Make Your Own Bleach Spray Shirt In Just 10 Minutes!

Have you seen people wearing those fun bleached t shirts? I love how they look, but I never realized how easy it is to make your own. Today I’m going to show you how to make your own bleach spray shirt in just 10 minutes!

Make your own bleach spray t shirt in just 10 minutes!

Once you have a fun idea for your bleach t shirt design, we’ll get started!

DIY Bleach Spray Shirt

Here’s what you need to make your own bleach shirt: (affiliate links below)

I wanted to make my own design, so I used my Cameo to create a cute little owl and cut it out of Silhouette’s stencil vinyl. But if you have a pre-made stencil that you love, that will work great too! Either way, the first thing you need to do is make sure your shirt is clean and wrinkle free. To protect the back of the shirt from bleach, slide a piece of cardboard inside the shirt. Make sure the cardboard is big enough to protect the entire shirt from any bleach overspray!

Turn a boring old shirt into a fun bleach spray shirt!

Attach your stencil to the shirt. If you found a pre-made stencil, lightly spray the back of it with spray adhesive, place it on your shirt, and firmly press down all the edges. If you made your own stencil, make sure you cut it out of adhesive vinyl. My stencil had a few separate “loose” pieces, so I used transfer paper to transfer the stencil onto my shirt without losing any pieces.

Just press the transfer paper down on top of your stencil, then gently remove the stencil from the paper backing. The transfer paper will hold the stencil pieces in place. (It’s a little hard to see in the photo below; the clear transfer paper is on top of the clear stencil, but I haven’t yet peeled the paper backing off of the stencil.)

DIY Bleach Spray Shirt: Use transfer paper to transfer the stencil to your shirt

Place the stencil on your shirt and firmly press down all the edges. Then gently peel up the transfer paper, making sure the stencil stays attached to your shirt. Once the transfer paper is gone and the stencil is firmly stuck to your shirt, you’re ready to bleach!

Use adhesive vinyl to make a stencil for your bleach t shirt design!

Pour about a quarter cup of pure bleach into a spray bottle. You don’t need to dilute the bleach for this project. Set the spray nozzle to spray a super fine mist. Trust me, the tiniest bit of bleach will do the job! If you’re worried about how heavy your spray will be, practice spraying a piece of cardboard first. You want the bleach to just barely mist the surface of the cardboard, not soak it!

Start by gently spraying a very light coat of bleach onto your shirt all around the stencil; one or two trigger pulls will do it, you don’t need a lot of bleach. Immediately blot the whole area with a paper towel. You don’t want any giant puddles of bleach on your shirt or on your stencil!

Bleach works pretty quickly, but it can take up to two minutes for the bleach to pull all the color out. One or two sprays of bleach will eventually lighten the whole area; don’t get impatient and spray more bleach, just give it more time to start working. If it’s not bleached enough after a few minutes, do another gentle spray, blot it up, and wait again.

Also, don’t freak out when the shirt changes colors during the bleaching process! About fifteen seconds in, the bleached areas of my shirt turned green and I thought I had ruined the whole thing! That is just the color starting to come out of the shirt. About ten seconds later it had turned orange like in the picture below.

DIY Bleach Spray Shirt

By the time the bleach had completely finished working, the bleached areas were a nice light tan color!

Make your own bleach spray shirt in just 10 minutes!

Don’t pick up the stencil until you’re sure your shirt is exactly how you want it! Then gently peel the stencil away, and you’re done! Hang the shirt and let it dry.

If you were a little heavy handed with the bleach, you may see some fine dusty powder on the shirt once it’s dry; that is just crystallized bleach. The best way to get rid of crystallized bleach is to throw the shirt in the dryer for half an hour. The tumble dry will knock the bleach powder loose without bleaching your shirt any further. DO NOT GET YOUR SHIRT WET if you see this powder! Water will reactivate the bleach and your bleach shirt design will be ruined!

Once the shirt is dry and there’s no crystallized bleach on it, rinse the entire shirt in cold water. Hang it up to dry, and then you can wash and dry the shirt as usual without fear of ruining the design. You may want to wash it by itself once, just to be sure you don’t accidentally bleach any other clothes.

If you want to see more Silhouette tutorials, check out my Silhouette gallery (just click on the photo below)!

Screenshot 2014-02-20 08.14.57e

This project is part of this month’s Silhouette Challenge! Want to see some other great fabric project ideas you can make using your Silhouette cutting machine? Check these out!


  1. No-Sew Valentine’s Day Pillows by A Tossed Salad Life
  2. No-Sew Interchangeable Fabric Bunting by unOriginal Mom
  3. Monogrammed Burlap Garden Flag by The Turquoise Home
  4. Crawl, Walk, Bike by It’s Always Craft Time
  5. Freezer Paper Stenciled Tote Bags by Weekend Craft
  6. DIY Bleach Spray Shirt by Practically Functional
  7. Stenciling Sherlock by Please Excuse My Craftermath…
  8. Felt Star Wands by Cutesy Crafts
  9. Yoda Kid’s T-Shirt by Architecture of a Mom
  10. Mark Your Territory- Dog Flags by Black and White Obsession
  11. Nautical Pillows by Lil’ Mrs. Tori
  12. Big Sister Gift & Silhouette Cut File by Creative Ramblings
  13. Nerdy Baby Onesies + Free Cut File by Essentially Eclectic
  14. Easy Easter Bunny Onesie – Silhouette Cameo Craft by Adventures in All Things Food & Family
  15. Fabric Envelopes for LEARNING LETTERS! (& cut file) by From Wine to Whine
  16. “Good Morning, Sunshine!” Memo Board by Tried & True
  17. Hearts-A-Lot Burlap Pillow Cover by My Paper Craze
  18. Baby Quilt by Dragonfly & Lily Pads
  19. Surprise Holiday Banner by Whats Next Ma
  20. “Team Betty” Tote Bag by The Thinking Closet
  21. DIY Sock Minion by Create it. Go!
  22. Pretty Up Some Organza Bags by Getsilvered
  23. Easy Heart Appliqued Onsies by Create & Babble
  24. Bleach Pen Gel & Freezer Paper Stencils Made with the Silhouette Machine by Bringing Creativity 2 Life
  25. Valentines Baby Onesie & Boy’s Shirt + Free Cut Files by The Frill of Life
  26. Valentine’s OWL Always Love You T-shirt by My Favorite Finds
  27. DIY Screen Printed Curtains by Chicken Scratch NY
  28. Fabric Painted Quilted Wall Hanging by Terri Johnson Creates
  29. Glitter Iron-On Top by Simply Kelly Designs
  30. DIY Monogrammed T-shirts with Silhouette Heat Transfer Material by Pitter and Glink
  31. Birthday Challenge by Fadville
  32. Machine Applique with SIlhouette Cameo by The Sensory Emporium
  33. Fabric Applique Valentine’s Day T-Shirt by DailyDwelling
  34. “Cute as Cupid” shirt by crafts, cakes, and cats
  35. Sew Cute Applique by Life After Laundry
  36. Rhino Onesie by It Happens in a Blink
  37. Upcycled Birchbox Cameo Accesory Organizer by Cupcakes&Crowbars
  38. Customizing textiles with Heat Transfer Vinyl (working title) by feto soap
  39. Easy Fabric Art by McCall Manor
  40. Lady Bug Tote Bag with Silhouette Rhinestones by Ginger Snap Crafts
  41. Mommy and Em’s Coordinated Aprons by TitiCrafty
  42. Canvas sketch project and a share by Clever Someday
  43. Foxy Lady Pajamas by Mabey She Made It
  44. Teddy Bear by Work in Progress


I link up at these awesome parties!

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Hi, I'm Jessi! Welcome to Practically Functional, a blog about real projects that real people can actually do! You don't have to be a pro in order to craft or do DIY projects; Practically Functional is full of projects for everyday life that anyone can do, regardless of skill or experience! Whether you're looking for fun crafts, DIY projects both big and small, gardening advice, cleaning tips, or quick and easy recipes, you'll find them here! Follow the step by step instructions in every tutorial, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions! Make sure you subscribe to free weekly emails so you don't miss a single tutorial!

Latest posts by Jessi Wohlwend (see all)


  1. says

    Hi Jessi,

    This is sooooo cute!!! I’ve never seen this technique done and it is just too cool. I want to try!!! Thanks for the step-by-step and the important tips. I would have washed it immediately and ruined the shirt if you hadn’t explained it so well.

    I’m so glad that the FB Silhouette Challenge group did fabric this month. I’m going to pin this to my Silhouette board.

    Peace, Love and Joy,

  2. says

    I just ADORE this project. I inherited a cutting machine from my mom- I guess I need to take it out of the box & learn how to use it. Super cute!

  3. Marni @ Haberdashery Fun says

    Found you on Pinterest. This is really great, super easy to read and follow your directions. I just got a cameo and am looking for a project.. Perfect inspiration.

    • says

      Yep, freezer paper should work too! The trick is to make sure you use the tiniest amount of bleach, so that no matter what you use for your stencil, the bleach doesn’t bleed underneath and ruin the design!

  4. says

    You might want to test what will happen to the colour somewhere it wont be visible (e.g. on the inside of a seam). I did it with a greenish khaki T-shirt, and it turned a very odd pinky-copper colour! Love this one – I might try it again.

    • says

      I made this stencil myself with my Silhouette Cameo, so I don’t know where you can find this exact stencil. Sorry! But I did provide the jpeg of the image I used if you want to make your own stencil by cutting it out of some vinyl or freezer paper.

  5. Joleen Allison says

    I saw this on Pinterest yesterday. I got so excited, I stayed up until midnight making mine. They turned out so cute. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I used contact paper to make my stencil. All my friends tell me that I need to make more and sell them at the Saturday market.

  6. Alice says

    I took a fabric and textiles class in college and you should always deactivate the bleach so it doesn’t create holes later. Hydrogen peroxide is an easy makeshift solution for deactivating bleach and it only takes a quick rinse to ensure a few years from now that it doesn’t fall apart.

  7. Amy | Canary Street Crafts says

    Such a cute idea Jessi! Just found this via Pinterest, can’t wait to try it! :)

    • says

      The spray adhesive doesn’t really transfer to the shirt at all. Spray adhesive is nice like that; it just makes a “tacky” surface on whatever you spray it on (the stencil), and then when you stick the stencil to the shirt it holds well, but it’s just a tacky hold, not like actual glue or stickers which leave a residue. But if you do find some comes off onto the shirt, it will definitely come out in the washer!

  8. Janice Fowler says

    Love this bleached t shirt. I done mine other day but it did not turned out the way I want. It changed to dark instead bleached. It may issue with fabric? Mine is 56% cotton, 38% polyester, 6% elastane. Ummmm

  9. Jeanne says

    When you put the shirt in dryer to get the bleach residue off is it safe to put more than one shirt in at a time? I am planning as sleap over party for 10 yr olds to do this project…..want to set the shirt and get it washed so they can take it home with them. Any suggestions?

    • says

      What a fun idea! Yep, you can definitely throw all the shirts in the dryer to get rid of any crystalized bleach, but make sure not to get them wet first! Just spray the bleach, peel off your stencil, and then wait for the shirts to air dry. Once they are totally dry to the touch you can toss them all into the dryer for half an hour, but you want to make sure the shirts are totally air dried first so the bleach doesn’t “leak”. After the half hour, rinse them all in cold water to make sure the bleach is deactivated and there are no bleach crystals left on the surface of the shirt. Then you can let them air dry again and then wash and dry and wear them just like normal!

      The whole drying process takes a little while the first time around since you need to let them air dry twice, but if you start early in the evening they would definitely be ready to take home the next morning, or maybe even later that night if they aren’t staying the whole night. Good luck with them!

  10. Joanna L Nagle says

    Love, love, love this idea! Using it for the craft portion of my daughter’s 10th Birthday party! It’ll make a great souvenir! Thank you!

  11. Melissa says

    Such a cool project. I had fun with this one. I do caution people to wash their new t-shirts before bleaching because I didn’t do that, and even though I let it air dry first, now the inside of my dryer is green. Now I’m off to research how to clean dryer stains.

  12. Nadzie says

    Thank-you, just brilliant! My daughters first birthday party outfit is now complete she has 2 custom Babushka bleach spray t-shirts for her themed celebrations next weekend. It matches the invitation, bunting, cupcake and cake design that I made. Will be doing this again and recommending you to my friends! 😀

  13. Susan Brown says

    This is perfect. One day when I was cleaning with bleach I got some on a shirt that I love so I have been wearing as an indoors only clothing. Now if I put a design on it in bleach it will look as if it was all done on purpose with a purpose and look nice too.

  14. Laurie says

    Quick question: I had to do more than “lightly spray” the spray adhesive onto my stencil because there were a few tiny pieces that I didn’t want to fly away… what if some of the spray adhesive leaves a residue on the shirt? How do I get that off?

    Thanks, L.

    • says

      Good question Laurie! My favorite way to get spray adhesive off of fabric is by using scotch tape or masking tape. Put down a piece of tape over the residue and press the tape down firmly. The adhesive on the tape is stronger than the spray adhesive, so when you peel up the tape it should pull up the extra spray adhesive residue as well! It may take a couple of passes, but you should be able to get the residue up this way. If there is still a little bit left on the shirt, just rub at it vigorously with your finger and it should come up. But make sure your finger is clean first, otherwise you’ll make a dirty smudge on the shirt! Good luck, let me know if that works for you!

    • says

      Certainly! You can pick out any stencil from a craft store and use that instead! Just make sure to get spray adhesive (you can usually also find that in a craft store) to make sure the stencil sticks well to the shirt, then just spray the bleach the same way I did in the tutorial and it should work great!

  15. Emma says

    Amazing idea! I’ll definitely try this one. But I have a question: Is there anything I can do if we don’t have a dryer in our household? Is there anyway how to do it without it?

    • says

      Definitely Emma! The dryer is just the best way to get an crystalized bleach off of the shirt without reactivating the bleach, but it isn’t necessary if you’re careful and don’t spray too much bleach. And if you do accidentally get too much bleach on the shirt and it crystallizes, you can just shake the shirt out by hand and maybe thump it in the air with your hands a bit to knock the crystallized bleach off of the shirt. Just make sure not to get the shirt wet if there are bleach crystals on it. Once there are no more bleach crystals, you can rinse the shirt and hang it to air dry.

  16. says

    this is just amazing!!! I saw this idea this morning somewhere on Facebook. And I have to try it out right now – the result is just great! Thanks a lot for sharing this great idea!


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