How Long Does Screen Printing Last

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By Alex McIl – 12th June 2022

It’s happened to all of us. We’ve fallen in love with a screen printed t shirt, only to find out later that it wasn’t meant to last.

Maybe the designed faded after a few washes, or the ink began to crack and peel.

So, how long do printed garments last? There is no definitive answer to this question.

Screen printing is a bit like tattoos – they can last forever if you take care of them, but if you don’t, they will start to fade and deteriorate sooner.

However, there are general tips to help extend the life of your screen printed garments.

How Screen Printing Works

Just like any other printing process, the screen printing process starts with a design. Once the design is finalized, it’s time to prepare the screen.

The screen is coated with a light-sensitive material and then exposed to light. After the screen is exposed, the next step is to wash it out.

screen printing process to add design to shirts and other clothing
Screen printing process uses light exposure to work

The areas of the screen that are exposed to light will be washed away, leaving only the stencil of your design.

It’s time to set up the equipment and get printing! The screen printing ink is pushed through the screen onto the substrate below. And just like that, you’ve got a screen printed item!

Screen printing is a printing technique where a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil.

A blade or squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with the right ink. A reverse stroke then causes the screen to touch the substrate momentarily along a line of contact.

This pulls the ink out of the mesh apertures as the screen springs back after the blade has passed. One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multi-coloured image or design.

The Durability of Screen Printing

Screen printing is a printing technique that has been around for centuries. It is a versatile and durable printing method used on a variety of surfaces.

Screen printing is regularly used on t-shirts, posters, and other promotional materials. The durability of screen printing depends on the screen printing ink and the substrate.

This method is relatively durable, but how long the print will last depends on several factors.

Ink type is one of the biggest factors in determining the durability of a screen print. For example, water based inks or a plastic based ink, like plastisol ink may be applied.

Water-based ink is the most common of inks used in screen printing, and while it is good for creating vibrant colors, it’s not as durable as other types of inks.

How long do screen printed t shirts last?

Screen printed shirts are a popular choice for apparel because they are budget-friendly. But how long do screen printed shirts last?

With special care, a screen-printed t-shirt may last for years, or an entire lifetime. But there are a few things that can shorten the lifespan of the print. For example, frequent machine washing, exposure to sunlight, and improper storage.

A shirt printed with high quality ink on a high quality material will last longer than a lower quality ink on a cheaper shirt.

To extend the lifespan of your design and t shirt, be sure to wash it in cold water and hang it to dry. Avoid ironing the printed area, but rather iron the reverse side of where the printed area is.

How long do discharge printed shirts last?

If looking for a shirt that will make a statement and last more than a few washes, you’ll want to choose a discharge printed shirt.

Discharge printing is a printing process that removes color from the fabric, resulting in a soft, vintage-inspired print. These shirts are typically made from 100% cotton or other similar fabric. They typically last for years with proper care.

There is no simple answer to how long a discharge printed shirt will last. This depends on a number of factors.

The life expectancy of a discharge printed shirt will depend on how often it is worn, how it is cared for, and the quality of the print run.

With proper care, a discharge printed shirt can last for many years. However, if the shirt is worn frequently, it may only last a few months. To extend the life of your shirt, follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Discharge printed shirts are a great alternative to traditional screen printing. They are vibrant, with a softer feel, and last a long time. Most importantly, they are much more affordable than traditional screen printing.

How many washes does screen printing last on average?

Depending on the quality of the t shirt and the printing, most designs will last somewhere between 15 and 50 machine washes, before beginning to fade.

This number will vary depending on the quality of the t shirts, the printing technique, and the care instructions. With proper care, your screen-printed t shirts should last you for many years to come!

If printing on high quality fabric, the life of the print can be extended using fabric conditioner. Using a mild detergent on a cool setting will help prolong the life of your t-shirts and design.

Does screen printing or digital printing last longer?

There are several factors to consider when choosing between screen printing and digital or DTG printing for your project.

One important factor is how long you want the printing to last. In general, screen printing is more durable than DTG printing or heat transfer printing.

The ink used in screen printing is thicker and more resistant to fading. This makes it ideal for outdoor signs or shirts that will be worn frequently.

This is because the ink in screen printing is pushed through a fine mesh screen onto the fabric. As a result, this coats the fabric fibers and results in a long-lasting print.

Additionally, the print is less likely to fade when properly cured. Digital printing, on the other hand, uses heat to transfer the ink onto the fabric. This can cause the ink to crack and peel over time, especially if the fabric is stretched or bent.

However, DTG printing has come a long way and can now be almost as durable as screen printing, depending on the type of ink and paper used.

This printing method can be less expensive and faster than the screen printing method, but the ink is more susceptible to fading and cracking over time.

Washing Your Screen Printed Garment

Assuming your screen printed garment is properly cared for, it should last as long as any other garment you own.

How often you wear it and what you do in it will affect its longevity. With proper care, a screen printed garment can last a long time.

To keep your screen printed garment looking its best, wash it in cold water with a mild detergent. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners. Hang or lay flat to dry. If you must iron your garment, do so on the back side only.

What temperature should I wash my screen printed garment?

You can wash your screen printed garment at any temperature! However, we recommend washing in cold water to prolong the life of the printing and the garment itself.

Hot water will fade the ink quicker and shrink the fabric and best avoided where possible. If you must wash your garment in hot water, be sure to turn it inside out first. This will help protect the printing from fading.

What type of detergent should I use?

With proper care, most screen prints will last for many years. To extend the life of your print, use a mild detergent when washing the garment.

Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners. These can break down the ink and cause premature fading.

Likewise, using harsh detergents with chemicals, will strip away the ink from the design and cause fading.

On the other hand, using a gentler, more natural detergent, will better preserve the design. So, if you want your screen-printed design to last as long as possible, use a mild, natural detergent.

Storing your screen printed garment

Here are a few storing tips for your screen-printed garment so that it stays in good condition:

  • Wash the garment before you wear it. This will help set the ink and prevent it from fading or cracking over time.
  • Be sure to wash the garment inside out. This will help protect the print from wear and tear.
  • Hang the garment to dry, or lay it flat to dry. Avoid putting it in the dryer, as this can cause the print to fade or crack.
  • Iron the garment on a low setting, if needed.
  • Do not dry clean your garment.

Should I hang or fold my screen printed garment?

So, what other ways can extend the life of your screen prints?

First, it’s important to hang or fold your screen printed garment properly. If you’re hanging it, make sure to use hangers that won’t damage the printed design.

Hang your screen printed garments if you want them to last longer. Hanging your garments will prevent them from getting creased and wrinkled.

Fold your screen printed garment if you want it to take up less space. Folding your garment will also prevent it from getting creases and wrinkles.

So, should you hang or fold your screen printed garment? It really depends on your personal preference. If you want your garment to last longer, then hanging it is the way to go.

Things That Can Shorten the Lifespan of Your Screen Print

Technology has come a long way since the early days of screen printing. There are now some very durable inks and fabrics on the market. However, there are still a few things that can shorten the lifespan of your screen print.

The first thing to consider is the fabric you are printing on. Some fabrics, like polyester, are more resistant to fading and wear than others materials. If you are printing on a fabric that is not very durable, it is important to take extra care of it.

Washing your printed garment inside out in cool water and hanging it to dry is the best way to care for it. Avoid hot water and dryers.

Washing your garment in hot water

Again, the answer depends. If you’re talking about a screen print on a garment made of 100% cotton, then it will likely last quite a while.

However, if the garment is made of a different material, or if the screen print is applied directly to the skin, then it may not last as long. In general, a screen print should last through multiple washes in hot water without fading or peeling.

If you regularly wash it in hot water, the print will start to fade much sooner than if you take care to wash it in cold water.

Putting your garment in the dryer on high heat

It’s recommended hanging dry your screen-printed garments to extend their lifespan, but we understand that not everyone has that kind of time.

If you must put your screen-printed garment in the dryer, make sure to put it on low heat or no heat. Remove it as soon as it’s dry to avoid unnecessary further heat exposure, this will further prevent the ink from fading.

Conclusion

Screen printing is one of the most durable printing methods available. With proper care, your screen printed garment with detailed designs will last for years.

However, there are a few things that can shorten the lifespan of your screen print. First, frequently washing your garments in hot water or putting them in the dryer on high heat, will accelerate the fading and cracking process.

Secondly, exposing your garment to harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, will also begin to degrade the design.

Lastly, if you don’t store your garment properly, the print can become distorted and crack.

Frequently Asked Questions
✓ How long do screen printing screens last?

Screen printing screens can last for years, if cared for properly. Storing screens in a cool, dry place and cleaning them after each use will help prolong their life.

Periodically inspecting screens for damages and replacing them as needed will also help ensure that your screen printing project will go smoothly.

✓ Does screen printing fade?

The answer is yes, screen printing can fade over time. However, there are ways to prevent this from happening. Screen printing inks are available in different formulations, some of which are more resistant to fading than others.

You can also treat the fabric with a fabric protector before printing, which will help keep the ink from fading.

✓ Are screen prints permanent?

Screen prints are not as permanent as other printing methods, such as digital printing. The ink can eventually fade or crack over time. However, you can prolong the life of your screen print by storing it in a cool, dark place.

✓ Does screen printing last long on shirts?

With proper care, a screen printed garment can last for many years. The key to making your screen printed shirt last is to wash it properly.

Avoid washing it in hot water or drying it on high heat. Also, avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach when cleaning the shirt.