How can I ‘repair’ a bleach stained t-shirt?

I suspect this is a lesson in why you shouldn’t clean wearing nice clothes and definitely why you shouldn’t use bleach, m’kay but I thought I’d ask anyway.

I managed to flick bleach all over one of my favourite t-shirts but I’m not quite ready to give up on it just yet. The shirt has a printed design on it so I can’t bleach and re-dye the whole shirt.

Googling around, I’ve seen some suggestions of disguising the pale dots with permanent marker – the shirt is brown though so I don’t know if I’ll find a pen to match.

The design is a bright cartoon design so I might get away with adding some “noise” to the picture with fabric paint or reverse/normal appliqué.

Failing all that, I guess I could make something else with the fabric/design or since it fits well, take it apart to make a pattern to use to make my own fitted t-shirts in the future. I’d really like to keep it as a tshirt though – any other suggestions?

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14 Responses to “How can I ‘repair’ a bleach stained t-shirt?”

  1. Sam says:

    Could you make it look like the bleach dots are part of the design – add more, or use the end of a cork to add larger circles?

  2. I bleached a great black crossover top by accident and tried to use black permanent marker to conceal it, but it was ever permanent enough, always washed out.

    Why don’t you do a daisy stitch in the centre?

    I used to have holes on all my clothes from when I did jewellery properly at college from the acid bath used to clean metal after soldering. I was known for my embroidered trousers! Many daisy stitches which eventually held the trousers together.

    Or cut felt circles and attach with buttons, but do it tastefully. A lot of buttons being chucked on clothes willy-nilly in latest button craze!

  3. emily says:

    I suggest bleaching parts of the shirt, like Sam did. I have a t-shirt from Mavi that was screen printed and has an awesome background image that was dripped onto it with bleach. You can buy bleach pens or dribble with an eye dropper or q-tip. A toothbrush works for little splatters. Regardless, you have a bleach spot that won’t go away and a potentially ruined t-shirt, so you might as well have a go and try to make it awesome with more bleach. You have nothing to lose since you already know you can’t get it back to its original state. Lots of screen printers use “discharge ink” to get rid of ink color on t-shirts on purpose and people pay good money for them. You might really like what you come up with. Good luck!

  4. Try to find a fabric marker pen of the same colour, or darker, and touch up the bleach spots. I volunteer at the animal shelter and some of the workers use bleach on litter trays and the cages and carriers in the clinic/surgery. I got some on my black shorts and I used Dylon Fabric Marker pens to touch up the bleach spots and ironed the shorts to make the colour stay. Your particular colour might be a bit hard to find, but perhaps mixing black with red with blue should do the trick? It’s okay to have the coloured-in spots a shade darker, they will fade over time.

  5. Agata says:

    Print won’t come off.I stained a lot of my Guns&Roses tees (boo-hoo) and any of the designs went lighter or destroyed.

  6. Kara says:

    It depends on what the shirt is made from, and what process was used to make the print on the shirt. Fabric markers and other permanent markers only work well on natural fabrics; anything with more than 30% synthetic (except nylon) is going to let the marker wash out. Browns are really hard to match and blend with markers, so you may have better luck masking off as much of the print as possible and selectively spattering with more bleach to make a design. Then it’ll be a mixed-media art piece! ;)

  7. Stella says:

    The only way I repair one is to make a tie-dyed shirt out of it.

  8. Stella says:

    Ignore my tie-dye comment. I went to a hobby shop and redid a hanging towel with permanent markers. It was of a large brown bear with flowers all around. The brown and all the colors looked great.

    Once you use the markers you have to put the shirt into the dryer for 30 minutes to get the color to set in. Then they are permanent.

    The colors are set in the towel and have not come out yet. Now, this is a hanging towel.

  9. Alice says:

    You could cover the spots by sticking things on – there are loads of cool applique and iron-on things in craft shops like little diamantes, metallic hearts, stars and studs in different colours, etc etc.

    You can also use wonder-web to make your own appliques i.e. to stick just about anything to a T shirt

  10. Holly says:

    You could try using a batik method. Cover the print with warm candle wax, and then (add any designs with the candle wax, drops and you can crinkle them) let the shirt sit in a weakly diluted cold solution of bleach. The dilute solution will bring out a maroon-pink color when dyed on brown that is really beautiful. Splash bleach on after…. And you can add ties to the shirt for more flare. Im sure you wont notice the spot when you’re done!

  11. justin says:

    Try this new fabric spray paint i used it on my 1984 van halen shirt worked great.It was found at micheals a hobby store bout 15 dollars but worth it i had to wait to find black.

  12. Jen says:

    I did this recently to a lighty mossy green t-shirt (big, peachy bleach streaks on the shoulder) and am suffering the same pain.

    Thinking about cutting out the image from the t-shirt in a large rectangle, then sewing onto a new t-shirt. Because of what this t-shirt was (image of a camper watching the sunset with the simple phrase ‘chill’), I’m thinking this could actually look cute with a ragged edge around the transferred fabric. So it kind of looks like it is peeking through.

    Any thoughts on this or any ideas how to make that ragged edge?

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