Bleach Thickener: discharging with household bleach

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The Bleach Thickener is designed to be used with bleach to produce a thickened paste which can be applied to fabric in order to remove color. The paste can be painted or printed onto the fabric. The thickener remains stable in bleach for 24 to 36 hours. The bleach thickener is for use on cellulose fibers such as cotton, linen, and rayon. Not recommended for protein fibers such as wool and silk.

To mix a solution for painting or printing the following ratios work well.

Solution for Painting:

  • 12 grams or 1 Tbs Thickener
  • 25 ml or between 1/16 to 1/8 cup bleach


Screen or Block Printing Solution:

  • 25grams or appr. 1 Tbs + 2 tsp thickener
  • 37ml or appr. 1/8 cup bleach


Adjust thickener amounts above for desired consistency. Bleach can be added up to 50%. Always add the thickener to the bleach, not vise verse. Mix until smooth. A small wire whisk works well. Be careful not to splash! Water can also be added to thin the consistency or to slow the reaction for some reason.

Paint or print this mixture onto fabric that has been previously dyed. Leave to dry. The longer that the mixture is left on the fabric and the thicker the application of the bleach paste, the more dye that will be removed. However do not leave on for several hours as the bleach may weaken the fabric. Once dry or discharged to taste, rinse, then soak in Bleach Stop or something to deactivate the bleach, then wash fabric to remove thickener.

When using the bleach thickener on dyed fabrics you will find various results depending on the type of dye and color that is chosen for the background. We recommend our Procion MX dyes for cellulose fibers. Many dyes will not discharge to a white but rather to a lighter version of the same color and sometimes to another color entirely. Some colors and dye types will not discharge at all or very little. Results may vary. A little experimenting is required! The chart below is old information that we found, but formulas or MX colors have changed over the years and results may differ.

Procion On Cotton - Discharge Chart

(Procion Dyes - low dischargeable colors)

Lemon Yellow #1 discharges to light yellow
Golden Yellow #3 discharges to a lighter golden yellow
Fuchsia #13 discharges to light magenta
Turquoise #25 discharges to light turquoise
Kelly Green#66 discharges to light aqua
Burgundy #17 discharges to light burgundy
Better Black #44 discharges to light burgundy
Aquamarine #29 discharges to light aqua
Avocado #33 discharges to bright yellow
Lilac #19A discharges to gray
Robins Egg Blue #80 discharges to light aqua

(Procion Dyes - high dischargeable colors)

Rust Orange #8 discharges to light rust orange
Bright Orange #6 discharges to off white
Reds, #9,#10,#10A,#11A,#12 discharge to varying degrees of beige
Deep Purple #18 discharges to beige
Ultra Violet #18A discharges to gray
Cobalt blue #22 discharges to gray
Cerulean Blue #23 discharges to almost white
Navy #24 discharges to gray
Forest Green #31A discharges to gray
Bronze #37 discharges to beige
Maroon Brown #36 discharges to pinkish beige
Hot Pink #14A discharges to off white
Raspberry #65 discharges to beige
Midnight Blue #27 discharges to gray
Dark Green #31 discharges to light gold
Chocolate Brown #35A discharges to off white
Ecru #6A discharges to cream
Peach #7A discharges to pinkish cream
Bubble Gum #98 discharges to white
Ice Blue#61 discharges to light blue

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