Bleach, Please: How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print (on Textiles) with Bleach

DIY Idea // How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print with Bleach. #diy #diyideas #shibori #neutrals #neutraltextiles #craftproject #fabricproject
A few years ago, I shared a technique for transforming old linens with bleach and I thought it was time to try this project again. This time though, I tested out making patterns, using a simple shibori technique that is typically reserved for dyeing. And surprisingly, the bleach worked like a charm! So I’m sharing the tutorial today.

To mimic this look at home, you’ll just need a solid color fabric (cotton), some bleach, and a couple of other things you probably already have at home. So easy! Click through for the tutorial.

How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print with Bleach (DIY Idea). #diy #diyideas #shibori #neutrals #neutraltextiles #craftproject #fabricproject

How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print on Textiles with Bleach. #diy #diyideas #shibori #neutrals #neutraltextiles #craftproject #fabricproject

Materials Needed

  • household bleach*
  • cotton solid color napkins / textiles (mine are from World Market)
  • small pieces of cardboard, rubber bands, metal clips, etc
  • medium size container (I used a plastic desk trash can)
  • tongs and gloves (for handling the bleached fabric afterward)

*Disclosure: When using household bleach, you should ALWAYS wear gloves and work in a well ventilated area – like the outdoors. If desired, you can also wear a mask / respirator. If you feel uncomfortable working with household bleach, do not recreate this project.

How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print with Bleach

1. First, working in a well ventilated area, submerge the fabric in water. I used my kitchen sink. Wring out the excess water and fold into different designs – you can fold the fabric into squares, triangles, rectangles, etc.

2. Then use cardboard pieces on the front AND back of the folded fabric pieces and use large clips to keep everything in place.

3. Next, put on gloves and pour bleach directly into a container and make sure there’s enough bleach in the container to fully submerged the fabric. You shouldn’t need more than a gallon (probably much less depending on how much fabric you’re submerging).

4. Then add the folded fabric pieces from steps 1 and 2 into the bleach and make sure they are fully submerged. Set a timer for anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. The amount of time the bleach needs to soak into the fabric will vary based on the fabric you’re using. But you should be able to see visual change in the fabric color before you remove it from the bleach.

5. With your gloves still on, remove the fabric from the bleach once you’re happy with it and rinse it in the sink for several minutes to remove all of the bleach, along with the clips and cardboard pieces. The color will continue to change until the fabric is washed, etc – so keep that in mind. 

6. Wash in the washing machine (no soap needed), then run the fabric through the dryer to heat set before using. And that’s it!

DIY Idea // How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print with Bleach. #diy #diyideas #shibori #neutrals #neutraltextiles #craftproject #fabricproject

The finished patterns are organic and unique.

Definitely a great way to add some personality to a $10 set of napkins or anything else you can get your hands on…an old cotton shirt, a throw blanket, etc.

DIY Idea // How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print on Textiles with Bleach. #diy #diyideas #shibori #neutrals #neutraltextiles #craftproject #fabricproject

DIY Idea // How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print with Bleach. #diy #diyideas #shibori #neutrals #neutraltextiles #craftproject #fabricproject
DIY Idea // How to Get the Look of a Shibori Print (on Textiles) with Bleach. #diy #diyideas #shibori #neutrals #neutraltextiles #craftproject #fabricproject

Photography Brittni Mehlhoff

Have you ever tried shibori dyeing before? Think you’ll give this bleached version a try?

15 comments | Click here to reply

We just got a shibori shower curtain yesterday, and it might be my favorite thing in our house right now!


Paige Cassandra Flamm

How fun Paige! A shibori shower curtain sounds amazing.


Those napkins look absolutely beautiful, I love those shades and the patterns are so pretty. I’ve never actually tried this technique, but I definitely want to!


Definitely give it a try Michelle. It’s SO easy and fun to see the transformation.


Such a great idea! I love the color pallet you chose as well! I’ll definitely give this a try!

Krisin Prough

Thanks so much Kristin. Glad to hear that!


C’est dommage que l’eau de javel soit si nocive 😣


Oh my gosh, I need to try this! I love to shibori dye but the chemicals are a problem…. no mixing powders with this….I must do this! Thanks for the inspiration!

Kim Gibson

If you’re looking for an easy way to achieve the look of shibori, definitely give this a try Kim. Just be sure to work in a well ventilated area. 🙂

A little something you should know about bleach fabrics. It dose not just wash out with water or soap and water, you need to neutralize it or it will continue to deteriorate the fibers.


Thanks for the tip Missty. I didn’t know that the fabric would need to be neutralized. The deterioration of the fabric must be very slight because I completed this project nearly a month before posting it and the textiles still look the same to me as the day I washed and dried them. And I actually still use the napkins today that I bleached from the previous project that I linked in the post and they were bleached years ago and they seem fine? Either way though, I appreciate it!


This title of this blog post is EVERYTHING LOL!!


Haha. Thanks Andrea. 🙂 I always try to do something a little fun with titles if I can…if for nothing else, for my own amusement.


Do NOT use bleach indoors or without a respirator mask. Chlorine fumes are toxic and, over time, cause lung damage.

Please refer to for more information.


Thank you for your comment Teri. I have updated the post with a disclosure that reflects a reminder of working in a well ventilated area, etc.

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