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DIY Reverse Tie Dye Tote Bag with Bleach

Meghan Quinones |

Have you noticed that tie dye has become all of the rage?  It seems everywhere you look (especially on social media) someone is wearing tie dyed in some sort of fashion.  Tie dye is not a new technique or look.  It’s been around since the mid 1960’s.  Like many fashion trends, this one has come and gone throughout the years. Typically, when trends come back, they are altered a bit to infuse some freshness and uniqueness into them.

The latest tie dye trend includes more muted color palettes and more abstract, organic patterns.  These are a bit different than the traditional circle designs that were made poplar in the 1960’s.  Another way the trend had been updated is by using a reverse tie dye method. Instead of using white (or light colored) fabric, people are taking colored fabric and using bleach to create the unique look of tie dye without using dyes at all.  This is how I created my reverse tie dye tote bag with bleach.

Using bleach simplifies the overall process and makes this DIY attainable for any crafting skill level. It also requires less supplies since most people probably already have a jug of bleach sitting in their laundry rooms as we speak and rubber bands in their junk drawer.  For my reverse tie dye tote bag with bleach, I wanted to go with a bold and vibrant color like yellow for a fun summer bag.  To make your own reverse tie dye tote bag with bleach, check out the full video tutorial below!




Step 1: Run the canvas tote bag under the sink, soaking it.  Then, twist the bag from the top to the bottom wringing out any excess water.  The water will help the bag better soak up the bleach that will be poured on it in a later step.


Step 2: Unfold the canvas tote bag and smooth it out with your hands.


Step 3: Grab the tote bag in the center and begin twisting.  Then, grab the bottom right corner and begin twisting up to the center of the bag.  Repeat this process on the top corners and the lower left corner until all of the bag has been twisted up.


Step 4: Begin placing rubber bands around all of the sections that have been twisted.  Be sure to wrap them tightly so the twists remain tight and keep their shape.

Step 5: Use a plastic tray to protect your work surface from bleach.  If you don’t have a plastic tray, you can also place an old towel outside on the ground.


Step 6: Fill a small bottle with bleach.  I used a small plastic toiletry travel bottle.  You’ll want a bottle that has a small opening at the top in order to control the amount of bleach coming out.


Step 7: Start squirting bleach all of the twisted parts of the tote bag.  You’ll want to go over each section with a generous amount of bleach in order to fully saturate the bag.


Step 8:  After adding bleach to the canvas tote bag, let it sit.  I let mine sit for 4 hours.  The longer the bag sits, the more prominent the bleach designs will be.  If you let the tote bag sit for less time, the bleach designs will have a more faded appearance.


Step 9: Once the tote bag has had time to sit, unwrap all of the rubber bands.


Step 10: Carefully take the tote bag from your work station and bring it to a sink.  Run cold water over the bag, fully soaking it.  Once the bag is fully wet, begin wringing it out.  You’ll want to repeat this process a few times in order to ensure you’ve fully rinsed out all of the bleach.


Step 11: Use your hands to smooth out the canvas bag as best as you can.  Then, you’ll want to let it air dry.  You can toss it on a drying rack, clothesline, or hang it over a railing or chair.


Step 12:  Once the tote bag is completely dry (this could take 24 hours), if you’re not satisfied with the look of it from wringing it out, you can go over it with an iron.


You could leave your reverse tie dye tote bag with bleach as is, or you could take it up a notch by adding a stenciled design to the center or us heat transfer vinyl to customize it.  Whichever option you choose, your reverse tie dye tote bag with bleach will be your go-to summer bag. Enjoy!