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How to Do a Bleach Wash on Your Hair

Did you color your hair, but it came out looking a little too funky? Or perhaps you just want a new look and think a bleached bombshell is what you're after? Either way, you will need to know how to bleach wash your hair. Bleach washing, also known as 'soap capping' or 'bleach bathing', is a gentler way to remove color from your hair. Scroll down to Step 1 to get started!

Part One of Two:
Making the Bleach Bath

  1. 1
    Do an allergy test. If this is your first time using bleach or doing a bleach test, you should perform an allergy test before covering your whole head in bleach (or else you might have a bad reaction.) Mix up a small amount of equal parts bleach and developer. Take a cotton swab, dip it in the bleach, and rub it on the inside of your elbow. If that area begins to itch, grow patchy, or take on a bright red color, then you are most likely allergic to the bleach and should not use it on your whole head. Monitor the area for 48 hours. If nothing happens then proceed with the bleaching.[1]
    • If your bleach and developer come with instructions on how to perform an allergy test, follow those instructions.
  2. 2
    Pour the shampoo you will be using into a mixing bowl. If possible, use a clarifying shampoo as this sort of shampoo will help you to gauge the strength of the bleach you are using. You should use the amount of shampoo you would normally use when washing your hair.
    • You may want to add a tad bit more in case you need to add a bit more bleach to your hair.
    • Most shampoos are fine to use but do not use a toning shampoo.
  3. 3
    Mix 1oz of bleach and 1oz developer in a second bowl. There are many different types of bleach - cream, oil, liquid, or powder - but it really doesn't matter what kind you use. They all do the same thing in the end.[2]
    • Using a 30 or 40 developer can break or snap re-treated hair, so use with caution! Developer comes in many volumes with lower numbers being weaker and 40 being the strongest.
  4. 4
    Pour everything into one bowl and mix thoroughly. The shampoo--if a clear clarifying one--should turn whatever color the blech is.[3]
    • Add conditioner. This step is optional, but recommended to keep hair healthy. However, do not add conditioner if you are planning on dyeing your hair directly after bleaching it.

Part Two of Two:
Using the Bleach Bath

  1. 1
    Wet your hair with cool water. Plan to bleach your hair when it is damp but not dripping. Run your hair under a cool stream of water (be it in the shower or sink). Once your whole head is wet, towel dry it so that it is damp rather than soaking wet (ie. there should not be water dripping in rivulets off of your head).[4]
    • You can also let your hair air dry for several minutes in combination with towel drying it.
    • Bleach can be applied to wet or dry hair. You should use whatever approach is more consistent with your level of bleaching experience. Your bleach will likely go best if you use a method you are comfortable with.
  2. 2
    Put an old towel around your shoulders. Bleach has a tendency to remove the color from everything (not just your hair but clothing too) so it's important to bleach-proof your work area. Wrap an old towel (one you don't mind discoloring) around your shoulders. To be safe, you may want to wear an old shirt you don't care about as well. Put your latex or rubber gloves on so that the bleach doesn't irritate your skin.
  3. 3
    Apply the bleach wash to your damp hair. You will need to wear latex or rubber gloves for this step. When applying the bleach wash, start at the bottom (or tips) of your hair and work your way up to the roots. Once you have reached the roots, rub the rest of the bleach bath into your hair just like you would rub normal shampoo into your hair while showering.[5]
    • It's okay to apply the mix only to certain spots on your hair (like where the color didn't work out like you wanted it to.)
  4. 4
    Clip your hair up while the bleach processes. Once your hair is clipped up with plastic clips, put a shower cap over it. The shower cap will make the bleach process more quickly, and will also ensure that the bleach doesn't drip everywhere.
  5. 5
    Use a spray bottle and towel to remove a bit of bleach. Spray a small section of the hair with plain water in a spray bottle and wipe a bit of bleach clean with an old towel. Do this every few minutes to keep an eye on how much your hair is lightening. It is important to keep an eye on your bleaching hair or else you may end up with a more intense platinum that the one you were hoping for.[6]
    • For already bleached hair, you may only need 7 - 10 minutes.
    • For removing a dark dye, you may want to process it longer than 10-15 minutes, though it should only be 30 minutes maximum.
    • If you do decide to use 30 or 40 vol - for extra lift or speed - don't let it process longer than 7-10 minutes (depending on your hair color and condition).
  6. 6
    Wash out the solution. Once you have reached the color you were hoping to achieve, its time to wash the bleach out. If you are planning on dyeing your hair after this bleaching process, do not use conditioner while you wash your hair out (some conditioners keep dye from getting absorbed into the hair.) If you are not planning on dyeing your hair, use a deep conditioner to bring some life back to your bleached hair. Wash your hair out as thoroughly as you can.[7]
    • If you're trying to remove hair dye, your hair should look orange or yellowish.
    • If you're trying to remove a toner, it should leave the hair yellow.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • What does the shampoo do along with the bleach instead of just using the bleach by itself?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • The shampoo dilutes the bleach, making it less harsh on your hair. It also removes dye, if the hair has been previously colored, and it can be used to freshen up previously bleached hair.
    Thanks! 11 2
  • I have completely black hair, and I want to dip-dye it dark purple. I have virgin hair, and I'm unsure if I should go for 20 or 30 volume developer. What are your thoughts?
    Answered by Ashley Adams
    • Because your hair is so dark, using a purple dye alone may not lift your existing color. So you may need to bleach your hair first, using 20 volume developer.
    Thanks! 9 2
  • A box dye left my hair yellow and I want to make it blonde. Can I accomplish this?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Using another box dye won't give you the color you want. Try using a toner by a quality brand such as Wella to make your hair more blonde, not yellow. Once you've achieved the color you want, maintain it by using a violet toning shampoo formulated to keep blonde hair from getting brassy.
    Thanks! 31 6
  • Will a bleach wash remove dye from my hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Depending on the volume of the bleach and the type of dye, yes. It should be able to remove almost all semi-permanent dye. Permanent dyes should lighten, but darker colors (especially black) might not fade much. Normal bleaching is best for those.
    Thanks! 19 5
  • How bright will it make my hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • The level of brightness depends on your hair colour, whether you have bleached it before, how much you dilute the bleach with the shampoo, what volume the developer you use is, how long you leave it in and more. There is no certain way to know.
    Thanks! 32 11
  • Does bleaching damage hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, but there are ways to prevent a large amount of damage. Lathering your hair with coconut oil two hours before bleaching will make a huge difference. If you are getting it done, ask if they have Olaplex to mix with the bleach.
    Thanks! 54 22
  • How can I use this with coconut oil?
    Answered by Sarah Kathleen-Akers Denney
    • About two hours before you do a bleach wash put the coconut oil in your hair. This will help protect your hair from some of the damage from the bleach.
    Thanks! 15 4
  • What should I do if the bleach caused my hair to turn orange?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Apply an ash toner; it should get rid of the brassiness. If it's more of a light yellow, go for a pearl/violet/blue toner or toning shampoo.
    Thanks! 13 5
  • How long should I wait between bleach baths?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • This depends on the integrity of your hair. You should be able to tell after your first bleach bath how healthy (or unhealthy) your hair feels. Base your frequency off of that. It's usually recommended to wait at least a week (with conditioning) between each one though.
    Thanks! 18 9
  • Can I use any bleach, like a cleaning product bleach, or do I need a specific hair type bleach?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Do not use cleaning bleach. Use a hair bleach you can get at a beauty supple store, like Sally's Beauty Supply. They come in packets and some even have toner in them.
    Thanks! 4 1
Show more answers
  • What can I do if bleach turned my hair a mint green? Will a bleach bath work?
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  • Be sure to wear latex gloves when applying and rinsing out bleach.
    4 Helpful?  1
  • It is not always necessary to wait a full 24 hours before colouring. Some brands of colour actually have conditioning benefits.
    2 Helpful?  1
  • If you were using it to strip a dark hair color, wait a day and then recolor.
    5 Helpful?  0
  • If you were using it to fix a toner, wait a day and then re-tone.
    2 Helpful?  0
  • If your hair already has split or frizzy ends, trim them after completing the soap cap process.
    3 Helpful?  1
  • Bleach baths can be used to remove dye if the hair has been previously colored. They can also be used to freshen up previously bleached hair.
    3 Helpful?  2


  • Before applying bleach, do a test patch. Doing so will help determine if you're allergic to peroxide or ammonia. If you are allergic and apply the wash anyway, you could have a dangerous reaction.
    2 Helpful?  3

Things You'll NeedEdit

  • 10 vol. or 20 vol. Developer
  • Any Shampoo (non-toning)
  • Conditioner (Optional)
  • Deep Conditioner
  • Hair Bleach (blue or violet)
  • Latex Gloves
  • Non-metal mixing utensil
  • Shower cap (Optional)
  • Two metal-free mixing bowls

Expert Review By:

Licensed Cosmetologist

This version of How to Do a Bleach Wash on Your Hair was reviewed by Ashley Adams on July 24, 2017.

806 votes - 92%
Co-authors: 19
Views: 1,125,639
Categories: Coloring Hair

Reader Success Stories

  • FI

    Fabiola Ibarra

    May 11, 2016

    "I wish I'd seen this article before making one hair dye mistake after the other and spending hundreds of dollars. Thank you for posting this. I've gotten great natural ideas to restore my very damaged hair."..." more
  • DD

    Donna Dowty

    Aug 29, 2017

    "Your article helped as I just wanted to know if I could use bleach powder with shampoo or conditioner instead of bleach developer."..." more
  • MA

    Marissa A.

    Jul 14, 2017

    "Great article. I think I will be giving this method a try, as I want to lighten my hair a little."
  • JG

    Jea Grgs

    Oct 31, 2016

    "Very Informative! Thanks! Cleared up a lot of questions I had about lightening my locks."
  • AG

    Amanda Garay

    Jun 27, 2016

    "The instructions are clear and explain why you should do it that way, too."
  • SS

    Shakira Schoenfeld

    May 5, 2016

    "Great information! I'm planning to try this tonight."
  • JS

    J. S.

    Aug 25, 2016

    "Great explanation and very clear."
  • AL

    Amber Ladner

    May 18, 2016

    "I needed these tips a lot."
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