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How to Fade Fabric Using Bleach

If you have found the perfect fabric, but it is a darker shade than you’d like, or you would simply like to give it a vintage, broken-in look, chlorine bleach can help you. Although many people are hesitant to work with bleach because it can be damaging to fabric, if you take steps to use the bleach in a proper ratio to water, and neutralize it when you’re finished, chlorine bleach is perfectly safe.

Use chlorine bleach to fade the color of fabrics.

Step 1

Put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands. Mix a solution of one part chlorine bleach to ten parts hot water in a large, plastic tub. Fill a second tub with cold water, and in a third tub, mix a bleach neutralizer according to the instructions on the packaging.

Step 2

Wet the fabric by running it under hot tap water. Once the fabric is completely soaked, submerge it in the tub containing the bleach solution.

Step 3

Leave the fabric in the bleach solution for up to 15 minutes, keeping a close eye on it the entire time. You will notice the color of the fabric beginning to fade.

Step 4

Remove the fabric from the bleach solution and wring it out when it is slightly darker than your desired shade; the fabric will look darker when wet than it will look when it has dried. Place the fabric into the tub of cold water, and stir it around to rinse out the bleach.

Step 5

Take the fabric out of the water after rinsing for five to 10 minutes. Wring out the fabric, then place it into the tub of bleach neutralizer. The neutralizer will stop the chlorine from continuing to lighten the fabric. Leave the fabric in the neutralizer for the amount of time specified in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 6

Wash the fabric in your washing machine after removing it from the bleach neutralizer, then hang or tumble dry. If the fabric is not quite as light as you would like, you may repeat the process.

About the Author

Jenny Parker is a New England-based entrepreneur who has been writing since 1995. Parker writes extensively on creative self-employment and genealogy; her work has appeared on Etsy.com and Ancestry.com. She also has self-published several short story collections and is currently working on her first non-fiction book chronicling the history of her ancestors in America.