Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bleach Pen Jean Tutorial

I've been obsessed by what folks have been doing with Clorox bleach pens and knew I had to give it a try myself.  Pintress has pins of a bunch done on all sorts of tee shirts but only a few posts on jeans.  After reading all about making your own bleach pens and more I decided to just purchase the bleach pens for my first go around.  Honestly the pens are under $3.00 each and it took me just over one pen to do every bit of doodling on this pair of jeans.  To me it would never be worth bothering with trying to make my own but that's just my opinion.  I would hate to get totally finished with my project just to find out my bleach ratio was off and I didn't get the nice deep bleached pattern I was looking for.

Jeans or other mostly cotton item
Clorox Bleach Pen or empty glue bottle to use as applicator 
**********update!     soft scrub with bleach works great for pen refills        update!************
Tooth Pick or other sharp implement 
Wax Paper
Paper Towel

My friend Bethany made a good point, you don't want to use the dollar store version of these bleach pens, they work great on the grout in your bathroom but are to watery to be any good for this application.  Bleach bleeding will happen with the cheap pens, this is yet another reason I didn't want to mess with trying to make bleach paste.
 I have found that soft scrub with bleach is a great pen refil. 

Here are my finished jeans, I just thrilled with them.

I should have started by shaking my bleach pens to make sure the bleach paste inside was evenly distrubited throughout the pen.  I didn't do this but you will :). I started by placing waxed paper on the inside of the pants so the bleach wouldn't bleed through.  I simply cut the basic leg shape and slid it into both pant legs. I wasn't sure where I would end up doodling with the bleach so I simply lined both sides top to bottom.

You could draw a design onto your pants with chalk before applying the bleach but this goes against my jump in with both feet mentality so I didn't. Before you start doodling on the pants try it on a paper towel to get the feel for the pens bleach consistency, have a toothpick handy so you can pop any bubbles that need busting, trust me there will be bubbles.  I realized that I needed to start squeezing the pen before putting it down onto the denim to make sure I wouldn't be starting with a bubble.  I completed the the leg doodle and moved onto the front pocket because these were areas I could do without flipping the pants. The bleach must completely dry before you can work on the other side so no bleach smudging happens.

This is what the bleach looked like after drying, I took this powdery mess outside and brushed it off the pants.  Once it was pretty much all off I rinced the jeans in the tub to get out any extra bleach.  I didn't want it to take the chance that it might lighten the rest of the jean fabric in the laundry.  I have a front loader and they don't use as much water to dilute the bleach so this was just a precaution.

Here is the back of the finished jeans.

Close up of the leg, the toothpick also comes in handy to pull the bleach into points because the pens lay out a fairly thick line.

Here is the rear pocket and I did it last, I don't think that I had the pen as well shaken as the front and it's not as crisp of a design so shake those pens.

This is the front pocket and you can see some of it isn't as crisp as the leg pattern again with the shaking. LOL.   

This project was so much fun I see more in my future, I may have to doodle on friends jeans because just how many doodle jeans does one person need.  My jean jacket may be next on the docket.

The two pair below I did for some friends.

Latest projects 4/20/15
My friend Maralyne lives on South Padre Island in Texas and I when I was down visiting her I bleached these jeans for her. She works with the sea turtle rescue so I thought this design was appropriate.  I used a tribal tattoo design as the inspiration for these jeans. 

The above design wraps around the leg so I had to wait for the bleach on the humming bird to dry before I could work on the flowers.  
Maralyne has a pair of cowboy boots with the design that inspired this pair of jeans.


  1. Really, really love your new jeans! I'm going to have give this a try on a pair of my own—thanks for sharing!

  2. Super cute, I bet my teenage daughter would love to do this. THX for sharing.

  3. Found an outfit in WM I wanted but the jeans weren't available in my size. This is EXACTLY the list of instructions I needed. While I'm sure my designs will be no where near as intricate or glorious as yours, you inspire me to try for a LITTLE more elaborate pattern than I was originally thinking of.

  4. Love this and great outline of what you did at each stage, great job on explaining things so well :). I tried this technique and found the Clorox bleach pen did not lighten the denim too much. Hoping you might let me know how long you left it on for? I don't want to ruin the fabric, but don't think the gel is really soaking into the denim so it doesn't bleach it enough. Any tips on lightening it up to a nice white like yours would be so appreciated. P.S. I also tried to putting the Clorox gel pen on with dry denim, and slightly dampened to see if there was any difference in absorption..but not much difference at all. thank you

  5. thank you for the great detail, explanation and info. I tried this and looks like the bleach pen didn't seem to lighten as much as I would have liked? It's as though it didn't absorb into the denim. Can you suggest how you got your bleached design so white? FYI I tried on dry denim, and damp denim....and still very faint bleaching. Maybe it is how long you leave the bleach on??? hoping you might have some insight. Thank you

  6. Absolutely fantastic designs and Ideas. I posted this to Pinterest, so hopefully you will get lots of renewed interest, and new visitors! THANK YOU!

  7. wonder how hard it would be to use stencils. I am not a good doodler.

  8. WOW, These are GREAT! Thanks for all the tips. I saw some that cost $150.00 and did not want to spend that ind of money.