Reverse Dyeing (How to Tie Dye with Bleach)

This page may contain affiliate links. Please see our full Disclosure here for details.

Tie Dyeing is always hip and now you can learn how super easy it is to Reverse Tie Dye Shirts with this fun Bleach Tie Dyeing Tutorial

Who doesn’t love a great tie dye? And, tie dyeing my own clothes has always been one of my favorite summer projects… it’s the old hippie in me, I guess. My girlfriends and I get together sometimes for a tie dye party in the garden. We gather old T shirts, bedsheets and boring, white socks and enjoy a crafting afternoon together.

Supplies for reverse tie dyeing with bleach

Table of Contents

In previous tutorials, I have shared how to tie dye a heart shape and also the accordion fold tie dye method. This time I wanted to show you how to reverse tie dye with bleach. Unlike traditional tie dyeing where you add color to a light colored fabric, reverse dyeing involves removing the color that is already in the shirt.

Did you know you can also reverse dye with a bleach pen? That’s a really cool way to add specific designs and shapes to your colored tee.

What is Bleach Tie Dyeing?

The basic wrapping and tying techniques of reverse dyeing or bleach tie dyeing are the same, however you don’t need any special tie dye kits or even RIT dyes. Instead, all you need is a colored t shirt, hoodie or bedsheet and some plain bleach, water and a spray bottle.

First, you will fold your t shirt to create your pattern. Then, instead of adding color, you will apply a bleach and water solution to take away the original color.

You would think the bleached areas of the garment always turn white, but that is not usually the case. It’s interesting to see the color left behind after the bleach has a chance to activate. For instance, dark blue and black fabrics tend to leave a purple or red color which makes for a pretty cool effect.

This page may contain affiliate links which means if you click and buy, we may receive a small commission. See full Disclosure here for details.

Supplies for Dyeing with Bleach

Colored T Shirt
Spray Bottle
– Bleach
– Water
Rubber Gloves (optional)

Table Cover

Tie Dye with Bleach Instructions

First a Precaution: Since you will be using bleach, it’s a good idea to do this reverse dyeing outdoors. You don’t want to breathe the fumes. Also, bleach is extremely hard on your skin so I recommend wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Preparing Your Shirt for Dyeing

You can use any of the traditional tie dye folding techniques for this project including the spiral, bullseye, accordion fold, stripes or crumple method. Here, I will show you how to do the spiral design but feel free to experiment with other techniques.

First, you will want to thoroughly cover your table with plastic. Remember, bleach will stain or remove the color from anything it touches so make sure you also wear old clothes.

Next, lay your shirt flat on the table, straightening and smoothing out any wrinkles.

If you are using the spiral technique, you need to decide where you want the center of the spiral to be. (It does not have to be in the middle of the shirt).

Now, grab and pinch that spot of the shirt (front and back) and slowly start turning your hand to create a spiral. Take your time with this, adjusting the folds to keep the fabric neat. Try and keep the folds together as tightly as possible as this will make a neater dye pattern.

In normal tie dyeing, you would now secure your folded shirt with several rubber bands. Since you won’t be moving your shirt around, you can skip this part. If, however, you want to flip it over to bleach the other side, you may want to secure it. Keep in mind, the rubber bands will block the bleach spray and therefore change the final design.

Tie Dye T Shirt with Bleach,
Classic Spiral Tie Dye Technique

Tie Dye T Shirt with Bleach,

Tie Dye T Shirt with Bleach,


Applying the Bleach to Your Shirt

Begin by adding 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup bleach to your spray bottle. Gently shake to mix well.

Before you begin spraying your shirt, you may want to test the spray of your bottle in a sink or outside. You want your bottle on the ‘spray’ setting, not ‘stream’.

Once you have the spray adjusted, carefully start spraying the top part of the folded shirt with the bleach solution. Make sure you cover the whole top part of the shirt.

Tie Dye T Shirt with Bleach,
Spray the top of the T shirt with a bleach and water solution

Let your shirt sit for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the progress. Check it every few minutes to see how the reverse dye is working. Mine took about 20 minutes.

Rinse the Bleached T Shirt

Finally, once you’re happy with the bleached out parts of your shirt, rinse it thoroughly with cold water and then wash it in your washing machine. Don’t wait on this or the bleach will eat through the fabric of your shirt.

Reverse Dyeing (How to Tie Dye with Bleach)

That’s all there is to it! The entire process takes only about an hour which is way quicker than traditional tie dyeing. Now that you know how to tie dye with bleach, have some fun with this technique! Make up your own patterns and folds and try a variety of different colored t shirts.


Related Fabric Dyeing Tutorials

Bleach Tie Dye Patterns

As I said, you can use this reverse dyeing technique with any pattern, really. You can also do random folds and swirls. Each shirt will be completely unique and creative! For more ideas on how to tie dye with bleach, check out this article.

Reverse Tie Dyeing with Bleach.

How to tie dye with bleach

Reverse Bleach Dyeing

Reverse Dyeing (How to Tie Dye with Bleach)

Sharing is caring!


  1. I wanted to tie-dye some clothes for my kids and I love this technique! Will try it out for a summer activity with them, thanks! Pinning and now following on FB. đŸ™‚

    • Thanks Bernadyn! Returning the love on Sverve, FB, TW and wherever else I find you đŸ™‚ Have a fabulous weekend!

  2. totally cool! I can’t wait to give this a try. I have been wanting to bleach tie dye some t-shirts so this will get me motivated!

  3. great post! I’m thinking of doing some tie dye this some and I’m loving the look of reverse tie dye!xx

  4. I was doing this about 40 years ago. A little different but the same results. Funny how everything seems to come around again. (and I kind of just gave a good part of my age up (-; )

    We use to put a cardboard piece in-between the fabric and hang it on the line. Then fill a spray bottle with bleach and spray or put bleach in a cup and use a paint brush and paint.

    It’s a great way to save clothes you really like but stained or clothes that just have no plain style.

    Thanks for posting this. A good tute and a good memory!

    • What goes around …. my mom put the crafting bug in me. We were always playing around with colors and fabrics.

  5. What a neat idea!

    Thanks for joining the Link Up this week!

  6. Wow We used to do this in college and now with my children looking for new waysto wear old clothes, bingo. Plus there are some Ts that could do with some styling up, just plain old boring. So thanks for then tute and deff shared!


  1. […] Tie Dyeing Shirts with Bleach ~Craftsy Summer Supply Clearance […]

  2. […] Tie Dyeing Shirts with Bleach  […]

  3. […] Tie Dyeing Shirts with Bleach ~Craftsy Summer Supply Clearance […]

  4. […] If you want to learn how, you can get her tutorial here- Tie Dyeing Shirts with Bleach – […]


Craft More Happy Moments with our FREE Creativity Care Package 3/26-4/9/20! Watch over 1,300 creative education classes ranging from sewing, cooking, family crafts, and more!

Did You Know That This Blog Makes Money? Here's How!