Do It Yourself: Bleach Dress

Olivia Palermo: bleach inspiration

About a year ago I dripped some bleach onto my favourite black dress whilst doing a home dip-dying hair job. It was only a little splodge on the skirt which I thought was pretty unnoticeable,  so I carried on wearing the dress until one evening my housemate pointed it out and asked what food I’d spilled on myself this time. Oops. Not wanting to throw out a perfectly good dress, I had a little dig around on Pinterest and found a photo of Olivia Palermo languishing in the depths of one of my inspiration boards: she was wearing this brilliant black and orange Christian Dior dress which I thought would be pretty easy to DIY with a bottle of bleach. So off I trundled to Tesco, and after a bit of experimentation and inhaling a lot of toxic fumes, I found the the foolproof method:


Thick bleach (Tesco’s Value bleach works great)

Rubber gloves

Some clothing to DIY (make sure the fabric is cotton, or at least mostly cotton)

Empty spray bottle (you can get these in the travel section at Boots, or reuse an old cleaning bottle)

Old paint brush or a cloth

You can create wildly different effects by using different objects to apply the bleach on to your fabric. From left to right: painting the bleach on with a brush is better for accuracy, but takes much longer; a scrunched up cloth creates a lot of texture; a spray bottle covers a larger area more quickly but can be quite unpredictable and can leave drips. I used the spray bottle method because it’s quickest and easiest and I preferred the effect.


1. Carefully pour some bleach into your empty spray bottle and spray onto your dress, making sure it’s laid out flat. Don’t go too crazy at first – wait a couple of minutes for the bleach to start working before you add more. You can create some interesting patterns by spraying the bleach at varying distances from the dress. Don’t forget to do the back and sides!

2. Leave until the bleach is basically dry (about 20-30 minutes) then place in some cool water for a couple of hours.

3. Bung it in the washing machine for a cycle, then leave to dry. You might need to wash it a few times to get rid of the smell of the bleach!


Do your bleaching somewhere where you won’t cause any damage and where it’s well-ventilated – outside in the sunshine is best, but if that doesn’t work for you, make sure all the surrounding windows are open and you put down some cardboard so you don’t damage any surfaces.

Use rubber gloves to protect your hands and wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting any accidental spillages on.


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