How to Bleach A Shirt for Sublimation

Last Updated on April 1, 2022 by Andrew Chapman

Sublimation is the process of printing your favorite design and sublimating the desired material by the heat process. And everyone prefers it, whether you have the sublimated mug laying on the table or the shirt that you’ve worn. Because it gives different look to the blank material.

To get the quality print onto the material, our desired material must have a 100% polyester coating. But when it comes to choosing the shirt for bleaching, let me tell you that not all the shirts will bleach. Many shirts can be bleached but the shirts that get easily bleached are heather colors. But when you think of sublimating it, you must focus on the polyester percentage. Because the higher the polyester percentage, the better the sublimation result onto the material.

bleaching shirts for sublimation

We are just saying it and have been experiencing it over the years. Because we have got the brilliant results on the polyester material. To complete this process, you will need some requirements. If you want to sublimate a bleached shirt, Make sure to read all the guides and implement all the steps carefully.

Things you will need to complete the process:

  • Bleach
  • Design for Sublimation
  • Measuring Tape
  • Heat Press
  • Parchment Paper
  • Hot water Bath
  • Spray Bottle
  • Sublimation Ink
  • T-shirt
  •  Cardboard

Before we have gone through the sublimation process for bleaching shirts. Let’s talk about the weather’s role in bleaching shirts for sublimation.

Bleaching shirts without Sun

To get better results, you must need a sunny day. It will speed up the bleaching process and you will get an outstanding output in whiter clothes. But most people think that it’s a must thing to consider for bleaching shirts. Let me tell you it’s a myth, the benefit is only it takes less time to dry. Yes, it’s not necessary and you can also do this process when there is no sunshine. It’ll only take a little bit longer time, but all you need to do is to keep the focus on it until it’s not done. Now let’s go down to the process of how to bleach shirts for sublimation.

How to Bleach a Shirt for Sublimation

Before starting the process, one thing I should tell all of you is that the polyester material shirts do not bleach completely. As a result, you don’t get satisfied. To get satisfying results, you will need to have a combination of polyester and cotton. And you must have a higher percentage of polyester than cotton. Otherwise, you will get the faded sublimation. And I would suggest that the best shirts for bleaching and sublimation must have cotton of 35% and 65% polyester.

Step 1 – Purchasing quality bleach and spray bottle

First of all, you will need bleach for bleaching your desired shirts for sublimation. I would suggest purchasing the new bleach rather than using the old one. Because the quality of the old bleach gets changed over time. The concentrated bleach will be more beneficial for getting the best results.

And you will have to purchase a high-quality spray bottle. Because we want to have long-lasting results after spraying onto the desired place for sublimation.

The spray bottle should have a clean and adjustable nozzle to customize. So, the spray comes onto the surface smoothly. On the other hand, the low-quality spray doesn’t remain long. If you are doing a business and selling bleached sublimated shirts, a glass spray bottle would be my recommendation.

Step 2 – Pouring the bleach into a spray bottle

In this step, we will pour the bleach into the spray bottle. But you need to notice one thing you will only put the bleach into a spray. And you won’t liquefy them with the water. Apart from these two required things, hydrogen peroxide will be needed to stop the bleaching process. So, make sure to have it too.

Step 3 – A required piece of cardboard

This step will need a quality piece of cardboard. It is used to protect the back of the shirt from bleach. You will place the cardboard inside the shirt.

Now set up the area where you want to bleach. But if there’s a bright day, I would suggest bleaching in a sunny place. Again place another piece of cardboard on that area where you gonna do this all before spraying the bleach.

Step 4 – Spraying few drops onto the desired place

Now it’s time to spray that area with the nozzle of the spray bottle. To check first just spray a few drops, don’t need to saturate the shirt. Once the place that you want to sublimate gets bleached, it’ll take hardly 5 minutes to dry. If you are doing this all on a bright day. Because the shirts mostly don’t take a long time to convert into white.

Step 5 – Spraying properly the sublimation area

When you see the shirt is changing color, you can add more bleach to the desired place. And when all the bleach process gets done, it’s time to wash the bleached shirt. Because when you leave the bleached shirt unwashed, the fabric gets torn and can leave holes as well. We will through this shirt into the washing machine for finishing the bleaching process. Another thing you should keep in mind is that the bleached area is more than enough for the design to be sublimated.

But the add-on is that you will fill the washing machine with hot water and detergent. It will ensure you that all the bleach has been removed from the shirts. By leaving the bleached shirt unwashed for a long, the cloth gets extremely thin. When the washing process is done, throw it into the dryer machine and let it dry.

Step 6 – Understanding the sublimation design

In this step, you should have the design that you want to sublimate. If you are a beginner and new to sublimation, you can read this helpful and easy guide on how to make a sublimation design. You will find there multiple free and paid designing software with their functions and designing abilities.

You can make customized designs by using that software with its super easy and user-friendly interface. And if you don’t know about designing and don’t have designing sense, even you can also generate some amazing designs. So, the design should also be better to get an eye-catchy quality.

Step 7 – Required Sublimation printer

After creating an eye-catchy design from suitable software, you must have a sublimation printer to get the quality print of the design. I have used the Epson printers for our sublimation business because they generate high-quality results. Whatever printer you use, must have piezo printing technology. Because it gives the results more than your expectations.

Notice that don’t use the old printers or those printers that are used after so long. Because it directly affects the quality of the print. Another thing that performs a major role in printing quality is sublimation ink. Don’t use the regular ink because this kind of ink doesn’t remain for long on the substrate. Also, you waste your time and your efforts.

I would prefer to use the sublimation ink for getting a long-lasting print and the clean colorful print. Apart from the sublimation printer and the sublimation ink. You must have high-quality sublimation paper as the print comes out onto the paper. It retains and transfers the ink onto the fabric by the heat press. So, to transfer the print on the substrate, you should also have quality sublimation paper.

Related: Best Sublimation Printers for T-Shirts

Step 8 – Using a heat press to transfer the design

In this step, you will need to have the heat press for transferring your design onto the bleached shirt. Before you go through the transferring process, let me be aware of some things. You should know the basics of heat press like how to use and how to press. Because applying temperature is more than the required, your design and the material will get burned. And the same when you leave it for more time even at a suitable temperature, you get the burned shirt. So, you must be aware of the temperature, time, and pressure as well. Because it matters a lot in transferring your design better or not.

You will turn on the heat press at 400 F for 60 seconds. To be honest, we have got better results while sublimating the bleached shirts. Again it depends on the material and you can ask from where you have bought the shirt. You can ask which temperature is suitable for the sublimation process and also tell us the suitable time.

Until the heat press gets heated, prepare the bleached shirt and the design. Place the design onto the material and make sure you have placed the parchment paper inside the shirt to prevent the ink from going into the other part of the shirt. And make sure, you have placed it right on the downside of the shirt where the design will transfer.

As the parchment paper will prevent the backside of the shirt. I would suggest purchasing another piece of paper to place onto the sublimation design to protect the heat press from the ink adhering. Now press it with medium to high pressure through the heat press. Now your design is ready but be careful while removing the equipment. Because it can burn your hand and your fingers. So, let all the equipment dry or use the safety gloves to remove them one by one.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can adopt both the options and can be bleached before and after the sublimation. But it always depends on the better results and we have got the more vibrant colors when bleaching before sublimation. Apart from the better results, it’s also less difficult than bleaching after the sublimation.

You can use any kind of bleach that shows consistency and gives better results. I would suggest Clorox splash less because it shows consistency. And in my case, I have used it many times. Every time it has given me the expected results.

If you are bleaching the shirt on a sunny or bright day, it’s your luck and you will get good results. Also, the process will be done quickly. But when you bleach without the sunlight, still the process will be completed. But it will take a longer time.

To bleach the polyester, you should have the oxygen bleach the ingredients won’t be harshed on synthetic fibers. As we know polyester is synthetic. So, avoid using chlorine bleach to protect the fibers from breaking down.

You can bleach after 30 minutes or 24 hours as well. But it also depends on the material and how the design has been transferred. Again you can do experiments by bleaching it with the breaking of time.

No, bleach won’t take out the sublimation ink until you use the right bleach. Chlorine bleach can ghost and damage your ink and the print. Because it reduces the Wicking properties. So, use oxygen bleach to get the best results.

You will get a mixture of bleach and water and then put this sweatshirt plastic bucket. You will have to wait for at least 10 minutes to get satisfied. When you get satisfied with the color, then remove and wash with mild detergent and leave it to dry.

You will get the 3/4 cup of bleach for polyester/ cotton blends. And wash the polyester shirt with hot water and mix the bleach into it. And when you see the results are coming, you can remove the shirt.


We have described everything about how to bleach a shirt for sublimation in detail. And also mentioned which percentage of the material to go with. If you want to bleach your shirt and then sublimate it, just need to follow the steps and prepare your shirts.

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