Bleach Stencil T-Shirt

completed bleached t-shirt featuring dog designUpdate a plain cotton t-shirt by turning it into a customized fashion piece! This project uses stencils and household bleach to create your own t-shirts. Bleach Stencil T-Shirts are easy to make and exciting to wear!


photo of supplies needed including iron, spray bottle with bleach, t shirt, cardboard, vinyl stencil

Supplies Needed

  • T-Shirt
  • Spray Bottle w/ Bleach
  • Vinyl Stencil
  • Iron
  • Squeegee
  • Cardboard
  • Gloves (Optional)

Tips for Selecting Your Shirt:
This project will work best with a cotton t-shirt in any color of your choosing. Darker colors will show the transformation the most.

How to Make A Bleach Stencil T-Shirt

photo showing how to insert cardboard between front and back of shirt to prevent bleach from seeping through to the back of the shirt

StepĀ 1: Place the Cardboard Inside the T-Shirt

The cardboard is used to prevent the bleach from bleeding through the shirt. Insert the cardboard inside the t-shirt, between the front and back of the shirt. Align the cardboard to where you want to place the vinyl stencil. Fold the rest of the t-shirt underneath the cardboard.

photo showing how to iron the shirt after cardboard is in place to get rid of wrinkles

Step 2: Iron the T-Shirt

Iron the area of the t-shirt where the vinyl will be placed. You will want to be sure the area is free from wrinkles.

photo showing vinyl stencil being applied on the shirt

photo showing transfer tape being carefully removed from the vinyl and shirt

Step 3: Apply the Vinyl Stencil

Apply the stencil onto the t-shirt; use a squeegee to make sure the vinyl is well-adhered to the t-shirt. Next, carefully peel off the transfer tape to expose the vinyl; use the squeegee to keep the vinyl on the t-shirt if it peels up during the process.

photo highlighting the "mist" setting on the spray bottle

photo showing bleach being applied to shirt over the stencil

Step 4: Spray the Bleach on the T-Shirt

Spray the bleach on the general area of the stencil. Make sure the spray bottle nozzle is turned to its mist setting; 2-3 light sprays should be just enough. You want the stream to be as light and fine as possible so the bleach spreads out over the area, and to avoid all the bleach concentrating in one area.

photo showing bleach setting once applied

Step 5: Wait for the Bleach to Work

Allow some time for the bleach to take effect. The bleached areas should show up after a few seconds. You can blow dry the area to accelerate the bleaching.

photo showing how to remove the vinyl stencil after allowing bleach to set

Step 6: Peel Stencil Off T-Shirt

Once you’re satisfied with the bleaching effect, carefully peel off the stencil to reveal your full design!

photo showing completed shirt

Step 7: Care at Home

This step is really important to prevent further discoloration, which could impact your design. Once the t-shirt is dry, rinse it in cold water and then hang it up to dry. Then put it through a wash and dry cycle alone before washing it in a normal load.