Aging T-Shirts In Six Easy Steps: Bleach (Part 3)

red bucket, two clear plastic measuring cups, and a bottle of bleach

Do not ingest.


Materials: Liquid bleach, 5 Gallon Plastic Bucket(s), Measuring Cup(s), Latex Gloves, Safety Googles.

Method: 1. Mix 3 gallons of warm water with 3 cups of liquid bleach (at 384 and 24 fluid ounces, respectively, this equates to a 16-1 ratio). Stir vigorously.

2. Add shirts to solution and stir frequently for the first 5 minutes. Monitor your tees for color loss and continue to stir at 5-minute intervals (at a minimum).

3. Pull and rinse thoroughly at or between the 30 or 45-minute mark. Machine wash warm and line dry.

Results & Conclusions: Bleach is highly effective at dulling bright colors and cotton fibers, but less so with darks. It also works almost immediately; we saw visible fading on the OCP and Gorillas tops by the 4 minute mark (see pics below). Note, however, the splotchy discoloration of the former along the waist hem; even with vigilant stirring, the application was uneven and unpredictable. Interestingly, the nylon threads showed a resistance to the bleach and retained their original color. Lastly, the bleach had little or no effect on the prints themselves, both of which feature tough, durable plastisol inks that sit on top of the cotton fibers.

Sample #1:

two blue t-shirts, one is faded with bleach and one is new

Dead or alive, you're coming with me.


Sample #2:

two yellow t-shirts, one is faded with bleach and one is new

Monkey tee, monkey do.


Sample #2, Offset stitching

close up view of bleached yellow t-shirt that has stitching using yellow thread

Beyond the pale.


We later applied this method to the Don’t Hassle Me tee, which features a shocking yellow print screened on an eye-popping shade of turquoise, and fashionable havoc ensued. Behold, the world’s ugliest tee:

light blue t-shirt that has been bleached

Loud, garish, bleached.

Side by side:

two blue t-shirts, one has been bleached and one is new

Treated, new.


Baby steps:

light blue t-shirt that has been faded with bleach and is showing turquoise thread color

Offset stitching.


Next: Muriatic Acid!