Bleach Tie Dye – Subtractive Art

Tie Dye

With bleach tie dye, instead of adding colors in the form of dyes, the existing dye is removed with bleach. Warning: Only use 100% natural fibers, and there is a danger of damage to the garment. The process involves intentionally overapplying bleach to remove color from the shirt.

To start, gather together 100% cotton shirts, bleach, rubber bands, gloves, and a container to soak them in.

To get started, rinse the shirts, and squeeze to remove most of the water. Now that the shirts are damp, tie as you would for normal tie dying.

Twisting for tie dye

To make a spiral, lay the shirt flat, fold in half lengthwise, and start to twist, starting from the center.

Twisted for tie dye

Continue winding the shirt around the middle, keeping it flat and disk shaped.

tie dye

Secure with rubber bands.


Other patterns can be made by tying in different places in different ways.


Once the shirts are all tied. Put on the rubber gloves, and mix the bleach with water. Add 1 cup of bleach to 3 cups of water. Be careful with the bleach as it can damage surfaces or skin.


Now for the tricky part. Soak the tied shirts in the diluted bleach until the color that is showing starts to fade, approximately 5 minutes. If it is removed to soon, the markings will be faint or non existent, if left too long, the bleach will start to weaken and damage the threads.


Once the shirt has turned to a lighter color, rinse in clean water, untie, and rinse well in running water. Wash to finish.

Bleach Tie Dye

Bleach Tie Dye

Bleach tie dye

It is a fun and cheap activity, but be careful with the bleach, as it can damage carpets, clothes, and skin.

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