How to Reverse Tie Dye

I got bleach on one of my favorite black tank tops 😦

I think that has happened to everyone at some point: You are cleaning or doing some laundry when suddenly you look down and notice a big bleach mark on your clothing. Unlike stains you can’t try to rinse off the mark or use stain remover to quickly get rid of it. The damage is done. Normally I would cry a little on the inside and assign this article of clothing to be used as house cleaning or hair dyeing only attire. I decided this time to just go with it and have some fun. Which brings us to today’s tutorial: Reverse Tie Dyeing. Instead of using dye to add color to parts of the garment you use bleach to remove color.

Step 1:
Take you shirt and tie elastic bands around it. I used hair elastics because I didn’t have rubber bands and it worked fine. I just grabbed parts of the shirt and twisted the ties as tight as I could. Then I used dental floss and wound around the whole thing to make it extra tight.

Step 2:
Fill a bowl with water and add a half cup of bleach. Toss in the tied up shirt and swish it around to make sure the bleach water saturates the whole thing. Leave for about 20 minutes and then pour out the water.

The color will be removed from the garment and the bleach water will absorb it

Step 3: Take a cap full of full strength bleach and sprinkle it on the balled up shirt. Leave for about another 20 minutes.

Step 4: Rinse under water and then remove the elastics, then rinse again. Wash alone in the clothes washer, dry as usual.

The results:

Sashaying in the living room

Front and back views

Pretty funky eh? I’m not used to wearing clothes with any kind of pattern. I usually stick to solid colors with no logos.  It was really hard to take photos of myself when I was home alone rushing before heading off to work so sorry for the headless snapshot 🙂 I would like to try this on a top that is maybe blue or another bright color. Black bleached out turns brownish- orange. This was a fun experiment but the bleach fumes were kind of nasty. Would you ever give this a try? What do you do when you accidentally ruin your clothes?

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13 Responses to How to Reverse Tie Dye

  1. Becky says:

    This turned out great! Actually has the feeling of not even being a home made project but something that was bought that way. I've bleached a couple of my favorite items by mistake and I wear them anyway 😀 I'm not the biggest tie dye fan so I don't know if I'd ever do this myself, but it's a clever idea.


  2. lesley says:

    what a fun idea to save you from an oops moment! i love how your tank turned out.



  3. Thanks! Glad you guys like it 🙂


  4. Adrienne says:

    I'm pretty sure we did something like this together as kids, no?
    So cool!


  5. Oh probably. There was at least regular tie dyeing gonig on at some point 🙂


  6. Scrollwork says:

    Serendipitous that I read this post right after I read your current Sharpie forest hall project (FABULOUS!), because I was going to answer your question by saying that I take a Sharpie and color back in the bleached spot! That is the extent of my Sharpie skills, unfortunately. Boo-hoo-hoo!


  7. Anonymous says:

    Cool! I ruined a perfect shirt with one speck of bleach on the front. I love the dark blue and it looks great in every way except for the tiny dot! I will do this and have a new twist! I tried the sharpie thing! It was noticeable like I had dropped food on my shirt! Then It washed out!


  8. Thank you for your wonderful instructions! Just did this today with two dresses I thought I had ruined (one brown and one purple). They came out gorgeous! But I should have done this outside, you were right about the overwhelming bleach smell.


  9. Amy Her says:

    Is it just me, or can you see a face in the bottom left hand corner of the front of the tank??


  10. Amy Her says:

    p.s. cool idea btw


  11. hahaha It's the face of Jesus on my shirt!


  12. Unknown says:

    I've been doing this for ages, except that I do not tie-dye quite as much, and I use chunky foam stamps dipped in bleach to give it a pattern. When working w/ bleach dying, ALWAYS have a spray bottle of vinegar around–it will stop the bleaching action. It's best to dip in vinegar BEFORE throwing in a washing machine.


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