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How to Bleach Linen (and Other Textiles)

Have you ever tried bleaching linen before? It might seem like something you'd only do by accident, but the results are actually really pretty and it's very easy to do!
Total Time15 mins
Keyword: acid wash, bleached linen, bleaching clothing, diy, napkins
Author: Brittni
Cost: $0-10


  • colorful napkins or another textile
  • bleach
  • spray bottle


  • This one is super easy. All you need to do is pour a little bit of bleach into a spray bottle.
  • Then, put on some gloves and spray the bleach directly onto the surface of a colorful napkin.
  • You should start to see the color lifting right away.
  • With my linen napkins (from West Elm), the color started lifting within 15 seconds. Some textiles may take more time though. It varies based on the material.
  • Then, run the entire napkin under water thoroughly for at least 60 seconds to rinse the bleach away. Wring out the water from the napkin as best you can, then pop it in the dryer, iron it, and it's ready to use.


What kind of color change can I expect from this technique?
After the napkins were rinsed and run through a cycle in the dryer (photo below), I could see the color changes a lot more clearly than when they were still wet (above photos).
For me, the mint linens turned white and off white, depending on how long the bleach was left on. And there are some soft greens and blues that pop through in certain areas, mainly at the edges.
The terra cotta red napkins turned a really pretty pale pink, with a subtle acid wash pattern.