DIY: Patterned Bleach Jeans

Originally posted November 17, 2016.

Author: Kate Elizabeth

Distressing your jeans can be a great way to give new life to jeans that are stale, outdated, or on their last leg. A common technique is to add holes through the legs, and while that looks awesome, I’m going to show you a fun alternative: Bleaching.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pair of jeans (These can be from a thrift store or an old pair you want to change) I had a lighter pair on hand, but the darker the jean, the more dramatic the results.
  • Clorox Clean Up Bleach Spray– The one that isn’t straight bleach is preferable
  • A bucket (or something to put a water mixture and your jeans in)
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • A slotted spoon (useful, but not necessary)


Put on clothes you wouldn’t mind getting bleach on (this process is pretty contained, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe). Find a floor that bleach wouldn’t hurt. A shower or tub is good for this too. Lay your jeans out flat. Get your bottle of Clorox Clean Up and decide what design you want to make. I decided to go with polka dots, so I sprayed close to the jeans in bursts to create the circles. You can move the nozzle closer or further away from the jeans depending on how large you want your polka dots to be. If you want a different design, you can bring the nozzle close to the jeans and spray your pattern in quick sprays. When you have the design the way you want it, sit and wait for a while. But stay close and watch as the bleach lightens the jeans. I waited about 15 minutes before this pair was ready, but it will vary based on the pair of jeans, and how light you want the design to be. While you’re waiting, and watching, go ahead and fill a bucket (or tub) with a mixture of water and a little bit of hydrogen peroxide. If you have the slotted spoon, mix the water and hydrogen peroxide to mix them evenly. When the jeans are ready, put them in the water/hydrogen peroxide mixture. This stops the bleach from continuing to bleach your jeans. Without this step, at best, the design will get too light, and at worst, the bleach will eat holes in your jeans. After you submerge the jeans in the mixture, they’re ready to be washed like normal. Wash them by themselves the first time, so any leftover bleach doesn’t get on anything else. You now have a transformed pair of jeans!

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