Inside: Use this easy bleaching technique to lighten and brighten canvas drop cloths.
Do you love the natural look of canvas for decorating your home? Drop cloths, that are typically used to cover the floor when painting, are a fabulous, budget-friendly option for this type of fabric. However, the color can be a little yellow or tan for my preference, so I lighten them up a bit using bleach. This technique also helps to soften the fabric.
You can use a canvas drop cloth for making curtains, pillowcases, fabric signs/flags, bags, etc.
I love canvas drop cloths because they come in large and long sizes making them great for window treatments in houses with high ceilings and they are inexpensive.
Not all drop cloths are created equal! I recommend 100% cotton and that you purchase your drop cloths from the same store or manufacturer to keep the color and consistency of the fabric the same.
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*Before you get started, make sure you have your Safety Gear. For this project, I recommend safety goggles, ear protection, and a mask.
SUPPLIES FOR BLEACHING DROP CLOTHS
- 100% cotton canvas drop cloth – I purchased this one from Harbor Freight
- Plastic bucket(s) or bin(s)
- Rubber gloves
- 1 cup measuring cup
- White distilled vinegar
- Something to stir the mixture with – I used a scrap piece of wood
STEPS FOR BLEACHING DROP CLOTHS
Step 1) Apply gloves and a mask. Fill your buckets about 2/3 – 3/4 full of water and add 8 cups of bleach. Mix the water and bleach together using your chosen stir tool.
Step 2) Unfold the drop cloths and completely submerge them in the bleach and water mixture using the stir stick to push them down. I pushed the drop cloths down several times. It took some time for the air to get out and for the drop cloths to stay under the surface of the water. I checked on them every so often to make sure the cloths stayed submerged. I pulled the cloths out after 3 hours and still saw spots that hadn’t bleached out. So I kept them in the bleach mixture for another three hours for a total of six hours.
Step 3) After the six hours is up, dump the bleach mixture and clean out the buckets. I also watered the drop cloths and rung them out some to try to wash away as much of the bleach mixture as I could. Then fill the buckets with clean water 2/3 – 3/4 of the way up and add 8 cups of white distilled vinegar. The reason for the vinegar is to counteract the bleaching process. Stir the vinegar and water mixture with your stir tool again submerging the canvas in the mixture below the surface. Let it sit overnight.
Step 4) Dump the water out of the buckets and ring out the water from the cloths. Then I washed the cloths two times in my washing machine to get rid of the bleach and vinegar smell. They still had a minimal bleach smell to them, but it wasn’t too bad.
This process didn’t make them stark white, but it did lighten them enough for my taste. This process definitely softened them as well making them ready to be used for several drop cloth projects. For this particular pair, I made Drop Cloth Curtains for my Pallet Curtain Hanger.
Would I do this again? Yes, I would. I love the way they turned out and it’s a cheaper option than purchasing fabric. The bleaching process wasn’t fun, but doing it outside definitely helps keep the smell out of my house as much as possible.
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