How to Bleach Shorts With a Spray Bottle

Use a spray bottle as a tool for fashion design experiments.
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The effects of bleach on colored fabric are well-known to anyone who has accidentally splattered the powerful cleaning product on clothing. When it happens on purpose, the result can be a creative masterpiece. Armed with a spray bottle and bleach solution, transform a pair of plain old shorts into something much more interesting. Experiment to achieve a splattered effect that looks more innovative than accidental.

Wear old clothes and rubber gloves. Pour one part bleach and one part cold water into a spray bottle, replace the lid and shake.

Mix one part hydrogen peroxide and one part cold water in a bucket, or prepare a commercial bleach-neutralizing solution. Make enough solution to saturate the shorts.

Take your shorts, spray bottle, plastic bags and bucket of neutralizing solution to a well-ventilated area, preferably outside.

Spread plastic bags on the floor or ground and place the shorts on the bags. Insert more plastic bags inside the shorts. This will prevent the bleach that you spray on the front from also bleaching the back of the shorts, giving you more control over the design.

Spray the front of the shorts with the bleach solution from at least 8 inches away. Experiment by adjusting the nozzle and the distance of the spray bottle from the fabric to get a variety of splattered effects. You may spray some parts of the shorts more heavily than others, if you wish. Stop spraying before the fabric is saturated with bleach -- your goal is to merely splatter the surface.

Flip the shorts over and repeat the spraying process.

Leave the shorts undisturbed for 10 to 15 minutes, but no longer. You should start to see the effects of the bleach after just a few minutes.

Remove the plastic from inside the shorts and take the garment to a sink. Run the shorts under cold water to thoroughly rinse the bleach out of the fabric.

Transfer the wet shorts to the bucket of bleach-neutralizing solution and let them soak for about 15 minutes. Rinse the shorts under cold water again, then wash them with a little laundry detergent, either by machine or by hand.

  • Discharging dye from fabric using household bleach is only suitable for natural fibers, such as cotton, linen, silk and wool.
  • Don't skip the bleach-neutralizing step. Water and laundry detergent alone does not fully stop the damaging effects of the bleach and can result in weakened fibers.
  • Practice your spraying techniques on a piece of scrap fabric before working on your shorts.
  • Create surface designs by spraying around stencils, stripes made of painter's tape or ironed-on freezer paper cutouts. Add more details using a bleach pen, or add color by spraying watered-down fabric paint over the bleached-out shorts.

A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.