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!

DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil

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This is a great way to upcycle an old shirt that maybe already has a few spots or stains on it so you can keep wearing it! If you love upcycled projects, check out these other fun upcycled projects you can make with your Cricut.

DIY Bleach Spray Shirt

  • 7 minutes (time spent doing stuff)
  • 3 minutes (time spent waiting around)
  • 10 minutes (total project time)

Tools

Materials

Instructions

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 you can also use Cricut Design Space to design something to cut out with a Cricut machine, or 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!

DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil

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 with an adhesive owl stencil

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!

DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil

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 with an adhesive owl stencil

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

DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil

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.

DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil

Make Your Own Bleach Spray Shirt In Just 10 Minutes!

5 from 1 vote
Have you seen people wearing those fun bleached t-shirts? They are super simple to make; you can make them in under 10 minutes and all you need is a shirt, bleach, water, a spray bottle, and a stencil!
Active Time 7 mins
Waiting Time 3 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Yield 1 shirt
Cost $5

Equipment

Materials

Instructions
 

  • Find a stencil, or make one with a Cricut or Silhouette machine and stencil vinyl.
  • 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!
    DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil
  • 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 so that it will stick to your shirt. You can use transfer paper to transfer the vinyl to your shirt.
    DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil
  • 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.
    DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil
  • Pour about a quarter cup of pure bleach into a spray bottle. You don’t need to dilute the bleach for this project.
  • Spray a very light coat of bleach onto your shirt all around the stencil using a very fine mist setting on the nozzle; one or two trigger pulls will do it. Immediately blot the whole area with a paper towel.
  • Wait three minutes while the bleach does its work. Don't get impatient and spray again; bleach can take a while to fully remove all of the color from the fabric. And don't worry if you start to see weird colors like green, orange, or purple at the beginning; just wait the full three minutes.
    DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil
  • If the shirt is still not light enough after the full three minutes, spray it again with a very light misting of bleach, immediately blot it up with a paper towel, and wait another three minutes.
  • Gently peel the stencil away, and you’re done! Hang the shirt and let it dry.
    DIY bleach spray shirt with an adhesive owl stencil

If you see fine dusty powder on the shirt after it air dries

  • If you see a fine dusty powder on your shirt after it has air-dried, that is just crystallized bleach. Just toss the shirt in the dryer for half an hour and let it tumble around to knock the powder loose. DO NOT GET IT WET or you will re-activate the bleach and ruin your design.

Laundering your bleach spray shirt

  • Once your shirt air dries, if you don't see any crystallized bleach powder on your shirt, rinse the entire shirt in cold water. Then hang it to air dry again.
  • Once the shirt has air-dried again, wash it by itself like normal in your washing machine, and dry it like normal. This will ensure there's no remaining bleach left to leach out into your other clothes.
  • After the first initial rinse and first full wash and dry by itself, your new bleached shirt can be laundered like normal. The bleach won't affect the other clothes in the load of laundry, so wash and dry it however you normally would based on the material it's made of.

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Katriina says

    2 years ago

    Wow, you are a genius!!!! Also the owl pattern itself is Super cute! <3

    Do you think you could replace stencil and adhensive with a contact paper or masking tape?

  2. Michelle says

    3 years ago

    Just discovered this tutorial and it’s great! Curious if the same thing could be done with a basic sweatshirt/hoodie?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      3 years ago

      Yep, the bleach spray will work on any type of shirt! You can do it on pants too; anything made out of fabric should work!

  3. CORNELIA says

    3 years ago

    THIS IS SO AWESOME I CANT WAIT TO TRY IT. IS THERE A WAY TO CHANGE THE COLOUR OF THE BLEACH? WILL COLOURING WORK?
    I WANT TO HAVE DIFFRENT COLOURS. PLS LET ME KNOW. THANK YOU

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      3 years ago

      There isn’t really a way to change the color when you bleach something. Bleach just removes the color of whatever you’re bleaching. You can get a little bit different “shades” by putting more or less bleach in an area.

  4. April says

    4 years ago

    Found this while looking for a way for my Art Club students to make t-shirts. I have a silhouette. Do you think this film would be reusable on multiple shirts? If not, do you know something that would be or how to reactivate the stickiness?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      The film should have enough “stick” to reuse it a couple of times. But if you’re making more than five or six shirts, you could try cutting it out of the Silhouette stencil material (the non-adhesive kind) http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/shop/specialty-media/MEDIA-STENCIL-3T and then using spray adhesive on the back to make it sticky. That way you could just re-spray the back and you can reuse it as many times as you want! My only tip for using spray adhesive is to do a really really light coat, and then have some scrap fabric to stick it to first. That way if any spray adhesive is going to stick to the fabric and leave a residue, it sticks to your scrap fabric. Every time you spray a new coat, just spray it really lightly and stick and unstick on your scrap fabric a few times, then put it on your shirts. The spray adhesive should last three to four shirts per spray, and then just reapply as needed!

  5. Erika says

    5 years ago

    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!

  6. Emma says

    5 years ago

    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?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      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.

  7. Chanesia says

    6 years ago

    Hi, I was wondering if I don’t have the silouhette or vinyl
    could I still make this project work?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      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!

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