Do you have a soft cotton shirt that’s in great shape, but you no longer care for the color or the print? Don’t toss that shirt! Give it new life by bleaching it back to white.
The Prep Work
The best place to bleach out a cotton t-shirt is in the kitchen. A double sink works best, but you can bleach a t-shirt if you have a single sink too. You will need a bucket or large bowl in place of the sink for the bleach solution. Always leave a sink open for rinsing.
Open you kitchen windows and turn on ceiling fans to improve ventilation and air circulation. Change clothes into something you would not mind getting splashed by bleach and put on a pair of thick rubber gloves.
Let’s Get Started!
Stopper one sink basin and mix one part bleach to four parts cold water. Make sure you have enough of this solution that the shirt can move freely. This is important to even bleaching. Failure to do this will result in blotchy, uneven color.
Soak the t-shirt in the bleach solution and swirl it around with a wooden spoon until it is completely saturated. Rinse your spoon off and leave it in the other sink basin. Set a timer for ten minutes and let it sit in the bleach solution.
The Waiting Game
After 10 minutes, check on the shirt. If you are happy with its color, remove it from the bleach solution. If not, stir it with the wooden spoon and reset your timer another 10 minutes. Keep doing this until you are happy with the color for up to one hour.
Once you are happy with the color, remove the t-shirt from the solution and rinse it with cool water in the adjoining sink basin. Once your shirt is thoroughly rinsed, check it for evenness. If you aren’t happy with color, repeat the bleaching process.
Neutralize the Bleach
If you are happy, add as much cold water to the bleach solution as possible, then remove the drain. Once it has drained, rinse out the sink well and replace the stopper. The bleach has to be neutralized on the t-shirt to prevent the bleach from damaging the shirt’s fibers.
Fill the sink with a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to one part cold water. Mix enough solution that the t-shirt can move freely. Add the t-shirt and stir it with the wooden spoon. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse your t-shirt and launder it, as usual.
Congratulations! You Did It!
Now you have a couple options; You can wear the t-shirt as is, or you can dye it to another shade using a home t-shirt dying kit or fabric dye. You can purchase these in the laundry detergent section of any discount retailer or at most craft stores.
This is your opportunity to make the shirt your own and breathe new life into. Have fun and follow all guidelines on the dye if you choose to dye it.
More Wear, Less Waste
Bleaching a shirt is a great way to prolong its use. Not only will you have a new piece in your wardrobe, you will also feel good about recycling it.
Bleach for Beginners: