Saturday, June 28, 2014

How To Stamp With Bleach On Fabric

 I have been wanting to see how stamping with plain bleach would work.

I went through my fabric stash and cut small test areas from different woven fabrics to see how they react with bleach. I strongly encourage you not to skip this step. From the 5 different samples I tried, I was only happy with 1! And the blue quilting fabric did not even react to the bleach at all. In some, the bleach spread too fast and the design was not recognizable, in others I did not like the color I ended up with.
 I chose the green linen blend fabric from Joann's. ( I also tried 2 quilting cottons, 1 corduroy and 1 gauze. )
Grab a bowl or container,  fold a piece of paper towel and place it in the bottom of the bowl. You should have at least 4 layers of paper towel.

Pour bleach on it slowly,  watching to make sure the layers of paper towel get well saturated. Tilt the dish and if you have some bleach pooling, get rid of it! Essentially you are making a stamp pad with bleach and too much bleach will just make for dripping stamps. Next you should prepare a bowl or sink with a solution to neutralize the bleach. Mix 1 part white vinegar with 5-6 parts water. As long as you do not mix bleach straight from the bottle with vinegar, you will be fine and there will not be any dangerous fumes. At all. (Plus the amount of bleach you are using is very minimal in the fabric itself, so no worries.)
Tip: use simple, not too complicated stamp designs with bold lines. Or make your own. Thinner lines work OK, but are not the best. Press your stamp down on the bleach soaked paper towel. IMPORTANT: Do not place the container with the bleach on your fabric, like I did on the picture. Trust me. Also, once you "inked" your stamp with bleach, grab a rag and tilt your stamp over the rag. Do not wipe the stamp, just allow any extra bleach to drip off onto the rag. Not your fabric. Again, just trust me on this. 
Now you can stamp away! Watch the bleach discharge the color. It should only take a minute or two.
Then take your fabric to the vinegar/water solution and rinse/ soak your fabric for a few minutes. Then wash it and dry it.

And  have a fun new fabric!

I made a couple more.
 The green turned out the best. Just goes to show you that you need to test, test, test! To make sure you get the results you will be happy with.


  1. i tried this with a hot pink cotton - the stamp looked great... until i rinsed it in the vinegar/ water solution. the fabric turned super light pink! it was obviously due to the bleach, but do you know of a way to prevent this from happening? do you think it would be ok to skip the vinegar/ water solution and just let the bleach dry before washing it?

    1. Honestly, I have no idea! Play around on a small piece to see if it makes a difference. The vinegar solution supposed to stop the bleach. Otherwise the bleach can keep eating at the fabric.

  2. I think just rinsing with water, or rising with water and doing a stop bath with hydrogen peroxide would be better than vinegar. Vinegar + bleach can create some very dangerous chemical reactions. Other than that I loved this post and am super excited to try this out.

    1. Thank you, Shelly! If one pours vinegar and bleach together, you are absolutely right that there would be a dangerous chemical reaction! No one should ever do that! However, since the amount of bleach actually being used is really small and the bleach particles are mostly bound in the fabric, it is not an issue. Of course if someone uses bleach on a regular base to work with, I would not recommend to use vinegar. I use hydrogen peroxide when I am dealing with lots of bleach, for example when I am bleaching my sons' white socks. But then, like I said, I use way more bleach then the few drops the stamp picks up. Caution should always be used when using chemicals. I suggested vinegar in my post, because hydrogen peroxide can cause problems as well when inhaled, it can cause rash on the skin and irritate the eyes. So, weighing the pros and cons, vinegar in my opinion is simply a more practical choice in this case.

  3. this is great post thank you very much I will try it, as I am in love with any thing to do with fabric art. then only thing that I don't like is that we can not skip the bleach using,, as it is a strong chemical.... any way I will give it a try, by the way I thing the vinegar is very important here as it keep the print last longer on the fabric . G ood luck every one &THANK YOU Plenty of Paprika

  4. Very Nice...I will also try it as I loved the idea.