How to bleach a printed shirt
August 23, 2010 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Can I bleach a t-shirt without disturbing the print?

I bought a t-shirt from one of those websites that lets you get a customized print on a shirt. I screwed up the settings and accidentally bought a black t-shirt with black print on it.

Is it possible to bleach the shirt without disturbing the print so that the print will actually be visible?
posted by giggleknickers to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What is your goal with bleaching the shirt? To turn it white? Because that won't happen. To make it less black? Yeah, maybe. To turn it a gross, blotchy orange? You're in luck!

The print ought to stay just fine, assuming it's professionally screen printed and not one of those cheapo iron-ons.

I would look at this page for tips, paying close attention to this paragraph (halfway down the page):

A very interesting approach is to begin with a new black t-shirt and discharge-dye it, using diluted bleach. The use of bleach on dark-colored dyes tends to produce oddly antique, ghostly, faded results. Not all black clothing will lose color when treated with bleach; some will stay black no matter what you treat it with. You can dye your own shirts, or (in the US) you can buy black t-shirts from Dharma Trading Company which are guaranteed to react to bleach. I have had good luck in bleaching Hanes and Fruit-of-the-Loom brand black shirts. Be careful when working with chlorine bleach, because it is far more hazardous than any of the dyes we use: be sure to have excellent ventilation so that you do not breathe the fumes (at least have a strong fan in a nearby window, blowing air OUT the window, or, preferably, wear a good respirator with acid-gas cartridges), and wear good strong gloves, not the very thin disposable gloves that oven spring a leak.
posted by phunniemee at 11:45 AM on August 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'd give up on trying to soak the whole shirt in a dilute bleach solution. But I recall this tattooed tshirt project, maybe it would interest you. Spray the bleach just around your print. The trick here is to do it lightly, a little at a time, and don't soak the material.
posted by lizbunny at 5:04 PM on August 23, 2010

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