How to Bleach Tie-Dye Sweatpants & a Sweatshirt in 4 Easy Steps

Nima Fatima
by Nima Fatima
7 Materials
2 Hours

You really can’t think of tie-dye without it putting a little smile on your face. It’s such a fun look and can be really easy to do. Follow this tutorial to learn how to reverse bleach tie-dye sweatpants and a sweatshirt to make a matching set.

Unlike regular tie-dye that adds color to a white garment, reverse tie-dye with bleach works the opposite way. You start with a colored garment and use bleach to take the color away. Think of it as creating your design in the negative space!

Tools and materials:

  • Plain black sweatshirt and sweatpants
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Squeeze bottle
  • Gloves
  • Rubber bands
  • Clothes dryer
How to tie-dye with bleach

1. Crumple your sweatsuit

Start with damp fabric because it will absorb the bleach in the next step much better. Lay your sweatshirt flat on your work surface and just use your hands to crumple it all up.

There’s no pattern or specific design to this. Just think about how it might look on a teenager’s bedroom floor. 

How to do reverse tie dye with bleach

Once the sweatshirt is fully crumpled, put a rubber band around the entire crumpled fabric.

Repeat with your sweatpants.

Black bleach tie dye

2. Apply the bleach

First, put on your rubber or latex gloves!

You don’t have to dilute your bleach with water but doing so makes the tie-dye process a bit easier on your fabric. But keep in mind that the more you dilute the bleach the less bleaching will occur in your fabric.

Whatever you decide, transfer your bleach or bleach and water solution to a small squeeze bottle to give you more control.

Squeeze your bleach directly onto your damp crumbled and rubber-banded clothes. Do one side and then flip your crumpled bundle over to do the other side. Hit the sides of the bundle with a bit of bleach as well.

Remember, there is no defined pattern involved with applying your bleach – it is a completely random application.

Bleach tie-dye a black shirt

You will very quickly notice that the bleach is starting to pull the color from the fabric.

Rinsing out the bleach from the black clothes

3. Set and then rinse out the bleach

Leave the clothing to rest for about one hour. Then rinse out the still bundled clothing. 

Bleach tie-dyed clothes

4. The great reveal!

Remove the rubber bands and put the clothing in the drier to reveal your bleach tie-dye pattern.

Bleach tie-dye sweatpants and sweatshirt set

Bleach tie-dye sweatpants & sweatshirt tutorial

Here’s the finished sweatsuit and it was made from a new sweatsuit that was purchased for under $30. Imagine the possibilities for limitless patterns and all kinds of clothing you could do this on!

Leave a comment to let us know what you decided to bleach tie-dye and how it came out.

Suggested materials:
  • Plain black sweatshirt and sweatpants
  • Bleach
  • Water
See all materials

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

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • Debra Moore-Gruenloh Debra Moore-Gruenloh on Dec 08, 2021

    I've done this to shirts and have to watch the material content of the piece. 100% cotton works the best, polyester didn't work for me.

  • Gra5301532 Gra5301532 on Dec 18, 2021

    I did stencils on shirts using liquid dishwashing soap... it doesn't damage the fabric as much as bleach. but you still have to stop the process. I think I used white vinegar.