I bleached my pants (and so should you!)

Bleached pants
Elysa Dombro/Staff

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This summer is the perfect time to get creative with do-it-yourself projects. I’m a huge fan of altering, cutting, dyeing and getting creative with clothing, but the one aspect of the DIY clothing process I hadn’t yet tried was bleaching. Something about the toxicity of the bleach and the idea of potentially ruining an expensive item, such as a pair of jeans, had always turned me away. But as I’ve been stuck sitting around in the heat of summer, I figured there was no better time to tackle a project that I’ve been putting off. And if these look awful, just know that I did it for the Clog. 

The first step was picking a pair of jeans. I needed something that I almost never wear, but not something that I hate enough that I won’t wear it even if the bleaching looks good. Luckily, I have an addiction to buying $2 pants at the thrift store, so I had a decent supply of jeans to work with. I finally settled on some jean capris that were given to me by my aunt. They’re a little too big for me, which is why I rarely wear them, but maybe this is the renewal they needed!

Next, I scoured the internet for design inspiration. Should I do tie-dye style, bleach the whole thing, or dip-dye? I even considered drawing some funky swirly patterns, but in the end, I decided to bleach an entire leg and leave the other leg unbleached. This felt like a bold move for me, but if you’re going to bleach your jeans, you might as well really bleach ’em! That’s the advice my mom gave me, at least.

I set up by finding a spot outside that I don’t normally spend a ton of time in. I used some thick tape to make a border down the middle of the pants. This way, hopefully, the tape would help me get a clean line. I also put some bleach in a spray bottle. The small amount of research I did before starting this project informed me that I should probably dilute the bleach. Honestly, though, I didn’t end up doing that mostly because I forgot. At least they were free pants!

After working up the courage, I put on some thick gloves and used the spray bottle to soak one entire leg with bleach. After leaving the pants for about 45 minutes, I came back and bleached the spots that still had some color. I wanted them pretty bleached, but you can always go a little lighter if you want them slightly colored.

Once I was happy with the result, I rinsed my jeans in the sink with water. I then threw them in the wash, and finally, I washed them again with a bunch of light-colored towels and sheets that I didn’t mind getting a little bleached. I decided to let the jeans air dry instead of throwing them in the dryer, and once they were dry, I tried them on.

Well, maybe becoming a TikTok DIY star is in my future, after all! I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, and I really didn’t put an extensive amount of work in. Even though I’m not sure how much I’ll really wear them, I feel good that I finally tackled this project and that I refreshed a pair of jeans I never wear anyway. And if I could do it, you can do it! Maybe this is just the kick in the pants (no pun intended) you needed to bleach your own jeans.

Contact Elysa Dombro at [email protected].