How to Bleach a Shirt for Sublimation?

Last Updated on September 6, 2022 by Fredrick Miller

Do you love to do sublimation printing on your t-shirts but can’t get your desired vibrant look? Has someone told you to try bleaching out your shirt to get what you want, but you don’t know how to bleach a shirt for sublimation? Then don’t worry. I have got you covered.

Although sublimation printing is itself enough to give attractive looks with its unique designs to your shirts. But sometimes, when we are trying to sublimate to dark-colored shirts, we can’t get the color that we have imagined. So for such situations bleaching the shirt is our only way out.

It is not as difficult as it seems. You just have to follow proper steps to know how to bleach a black shirt for sublimation which is explained briefly in the below article.

What Kind of Material is Best for Bleaching?

The sublimation inks undoubtedly work ideally best for pure polyester shirts, but it is not the case when it comes to bleaching. If you want to bleach the shirt, then it is recommended to choose the one that also includes cotton in its manufacturing along with polyester. 

But at the same time also have to make sure that the percentage of polyester is higher than the cotton; otherwise, you wouldn’t get your desired results. Therefore, you should go with shirts that are made from 35 percent of cotton & 65 percent of polyester. 

How to Bleach a Shirt for Sublimation? The Process

How to Bleach Sublimation Shirts

Following are the steps you tend to understand if you want to know how to bleach a black shirt for sublimation and how to bleach a red shirt for sublimation.

Prep Your Design

Before starting out the bleaching process, make your t-shirt design while using designing software like Cricut Design Space or Photoshop. 

After creating your desired design, print it on paper and then cut it out. But while cutting, remember to leave a good space of at least ¼ inches around the printed design. 

Protect The Back with the Cardboard:

Take a piece of cardboard to fit inside your shirt and then insert it into it so you can protect the back of your shirt, as bleaching is supposed to be on only one side of the shirt where you have to sublimate your design. But if you want to do sublimation on both sides, then you can definitely skip this step.

The cardboard will save the back of your shirt from getting a big bleach spot. Before sliding the cardboard inside the shirt, I would recommend you iron it on, keeping the iron at its lowest setting to remove each and every wrinkle, and then lay it on the flat surface.  

Trace the design with the Paintbrush:

Take your cut-out design and place it onto your shirt. Then trace the design using a paintbrush & flour. Dip the paintbrush into the flour and apply it to the edges of your design while making an outline to prevent your sublimation paper from getting damaged. 

Now remove the paper and bleach the inner area of your outline. Then again, bleach at least ¼ inches of the extra area around the edges to ensure the spot is a bit wider than your printed design. 

Use Template to Block the Design Area:

If you don’t want to paint, then make a template according to the shape of the design area of the shirt. For the template, use cardboard to trace the shape and then cut it out.

Now place that cardboard piece over the design on your shirt and spray the bleach on that area. Here the cardboard will work as a stencil that will help you in bleaching the shirt for sublimation

Make A Marble Pattern to Get Tie-Dye Effect:

If you want to give your shirt an artsy tie-dye effect, then scrunch the shirt and spray it in this very state to get a marble finishing. But that’s not all you need to it with proper precautions.

How to Bleach Tie Dye a Shirt for Sublimation?

  • First, you need to remove the cardboard from the inside of your shirt and make it crumble. You need to make sure that you are making as many wrinkles as you can.
  • Then it’s time to lightly spray the crumbled shirt with bleach. Once you’re done with one side, flip the shirt in the same state and again spray the shirt. 
  • After completing the spritzing process now, it’s time to flatten out your shirt and leave it to dry while keeping flipping the shirt from time to time so all corners can be set up precisely. 

Use Spray Bottle to Get a Textured Look:

If you want to give your shirt a textured look with some spotted pattern, then try bleaching it using the spray bottle.

How to Spray Bleach a Shirt for Sublimation?

To start the process, you first need an empty spray bottle and fill it with bleach. Once you’re done with this, you can start spraying the paint onto your shirt to get your cool desired design.

You should try spraying around printed design areas. You can also spray the bleach on the back of your shirt if you want your shirt to look more artistic. 

Soak the Shirt in Hydrogen Peroxide Solution:

After completing the whole bleaching process, you need to let it set for almost 4 to 5 minutes. Now mix the hydrogen peroxide solution with the water with the same ratio and soak your shirt in that solution. After that, rinse off your shirt with clean water.

Wash it and Let It Dry:

Now it’s time to wash the shirt, and for this, you have to toss the shirt into the washing machine. To make it cleaner, you have to add some detergents and make sure to wash it with warm water. Doing this will also stop the bleach from ruining the design.

Once it is completely washed, put it into the dryer and keep it there until it gets completely dry. Here completes the bleaching process, and now your shirt is ready to get sublimated. 

How to Bleach a Shirt for Sublimation Without a Sun?

If you are unable to get access to sunlight or don’t want to do the process in the sunlight, then don’t worry. You can also bleach your shirt without the sun. But it is essential to do that with the right technique. 

The very first thing you need to do is prepare the 2-4 percent hydrogen peroxide solution and keep it to your hand distance to stop the bleaching process. 

You need to prep the solution in a bucket and add four times more cold water than the bleach before applying it to the t-shirt.

Then leave your t-shirt in the solution for about 10-15 min to ensure the process goes smoothly and effectively.

Let the bleach set with your shirt and wait for 20 min but remember, when the fabric is wet, it looks darker than it is in a dry state, so stop the process according to that.

After getting your desired color, it’s time to stop the bleaching process using three percent of the solution that you have already prepared before starting. You can also spray that solution on your shirt.

Lastly, you need to give it good time spam, so it can get dry well. As you are not going to use sunlight, so it is recommended to at least give it an hour to get dry completely.

FAQs Section:

Do You Bleach a Shirt Before or After Sublimation?

You can do both but bleaching the shirt before sublimation is much recommended as it will give you a more vibrant sublimation look.

How Long Do You Leave Bleach On a Shirt for Sublimation?

The total time required to bleach the shirt totally depends on the fabric that you are using and also on the color that you want. But to say it a bit more precisely, it usually takes somewhere between 20 minutes to an hour to be completely done.  

Do you add water to bleach for sublimation?

No, you can’t dilute your bleach with water. You would only need the water to stop the bleaching process in the same ratio as hydrogen peroxide. 

Can you bleach 50 cotton 50 polyester?

Yes, as polyester alone is not bleach friendly, so you have to choose a shirt that also has some cotton material in it. However, bleach will work on 50 cottons 50 polyester fabric, but it is still recommended to go with a 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton ratio.

Final Verdicts:

Until now, you must have got a clear idea of how to bleach a shirt for sublimation and what are the necessary things you need to do to get your desired bleaching patterns. This also shows that if you want to learn how to spray bleach a shirt for sublimation, you can do it easily within no time.

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