How To Fix Sublimation Mistakes: Tips For Perfect Prints Every Time


Sublimation printing is popular. It allows you to transfer unique custom designs within a few minutes on multiple materials.

Many starting a sublimation business usually only factor in the cost of making their product. This rookie mistake forgets to consider overheads and labor time. This is where the bulk of the real cost lies and should be built into the price tag of the product!

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    Once this is factored in, you begin to understand the importance of recovering mistakes (if possible) in order to manage cost. Let’s face it, mistakes happen, and damage control is an integral part of sublimation printing!

    If looking to get rid of sublimation ink mistakes quickly and easily, we’ve got you covered. I have gathered all the best solutions in one place.

    Key Takeaways

    Get alcohol or acetone

    Alcohol and acetone are the quickest solutions for all sublimation ink mistakes, and all you need to do is put them in a bowl so you can use them without any obstacles.

    Soak the material

    Soak the garment with a sublimation mistake with acetone or alcohol, but make sure to put them only on the part of the garment you want to treat because you don’t want to ruin the rest of it.

    Leave the garment that way for 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on the size of the sublimation mistake, and let it soak all of it.

    Scrub the sublimation

    After the material has soaked in alcohol or acetone, the ink will start to fall off, so scrub off the remains with a sponge for a few minutes, and you will see everything will disappear.

    Wash the garment

    After you have successfully removed all the sublimation ink, you will need to wash the garment in cold water, and it will be ready to wear without any mistakes!

    Fixing Mistakes After Sublimation Process

    If you have been engaging in sublimation printing and you have spotted some mistakes once you have taken your garment or paper out of the printing machine, don’t panic; you can fix it.

    Mistakes happen all the time. Sublimation ink, after the transfer process, will occasionally end up somewhere you don’t want it.

    Many factors can effect your sublimation prints and spoil your printing experience

    However, that doesn’t mean you need to start from the beginning. If a sublimation ink stain isn’t too big, you can remove it within a few minutes.

    There are plenty simple and cheap solutions to this problem. Here are the quickest and easiest solutions:

    How To Remove Sublimation Ink Stains With Rubbing Alcohol

    Rubbing alcohol is one of the best options for getting rid of any stains, so if the sublimation ink has left some traces or stains during printing, this should be your first choice.

    All you need to remove sublimation stains with rubbing alcohol is a bottle of it and a paper towel.

    I would recommend using rubbing alcohol with a high percentage of it, but avoid 99% ones because they can damage your garments irreparably.

    • Put a small amount of rubbing alcohol on the part of the paper or garment where the sublimation ink stain is
    • Let the paper or the garment absorb the alcohol for 20 to 30 minutes
    • Take a paper towel and remove the excess moisture
    • Start rubbing the stained part of the garment until you see the ink has disappeared completely
    • Wash the garment in cold water

    If the stain doesn’t disappear entirely, you might want to repeat the process a few times or take more time to rub the stain with alcohol.

    In case the stain is quite big and strong, you will probably want to try out rubbing alcohol that has more than 90% of alcohol in it for faster and better results.

    Although its scent is quite strong, the whole process will last just a few minutes, but make sure you wear protectant gloves and cover up the rest of the paper or shirt to avoid ruining any other part of them.

    All types of garments, whether they are polyester or cotton, can be treated this way, and it is the best option if you have stains on your shirts, pants, or hats.

    You should be careful with it, especially if your garment has just gotten out of a sublimation printer, because you don’t want the print to start spilling all over the garment and ruin it completely.

    How To Remove Sublimation Ink Stains With Acetone

    Acetone also has a high percentage of alcohol in it, and it is excellent for sublimation ink stains because it won’t do too much harm to your sublimation design.

    The process will be a bit longer if you decide to use acetone, and you will need some aluminum foil, a pair of gloves, a bowl, and a clean paper towel or cloth.

    • Prepare the workspace by putting an aluminum foil over the table, and then put the garment onto it
    • Pour acetone into a bowl and get a pair of rubber gloves
    • Soak the towel or cloth in acetone and start tapping it over the sublimation print or stain you want to remove – only apply acetone over the specific area if you don’t
    • Leave it to soak in the acetone for 5 to 10 minutes
    • Remove the cloth soaked in acetone and take clean paper towels and remove the acetone by rubbing the treated area
    • Wash the garment in cold water

    Acetone is usually as effective as rubbing alcohol, and all of us have it at home, so it is a quick fix when you see stains on your sublimation blanks.

    However, you should test it out before you decide to treat the garment with it, and always soak a cotton pad in acetone and rub the fabric inside to see whether the color will change or not.

    If your shirt or pants don’t change color after this, you can feel free to use acetone.

    These are the two easiest ways to remove any sublimation mistakes, and most of us have these two products at home, so removing sublimation ink can be done the moment I see a stain on the garment.

    Although there are other ways to remove sublimation ink, too, these are the most popular and will provide you with fast results without too much effort.

    In case none of these techniques have worked for you and you could not remove sublimation ink at all, there are some other, more professional options too.

    Can I Fix Sublimation Errors With Bleach?

    Bleach is an effective chemical solution that can help you get rid of any stain, but since sublimation ink stains are usually not that big and complicated, people rarely use them.

    However, if you are stuck with a bad sublimation print or a stain that just doesn’t seem to disappear no matter how much alcohol you soak it in, then bleach would probably be the best choice.

    Although it isn’t the best option for dyed garments, you need to be very careful while using it, so you don’t ruin or burn the garment, it removes all types of stains within seconds, so if nothing else works, bleach is what you should try out.

    Removing sublimation ink with bleach is simple, and all you need to do is:

    • Put the bleach on the sublimation print or stain and soak it for 20 to 30 minutes
    • Take a paper towel and absorb the bleach
    • Rinse the bleach off your garment
    • If there is any leftover sublimation ink or print, take a sponge and rub it until everything is gone
    • Wash the garment in the washing machine

    This is the most efficient method for removing sublimation ink, but it can be very risky, especially if the ink is close to the print you don’t want to remove, or the garment is colored, and just a tiny amount of bleach could create white dots and stains.

    I would recommend treating the garment with bleach only when you have tried out other techniques for removing stains and they didn’t work because even the slightest mistake can create an even bigger problem than the one you were trying to solve.

    Also, always read the instructions on bleach and check whether the garment you are dealing with should be treated with bleach and if this could create some other problems with your sublimated shirt.

    Be careful, wear gloves and place bleach only on the specific areas to avoid any further problems.

    Can Sublimation Ink Be Removed With A Heat Press?

    Sublimation printing is a very popular technique, and people seem to be involved in sublimation DIY projects all the time, and if they have a printer like this, they have a regular iron press at home too.

    However, they don’t know that sublimation prints and stains can be removed with a heat press, too, especially if you have just taken the garment out of a sublimation printer.

    If you don’t have any alcohol, acetone, or bleach at home and have just spotted a sublimation printing mistake, you can grab your iron and try to remove the sublimation ink.

    Removing sublimation ink this way doesn’t include harsh ingredients or chemicals and isn’t risky, so it is a great option.

    This is how you can remove sublimation ink with a heat press:

    • Put your sublimated garment in the same place where you are ironing your wardrobe, whether it is a table or a special stand
    • Put a regular dry piece of cloth inside or under the garment, directly under the sublimation ink you want to remove
    • Make sure the garment is completely flat and correct any wrinkles with an iron if needed
    • Get a clean cloth, wet it, and put it over the garment, specifically the area you want to remove ink from
    • Turn on the iron and set it to medium heat
    • When the iron has reached medium temperature, start ironing over the dry cloth
    • Increase the temperature throughout the process, but don’t get to the highest temperature, so you don’t ruin the garment
    • Iron for 5 to 10 minutes while applying some pressure.
    • Turn off the iron and remove the cloth from your sublimation-printed garment
    • Get a sponge or a harsh cloth and start scrubbing the garment until you see that the print and ink have started peeling off – start scrubbing from the edges, and your print will probably peel off entirely with just one swipe

    However, you will need to be careful when you are removing sublimation with a heat press because the garment may be letting out some color during ironing, so be careful during the process and always put it on an old surface you don’t care about ruining.

    Some people also iron the garment over a sublimation paper, so if you have leftover one, you can use it for the removal process too, except that I would advise you to be careful

    The process is very simple, and except for ironing the garment, you won’t need to do anything else, and it is also a great fix when you just don’t seem to have any alcohol or acetone that could solve the problem.

    Can I Fix Sublimation Errors On A Mug?

    Coffee mugs and tumblers are things people sublimate on all the time, but problems occur when the sublimation printing process doesn’t go perfectly, and you want to fix things.

    Although most people think it is pretty much impossible to fix this type of mistake, you can remove sublimation ink from it, just in a bit different way than you would do it on a regular garment.

    The easiest way to remove a sublimation print or stain on a coffee mug is simply by washing it in the washing machine at a high temperature.

    While you may not see the result after the first wash, if you repeat the process a few times, your sublimation print will disappear entirely; make sure you are always washing them on a high temperature and on a lower rack.

    Can You Press Sublimation Twice?

    In case you don’t want to remove sublimation ink completely or you just weren’t satisfied with the results of a sublimation process, you will probably try to sublimate things twice.

    Double sublimation is possible, and you can do it without the fear of ruining something, but you should know that it will not remove the sublimation print created the first time.

    If you want to make your print more vibrant or make it last longer, you can double sublimate it, but make sure you are very precise and your sublimation printer is able to reproduce the exact same print again; otherwise, it will look quite bad.

    If you decide to do it, I would recommend using Kraft paper or Teflon to ensure the process goes smoothly.

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