Learn to Wash Screen Printed Shirts Correctly in 2023

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    According to a study by the International Association of Dry Cleaners, improper washing techniques results in 90% of shirts losing their vibrant colors and designs.

    To wash your screen printed t shirts, start by turning it inside out. This is done in order to protect the image from being exposed during the laundry cycle. Then, wash the shirt in cold water with mild detergent.

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      Bleach, as well as fabric softeners are not recommended. These will cause significant damage to the printed areas.

      Air dry the shirt, or dry it on a low heat setting in the dryer. Once dry, iron it on the reverse side to smooth out any wrinkles. Do not expose the heat from an iron directly on the print, this will melt it.

      Key Takeaways

      The best way to wash screen-printed garments?

      When possible, avoid the washing machine and clean the screen printed garment by hand. Hand washing is a gentler means, relying more on soaking than centrifugal force. Also avoid harsh detergents on screen printed apparel.

      Does water temperature make a difference?

      The energy of hot water will accelerate the fading of ink colors from your printed clothes. The more you reduce the water temperature, the more you protect the ink from fading.

      A simple protection tip

      A simple tip for protecting your designs is to flip your apparel inside out. This acts as a protective barrier to the design.

      Let’s now take a more specific look on how to care for your screen printed shirts and the right way to wash them!

      Washing Screen Printed Shirts To Preserve Ink Vibrancy

      Many don’t pay attention on how to wash screen printed t shirts. We throw everything in the machine until the load is at the top level and press the start button.

      Protecting screen printed garments during a washing cycle.
      Following simple washing instructions will prevent shrinkage and print fading of your garments.

      However, a few care instructions should be followed to prolong the life expectancy of the print.

      Quick steps to keeping your t-shirts looking their best:

      • Wash your shirt inside out
      • Avoid excess water temperatures.
      • Hang your shirt to dry, or dry it on a low setting.
      • Avoid ironing directly on the printed design (iron shirt inside out).

      Follow these simple tips, and keep your screen prints looking great for years to come.

      Wash with similar fabrics

      Obviously, everyone should follow this advice as they are likely to wear common-sense clothing but it has an important purpose.

      Screen printed apparel that’s been washed using soft fabrics is easily cleaned to remove any ink on the shirt.

      Washing the same fabrics helps to reduce the rubbing of ink layers. This prolongs your screen printed clothes, both for the printed design and fibers.

      Turn it inside out

      Before starting the wash cycle, turn it inside out. Printed clothes may be vulnerable when removing them from a fabric that contains water.

      Failure to turn the t-shirt inside out will accelerate fading. You want to prevent other garments from rubbing against the print (not to mention cause fabric pilling too)!

      Use cold water

      Water temperature will vary depending on fabrics the print is on. With screen printed t shirts, cooler the temperature the better.

      Washing machine being filled up with cooler water to protect design apparel from cracking
      Reduced water temperature can prolong print longevity and prevent cracking

      Hot water removes ink color and dyes from the shirt.

      Air drying in the shady areas

      Hang your shirt in a dry, shady area and avoid direct sunlight. The idea is two fold, to avoid the sun’s damaging UV rays and prevent shrinkage of your t shirt.

      If it’s not possible to avoid the sun, turn the t shirt inside out, that way you are at least protecting the screen printed clothing.

      Avoid tumble dryers

      Dryers cause the same consequences as when heated water is applied. Direct heat generally causes the design of your screen-print to fade. However, your tumble may also be rough, scrapping away at the design work.

      Do not tumble dry your screen printed garment. Hang it out as mentioned above or place it in front of fan if need be.

      If you must use a tumble dryer

      Consider removing heavier items such as jeans or towels which easily soak up water. These weighted clothing items, while rubbing against your design, can fade the print work and pill the t-shirt fabric.

      Ue the lowest heat setting as heat can shrink fabrics and put stress on the prints.

      Wash with care

      Washing by hand increases the chances of preserving the appearance of screen printed clothing. The process is a lot gentler on ink and fabrics alike

      Cleaning screen prints in a bucket to prevent design fade.
      Washing by hand is a more delicate process than a washing machine.

      If a washer is used, keep them on a short cold cycle (warm at the most). Avoid using harsh detergents, fabric softener or chemicals like chlorine bleach or ammonia.

      Wash similar clothes together

      Make washing shirts with similar colors an important practice. Colors aren’t the sole factor, you also have to consider the fabrics in the garment.

      Shirts with different materials have different textures. They will rub together, creating cracks as a result of friction.

      Don’t use bleach or strong detergents

      Unlike hot water, bleach and other chemicals are harmful to the skin.

      I would recommend avoiding bleach to remove stains. Always use gentle washing products.

      Removing Wrinkles

      Imagine having a clean, fresh T-shirt with a captivating design, only to find it covered in unsightly wrinkles. While it’s crucial to protect your graphic t-shirt design during the washing and drying process, we must also consider how the clothing looks when worn.

      Cotton shirts, in particular, are prone to wrinkles, and while following safe washing and drying instructions is essential, they might not suffice to remove stubborn wrinkles.

      So how do we achieve this without exposing too much heat to our screen printed garment?


      Hang your t shirt on a clothes hanger and start up your steamer. Start off by using the lowest steam setting and move it over the fabric to remove wrinkles. The idea here is to avoid steaming directly onto the print, but rather work around the design!

      Maximize removing the wrinkles by steaming both sides of the t-shirt and sleeves!

      1. Hang your tee up inside-out with a hanger and fire up a handheld steamer.
      2. Use the lowest temperature setting and move the steamer across the fabric.
      3. Avoid steaming directly onto the print– work around it or steam sparingly.
      4. Do both sides and the sleeves, and put on right afterward if possible.


      The idea is to iron the inside of your t-shirt to prevent print ironing. You do not want the iron to come in contact with your the screen print design.

      Tuen your shirt inside-out and place it on an ironing board. Put the iron on the lowest heat setting and place a cloth between it and the t shirt and iron away. Depending on the thickness of the cloth you may have to adjust the heat enough to get the wrinkles out without exposing the printed ink too much.

      Alternative Methods To Washing

      If you want to prevent putting too much strain on your designs there is an alternative method that will bypass high heat, long drying process and ironing out wrinkles. Of course we are referring to letting professionals handle your most valuable clothing using specialist techniques to clean and lift stains without adding stress to your print and damaging or shrinking the fabric.

      Dry cleaning is more costly than doing it yourself, but if certain clothing is valuable, then this might be an option for you!

      How to Store Your Screen Printed Shirt

      Screen printing is a popular method for t-shirts and other clothes. The ink is applied to the garment in thin layers, so it is important to take care when storing your screen-printed shirt.

      To prevent the ink from cracking or peeling, wash your shirt inside out in cold water. Hang or lay your shirt flat to dry, and avoid ironing or using a clothes dryer. If you must iron your shirt, do so on the reverse side.

      Once your shirt is dry, fold it neatly and store it in a cool, dark place. Avoid storing your shirt in a plastic bag. In addition, this can also cause the ink to fade.

      Top Questions Answered Right Here!

      How to wash a t-shirt after screen printing?

      There are a few things to keep in mind when washing shirts after screen printing to ensure the design lasts. Avoid hot water and use a mild detergent.

      Bleach and fabric softeners, break down the ink over time, so avoid these too!

      Next, turn the shirt inside out before washing to protect the design. Finally, hang the shirt to dry rather than put it in the dryer.

      Does screen printing wash off?

      There are a few factors that will affect how well screen printing washes off. The type of fabric, the quality of the printing, and the type of ink used can all play a role.

      If you’re concerned about screen printing washing off, it’s best to test a small area first to see how well it holds up.

      How do you dry a screen printed shirt?

      There are a few different ways that you can dry a screen printed shirt. The most common way is to hang the shirt up to dry.

      You can also lay the shirt flat to dry, or you can use a drying rack. If you are in a hurry, you can use a hair dryer on the low setting to speed up the drying process.

      How long after screen printing can you wash a shirt?

      After curing a screen printed a shirt, you should wait 24 hours before washing it. This allows the ink to be set properly and prevents it from washing away.

      When you are ready to wash the shirt, turn it inside out and machine washes it in cold water. Milder detergent would do the trick and also try to avoid bleach.

      Hang the shirt to dry or machine dry it on low heat.


      Screen printed shirts require a bit of special care when it comes to washing them. The first thing you want to do is turn the shirt inside out.

      This will help protect the design on the shirt from fading. Next, you want to use a mild detergent and cold water.

      Hot water can cause the design to fade and the shirt to shrink. After washing, hang the shirt up to dry or lay it flat to prevent wrinkles.

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