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How to Bleach a Black Shirt White

If you’ve ever accidentally gotten bleach on a black shirt, you know that it doesn’t turn completely white most of the time. It turns a light orange color instead. However, sometimes you may want to bleach a black shirt on purpose. Can you bleach a black shirt so that it turns completely white?

If you want to bleach a black shirt completely white, you may be able to do so by following these steps:

  1. Gather the materials
  2. Wash the clothing
  3. Prepare the workstation
  4. Make the bleach solution
  5. Bleach the shirt
  6. Rinse the shirt
  7. Neutralize the bleach

The amount of time you leave the shirt in the bleach solution determines how white you’ll be able to get it.

In some cases, you may be unable to turn a black shirt completely white with bleach. Several factors can affect this. In this article, I’ll explain how to bleach a black shirt white, including a step-by-step guide. I’ll also explain factors that may affect how white the shirt gets.

How to Bleach Black Shirt White

What Color Does a Black Shirt Turn When Bleached?

Often, black shirts won’t turn completely white when they’re bleached, especially if you accidentally get bleach on them. Black shirts turn a light orange color because accidentally spilling a small amount of bleach on them isn’t enough to completely remove the black dye.

However, the black dye may come out completely if more bleach is used and the clothing is exposed for longer. But this also depends on how diluted the bleach was, what kind of dye was used on the shirt, and the fabric the shirt is made of. Sometimes, the shirt may not turn completely white but will turn an ivory or cream color instead.

Can You Turn a Black Shirt White with Bleach?

If you’re trying to bleach a white shirt to turn it white, you may be able to do so. However, the factors mentioned earlier, including the type of fabric, the type of dye, and long the shirt is exposed to the bleach, determine how white you’ll be able to get the shirt.

For example, if the shirt is made from cotton fabric that is dyed black, it may be able to be bleached completely white. This is because the type of dye used on cotton is more reactive to the chemicals in the bleach.

Black cotton fabrics can be bleached and turned completely white easier than synthetic fabrics. Only a specific type of dye can be used with synthetic fabrics and may not be as reactive to bleach. With synthetic fabrics, you may have to use a dye stripper to first remove some of the dye before using bleach since synthetic fabrics hold on to dye differently than natural ones.

You’ll also want to check the shirt’s care tag and ensure that the fabric can be bleached in the first place. Delicate fabrics, such as silk and wool, shouldn’t be bleached because bleach can damage the fabric.

How to Bleach a Black Shirt White

If you want to bleach a black shirt white, here are the steps you’ll need to follow. Note that these steps will work best for shirts made from cotton. You can try them with synthetic fabrics without using a dye stripper first, but you may get mixed results and the material may not turn completely white.

Even with cotton, the shirt may turn a cream or ivory color instead of true white, depending on the type of dye that was used as well as the dilution of the bleach and how long the fabric is left in the bleach solution.

1. Gather Your Materials

The first step is to gather all of your materials, including:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic buckets
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Stainless steel tool for stirring

2. Wash the Clothing

Next, make sure that the shirt you want to bleach is washed before you try to bleach it. You want to ensure the clothing is clean and stain-free so it is evenly bleached. At this point, it is okay if you wash it using laundry detergent. After washing, dry the clothing before bleaching it for the best results.

3. Prepare Yourself and Your Workstation

One of the most important steps is to prepare yourself and your workstation before you can begin the bleaching process. You don’t want to get any bleach on yourself or other surfaces in your home.

Make sure to wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting bleach on, or wear an apron that protects your clothes from the bleach. Use rubber gloves before and while handling the bleach to protect your skin.

Another thing you want to do is to work in a well-ventilated area. It’s best to work outside so there is plenty of fresh air, but you can also work inside as long as you open windows and turn on a fan for air circulation. Bleach produces strong fumes that can make you sick if you inhale them.

4. Make the Bleach Solution

After preparing yourself and your workstation, it’s time to make the bleach solution. In one of the buckets, you’ll need to mix 1 part bleach with 4 parts water. But make sure that it’s enough of the solution to submerge the clothing. That means that if you need 4 cups of water to completely cover the shirt, you’ll need 1 cup of bleach. Make sure to wear your rubber gloves while doing this.

In the second bucket, you’ll need to make a solution of 1 part hydrogen with 1 part water. As with the first solution, make sure this solution is enough to submerge the clothing. That means if you need 4 cups of water, you’ll also need 4 cups of hydrogen peroxide. This solution is for neutralizing the bleach afterward.

5. Bleach the Shirt

Now, place the black shirt in the bleach solution. Use a stainless steel tool, such as stainless steel tongs or a spoon, to stir the shirt for at least 10 minutes. You should start to see some of the dye come out, but the color still may not be what you want. You can keep the shirt in the bleach solution for up to an hour. Just make sure to stir it around to make sure that it bleaches evenly.

Remove the shirt from the bleach when the fabric is as white as you want or as white as you can. Remember that you may not be able to get it completely white, depending on the fabric and the type of dye that was used. You may have to settle for an off-white color.

6. Rinse the Shirt

After removing the shirt from the bleach, you’ll want to rinse it in the sink. Make sure that you’re still wearing your rubber gloves. Use cold water and rinse the shirt under the water until as much bleach has been removed as you possibly can. Then, wring out the shirt to remove excess bleach and water.

7. Neutralize the Bleach

Since you likely won’t be able to remove all the bleach by rinsing, nor will you know when you’ve removed it, you’ll need to neutralize the bleach before doing anything else. Neutralizing the bleach keeps the bleach from potentially damaging the shirt and other fabrics.

This is where the hydrogen peroxide solution comes in. Hydrogen peroxide essentially stops the bleach reaction from continuing to occur. Place the shirt in the bucket of hydrogen peroxide solution for at least 15 minutes.

Finally, rinse the shirt out again using cold water. Toss the shirt in the washing machine by itself, just in case all of the bleach wasn’t neutralized. Wash the shirt using cool water without adding any detergent. After washing, let the shirt dry.


So, now you know that it may be possible to bleach a white shirt black as well as how to do it. Note that you may not be able to get the shirt completely white due to several factors. These include the type of shirt, the type of dye that was used, and how long you leave the shirt in the bleach solution. But by following the steps in this guide, you should be able to get the shirt from black to as close to white as possible.