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. Whether you use freezer paper, vinyl, or even a piece of lace, you will most likely need to spend some time designing your stencil.

You must also leave time for the shirt to be washed after bleaching. This is an important step because if the bleach is not rinsed and washed, it can spread throughout the clothing and possibly chew holes in the fabric!

After the bleaching process, you can apply unique designs, heat transfer vinyl, or fabric paint to speed up the procedure.

In most situations, though, spraying the bleach onto the clothing takes less than ten minutes!

How to Spray Bleach a Flannel Shirt

As long as the flannel shirt is made of cotton, you can spray bleach it using the same methods you’d use on a t-shirt. Cotton fibers absorb bleach more readily than synthetic fabrics such as polyester.

By using a freezer paper stencil and spray-bleaching over it, you can create a worn, vintage-style flannel shirt. To achieve a faded ombre look on a flannel shirt, spray bleach more vigorously and then more gently.

You should keep in mind that your bleached design will blend in with a flannel shirt that already has a plaid pattern woven into it. The bleach will give the shirt a retro worn look, but it won’t stand out as much as it would on a knit t-shirt.

Where to Find Cool Designs for Bleach Spray Shirts

You can locate designs to use as bleach spray shirts stencils by looking for free downloads online, using a design tool like Adobe Illustrator or Cricut’s Design Space, or even drawing your own with a pencil!

Of course, you’ll need to utilize software that’s compatible with your electronic cutting machine if you want to use adhesive vinyl or heat transfer vinyl. However, if you want to build a freezer paper stencil, you can print whatever design you like from the internet directly onto the freezer paper and then cut out the shape’s outline using scissors.

Best Spray Bottle for Bleaching Shirts

Glass Spray Bottle - Empty Refillable 16 oz Container is Great for Essential Oils, Cleaning Products, Homemade Cleaners, Aromatherapy, Misting Plants with Water, and Vinegar Mixtures for Cleaning

A glass container with an adjustable nozzle is the best spray bottle for bleaching. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can use a cheap plastic dollar store bottle, but it may shoot unevenly or spill into your artwork.

If you want to produce a lot of bleach shirts, a glass bottle like this one will provide the best protection from the harmful bleach, and a little more expensive bottle will also come with an adjustable nozzle that may mist, spritz, or spray depending on your project’s demands!

Cotton or cotton blends are the best shirts to use with spray bleach. Dark-colored shirts will produce the most dramatic contrast with the bleached areas.

How to Bleach Shirts Without Getting Holes

By using diluted bleach and rinsing the shirt in cold water after producing the design, you may bleach clothes without incurring holes.

To make your design, most people only need to let the bleach sit on the garment for ten minutes. Then, after rinsing and laundering the garment, the bleach will be deactivated and the design will be put in place.

If you neglect to do this and leave the wet bleach in the shirt, it may cause small holes in the fabric. Chlorine bleach is quite powerful!


Using freezer paper or vinyl stencils, or spraying bleach over lace, you may create unique designs on shirts with spray bleach. You can also make a galaxy effect by splattering bleach from your spray bottle onto your shirt and twisting it to produce a swirling galaxy appearance. Bleach can even be used to make a background for heat transfer vinyl or a shirt sublimation print!

To make a contrasting, lighter design on the shirt, use chlorine bleach diluted in water. You’ll want to use a dark-colored or black cotton t-shirt for everything except the sublimation print method. You’ll need a polyester shirt if you want to apply a sublimation transfer.

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