Custom Bleach Shirts

Want an easy way to decorate or spruce up some old clothes? Create your very own custom bleach shirts!

Materials & Supplies

– Freezer Paper (it’s shiny on one side)
– Pencil & Scissors
– Cricut – not necessary but it’ll open up the possibilies to MANY more designs
– Bleach
– Tiny Spray Bottle
– Scrap piece of Cardboard
– Paper Towel
– Iron
– Some Clothes

Here’s a quick overview of all the supplies I used for this tutorial. I put 50% bleach and 50% water in a small spray bottle. 


You’ll want to grab some old clothes (or new ones – I won’t judge). Regular cotton shirts work REALLY well. They lighten very quickly and easily show the “splatter” or “‘grundge” type look. As you’ll see in my jean jacket project the material was just too thick to get those same effects.

Then the magic happens with a little something called freezer paper (also known as butcher paper). It look like regular paper but one side is shiny. That’s the important factor. That shiny side is the part that will temporarily stick to your clothes. So Grab all your supplies and lets’s get started!

I will go through 2 methods of this tutorial. The first is free hand and the second is with a machine cutter for more precise and advanced designs.

If you’re more of a visual learner I have a video. Click the picture to see the video.

Method #1 – Free Hand

For this first part of the tutorial I’ll show you how you can free-hand a design with just a pencil and your imagination. If you are not “artistically inclined” that’s okay, you can also print a design or trace something you would like to use.
In the second part I’ll show you how you can use a Cricut to create intricute designs.

On the non-shiny side of your paper draw out the design you’d like to use. I drew out a silouette of Toothless from How to Train your Dragon.

When you cut it out you need to decide which part will be the original (unbleached) part. This is the part you will keep and will become your “mask”.

Insert your scrap of cardboard into your shirt. This will prevent the bleach from soaking through.
Now you can place your “mask” on your shirt (or jacket in my case). Go ahead and iron it down. Just like magic it should stick ot your shirt. If it doesn’t it could mean your iron isn’t hot enough. I used the cotton setting on my iron and had no problems. You can always re-iron if it starts to lift.

I recommend adding more paper over any parts you don’t want to lighten. For my jacket I blocked off the bottom band area.

If for some reason your paper sticks to the iron instead of your shirt it just means your paper is upside down. Make sure the shiny part is facing your shirt. You may need to redraw yor design if this happens (especially if you use text).

Now you’re ready to start spraying the bleach mixture. I find that when you spray higher up you get a more even coverage.

Once you’ve sprayed it so it looks visibly wet you will want to absorb the extra with a piece of paper town. This will help keep your edges looking as straight as possible.

Then use your iron to speed-dry the bleach. I recommend doing this in a well ventilated area. You can tell everything is dry when your paper turns light again. Repeat these last 3 steps.

Keep repeating this until you’ve reached your desired lightness.

Now you can peel off your paper. Some of it may rip and stick, but it’ll come off pretty easily.

It’s a pretty easy project most anyone can do. I bet you even have all these supplies in your house right now.

Now if you’d like to take this craft to the next level let’s get into the second part of this tutorial – using a Cricut (or any other paper cutting machine).


Method #2 – Machine Cut

For the second part of this tutorial you can take your design one step further with a Cricut (or other paper cutting type machine).
I created this giant playing card with a light bulb in the middle with the word arts. It’s kind of a play on words – cuz I’m the Queen of Arts & Crafts….

Similar to the first one you will insert a piece of cardboard into the shirt to protect the backside from any bleach seepage.

Cut out your design with whichever machine cutter you have – I’m showing my Cricut here.

Now you’ll want to place your “puzzle pieces” onto your shirt. I used the largest piece to center my design even though I’ll be removing it later before spraying.

You can iron these temporarily while you get all the other pieces in their correct possision.

Once you’re happy with where all the pieces are you can remove anything you won’t need. I left all the skinny outlines – but hindsight I should have done the reverse.

I would recommend ironing all the little pieces again to make sure they are all nice and secure.
Then you will follow the same 3 steps as in the first method. You will spray the bleach mixture on your shirt, dab the excess with the paper towel and then iron to dry the liquid.

This thin cotton material turns light super quickly! Then just repeat these 3 steps to get to the lightness you want.

It was much easier to achieve the “splatter” type grundgy effect with this fabric. Way better than the thick jeans from part 1.

When it’s as light as you’d like you can remove all the paper pieces. Iron it one last time to make sure all the bleach is completely dry.

Once again it’s a pretty easy project most anyone can do. Of course with a cutting machine your designs are truley limitless!
If you recreate these be sure to tag me on social media so I can see your cool looking cacti!
And don’t forget to take some Goofy Selfies with your new custom clothes.

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