How To Remove Sublimation Print From Polyester?

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    Sublimation printing offers a remarkable way to bring your creative visions to life on fabric. However, the journey from a vibrant sublimation print to a blank canvas can sometimes be necessary.

    Printing mishaps such as crooked letters or a change of heart about your garment’s design happen, and sometimes there’s a need to remove sublimation ink.

    Over time, sublimation ink can exhibit wear and tear, which are the causes of cracking and peeling on your clothing. Additionally, personal preferences may shift, leading you to seek a fresh start with a different design or color.

    I’ll discuss how to safely and effectively remove sublimation prints from polyester, so by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge required to restore your clothing to its former glory.

    illustration of sublimation ink design on t-shirt to represent cracking issues

    Let’s explore the best techniques and methods for bidding farewell to sublimation ink stains and welcoming a clean slate.

    #1 Removing Sublimation Ink Stain With Rubbing Alcohol

    This chemical solution is an excellent and inexpensive product to be used for removing ink from the polyester coating. This is a highly concentrated cleaning product, but it is very flammable. While working with it, be careful. You don’t want the liquid to reach your face, especially the area around the eyes or the lips.

    Illustration of craftsman pouring rubbing alcohol on sublimation design in order to remove it

    The first step would be to prepare the space where you can remove sublimation ink. For this, we recommend you cover the flat surface with a table cloth. Don’t forget to keep the room well ventilated. 

    Then you’ll only need alcohol, paper towels, and a cloth. We suggest using 91% Isopropyl alcohol. But if you have 99% Isopropyl alcohol, keep in mind that this product can damage the fabric if not used properly. 

    Instructions to execute this procedure:

    1. Apply rubbing alcohol to the sublimation ink stain on the garment.
    2. Allow it to absorb for 25-30 minutes.
    3. Use a paper towel to blot and remove excess liquid.
    4. Gently rub the ink stain with a cloth until it disappears.
    5. Repeat step 1 to 4 if necessary.
    6. Wash the shirt with cold water.
    7. Let it air-dry naturally

    This way, you can remove sublimation ink on Trousers, Jackets, and Blankets. Also, Hats, Sheets, Blouses, and other garments with Polyester fabric.

    #2 Removing Sublimation Printing With Acetone

    Acetone, which contains alcohol, is the most powerful stain remover. It’s very efficient for stubborn stains, but you must be careful while using this product.

    First, cover the table or the floor where you’ll remove sublimation ink with aluminum foil. Make sure that the space is ventilated. Afterward, prepare rubber gloves, a bowl, 100% pure acetone, and a clean cloth. 

    Before applying acetone, do a small test:

    1. Grab a cotton pad and soak it in acetone.
    2. Rub the fabric on the inside of a piece of clothing.

    If the color of your shirt changes, do not use this method to remove sublimation ink. Otherwise, you can proceed to follow these easy steps.

    Instructions to execute this procedure:

    1. Put on rubber gloves and pour acetone into a bowl.
    2. Soak a cloth in the acetone & apply to ink area.
    3. Focus on the inked section and let it sit for 10 minutes.
    4. Using paper towels, soak up acetone.
    5. Wash the garment with cold water to remove ink and residue.
    6. Repeat the process if required.

    #3 Sublimation Ink Removal Using Bleach

    When it comes to tackling sublimation ink stains, bleach emerges as a powerful ally. However, it’s essential to bear in mind that bleach is not suitable for colored fabrics, as it has the potential to strip away the vibrant hues from the fabric itself. In fact, bleach is often used to fade dark garments for sublimation printing, as it removes the fabric’s dye to make the print stand out!

    illustration of sublimation ink design on t-shirt to represent cracking issues

    This method is particularly effective when dealing with white-colored shirts. For this purpose, you’ll simply need regular bleach that you typically use for your whites.

    Instructions to execute this procedure:

    1. Apply bleach directly to the sublimation print.
    2. Allow it to soak for approximately 30 minutes.
    3. After, gently blot away excess bleach using a clean paper towel.
    4. Rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove any remaining bleach.
    5. Repeat if necessary.
    6. Soak your garment in water to remove excess bleach.
    7. Toss your garment in the washing machine and clean.

    Don’t forget to wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when using bleach!

    Note: Consider performing a spot test in an inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure that bleach won’t cause any undesirable effects on the fabric.

    #4 Removing Sublimation Printing With an Iron

    While this method requires a bit more time and effort, it’s both effective and chemical-free. You’ll only need a few simple items: an iron, a spoon, and either a regular-thickness cloth or a thinner fabric.

    Step 1: Prepare the Garment
    • Place the polyester garment with sublimation ink on a flat, heat-resistant surface, ready for ironing.

    Step 2: Layer the Clothes
    • Position a dry, normal-thick cloth beneath the ink-stained area inside the garment to provide support and alignment.

    Step 3: Add a Damp Cloth
    • Dampen a thin cloth and place it over the polyester clothing with the sublimation print, outside the stained area.
    • Connect the iron to a power source and turn it on, setting the initial heat to a moderate temperature.

    Step 4: Gradual Heating
    • Iron over the damp cloth while slowly increase the iron’s temperature, taking care to avoid high heat that could damage the fabric.
    • Iron the fabric for approximately 5 to 10 minutes.

    Step 5: Ink Removal
    • Turn off the iron and proceed to scrub away the sublimation ink from the garment.
    • Start at the edges and work your way toward the center of the ink stain.
    • If needed, gently peel off any remaining sublimation ink with your fingers until the stain is completely removed.

    The sublimation print due to heating may be reflected on a thinner cloth or a diaper. Also, the color might transfer to the fabric. So, during this process, it is best to use some old material that you can dispose of afterward.

    #5 Removing Sublimation Ink Stains With Denatured Alcohol and Polymer Crystals

    First and foremost, prepare a suitable workspace. We recommend conducting this process in your bathroom or an outdoor area, or anywhere with excellent ventilation.

    Now, let’s gather the necessary materials for removing sublimation ink. You’ll need filtered water, aluminum foil, distilled water, a denatured alcohol solution, and polymer crystals. Additionally, be sure to have an iron, a bowl, bucket, and some paper towels on hand.

    Now follow these simple and concise steps:

    Step 1: Soak the Garment
    • Dip the stained part of your T-shirt into a bucket filled with denatured alcohol.
    • Ensure the stained area is fully immersed in the liquid.
    • Let the garment soak for approximately 20 minutes.
    • Afterward, check if the sublimation ink has started to break up.
    • If ink remains, leave it for an additional 10 to 20 minutes.
    • Swirl it around occasionally to aid in dissolving the ink.

    Step 2: Prep for Washing
    • Remove garment from the bucket (it will be thoroughly wet).
    • Use paper towels to absorb excess liquid from the garment.
    • Place the garment in your washing machine and wash it.
    • * Do not discard the denatured alcohol; you’ll need it later.

    Step 3: Ironing
    • Now that the garment is slightly damp, it’s time to start ironing.
    • Add filtered water to the iron’s reservoir.
    • Carefully set the iron’s heat to a polyester setting.
    • Iron the garment until it’s completely dry.
    • Place a piece of aluminum foil over the ink stain.
    • Apply heat over foil-covered section for an additional 5 mins.

    Step 4: Polymer Solution
    • After ironing, remove the aluminum foil and set the shirt aside.
    • Create a polymer mixture with just two ingredients:
      – Polymer crystals.
      – Denatured alcohol.
    • Pour three tablespoons of polymer crystals into a bowl.
    • Add a cup of denatured alcohol in the bowl
    • Allow crystals to dissolve in dentures alcohol (no stirring).
    • Wet clean paper towels with distilled water.
    • Then dip paper towels into the polymer solution.

    Step 5: Stain Removal
    • Gently blot inked area using the dampened paper towel.
    • If necessary, use a spoon to apply the polymer mixture directly.
    • Scrub the sublimation ink gently with the spoon or a sponge.
    • Repeat this step as needed until garment is stain-free.

    #6 Removing Sublimation Printing Using Organic Ingredients and Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

    When printing ink on T-shirts and other clothes, a lot of plastic is used annually. At least while removing the ink, we can use organic and eco-friendly products.

    Besides that, this method is cost-effective, simple, and fast. Also, for this process, we do not use cleaning agents that are bad for our health. You will only need organic products that are likely already in your home.

    First, prepare a bowl, white vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and one lemon. And you will need a cup of warm water.

    This is the only way to remove ink without using the heat press or damaging the fabric. You can make this cleaning solution just by following these few steps.

    1. Squeeze half a lemon and mix with 2 tbsp white vinegar.
    2. Add 2 tbsp baking soda to the mixture.
    3. Combine with 1/2 cup dish soap and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide.
    4. Stir thoroughly.
    5. Apply the solution to the stained area on the garment.
    6. Let it soak for 40 minutes.
    7. Blot excess liquid or rinse the shirt.
    8. Remove ink using fingers or a sponge.
    9. Repeat if needed.
    10. Wash the garment as usual.

    Tips: Before applying any product, check the care label inside the T-shirt. Read the label to see if any product can negatively affect the fabric.

    Steam the fabric before you start removing sublimation ink. This can help with the breakage of the ink. 

    Prepare every necessary product before you start to remove the sublimation ink. Then clean a flat surface where you will be working. 

    Turn on a fan nearby while removing the sublimation ink from the Polyester. It should dry the fabric faster and also helps with air circulation in the room.

    Final Thoughts on Polyester Stain Removal

    Sublimated shirts hardly fade, and the advantage is that you can wear them for a long time without the heavy and thick feeling of screen printing. Also, mistakes often happen during the sublimation process. Because Digital printers use heat transfer screen Printing Sublimation Products.

    Luckily, now you know an easy, quick, and effective way to remove the ink stains from Polyester. You can remove the sublimation print from Polyester using one of these methods. Besides, follow the steps carefully and avoid skipping certain process parts. You can use rubbing alcohol, polymer solution, or acetone. But also, you can use a non-aggressive solution as well. In any case, it is better to steam the fabric before this process. Because for the best results, it may be better to break the ink or, at least, loosen it up a bit.

    Check the care label, whichever of the listed methods you use. Also, remember that if the chemical stays on the fabric for a long time, it can damage it. Be sure to wash your t-shirts after any process.

    Thorough Responses to Popular FAQs

    Q1. What solution is the most effective for removing sublimation print from Polyester?

    Acetone is effective at removing sublimation print from polyester at a rate of 95% success. (95% success rate)

    Q2. How can I remove sublimation ink without damaging the garment?

    For plastisol inks commonly found on polyester, a spot gun filled with blowout fluid is effective. This electrically powered gun sprays fluid at high velocity to remove ink stains.
    Note: Spot gun results are better when used on cured ink!

    For water-based inks typically used on cotton, using a spot gun filled with water can help combat the ink. This method essentially fights water with water.

    Q3. How to remove the ink if the color of the print is smeared on the T-shirt?

    Sublimation ink, commonly used in digital and inkjet printing, can sometimes smudge on T-shirts and other fabrics, especially after washing or exposure to heat.

    To address smudged prints, apply one of the methods to each affected area on the T-shirt. Be persistent since sublimation ink can penetrate synthetic fabrics like Polyester deeply. Initially, try chemical solutions to remove the print, and if that doesn’t succeed, consider professional dry cleaning.

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