HOW TO BLEACH A DROP CLOTH

HOW TO BLEACH A DROP CLOTH- A very easy to follow guide for a soft and light colored drop cloth

I look at painter’s drop cloths like some people look at great fabric. Because it is! Drop cloths are strong and have a great “hand”. They are weighty and work fantastically as slipcovers, book covers, and table linens. I’m working on a project I’ll share next week and wanted to use drop cloths but in a lighter color. No problem! I bleached them. I LOVE the results. Here’s how easy it is to bleach drop cloths!

 

I bought four 9 x 12 drop cloths for my project.  Bleaching them resulted in a softer, lighter color! 

HOW TO BLEACH A DROPCLOTH

HOW TO BLEACH A DROP CLOTH- A very easy to follow guide for a soft and light colored drop cloth

MATERIALS:

  • drop cloth
  • bleach
  • washer
  • dryer

PROCEDURE:

How light a drop cloth will get will depend on the amount of bleach you use the length of time the dropcloths soaks in the bleach and water solution. 

Add bleach to your washer and let the tub fill with hot water on a regular cycle. When it has sufficiently filled, add in one drop cloth. Let the washer “wash” for about 3-5 minutes . This will distribute the bleach and water evenly around the drop cloth. Then pause the washer.

Soak the drop cloth for 3-4 hours. Let the washer finish its cycle.  

Wash the drop cloth with detergent again. Dry in the dryer. If it still smells like bleach you can wash and dry it again. The more you wash and dry the drop cloth the softer it will get.

HOW TO BLEACH A DROP CLOTH- A very easy to follow guide for a soft and light colored drop cloth

Here are some things to think about:

  • only soak one drop cloth at a time. If drop cloths are crowded in the washer they might get splotchy. Our goal is even lightening
  • do not soak for more than 4 hours or the drop cloth could begin to yellow
  • drop cloths may naturally be slightly different in color to begin with
  • if you have a front load washer without a “soak” cycle like I do, you can read how to soak clothes HERE.
  • the bleached drop cloths have softer and a little nubbier feel. Really nice!!!!

HERE’S WHAT I DID

I wanted a very light drop cloth but not white so I used 4 cups of bleach and soaked my drop cloths for 4 hours each. They came out soft and a very light bone color. Which will work with my project at hand.

I hope you give this easy project a try!

 

Today on Decorating Tips and Tricks we are talking about STAIRS! How to paint them, cover them, highlight them. What kinds of banisters and balusters and spindles are out there for us to use. We have lots of ideas and info for you today. Don’t overlook your stairs!

 

You might like to follow me on Pinterest and see what I’m finding to pin every day HERE.

HOW TO BLEACH A DROP CLOTH- A very easy to follow guide for a soft and light colored drop cloth

 

 

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127 Comments

  1. oh my, thank you for this post. I’m wanting to use drop cloths as curtains in my bedroom and think this process will soften them up a bit to hang better. I can’t wait to buy my drop cloths this weekend and proceed with your process to get these hung in my bedroom.

    Thanks again for all the work you do to keep your blog up-to-date, it’s the first blog I check every morning and several times a day. I signed up to get notification of new posts. ♥

    Lisa from Indiana

  2. This is a project I will have to try. I am guessing a front loading washer would work fine. You always have clever ideas for us! Pinned it so other gals who don’t subscribe can see it (and your fabulous blog!).

  3. Your drop clothes came out to be a really pretty color. I could see turning them into a tablecloth. I have no idea what you’re planning on using these for…but one question comes to mind. Are these drop clothes going to require ironing? Just the thoughts of ironing them brings dread, but I do like the weight of a drop cloth. As the saga continues…I can’t wait…the anticipation will drive me crazy, just like that book with the tutorial on an apron hanger!

  4. Can’t wait for your drop cloth project reveal! Love drop cloths but being a non-seamstress , have never worked with them. Ideas not requiring sewing appreciated and welcome!!!!

  5. Thanks for the information on bleaching dropcloths. I’m actually going to slipcover a loveseat I have in my living room and will definitely use bleach to lighten it up.

  6. Sorry, I got distracted and didn’t read down far enough. I should have known that you would not leave that out. I thoroughly enjoy your posts and look forward to them daily. I see a chair project coming soon. Have a Blessed day.

  7. Thanks for the tip! I’ve been trying to find the time to use these for outdoor curtains. You’re the best!

  8. What great tips Yvonne. I am hosting my niece’s bridal shower (couples) and we are going with a fixer upper theme since they just bought an older home. I’d love to bleach one to use as a tablecloth.

  9. Great idea! I just looked on line and there are so many different sizes and thicknesses. Is there a best choice for curtains?

    Thanks, Kathy

  10. May I ask what size drop cloths do you buy? I looked on line and there are several sizes and some are heavy duty? Thanks so much.

    1. The size I use depends on the project. For this project, I used 12 x 9 drop cloths. I don’t often use heavy duty. Droy cloths are pretty heavy anyway.

  11. Yeah! I have been wanting to try drop clothes for quite awhile. Now I now exactly how to handle them! Thanks! Can’t wait to see them finished. 🙂 Sherry

  12. Thanks again for another I-wonder-what-would happen-if-I tried-to-[fill in the blank] episode! When our new farmhouse door with venting side lites is installed, we will have a grand farmhouse look with lots of light, but then also we will have a big fishbowl effect with loss of privacy. Plan to hang floor to ceiling curtains that can be drawn, but so far that would be cost prohibitive. Think that dropcloths will do the trick!

  13. Thanks for the great ideas…this is a home run! I would like to try making tab curtains. Looking forward to seeing your latest project. Warmest wishes, Judy

  14. I can’t wait to see what you have planned for your bleached drop cloth fabric. Have you ever tried dying a drop cloth, like blue or some color? I was wondering if it would be best to bleach the drop cloth and then dye it.

  15. I saw your reply on ironing the drop cloth, however I have another question. Will you iron it damp or will you just use a steam iron? I have washed a cloth before and never have seen so many wrinkles. I surely must have done something wrong. Thanks!!

  16. The new HE washing machine will not let me stop it for a soak without it totally draining the water. I am in a love, hate relationship with this machine. And it is a top of the line model. Will just try several cycles to see how it goes.

    1. I also have an HE washer too and the instructions on the link for front loaders as confusing. It says to purchase powder bleach. Have you tried it yet? Did you soak for 4 hours? Let me know how yours turned out. I’m confused on the instructions.

  17. I AM DYING!!! I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!!!

    Blessings,
    ❤Beth

  18. I have my great grandmother’s settee which is now covered in a green embossed fabric that is faded and in somewhat poor condition. I’ve looked at linen and other fabrics similar to what’s on the settee and they are frightfully expensive. Do you think a drop cloth would work?

  19. I know that you said you used 4 cups of bleach but, was that for EACH dropcloth? Or in total? Thanks……looking forward to your next posting!

  20. Hope it is draped!!!!
    I want drapes for my sunporch and don’t want to put a lot of money in SUN RESISTENT fabrics.
    I think drop cloths will meet our needs and the color will be perfect.
    Now for cheap rods.
    Can’t wait to see your surprise!

  21. This is great! I can’t wait to see what you’re working on. I have a project in mind for bleached drop cloths as well and your tips will ensure that I get the fabric right. THANK YOU! You’re the best.

  22. So happy I found you!! I have told my sister and sister in law about you!! I can’t wait to try this and many of your suggestions. ❤️ Judy B.

  23. Love it! I have a top load washer with a special place to add bleach. So you’re saying don’t use that and add the bleach in the drum? Also, my lid locks and I can’t open it once it’s running. I’ve got to figure this out. I have a chair I would love to recover with bleached drop cloths. Thanks for the info.

  24. This post reinforces my suggestion that a friend use drop cloths for sun-blocking drapes on a very exposed patio area. I think they might work better outside if not bleached. The bleached look is quite pretty, though.

  25. Totally love the bleached look! Need some drapes for my guest room and this will be perfect. I have been playing with watercolor painting on small pieces of cotton fabric, wonder if it will work on bleached drop cloth? If I have any scraps I’ll find out!

  26. I love drop cloths and used one to cover an old wicker sofa on my screened porch. So far so good with the humidity but I will redo in time if they begin looking ratty. Also I have a top load HE washer and whenever I want to soak items, I merely bucket some water with bleach to fill enough water for a soak. Maybe a little old fashioned but accomplishes my need and barely takes any time. Anxious for the project! Thanks for the expectation ?

  27. Thank you.
    I’ve used drop cloths for years as decor..and, never thought to bleach them.
    I’m pinning.
    Btw..happy birthday..I don’t post often..but read all the time.
    Next to pin your chocolate chip cookies too

  28. What timing! I bought a beautiful white matelasse bed cover from a consignment shop and need a light bed skirt. Can’t wait to give this a try.

  29. Thanks for the tutorial on washing DCs. Looking forward to next week. 🙂 Always excited when you have a new post!

  30. I’m one of those who loves drop cloths. I like the weight, the texture, and bleached, I like the color.

  31. Thank you so much for this tip! I had slipcovers made for a love seat a few years ago, but I would love to use the fabric for some other projects. I am looking forward to your project reveal!

  32. I have used drop cloths for table runners, lamp shade covers ,pillow covers, napkins, whatever I can think of to use them for. Haven’t bleached them first, don’t usually use liquid bleach so bleach wasn’t handy for that. We live a ways from stores so when I get urge to make things just go with what I have.
    Sure appreciate your how-to bleach drop cloths post, will try that soon. We just have old style washer so one drop cloth is all it will take. Was thinking might hang out on windy day, will have lot less wrinkles that way. Hang my sheets out, not one wrinkle in sheets or pillow cases or clothes when hung out. Where we live is almost always windy so mostly hang laundry out as long into Fall and after Winter as I can. Love that fresh outside fragrance and it saves on utilities.
    Can hardly wait to make bedroom curtains.
    Enjoy rest of your week

  33. Thanks for posting this! I just bought drop cloths to use as drapes for my covered porch and they would look so much better bleached.

  34. Thanks for the tutorial! I think I want to use drop cloths and redo the window covering in my living room/temporary dining room/piano room – still don’t really know what room it is! Can’t wait to see how you finish yours up. With the bleach treatment, do you think it would be possible to paint a stencil design on the cloth? I’m thinking more of a white on white design.

  35. Thank you SO much for sharing how to do this. I’ve been wanting to make slipcovers for my dining chairs forever. This is exactly the inspiration I needed…thank you!! I bought one drop cloth to start and am going to bleach it today. Can hardly wait to see what you do with your cloth!!

  36. Thank you so much for this! I’ve been wanting to use dropcloths to reupholster 2 living room chairs because I love the weight, texture, and feel of them but wanted something lighter in color and thought about bleaching but just haven’t given it a try … yet. I can’t wait to give it a go! Thanks for the inspiration!

  37. I have a front load washer, so can’t fill it with water.
    What are my options for getting this great look?

  38. Because my front loader adds the bleach during the rinse cycle, I put the 4 cups into the drum and put detergent in the filler drawer. Then I put the dropcloth in and turned the machine on and ran it a few minutes and proceeded as Yvonne directs. I was stymied because a front loader has to weigh the load before water will go in. It appears to have worked! It’s closer to white than the other one. Probably could have put both 6 × 9’s in one load.

  39. Thank you! Off to Home Depot! LOL. I do machine embroidery. I can see pillows made out of drop clothes. Aprons and so much more. Fun project.

  40. Thank you Yvonne for this idea of using a Drop Cloth for curtains. I am going to be redecorating an extra bedroom soon. I just might try this. I would have never thought of this. Thanks

  41. That is an awesome idea! I had ordered 35 yards of cream canvas fabric to make slipcovers out of, but I ordered it a month and a half ago and it still hasn’t shipped! I am going to cancel the order and buy dropcloths instead. Thanks for such a great idea!

  42. I just tried this with a drop cloth I bought at Home Depot. It came out quite gray in color. Where did you purchase your drop cloths? Thank you and btw I love your decor ideas and share your love of white dishes!

  43. Hi Yovonne. LOL! No just kidding! Yvonne, I’m not understanding in the link how to bleach the drop cloths in a front loading washing machine. Could you please explain? I’m planning to do slipcovers for several pieces of furniture and think this would be the most economical way to go. Could you let me know your experience? Let me know if you think it would be better just to buy yardage of fabric. Do you think the quality of the drop cloths is comparable to twill or cotton duck that you would buy from the fabric store? Love the podcasts. They truly make my day.
    Thanks,
    Rachel ?

    1. Hi Rachel, I think for a cheap heavy and good quality material you cannot beat dropcloths. Duck and canvas are more refined but not as heavy duty. To bleach dropcloths in a front load washer without a “soak” cycle make sure the dropcloth goes through a good deal of the first cleaning cycle, stop the machine and every hour or so start it to let the dropcloth get repositioned. Do this several time and then turn on your machine and let it finish the whole cycle. Does this make more sense? Hope this helps!

  44. Have you or any of your readers ever dyed a drop cloth? I want to make a slipcover for a slipper chair but want a soft pale blue but sturdy fabric. I thought if I bleached the cover first to get it as close to white as I can, I could then dye it with Rit liquid dye. The cost for cloth and dye would be less than $20! Thanks for the tips!

  45. Not so great. ?. I purchased a 9by 12. Canvas drop cloth at Walmart. There was what I thought was a seam down the middle. I tore the cloth in two and followed the directions for each. One piece was a bit smaller and came out OK the larger piece came out blotchy. Now they don’t match. Should I try the process again? Disappointed.

    1. It might be your washing machine. Sounds like the bleach was not distributed evenly in the water. Try filling the tub first and adding the bleach then adding in the dropcloths.

  46. Love your table runner!!! Also love the placemats that you show with your napkins! Did you make them? I think I will attempt to make some “rag placemats” like those before I attempt a rug. Fun!
    I have several rooms of drop-cloth curtains. I loved working with the fabric and there are so many ways to personalize them for each room to make them your own custom design – paint, dye, etc.
    Thanks for all the great ideas!

  47. I absolutely LOVE this idea. I had made short curtains for an apartment hallway bleaching and washing the drop cloth like one would normally bleach something white. but this idea of 4 cups bleach and soaking for 4 hours is DEFINITELY something I want to try for my bedroom. Unfortunately, the link provided for the bleaching solutions was not “safe”. Can you please email me with the proper amounts/soak times for getting the white results? Thank you so very much, Yvonne. Can’t wait to try this!!

  48. I see you buy your drop cloth at Lowes. Do you know the brand name on the label? I purchased from Harbor Freight and it pelled badly! I don’t want to give up.

    Thank you
    Nancy

  49. I love bleaching drop cloths! One thing I found helpful was to wash(no bleach, just detergent) and then do the bleaching after washing. I find it helps the fabric take the bleach better.

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