How to Bleach Drop Cloths

How to Bleach Drop Cloths Tutorial, Upcycling, Repurposing, Sewing Project, Curtains, Slipcovers

Drop cloths have been a popular staple of frugal decorators for a while now. But, it wasn’t until this week that I understood. I actually bought a set a few weeks ago and was so dissappointed in the texture, color and the massive seam running right down the middle that I cut my losses on the postage and sent them back.

I have decided to replace my living room drapes, since I am giving that room a makeover and definitely want white. Everything I looked at, though, was too short. I wanted at least 106″ panels and I needed four.

Then, I stumbled upon my friend Lisa’s blog post about bleaching drop cloths. Her before and after shots are so pretty.

Hmmm, at approximately $2.50 per yard, I could have four panels for $40!! The only problem was that Lisa used a top loading washer and mine is a front loader.  You will not be able to use a front loader because it doesn’t fill with water or have a soaking setting. The other two options are to use a bathtub or take them to a laundromat.

I am going to show you the bath tub method, although  . . .

disclaimer #1

I think I may have “ruined” the enamel finish on my claw foot tub by doing this. It has yellowed considerably from the bleach and while I did try to neutralize it with hydrogen peroxide and it is fading a little each day, I am pretty sure we will need to repaint it. If you have a fiber glass tub, this should be fine, though, from what I hear.

disclaimer #2

If you are on septic, DO NOT bleach drop cloths! They require too much bleach for a septic system’s live bacteria and will be expensive to fix. Just stick with buying white canvas fabric.

Sorry to disappoint!

So all that to say, I humbly submit this post in hopes that learn from my mistakes and know that decorating involves risk.  However, it is still worth it to keep researching and moving toward the goal of a beautiful home.

How to Bleach Drop Cloths Tutorial, Upcycling, Repurposing, Sewing Project, Curtains, Slipcovers

This post contains affiliate links to products I know and love. Click here to read a full disclosure.

Materials Needed

  • Drop Cloth
    • I cut the big, bulky seam right out of the middle and was able to use one drop cloth to make two curtain panels.
  • Bleach
    • I get mine at Costco and it is concentrated, you will use a TON of bleach, an obscene amount. So have two bottles per drop cloth.
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bathtub
    • Fiberglass finish, see my disclaimer above
  • Wooden board(s)
    • to cover the tub
  • Plastic tub
    • to transfer the bleached cloth in
  • Hydrogen peroxide
    • to neutralize the bleach when you are done


  • Measure 20 gallons of the hottest tap water you can get and add it to your tub.
    • Determine where this line is in your tub and you can use that as a guide for the next time you fill it.
  • Pour 1/3 of the bottle (!) of bleach into the tub and mix with your gloved hands.
  • Add one drop cloth and get it to submerge.

How to Bleach Drop Cloths Tutorial, Upcycling, Repurposing, Sewing Project, Curtains, Slipcovers

  • Cover the entire tub with the boards to trap the heat in.
    • If you don’t do this it will take  f o r e v e r  to bleach (this is the voice of experience talking here).

How to Bleach Drop Cloths Tutorial, Upcycling, Repurposing, Sewing Project, Curtains, Slipcovers

  • Turn the fan on in the bathroom and shut the door, the fumes are terrible.
  • Leave for six hours.
    • Stirring twice throughout the process to keep them from turning out blotchy.
  • After six hours, drain the tub and repeat the whole process, totalling twelve hours. This will leave you with soft, white, speckle free fabric.
  • Transfer in a plastic bin to your washer and add hydrogen peroxide to the wash cycle to stop the bleach from working.
  • Dry in the dryer to make them soft and pre-shrunk.

How to Bleach Drop Cloths Tutorial, Upcycling, Repurposing, Sewing Project, Curtains, Slipcovers

Now you will have a beautiful piece of white fabric to work with for slipcovers, table runners, curtains, pillows, etc. I will be sharing my finished curtains very soon.

What will you make?

Sharing at these parties!




  1. Cheryl
    March 19, 2017 / 2:53 PM

    Thank you for the tips! I am getting ideas!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 20, 2017 / 7:21 PM

      Oh good! I love to hear that from my readers!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 20, 2017 / 7:23 PM

      Thank you for the compliments and invite! I hate to say it, but I am not currently able to attend any more link parties than I already do.:( I hope it is a raving success, though. xoxo

  2. Brenda
    March 19, 2017 / 3:50 PM

    I have bleached dropcloths but never got them to a true white, which either means I did not use enough bleach or I did not keep them warm during the soak… I guess.
    uDid yours come out a soft white or a bright white? Not an antique-white?

    I have hesitated to use the one large one I bleached for anything other than crafts where color was not a problem, as they are not the true white I was going for.

    From your post, I am thinking you achieved what I wanted. One thing about this, I can re-bleach the fabric I have left to see if success is possible. It is a great value per yard, durable, too.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 20, 2017 / 7:24 PM

      Brenda, I would say you needed more hot water and more bleach. Mine are pure, bright white. You are right, though, you can always re-bleach them.

  3. Liz
    March 20, 2017 / 9:07 AM

    From your photos, I notice you live in the country maybe, for those of us who have septic tanks, chlorine bleach can cause real problems. Please be mindful when using large amounts of bleach as it will stop all activity in the septic tank. Enjoy your blog and and the beautiful pictures.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 20, 2017 / 7:27 PM

      Liz! Thank you for the reminder, I didn’t even think to add this in. Updating the post now! xoxo

  4. March 21, 2017 / 4:14 PM

    I have a front loader washer also so I will have to use the bathtub method. I use drop cloths for everything except painting. Great idea for a change of color.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 24, 2017 / 12:43 PM

      I hope it goes well for you! Love your comment about using drop cloths for everything but painting! haha!

  5. Tanya Hulbert
    March 28, 2017 / 5:46 PM

    I just love this idea! I don’t currently need curtains but I keep thinking what else I could use a cloth for! So clever!

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