Lighten a denim shirt by soaking it in bleach water.

How to Bleach Your Jean Shirt

by S.R. Becker

Whether you want an ombre look or an all-over fade, chlorine bleach helps you turn a plain denim shirt into something more fashionable. By selectively dipping your shirt into a bucket of bleach water, you control the amount of fading and the specific spots you fade. Bleaching your jean shirt gives it the faded, weathered look that would otherwise take many washes to achieve. Make a new shirt look like you've had it for years the day you bring it home from the store.

Wash your denim shirt in the washing machine or by hand and leave it wet.

Put on old clothes and rubber gloves before opening a bottle of liquid chlorine bleach. Fill a large bucket with warm water and 1 cup of bleach. Stir with a paint stick or large wooden or plastic spoon.

Immerse the shirt in the bleach water. If you want an ombre look, hang the shirt over the side of the bucket so that only the part you want to bleach is in the water.

Check the shirt every 10 minutes to see if it's light enough yet. If you're dyeing the whole shirt, stir it around in the water every time you check it to ensure even bleaching. If you're doing an ombre shirt and want a gradual fade, immerse the part you want to be the lightest for the longest amount of time. Once that portion of the shirt is light enough, pull a bit more of it down into the water. Leave the part you want to be the darkest hanging over the edge of the bucket.

Remove the shirt from the bucket when you've achieved the desired lightness. Carefully pour the water down the bathtub or sink drain, and immediately wash the shirt in the washing machine with laundry detergent to stop the bleaching and remove the smell.

Hang the shirt to dry or put it in the dryer for added softness. Add a scented fabric softener sheet if any bleach smell remains.

Items you will need

  • Old clothes
  • Rubber gloves
  • Liquid chlorine bleach
  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric softener sheets

About the Author

S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images