How to Reverse Tie Dye With Bleach

Did you know about reverse tie dye?

I thought it was time natural yoga clothes to try again.

I used a reverse tie dye technique that uses bleach instead of dye to make cool patterns on home textiles and clothing.

The tea towel you see above is made with bleach not dye. bleach works like a charm and is even less complicated than your average dying project, so I thought you might want a lesson.

To recreate this look at home, you need a solid color fabric and some bleach. You can choose the look you like best with the three different reverse tie dye techniques I will show you. Click through for the video.

What is Reverse Tie Dye?

Maybe you didn’t know what reverse tie dye was? I am going to show you how to do reverse tie dyeing. It is very simple to process unique results.

If you feel comfortable working with bleach, you will need to take some precautions.

The bleach will act as a color. It won’t be dyeing you textile a color, it will be removing the color from the fabric The result may not be what you imagined. It may not be white. It will likely look like what you see in the photos.

Pretty unique, right? I love this technique.

There is a difference between shibori and tie dye.

shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that uses resist to create unique patterns on fabric.

shibori is more intricate than tie dye in that it creates patterns on clothing and cookware.

Materials Needed

  • household bleach*
  • any textiles (clothing, napkins, bandanas, pillow covers, etc)
  • There are small pieces of cardboard.

I used a plastic desk trash can.

  • tongs and gloves to handle the bleached fabric.
  • The towel should be put down on the ground.
  • spray bottle

When using household bleach, you should always wear gloves and work in aventilated area. You can wear a mask if you want to. A mask is not required if you are outside. Do not recreate this project if you are not comfortable working with bleach.

What materials are best for reverse tie dye?

You can use many different types of textiles. There are bandanas, napkins and t-shirts. The napkins I used for this project are from two websites.

I usually use natural materials like cotton or linen for reverse tie dye projects.

How to Tie Dye with Bleach

I will show you how to use spray bleach, pouring and submerging techniques in reverse tie dye.

You will get different results from each one. Three are very easy to do. Let’s get going.

Technique #1: Submerging textile in bleach.

1 Put the fabric in the water first. I used the sink. Wring out the excess water and folding the fabric into different shapes is possible.

If you skip this step, the fabric will be wet first. It will produce slightly different results, but it is fun to experiment with different techniques.

Put gloves on and pour bleach into a container. Make sure there is enough bleach in the container.

Depending on how much fabric you are submerging, you should only need a gallon. If you want to reverse tie dye a napkin, bandana, or other small item, you only need 10 ounces. It’s enough to submerge your item.

Make sure the folded fabric pieces are submerged in the bleach before adding them.

The timer can be set for 2 minutes to 20 minutes. Depending on the fabric you are using, the amount of time the bleach needs to soak into it will vary. Before you bleach the fabric, you should be able to see a change in its color.

I bleached the napkins and bandanas and they changed color in about 2 minutes. I dyed the cotton napkins blend for much longer.

Once you are happy with the change in color, you can remove the fabric from the bleach. It’s a good idea to rinse it in the sink or with a hose outside for a while to get rid of the bleach. The fabric will change in color until it is washed.

Run the fabric through the dryer to heat it up before you use it.

A spray bottle is used to spray bleach onto fabric.

1 In a wellventilated area, submerge the fabric in the water. I used the sink. Wring out the excess water and folding the fabric into different shapes is possible.

You can skip this step as well. It will produce slightly different results, but it is fun to experiment with different techniques.

Prepare your item for bleach by laying it down on a towel outside. There are many ways to do that. Here are some ideas.

  • This is a great technique for t-shirts. The yellow t-shirt that I dyed is in the photos.
  • To tie off different areas of the fabric, you have to pick them. There are lots of design options if you use rubber bands.
  • Pinch the center of the fabric and twist it into a spiral.

Put on gloves and put bleach into a spray bottle. You are reverse tie dyeing if you spray bleach on the textile. This can be done many times.

The longest color change process is because the material is not getting as saturated with bleach. Depending on your fabric, multiple rounds of spraying may be needed.

You can rinse the item under the sink if you like the design you have created. It’s best to let it dry before you wash it.

Technique #3: Pouring directly onto fabric.

1 You can either get your fabric item wet first or skip this step and keep the item completely dry.

Next, you need to prepare the item that you want to reverse tie dye. If you want to create a pattern, you can use cardboard pieces as a resist.

There are more ideas in the reverse tie dye video.

Put on some gloves and set the fabric item down on the towel. Then put a small amount of bleach on the item.

If the color is starting to be removed, you should wait a few minutes to pour more bleach onto the fabric.

It takes longer than submerging your item in bleach. I let the bandana sit outside after it was washed with bleach. The bleach was poured on a second time.

If you use a cardboard resist and folding pattern, it may provide a more intricate pattern.

Once you can see a color change in the fabric that you like, remove any cardboard or clips you have added. After rinsing the fabric under water, let it dry out.

It can be washed in the washing machine and dried outside.

The fabric will change in color until it is washed.

The patterns are unique. A $10 set of napkins, a t-shirt, and so much more can have some personality.

What else can I tie dye with bleach?

Anything can be dyed with bleach. That is the beauty of the video. There is so much more you can do.

You can bleach tie dye an old cotton shirt, a sweatshirt, pants, a throw blanket, bandanas, pillow covers.

Pin it! A few years ago, I shared a technique for transforming old linens with bleach, and I thought it was time to try it again. I used a shibori technique that is typically reserved for dyeing to test out making patterns. It worked like a charm. I’m sharing it today. To recreate this look at home, you’ll need a solid color fabric, bleach, and a few other things. The total time was 30 minutes and the cost was $0.

When using household bleach, you should always wear gloves and work in a wellventilated area. You can wear a mask if you want to. Do not recreate this project if you are not comfortable working with bleach.

  • There are cotton napkins and textiles from the World Market.

In order to work in a well ventilated area, you must submerge the fabric in water. I used the sink. You can use the excess water to fold the fabric into different shapes.

  • Use cardboard pieces on the front and back of the folded fabric pieces to keep everything in place.
  • Make sure there’s enough bleach in the container to fully submerge the fabric by putting on gloves. Depending on how much fabric you’re submerging, you shouldn’t need a gallon.
  • Make sure the folded fabric pieces are submerged in the bleach before adding them. A timer can be set for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Depending on the fabric you’re using, the amount of time bleach needs to soak into it will vary. Before you bleach the fabric, you should be able to see a change in its color.
  • Once you’re happy with the fabric, rinse it in the sink with the bleach, clips and cardboard pieces, and you’re good to go. The fabric will change in color until it is washed.

Run the fabric through the dryer to heat it up before you use it. That’s it!

  • The finished patterns are organic and unique.

It’s a great way to add some personality to a $10 set of napkins or anything else you can get your hands on. The card is only for submerging. Try this recipe? Mention Paper and Stitch.

Photography Brittni Mehlhoff

Have you tried dyeing before?

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