How To Bleach A Shirt For Sublimation Without Sun?

A variety of colors are available for sublimation printing, such as black, red, purple, and pink. It is important to note that sublimation typically requires bleaching on darker or non-white colors. Achieving successful sublimation on these colored shirts necessitates careful handling of chemicals and possibly the use of stencils.

Before embarking on the sublimation process, it’s crucial to understand the proper methods for bleaching a shirt. To prepare shirts for sublimation, we have experimented with two different approaches for bleaching.

Sublimation Bleaching Guide

There are many ways to bleach a shirt, each with its own set of recommendations from crafters. Some suggest bleaching after the sublimation process, while others advocate bleaching before. However, for achieving the most vibrant results, the best practice is typically to bleach the shirt before engaging in sublimation heat transfer. In order to demonstrate which method yields the most appealing results, we will experiment with both.

Supplies You’ll Need

  1. Bleach bottle
  2. Spray bottle
  3. You can bleach a black shirt or any other color as long as it is 100% polyester or 65% Bella canvas.
  4. Cardboard – for putting between t-shirts
  5. Vinyl – To cut the design and place it on the bleach area (optional).
  6. Cricut – For printing and cutting (optional)
  7. Paintbrush
  8. Hydrogen peroxide –is used to stop bleaching
  9. Heat gun – To use instead of sun
  10. Heat-resistant Tape
  11. A sublimation printer for t-shirts
  12. Sublimation papers
  13. Butcher paper
  14. Cricut Easypress
  15. Lint roller
  16. Paper towel

The Step-by-Step Guide (Using Bleached Shirts)

Step 1: Prepare the spray bottle

Begin by filling a spray bottle with bleach, which you’ll use to treat the T-shirt. To ensure an even application, briefly press the T-shirt to remove any wrinkles. The bleach will not soak through the shirt’s backside if a piece of cardboard is inserted inside it. When handling bleach, you should wear gloves.

Step 2: Measure the area

You have two options for applying the bleach. One approach involves spraying the bleach directly onto the desired area without prior measurement. Alternatively, you can use a paintbrush to apply bleach around a sublimation paper template placed on the T-shirt. The fabric’s color will change as the bleach reacts with it. To monitor the design, position the sublimation paper accordingly.

Applying Bleach with a Spray Bottle:

The second method involves placing sublimation paper on the T-shirt and using a paintbrush to apply bleach around the edges of the paper template. Alternatively, you can use the spray bottle to create the bleach design. Any excess bleach should be absorbed with a paper towel.

Step 3: Use the heat gun

Use a heat gun instead of sunlight to speed up the drying process. For safety reasons, you may opt to use the sun’s heat. Use peroxide if necessary to stop the bleaching process before the fabric turns completely white, but ensure the T-shirt is light in color.

Step 4: Clean the shirts

The bleach will be removed once the shirts have been washed together to eliminate any residual chemicals and finish bleaching. You can use a tub with a mixture of 50% water and 50% peroxide for this purpose. If you prefer to use a washing machine, apply peroxide after heat pressing to prevent the image from acquiring a yellowish tint.

Now that the shirts have been washed and dried, they can be sublimated, displaying your unique bleach designs.

Step 5: Prepare and print the design

To prepare the design for sublimation, use software like Microsoft Word to arrange and mirror-invert the images, as sublimation requires this type of printing. You can print the images directly from Microsoft Word or use any other design software you choose.

 You can use the same ET-2760 printer you used for printing sublimation on a black shirt in a previous project. Demonstrate the effects of pre-bleached and post-bleached sublimation on multiple images.

Step 6: Sublimate the shirt

In between the layers of bleached shirts, place cardboard or butcher paper. Securely tape the printed sublimation paper onto the bleached area. Before sublimation, ensure the shirt is free of lint by using a lint roller. 

In the next step, place the shirt over the butcher paper and heat press it for 60 seconds at 385°F.This process will transfer your sublimated design onto the shirt, resulting in a vibrant and unique final product.

Heat Press It For 60 Seconds

You may notice that both the design and the bleached portion of the T-shirt have a yellowish tint because I didn’t use peroxide to halt the bleaching process, and I opted for machine washing. However, there’s a remedy.

After heat pressing, simply spray peroxide over the surface, insert butcher paper in between the layers, and heat press again for just 5 seconds. This additional step will yield stunning results, as illustrated in the image.

After Sublimation Printing, How To Bleach A Shirt

This method entails initially performing sublimation printing and subsequently applying bleach to determine which approach yields the most exquisite results.

Step 1: Design Printing and Sublimation

Following the steps outlined in the initial method (Steps 5 and 6), begin by preparing your design and sublimating it onto the shirt. Refer to the instructions in Steps 5 and 6 for detailed guidance on design preparation and sublimation. Once the design has been successfully sublimated onto the shirt, you can proceed to the bleaching process.

Step 2: The Bleaching Process

Before starting the bleaching process, insert cardboard into the T-shirt for added protection. Don gloves and, if necessary, a respiratory mask for safety precautions. Load your spray bottle with bleach and begin applying it to the shirt. To expedite the bleaching, you can use a heat gun. When you’re satisfied with the bleaching effect, use either peroxide spray or a mixture of 50% water and 50% peroxide to stop the bleaching process.

Comparing The Results Of Both Methods

A Quick Method

Here’s an alternative method for bleaching shirts, especially if you want to avoid bleaching the outer areas of the design, as demonstrated in the images. Follow these quick steps:

  1. Begin by printing your design using a sublimation printer, and ensure it’s compatible with Cricut.
  2. In Cricut Design Space, utilize the “print then cut” feature to prepare your design for cutting.
  3. Cut a vinyl sheet with the same design you intend to sublimate and bleach using a Cricut Maker.
  4. Position the adhesive vinyl at the center of the shirt and secure it with butcher paper covering the surrounding areas of the vinyl.
  5. Proceed with the bleaching process, spraying the peroxide as needed.
  6. After bleaching, wash the shirt to remove any residual chemicals.
  7. Finally, conduct the sublimation process, focusing on the bleached area to achieve the desired design.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In order to sublimate a shirt, how long does it take to bleach it?

A variety of outcomes can be achieved depending on factors such as bleach type and color. Generally, it may take anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour for the results to become apparent after the item has fully dried.

Why my shirt isn’t bleaching?
Poly-blended shirts typically require more time to reveal the results. For optimal results, repeat the bleaching process two to three times. This is why I recommend using 100% polyester, as it’s a synthetic fiber that reacts more swiftly with bleach.


I hope you found the comprehensive guide on bleaching shirts for sublimation enjoyable and informative. We explored two approaches: pre-bleaching and post-bleaching. While both methods produced satisfying results, the pre-bleached sublimation truly stood out with its stunning outcome.

Many crafters inquire about bleaching without relying on sunlight, and we diligently tested both methods without sunlight, utilizing a heat gun instead. It’s worth noting that the use of peroxide is crucial to halt the bleaching process and prevent any undesirable yellowish transfers.

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