Bleach Pen T-Shirts

Hi everyone! It’s Jenn from Endlessly InspiredI am so excited about today’s tutorial!

Use a Clorox bleach pen to create awesome designs on a plain t-shirt!

I am going to show you how to make a bleach pen t-shirt! This is such a great way to fancy-up an old, stained or just plain boring shirt you already have, or to refashion a thrift store find!

{If you don’t already have a Clorox bleach pen, you need to get yourself one. Aside from being a fab craft tool, they’re also great for cleaning grout and stubborn icky stains in bathrooms.}

I have seen bleach pen shirts on Pinterest before, but this is the first time I’ve ever made one. It’s really easy, and I love that you never know exactly how it’s going to come out.

Use a Clorox bleach pen to create awesome designs on a plain t-shirt!

To get started, just get yourself a shirt. I got this blue one at Target, and the pink one is from Walmart. They were both around $5 each. Shirts that are 100% cotton are best, because if you have too much polyester, it might not bleach out as well.

Also, medium colors {i.e., not too light, not too dark} work best. On light colors, you obviously won’t be able to see the design very well, and really dark colors like navy and black aren’t going to bleach to white, they’re going to be a pinkish/orange color. I think this can look pretty cool, but just be aware of the issue. {Although I’ve seen a few people say that they went back over the design a second time, and that got it to turn white. I’ve never tried this, though.}


I would recommend doing a spot test on the inside hem of the shirt to make sure it’s going to bleach properly: just put a tiny dot of bleach on there and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off, and see what it looks like. If it doesn’t bleach, you may need to pick out a new shirt. This can also give you an idea of how long to keep the bleach on. I left these test spots for 10 minutes, and I wanted it a bit lighter, so I decided to leave it on a bit longer when I did the actual design.

Use a Clorox bleach pen to create awesome designs on a plain t-shirt!

Be sure to place something inside the shirt so the bleach won’t bleed through to the back of the shirt. For this first one, I wrapped a cutting board in foil and used that. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, because it was hard to get back out, and it messed up the design a bit. For subsequent shirts, I just used a large gift bag that I had handy, but you could use wax paper, freezer paper, a piece of cardboard or an actual t-shirt form.

Once you have your shirt, you’ll want to choose a design. If you need some inspiration, just start Googling. I found some cool henna designs that way, and I adapted one of those I did mine freehand, but you could always sketch one out with chalk before you start. Don’t do anything too intricate, though, because the bleach will bleed a little bit, which could end up turning everything into a big ole blob.

Use a Clorox bleach pen to create awesome designs on a plain t-shirt!

Then just start drawing with your bleach pen! Be sure to shake it really well before you start, because it separates a little while it’s sitting there, and it may start out a little watery {think ketchup or mustard if it’s not shaken enough}. For this reason, you’ll want to start drawing on a paper towel or a piece of scrap fabric. This will also help to eliminate bubbles, which can jack up your design a little bit. {Keep a couple of toothpicks handy too, in case you do end up with bubbles.}

Once you’re done with your design, let the bleach sit for anywhere from 10-20 minutes. {Base this time on your test spot you did earlier. You also can carefully lift the shirt up and look at the opposite side of the fabric to see how it’s bleaching.} Then, just rinse off the bleach with hot water. Once all the bleach is off, squirt a little bit of dish soap on the design and lather it up. You want to make sure that you’re getting all the bleach out of there. Then rinse it completely, wring it out, throw it into the dryer, and you’re good to go!

Now, here’s something weird that happened with this blue shirt. I thought it might bleed less if the shirt was wet when I started drawing with the pen, so I decided to see what happened. I got the shirt wet, wrung it out completely, and then drew on my design. You can see in the above picture that it actually bled a lot, but here’s the crazy thing.

Use a Clorox bleach pen to create awesome designs on a plain t-shirt!

It actually only bleached where it bled — where the actual bleach was didn’t fade! Craziness. I totally can’t figure out why that happened, but I actually love the way it turned out. I think it looks really cool. I’m going to try this again on another wet t-shirt {hee hee, “wet t-shirt” made me giggle and think of spring break} to see if this was just a fluke or if this is what always happens.


Try this once, and I promise that you will become addicted. I immediately tried with another shirt, and I may even love this one more.

Use a Clorox bleach pen to create awesome designs on a plain t-shirt!

Notice how in the smaller flower, the outer petals are filled in?

Use a Clorox bleach pen to create awesome designs on a plain t-shirt!

That’s a little thing I like to call “rolling with the punches.”

When I was drawing the flower, I had some crazy spastic moment where I completely jacked up the one petal. I had a minor moment of panic, and then I decided to try to fill in the petals to mask the mistake.

And I actually LOVE how it turned out. So there’s a little life lesson for ya: if you mess something up, pretend that’s how it was supposed to be all along.

Thanks again to Julie for letting me be the DIY contributor for White Lights on Wednesday. I love having the opportunity to share some fun DIY ideas each month! For more from me, visit my blog, Endlessly Inspired, and follow me on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Instagram!

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  1. Tsport says

    What a cute idea and you both look adorable! I am gonna buy some plain shirts and try these styles. Thanks for sharing.

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