Crafts & DIY

How To Acid Wash A Shirt

Acid washing may have been a common sight during the raving 1980’s.

However, it’s making a big comeback which is why it’s never a bad idea to learn how to make your favorite shirts pop with an incredible array of unique colors, patterns and textures to make them seem that much more colorful and exciting.

While there are many online tutorials that can make this washing technique seem a lot more complicated than it actually is, as someone who has used acid washing to change the color palette on more of my clothes than I can count.

There is an incredibly easy method you can follow that I will show you today which will have your clothes looking bright and vibrant in no time.

So with that being said, here is all you need to know about acid washing and how it is done. 

Considerations Before Acid Washing

Before you start changing the colors of a shirt, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind to ensure you stay safe during the process while also achieving the best results. 

For one, because you are going to be using bleach during the process, it is important to be wearing gloves and old clothes just to make sure that they don’t get permanently stained if any accidentally gets spilled onto them.

If you have a pair of safety goggles, these should also be worn, just to add that extra layer of protection since bleach can cause irritation to the eyes if used for too long. 

Make sure you are also in a well-ventilated room if you’re working indoors so that the bleach fumes can escape rather than being breathed in which can cause a nasty headache, and preferably work outside to make cleaning up easier.

What Shirts Can Be Acid Washed?

My general rule of thumb when acid washing t-shirts is they should ideally be a darker color, if you are acid washing multiple shirts check out our guide for washing multiple tie dyed shirt together. . These include darker shades of black, blue, orange, red, purple, green etc.

This is because the end result will be much more striking and noticeable for darker colors as opposed to lighter shades which can end up looking the same, or just a little lighter than they were before. 

You can still acid wash these lighter shirts if you do intend to make them even brighter, however to really bring out the best results, it’s much better to choose darker ones instead.

It’s also important to keep in mind that as long as there is natural fiber that holds the dye, the shirt can be washed while synthetic fibers are not reactive to acid wash.

Easiest Way To Acid Wash A Shirt

Easiest Way To Acid Wash A Shirt

While there are a few different ways you can acid wash a shirt, by far the easiest one I tried and tested out was what some people on the internet were calling the ‘rubber band’ method. 

This involves not only ensuring that the whole shirt is surrounded by the solution so that there are no spots that are missed out during the process.

But it also only requires a handful of resources including a few rubber bands, a bottle of bleach and the shirt you want to wash, if you are wanting too bleach a black shirt, check out our guide for that. .

Step 1. Fold Up Shirt Using Rubber Bands

Fold or crumple up the shirt so that it can fit into the bucket and use 2 to 3 rubber bands to hold it in place so that it does not unravel.

You won’t have to worry too much about neatly folding the shirt, even if it’s crinkled.

The important part I’ve found was that the shirt was tightly secured by the rubber bands so that it does not escape the solution when it’s dunked in. 

Step 2. Mix The Solution In The Bucket

Next, you will want to make the solution which should be made from a mixture of bleach and water.

I found that the perfect mix was an equal amount of both otherwise it can cause the shirt to come out with little to no differences from when you first put it in. 

Step 3. Dunk Shirt In The Solution

Dunk the shirt into the bucket so that it’s completely submerged. Leave it in for 10 minutes, this is enough time for the bleach and water mixture to interact with the natural fiber which will allow the colors to change. 

Step 4. Remove Shirt And Add Extra Bleach

After a few minutes, remove the shirt, take off the rubber bands, and hang it up to dry for around 20 minutes.

Once it’s dried, sprinkle 1 to 3 tablespoons of bleach on the front of the shirt to enhance the colors even more. If you would like to bleach shirts for sublimation the right way, check out our how to guide. .

The amount you sprinkle on really depends on how much you want the bleach to develop.

I wanted the new yellow to be a little brighter and more noticeable so I added 2 extra drizzles which worked perfectly, however you can add a few more if you want the best results. 

Leave for 10 minutes and then dunk the shirt in a bucket of water before putting it in the washing machine for a regular wash cycle.

Once the cycle is finished, dry it off and your shirt will be acid-washed and ready to wear. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Acid Washing The Same As Mineral Washing?

While acid washing is a slightly older technique than mineral washing, they are essentially the same thing and are both processes of changing the color of a fabric and making it look weathered through the use of bleach. 


Acid washing can be done incredibly easily and once you’ve done it once, you can try it out on any clothes that use natural fiber to enhance the aesthetic and colors as much as possible.

Just always make sure that you take proper safety precautions when acid washing since bleach can be very irritable to the body if you’re around it too long, so it’s always advised to be in a well-ventilated room while wearing suitable safety clothing throughout the process.

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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!