Thrifty Thursday: DIY Bleach Pen Shirts


I’ve been itching to do something crafty lately. Anyone who knows me, knows that’s really nothing out of the ordinary. I’m always on the lookout for exciting (as well as fairly simple and inexpensive) new crafty DIY (do-it-yourself) projects. However, it’s been a while since I actually made the time to put one of these ideas to the test… until just recently.

I had wanted to try out an idea I saw on Pinterest quite some time ago but, like so many other things on my “I’d love to try this!” list, it had been pushed by the wayside by the never-ending “I really need to” list. With my husband out-of-town for a couple of days, and the kids asleep in their beds, I decided to let my creative juices flow and break out the Clorox bleach pen. NOT for cleaning purposes though; for something way better – upcycling a plain old, boring t-shirt into something new and exciting.

Here’s what you’ll need:

*Plain cotton t-shirt (use one that you already own, pick up a cheap one at a thrift store or from a store’s clearance rack)

*Clorox bleach pen

*Old magazine, newspaper, or white towel

*Stencil or picture to copy (optional)

My t-shirt, an old magazine, and a Clorox bleach pen - that's it!
My t-shirt, an old magazine, and a Clorox bleach pen – that’s it!

First things first, you’ll need to choose your shirt. I decided to go with an old black t-shirt I had lying around. You can use any color shirt (except for white – obviously). After that, figure out what image (or text) you want to use. You can even use a stencil if you’re not too sure about free-handing it.

Decide where you want your image to be and then lay your t-shirt flat.

Place the old magazine, newspaper, or a white towel inside your shirt to make sure the bleach doesn’t soak through. I just used an old magazine which worked like a charm.

Grab your Clorox bleach pen, shake it, and start drawing! I decided to draw an anchor on my shirt in celebration of summer and also just because I really love anything nautical.

Time to wait for the bleach gel to work its magic...
Time to wait for the bleach gel to work its magic…

As you draw, there will be bubbles. It’s all good – pop them and do your best to blend the blobs. Your finished product isn’t going to be perfect and that is really ok! In fact, that’s what will make it so unique! I accidentally got a couple small splatters around my anchor and decided to just add a bunch more splatters to give it a cool effect. Happy accidents people!

After you’ve finished, let the bleach gel sit while it pulls some of the color out of your shirt. I let mine sit for about 30 minutes because I wanted a drastic effect. Once you think your shirt’s bleached to your satisfaction, carefully carry it to your bathtub or sink and rinse off all of the bleach gel. Wash and dry your shirt, and voila! You’ve got yourself a brand-spankin’ new and unique shirt to wear!

Here's the finished product!
Here’s the finished product!

I have to say, I’m now a little obsessed with my bleach pen and can’t wait to try it out again. You certainly don’t need to limit yourself to shirts either.

You can also try this on:


Cloth napkins


Baby bibs

Throw pillows


Baseball hats

Table runners


Who knew bleach could be this fun?

3 comments on “Thrifty Thursday: DIY Bleach Pen Shirts”

  1. This is a really cool idea and I love how it came out. I think if I just read about it without seeing an example, I might think, “meh”, but the result is cool. And I really like the dots around it. Super cute!

  2. I LOVE your craft posts. Love them!! This is such a fun idea. You could even do this with your child – pick one of their older tshirts and let them draw on it (with supervision of course). I bet it would thrill them to know they made their own shirt!

Share Some Comment Love

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s