How to Bleach Your Jeans With Spray Bottle

Refashion an old pair of denim jeans with bleach.
Refashion an old pair of denim jeans with bleach. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Alter the appearance of denim by discharging, also known as bleaching, the fabric through a spray bottle. Since denim is made of cotton, the chemical reaction between the bleach and fabric will be noticeable, yet unpredictable. Depending on the amount of bleach applied to each area, the denim can range from a light tan shade to a shade that pulls out fabric undertones such as greens and blues. Thankfully, the tie-dye effect is trendy for denim and will leave you with a one-of-a-kind pair of jeans. If you are unsure of the effect of the bleach against the denim, spray a small amount in an inconspicuous area to view the color change beforehand.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Drop cloth
  • Fabric stencils
  • Bucket
  • Vinegar

Fill the spray bottle with one part bleach to two parts water. Agitate the bottle for five minutes to mix the solution entirely. Spread the drop cloth on an area of ground outside.

Lay the denim right-side up on the drop cloth and smooth out any wrinkles. Once the denim is wrinkle free you can add any details you want to outline onto the denim. While it is not necessary, you can add stencils or other types of plastic pattern designs to the top of the fabric to spray around. Once the bleach absorbs into the denim around the stencil, the stencil is lifted to reveal the pattern. The bleach will not affect the fabric under the stencil.

Hold the spray bottle 6 inches from the material and spray. As you work around the denim, always hold the bottle the same distance from material. If working around stencils then you will spray directly on top of the stencil; the bleach will not absorb through.

Flip the denim over and repeat the process on the back side. The bleach will begin to alter the color immediately on the front and back.

Allow the bleach to sit on the fabric for 20 minutes. During this time, fill a bucket with one part vinegar to one part water. The vinegar serves as a neutralizing agent for the denim and will stop the bleaching process immediately.

Transfer the denim to the vinegar solution and swish the fabric around with a large spoon. Leave the denim in the vinegar solution for 20 minutes to allow the bleach to set. Remove the denim, ring out the excess water and vinegar, and transfer to the washing machine. Wash the denim according to the manufacturer's direction.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always use fresh bleach, not old, so the chemical compounds are most reactive.
  • Work outside if possible; the ventilation is better and the risk of ruining hardwood or carpet flooring is less.
  • Wear protective eye gear, such as goggles, when working to prevent bleach splashing on your face.
  • Only use plastic stencils for fabric designs, as paper stencils will allow the bleach to absorb through.
  • Wear old clothing in case the bleach sprays or splashes. Do not wear the old clothing over good clothing because if bleach splashes onto the clothes it may soak through. In addition, wear rubber gloves to protect hands against the bleach.
  • Avoid working with bleach around pets and children.
  • Rinse eyes immediately if they come in contact with bleach.

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