How to Bleach a Shirt for Sublimation – Best DIY

Bleaching is one of the ways to sublimate colored shirts and luckily, the results definitely gonna surprise you. However, to make your fantasies come true, e have come up with the techniques of how to bleach a shirt for sublimation composed of methods, and tips, and also have performed the DIY with the result analysis! 

How To Bleach A Shirt For Sublimation

Bleaching the shirt for sublimation has mixed reviews. People have both success and failures with bleach sublimation. This is because of using the irrelevant materials and the method foul. Therefore using the correct materials and above all, the shirt with the right fabrics compatible with both bleach and sublimation inks necessary. Above all, the method is the core on which the entire progress depends. So let’s get to the most authentic method of bleaching a shirt for sublimation. 

How to bleach a shirt for sublimation: step by step 

  • Place the shirt on cardboard in an open sun environment 
  • Take a piece of cardboard and place it in the shirt. 
  • Spray bleach on the area where you want to sublimate. 
  • Leave it for 5 minutes. 
  • Stop the bleach by rinsing it in a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water.
  • Wash the shirt with water.  
  • Let the shirt dry and sublimate it. 

Following these steps, we are experimenting with bleaching three of our shirts in darker colors. These are composite polymer shirts (since we’ll be sublimating them so polymer count must be maximum). We have chosen three color schemes, purple, orange, and green. So let’s begin the process now! 

Getting the supplies ready for bleaching the shirt: 

For bleaching the shirt, the supplies and their quality plays a vital role. Even a minor mistake in your bleaching process can make shirts go waste. So here’s what you need to make sure. 

Disinfecting Bleach

Disinfecting Bleach

Disinfecting bleach should be the one you’re previously familiar with. Having the idea of how the bleach work on your apparel gives you the benefit of using the right quantity so you’ll get accurate results. We are using Ecover Zero bleach that we previously had success with. 

Shirt 

Heather-colored shirts

Heather-colored shirts are perfect for bleaching. The fabric matters as well. Though, sublimation requires polymer and bleach does not support polymer shirts so we are using a mixed-fabric shirt made of 65% polymer and 35% cotton so both bleaching and sublimation work on it. 

Hydrogen peroxide 

Hydrogen peroxide

Because we don’t need the entire shirt to be bleached therefore Hydrogen peroxide is a stopping agent we’ll use to keep the bleach in the intended area.  

Cardboard

cardboard safe from the bleach effects

The cardboard needs to keep the area as well the back of the shirt safe from the bleach effects. You can use any cardboard available at your home. 

Let’s start bleaching the shirt! 

To get the best results out of bleach, we need the most suitable environment and nothing can be better than the sun for this. This is because the sun accelerates in taking the color of the fabric and making it whiter, so that it absorbs the sublimation colors at best. So, we are doing the entire bleaching process under the sun, whether on the rooftop or on your balcony. 

We have preheated the shirt. Though the step is totally optional since we are a bit more conscious about the results, so we did it anyway. We took a large piece of cardboard and placed the shirt over it. A small piece of cardboard is needed to place between the shirt so the bleach doesn’t leak to the back side of the shirt. 

Bleaching process: 

Take an empty spray bottle and fill it with bleach. Dilute it a little bit so it doesn’t have extreme effects. Now spray the area a few times of the shirt you want to sublimate. Don’t put too much quantity on it. Just enough that it covers the entire area completely. 

Now we are leaving the shirt for 5 minutes, we have sprayed a little more as it begins drying up to have more brightened results. If you see the area coming out white finely, you don’t need to spray it further though. 

How to stop the bleaching process: 

Stopping the bleaching is important and it won’t just stop by stopping the spray. A weak acidic agent is essential, so we are taking hydrogen peroxide here. For this, you need to take a cup of hydrogen peroxide in water. The ratio is 1:1. 

Just after the area becomes white, take the shirt inside and make sure you have the peroxide solution pre-ready. Now we’ll rinse the shirt in that mixture for 5 minutes thoroughly such that all the bleach particles get off it. After that, we’ll wash the shirt and dry it using a dryer. You can also let the shirt dry manually. 

Sublimation on bleached shirts

Sublimation on bleached shirts

So we have now got our shirts bleached, washed, and dried. As you can see, the original color has faded completely and resulted in a bright white. Now is the time to sublimate it with the design. Though, the process will be the same as sublimating any white-colored polymer shirt that we have also covered previously. Here’s what we did next. 

Getting the design ready: 

Though, we always create our design and print it with our sublimation printing machines (printers) for T-shirts. However, the process already got hectic, so we ordered the design from Fontsy. All we need is to place the design on the bleached area. To secure it, we are using heat-resistant tapes so the design stays in one place.

Pressing the design with the shirt:  

The shirt is then pressed for 30 seconds at 400 Fahrenheit. You can use similar temperatures between 375-400 F depending on what your manufacturer has prescribed. After heating, we removed the tapes and peeled off the sheet, and got this amazing shirt ready! 

Do you bleach your shirt before or after sublimation: 

Though it doesn’t matter whether you bleach your shirt before or after sublimation, the quality will not be affected. In the method, we have bleached it before sublimating it and we think that does have a benefit. First of all, you’ll get to know the final outcomes of the shirt, plus you’ll be more precise while securing the design of the shirt.

bleach your shirt before or after sublimation

Though, many people prefer doing the sublimation first since it doesn’t seem long when you carry the entire bleaching, rinsing off, washing, and drying process longer. So, it’s basically your choice whether you like bleaching before sublimation or after it. 

Wrapping up: 

So this is everything you need to get a hang-on! Bleaching the shirt accurately requires the use of the right products in the right quantities, and of course with the shirt containing both polymer and cotton count. Whether you sublimate the shirt before or after bleaching, just follow the steps in the right order. For any further queries, reach us through the comment section. We’d be happy to hear from you! 

Until then, happy sublimation! 

Emily

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