Crafting, Crafts & DIY

How To Bleach Shirts For Sublimation The Right Way

Sublimation is a fun and creative way to personalize your shirts, allowing you to print whatever designs you like on them.

Whether you’re making the shirts for yourself, or you’re mass printing them to sell as a business, sublimation is a great technique.

However, bleaching your shirt for sublimation can give it a really unique texture that adds to the shirt’s aesthetic.

I’ve bleached many of my sublimation shirts, because the added texture really went well with my designs, and through my experience I’ve found the best way to bleach them without ruining the shirt.

In my guide below, you’ll find a complete step by step breakdown of how to bleach shirts for sublimation the right way. Read on!

Why Would You Bleach Your Shirt For Sublimation?

Before I get to the proper process for bleaching your shirt for sublimation, it’s worth having a look at why you might want to in the first place.

The main answer is aesthetic. If you’re using sublimation to add designs to your shirts, you’ll already know it is important to have a shirt that looks cool and interesting.

Sublimation is no easy process and it takes time, so you’ll surely want the shirt to look its best when it’s finished.

Bleaching it can help add to that, giving the shirt an extra texture that it otherwise wouldn’t get, and making it a lot more unique.

I’ve had a few shirt designs that were missing a certain something in the past, and it turned out that the certain something was the rough, well-worn stylish look of bleaching the shirt.

Better yet, bleaching the shirt for sublimation is especially helpful if you’re planning on selling the shirt, because buyers will be attracted by the shirts’ unique aesthetics!

How To Bleach Shirts For Sublimation The Right Way

Before I get into the steps, it’s important to remind you that bleach is a very dangerous product, and you should handle it with extreme safety at all times.

Step One: Making Your Sublimation Image

To begin with, you will need to have your sublimation image ready. This is the design that you’re going to sublimate onto the shirt later, and there are a few steps to getting it.

If you’re already familiar with sublimation, then you will know them, but those who aren’t should continue reading.

You start by making your design on the computer, using a program like Photoshop or Silhouette Studio, and then saving the design as a PNG file when you’re done.

Step Two: Printing And Cutting The Image

After that, you need to print the design, either using an expensive sublimation printer or a cheaper alternative, like the Epson EcoTank. I use the EcoTank because it’s much cheaper than getting a sublimation-specific printer.

Either way, both will need sublimation ink specially to print your design. Once it’s printed, though, you’ll notice that the color’s faded. Don’t worry! This is how it should be for now. Carefully cut the image with scissors.

Step Three: Preparing The Shirt

Now you need to prepare your shirt carefully, otherwise the bleach will damage it. To start with, iron your shirt on the lowest setting. This will make it crease-free. After that, get a piece of cardboard and slide it into the shirt, lining them up.

How To Bleach Shirts For Sublimation The Right Way

Step Four: Painting Or Using Templates

Now you have a choice! One option is to paint bleach onto the design area yourself with a paintbrush.

You can do this by dipping a paintbrush in flour (it will keep the sublimation paper safe) and then tracing around the edge of your design, before removing the design paper and painting bleach onto the outline’s inside.

Make sure to paint a little wider than your design.

The other option, though, involves using a template to help bleach the design area. I use this method because it lessens the risk of bleaching the design paper, which is really helpful.

First, trace the shape of the design area onto some cardboard, cut it out, and put the cardboard on the shirt where you want the design to end up.

Now get a spray bottle and fill it with some bleach, before safely spraying the bleach onto the cardboard stencil.

Either way, be sure to avoid getting bleach on you.

Step Five: Bleach For Texture

Next, use a spray bottle (again, if you followed option 2!) and spray bleach onto your shirt in spots, covering whatever parts you want outside the design area. The point of this is to give your whole shirt a greater aesthetic texture.

Step Six: Soaking

Now carefully fill a large bowl with a 50/50 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide. Let the black set on your shirt for five minutes, then dunk the shirt into the bowl’s mixture. Afterwards, rinse the shirt in clean water.

Step Seven: Washing Machine

Then put your shirt for a cycle in the washing machine, using warm water and detergent, if you would like to wash multiple tie dye t-shirts together, check out our article. . This will prevent the bleach spreading further. Once washed, use the dry cycle, or hang it up.

Step Eight: Warm Up

With the shirt dried, cut a section of butcher paper to fit inside it. This will stop sublimation ink leaking!

Then go over the shirt with a lint roller, before getting your heat press. With the press set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, carefully put your shirt in it for a few seconds, then remove it.

Next, put another piece of butcher paper over the top of the shirt, then put the shirt back in the press with that paper facing upwards (check out our best iron on transfer paper article) . Remove it again after a few seconds.

Step Nine: Sublimation

It’s time for sublimation! Remove the butcher paper and get your design instead. Place it face-down onto the shirt, using heat tape to keep it in place.

Next, get another piece of butcher paper. Place it over the shirt and the design, before pressing it for just a minute in the heat press. Finally, remove it safely, then take the design paper off.

Your shirt should not only have the image sublimated onto it, but it should also have an awesome texture from the bleach!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Bleach Do You Use For Sublimation?

You can pick which bleach you use for sublimated shirts, but one like Clorox Splash Less is a good choice because of its good consistency.

However, you must make sure that you always keep safe when using bleach.

What Does Bleach Do To Your Shirt?

Bleaching the shirt for sublimation will give it a unique extra texture and look, which can go really well with your sublimation design. It can also change the way that colors look on the shirt.

Final Thoughts

Bleaching shirts for sublimation gives them an added texture – be careful using bleach.

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Michelle Jacobs

Michelle Jacobs

Michelle is a young mom and crafts fanatic. In her free time she loves to write about her latest creations, and how other moms can entertain their children with some colored paper and a pair of scissors!
Michelle Jacobs

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