I’ve used bleached painters drop cloth for many projects in my time. I can’t help but love the soft, textured, linen-like, look and feel of drop cloth – and especially the affordability!
Though, if you’ve ever opened a package of drop cloth, you know it certainly doesn’t start that way. It takes some serious work – and unfortunately – some chemicals. Before I go off on my particular dislike for bleach, and how I’ve combated it’s eye-itching, skin burning, migraine inducing aftermath – let me show you some of the things I’ve made with this lovely light and creamy textured fabric (after I’ve bleached the heck out of it). Then I will share my method for how to bleach a drop cloth.
When my youngest baby was about to be born, I made this portable diaper bag insert + wet bag with drop cloth on the outside and laminated cotton on the inside. It is waterproof to hold any wet icky messy clothes or diapers while on the go. The drop cloth created a lovely but sturdy neutral cover – I call it “The double-doodie bag”. You can find the tutorial HERE.
I also used bleached drop cloth to create this vintage, time worn feel to a patriotic garden flag for our front yard. Tutorial for that is HERE.
I used a simple ink transfer technique to place the AMERICA wording onto drop cloth for the flag and THIS pillow.
I used some of my drop cloth stash to make a few of the fishes for our kids homemade fish game – which was a huge hit. Link for that, HERE.
I used bleached drop cloth for our kitchen’s farmhouse sink skirt. Love it! This batch I used only half the amount of bleach (which I will discuss below) and you may see it is not as light as other projects.
And most recently (and why many of you asked how I do it), I used bleached drop cloth to make our bed skirt for our master bedroom. Tutorial HERE.
As well as for the grain sack decorative pillow on our bed.
There are really so many things you can do to drop cloth once you make it soft and pretty. But from my experience, it does require bleach. I hate HATE bleach. I am super sensitive to chemicals and my skin will literally burn and I snap right into a migraine if I have to be around bleach for too long. But thanks to my sister’s genius suggestion awhile ago, I found a way to bleach the fabric – without a drop of bleach entering into my home.
I knew I couldn’t do the bleaching in my home, not only for my health but because of the fact that I only have a front loading washer which doesn’t allow things to sit in pools of water. I needed a top loader. I tried to do some at my mother’s house, but she protested that quickly when she felt ill and her house smelled like a swimming pool for days. (Sorry mom!)
So, I took my sisters advice, gathered my quarters and snuck into the local laundromat to do my bleaching. I know – probably not too courteous. But in my offense, I’ve done it twice and never seen a single soul doing laundry so they probably really needed my quarters 😉 But by using the laundromat’s machines, I could let it soak in the bleach and not be around for the headache, and bring it home all rinsed, dried and ready to use. So that is my little tricky tip for you if you can’t tolerate bleach as well.
I’ve made a little printable card for you to take to do your bleaching, but let me explain things a bit.
To get your drop cloth a super light color, it takes about 8 cups of bleach in a full washer load. If you bought the extra extra large drop cloths (about 12 x 15 feet) it will work best if you split that in two, and bleach separately in it’s own cycle. Basically, one full load of drop cloth to 8 cups of bleach. You are going to fill the washer with water and stop the cycle completely. Then you add the bleach and let it sit for 3 hours. After the soaking is done, continue on with the cycle and repeat a normal washing cycle 2 times with detergent. This should rinse the bleach out enough, but you can go a third time if you want to rinse even more. The steps are spelled out more clearly in the printable below.
Be sure to not allow bleach onto your skin – which is why I always wear rubber gloves. Some have asked me if I noticed the bleach weakening the fabric at all. I have not seen a problem with that yet. I would just suggest you be sure you are dumping the bleach directly into the water rather than pouring in direct contact with the drop cloth. If it hits in one spot it will most likely eat through the fabric, but if diluted in water it doesn’t seem to do that.
Also, please note this is my method I have found to work best for me. There may be other methods you may want to compare to as well.
How To Bleach a Drop Cloth
Bleaching a drop cloth is an affordable way to achieve a textured, linen-like, neutral piece of fabric for use in many crafting and sewing projects. Drop cloths are generally a very stiff piece of fabric, but following this process you can have yards and yards of soft, use-able material.
- Painters Drop Cloth
- 8 Cups of Bleach
- Protective Gloves
- Glass Measuring Cup
- Top Loading Washing Machine
- Shake out the painters drop cloth from it’s packaging, and insert it inside a top loading washing machine. Only fill as much drop cloth into the machine as fits comfortably and will not overload the machine. If you bought an extra large piece, you will need to split it in half and complete the process twice.
- Turn the washing machine on a regular cycle until it fills completely with water, submerging the drop cloth entirely with water.
- Open the lid of the washer and stop the machine before it continues the washing cycle.
- With your protective rubber gloves on your hands, measure 8 cups of bleach and pour into the water.
- If the drop cloth is not completely submerged, gently use your gloved hands to push it back down.
- Let the drop cloth sit in the bleached water for 3 hours.
- After that time, turn your washing cycle back on and let it mix, spin and drain the water.
- Run your drop cloth through 2 more complete cycles of washing, with your regular detergent included each time – but NO bleach. To be especially thorough, consider a third time.
- Insert the drop cloth into a dryer until dry.
- It is ready for use.
Feel free to ask me any questions, and I will be happy to answer as best as I can!
Thanks so much for reading!
P.S. I buy drop cloth at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
*Linking up to these parties, HERE.