A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Discharging -- first with bleach

Discharging (removing color) from fabric is probably most commonly done with bleach. Since that's what I had on hand this weekend, that's what I decided to work with first.

I choose some really ugly fabrics from my stash, some commercial prints/solids, and some that I had already overdyed with MX dyes some time in the past.

I just stacked up a few layers, then I got out my plexiglass circles and clamped them tightly. (These plexiglass pieces are available from http://www.etsy.com/shop/r0ssie, by the way)

I stuck this all into a gallon of water with about 1/2 cup of bleach in it. After about 20 minutes, I removed from the bleach/water and stuck in vinegar. Of course, all of this was done in my garage with the door open due to the fumes.

Finished pieces:

This was a funky batik, I like the discharged colors a lot more than the original.

This piece was originally golden yellow, and I had overdyed it with a dark green a while back. The bleach took the dye out, but left too much of the original design in. Definitely a piece destined for the burn pile now.

This was another piece of fabric I tried this with:

After discharging, I over dyed these, one in green and one in blue.

I had wanted to compare the bleach discharge with Rit Color Remover, but it was too cold here this weekend to work outside in my garage. Stay tuned!


  1. You should never put chlorine discharged fabric in vinegar. I don't know why this is perpetuated. You need to get antichlor - available at the pet department for fish tanks. You can also get it from Dharma or Prochem. Sorry to be so negative, but this is dangerous.

  2. I agree with Gerrie... vinegar combined with chlorine fumes can be very harmful, even in a well-ventilated area. I love your experiments though!

  3. Ditto what they said. Even bleach by itself is one of the most toxic substances out there. And vinegar????!! Yikes! If you are using bleach, please rinse the fabric well and then put it in antichlor. Antichlor is not expensive and you only need a little bit - please, please use it!

    I have stopped using bleach and use thiox instead, which does not require neutralizing and does not damage the fabric.


Although this blog is no longer active, we will get your comments so please feel free to share them.