DIY Bleach Painted Shirt Ideas: How to Paint With Gel & Liquid Bleach

by Dariacreative
9 Materials
2 Hours

Can you paint on clothes with bleach? The answer is…let’s find out together! Follow this tutorial and I will show you great bleach painting ideas and how to make a bleach-painted shirt. Are you ready to see if it works? Then let’s begin!

Tools and materials:                   

  • Old t-shirts for practice
  • New t-shirts for final designs
  • Gel bleach
  • Liquid bleach
  • Assorted craft paintbrushes
  • Fabric chalk
  • Face mask
  • Well-ventilated room
  • Gloves (optional)
Practicing painting with bleach

1. Practice makes perfect

When you are working with bleach, please wear a mask and open a window for ventilation. You can also wear gloves, but if you choose not to, then be careful that the bleach doesn’t come into contact with your skin. 

Use an old t-shirt to practice your bleach-painting skills. Pour a little gel bleach into the bleach bottle cap, and use a small craft paintbrush to apply the bleach to your t-shirt in whatever design you want.

How to paint with gel bleach

2. Practice bleach painting with gel bleach

I started by testing out whether or not I could paint thin lines with bleach and the answer was a resounding “yes!” The red outline of the words on the t-shirt was the result of bleach painting.

Bleach painting t-shirts

Free-hand doodling and design-drawing was more difficult with the gel bleach, because it was hard to get a consistent application of bleach for the whole design. It was also difficult to do free-hand design because the result wasn’t immediately visible.

How to paint with liquid bleach

3. Practice bleach-painting with liquid bleach

First, sketch your design with chalk.

Painting with bleach on t-shirts

Pour a bit of liquid bleach into the bottle cap, and use a small craft paintbrush to cover your sketched design with bleach-paint.

Bleach painting ideas

The result was impressive! The liquid bleach was easy to apply, and the lines were much thinner with the liquid bleach than with the gel bleach.

Bleach paint shirt

It also felt a bit like magic to paint invisible lines and then watch them appear.

Making a bleach-painted shirt

4. Make a bleach-painted shirt

Put a piece of cardboard inside your t-shirt so that the bleach doesn’t soak through to the back. Sketch out your t-shirt design with chalk. 

Washing the shirt between layers of bleach

My design had a lot of thin lines, so I chose to use liquid bleach for painting. I started working on the thicker lines first, to gain confidence. Then I moved on to the thin lines and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to do. I was even able to get the detail required for bleach-painting calligraphy.

Remember to wash your t-shirt to remove all the bleach. If you leave bleach on your t-shirt too long it will start to make holes in the fabric.

Adding more to the design

I was so pleased with the result that I added more to my design the next day. I love the color that bleach creates – I’m not sure I could replicate that with fabric paint.

Tip: If you are going to do a large design, split it into sections that you can complete in under two hours. Wash the t-shirt between sections, so that the bleach is never on your shirt for more than two hours.

Sketching a design in chalk

5. Let’s take it up a notch!

Next, I tried a more intricate design with different techniques. Like before, I sketched out my pattern with chalk.

Bleach-painting the outline

First, I bleach-painted the outline of my design and a few of the elements.

Bleach-painting with larger, bolder strokes

Then I added some larger, bolder strokes using different sized brushes.

How to control the color of the bleach paint

6. Control the color of bleach-paint

You can control the depth of color by adding water to your bleach. It’s not intuitive, but adding water to your bleach actually makes the color darker, not lighter.

Adding splashes of bleach

7. Add splashes

Just like with fabric paint, you can flick on bleach-paint splashes. Just remember, protect your skin and your eyes from contact with bleach!

Simple bleach paint shirt

Here is the final result of my first bleach-painted t-shirt.

DIY bleach-painted shirt ideas

DIY bleach-painted shirt ideas

Here is my second completed bleach-painted t-shirt, done with this simple and great technique for making custom-painted clothes. It would look super-good on hoodies and denim jackets, too! I hope you try painting with bleach on t-shirts. If you do, leave a comment to let me know about your results.

Suggested materials:
  • Old t-shirts for practice
  • New t-shirts for final designs
  • Gel bleach
See all materials

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation
3 of 11 comments
  • Charlotte Charlotte on Sep 04, 2022

    Does the bleach "run" or "bleed" when you wash the item??

    • Ducky Ducky on Sep 04, 2022

      I am on here to ask same question. A dark shirt, you painted on gel bleach. So how does it not run over the whole shirt when washed?

  • Diana Diana on Sep 08, 2022

    My Question Also !!Why dosen’t lt bleed when washed. I will try this.!!