How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts (11 Pro Tips)

Any type of screen print garment is to be washed with such care and also it has to dry with maximum precautions. Screen printing is the process by which ink is transferred over a surface of the fabric. Depending on the type of fabric, the dye varies.

In today’s article, I will discuss with you how to wash this screenprint garment and then dry it and happily use it for a long time. And will share 11 pro tips after washing part of this guide.

The best way to wash your screen printed shirts is to wash with cold water with mild detergent and dry it at a natural temperature. You may wash it by hand or using washing marching. Do not use bleaching, any high heat things, or strong detergent in the process. The screenprint on the shirt is sensitive to high heat so avoid it anyway.

Screen-printed T-shirts are usually made of cotton or blended cotton.

If the fabric does not have ink absorbing capability, the screenprint will not stick well to the fabric.

So, we have to give the screen-printed T-shirt in such a way that the ink of the screenprint does not move from it.

On the other hand, even after careful washing and drying, the screen print design may be affected due to fabric shrinkage.

How to Wash and Dry Screen Printed T-Shirt

Screen-printed T-shirts have to be washed differently from the other dyed fabrics. Other dyed fabrics are usually yarn-dyed but are different for in-screen printing.

Necessary equipment

  1. Bowl or basin 
  2. Normal temperature water
  3. Mild detergent 
  4. Hanger for drying

Below is a description of the T-shirt washing steps of screen printing.

Step 01: Read the Care label

It is very important to wear a t-shirt care label before giving a screen print t-shirt a wash. Care label refers to any type of printing on your t-shirt.

Check and Read the Care label before start washing process

Plastisol ink could be used Sometimes instead of pigment dye on fabric surfaces as screen printing. Care Label, on the other hand, has mentioned the amount of cotton and blended synthetic fibers (such as polyester, spandex, lycra, nylon or etc.)

Whether the screen-printed t-shirt is given with hot water or cold water is also mentioned on the care label.

Step 02: Fold your printed t-shirt inside out

When you look at the screen printing T-shirt, you will see that its ink can be seen only on the outside. Heat and pressure are applied to the fabric of the screen printing t-shirt.

shirt inside out

So, if you fold outside in, then the screen printing surface couldn’t come in contact with any obstacles directly. This way you can protect your screen-printed t-shirt.

Step 03: Mix a mild detergent with normal temperature water

Since screenprints can often be sensitive to water or detergents. You should only use water of normal temperature and mild detergent.

But yes, if your care label mention washing with light hot water, then do the same.

Use mild detergent

After taking the required amount of water, mix the mild detergent well in there.

Note: Avoid using harsh detergent. It can make soluble your design with water and react with your screen printing t-shirt design.

Step 04: Soak inside of water gently

After mixing well, your next step will be to gently soak your printed garment in the water.

Since your t-shirt is screen printing, So do not rub it too much.

shirt Soak before washing

Leave it in the water with detergent for 20 to 30 minutes very naturally. Occasionally you can see by moving a little gently, whether penetrate well or not.

Step 05: Change the detergent water and put new water

This is how you change your detergent mixing water and replace it with fresh and clean water. Gently wash your T-shirt by hand and I would suggest you do it by yourself.

Now if you wash your t-shirt with a washing machine then you need to rotate the machine at a medium lower speed. It is often seen that excessive speed washing machine damages the screen print t-shirt.

Step 06: Hang in the air by a hanger to dry

Once your T-shirt is washed, get it out of the water and hang it on a hanger. Drying with the temperature of the machine can cause the area of ​​the screen printing is bursting. Doing so could ruin your design. T-shirts made of cotton usually have a little shrink after washing.

Hang in the air after washing

So, if you let it dry in general, this link will not cause any damage to your screen print.

In the case of digital screen printing

The designs of screen printing are made in different ways. At present screen printing has become useful and affordable to everyone.

In addition to custom users, you can do digital printing of industrial. Multiple colors can be created together with the help of digital screen printing. The designs on the T-shirts are also very perfect.

Washing tips case of digital screen printing

In the case of printed apparel, digital printing creates a unique possibility. Digital printing machines, screen printing machines, etc. you can use in home and industry as well.

Things you must have to avoid for screen printed t-shirt

Things you must have to avoid for screen printed t-shirt

Harsh detergent

Strong or harsh detergents have the strong atomic structure of alkalis component to react and eliminate oil, was, and dirt substance from fabric.

It is known that screen printing is oil made chemical that attaches strongly to the knit fabric while printing. So harsh detergent may cause deform and fade your screen printing of t-shirt.

Extreme hot water

Hot water is another thing to avoid for washing screen printing t-shirts. 

When screen printing is done, it needs to be chilled down to set on the fabric surface. So hot water is another harmful thing to make damage your fabrics printing if a screen printed garment.

Washing machine’s high rotation spin

Using a washing machine dryer can also make defeat to your screen print because, after a wash, your cotton t-shirt may shrink a bit, so it also put an effect on your printing design.

It is suggested to give a natural and normal dry temperature to dry your fabric which is containing screen printing.

Summary of the T-shirt washing and dry process

When it comes to T-shirt design, the first thing we have to do is screenprint design. Different designs are placed on T-shirts of different sizes. Shirts screen printing is very sensitive so we have to be careful with both compressors and low temperatures.

Besides, we do not need to dry at high temperatures because the design stays intact at normal temperatures. Screen printing makes your t-shirt more fashionable, so you have to be cautious of your shirt’s design.

How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts

11 Tips for Washing and Drying Screen Printed Shirts

I am sure you have seen or must have seen how your favorite printed shirt is fading after several wears and washes. You may feel bad about it, but you need to realize that the durability of the screen printed shirts depends on the design and type of fabric used and the expert level of the screen printer.

Whether you bought a custom-made shirt and spent a lot of money on every item, so when you take it upon yourself to protect the quality means you are saving money spent.

The first precaution is to make sure they do not fade by washing them carefully.

In this part, I’ll discuss 11 things what to do and what not to do, and how to do with your screen printed shirts when it’s come to washing and drying.

Let’s start.

1. Use Cold Water while Washing

It is a very popular and common thing nowadays to wash all your clothes in warm or hot water. Although we all know that clod wash is safer for any cloth washing. Cold means not freezing cold. In the case of washing cold water means anything below 30 degrees Celsius.

Use Cold Water while Washing

Some hotels, hostels, and inns use warm water to help disinfect sheets and towels. But using hot water on screen printed shirt will interfere with the print and may cause problems for fabric as well.

Coldwater is gentle on fabric, and it gets your clothes perfectly clean. And more importantly, it doesn’t have any reason to cause a problem for your t-shirt printing.

2. Avoid Bleach in Washing of Screen Printed Shirts

Bleaches are effective in stain removal but harsh on shirt color and printing. More Important thing is bleach can remove screen printing or could become the cause for fading of your screen printed garment.

T-shirt printing in most cases uses plastisol ink and bleach has a friction relation with any digital printing ink almost. So I strongly recommend you avoid bleaching anyhow.

Don't Use Bleach in Washing

I would recommend that you use light stain removers when you want to get rid of harsh stains and tough spots or any other such issue.

3. Don’t Use Harsh Detergent

Same recommendation as bleaching cloth, try to avoid using any harsh strong detergent to wash your printed shirt. Water-based ink or any other screen printing ink used in your shirt printing can react with detergent.

So I recommend using a mild detergent in washing your shirts. Detergents also need to be mild on the fabric as well.

Also, read Screen Print Vs. Vinyl T-shirt Printing – Which One and Why?

4. Wash Shirts Inside Out

Turn all screen-printed shirts inside out and do the same before ironing them. Working with shirts turned inside out lessens the fading and preserves the custom design of your cloth. If you value the design on the shirt is everything to you, make sure it does not get into contact with the washing machine. And make sure the ink is not strained by turning the shirt inside out.

Wash Shirts Inside Out

Although it’s very personal and depends on you, if possible do not wash the shirt after every use. This approach should be encouraged for those who wear shirts for minimal time and do not leave so much dirt to show.

5. Do not Use a Hot Dryer

When drying your shirt, remember not to set the hot dryer to the highest heat level. Always remove it when it is almost dry and air it on the cloth line outside to let it dry naturally. Remember high heat will hasten the design peeling process.

When you are using any heat therapy on a shirt with print, you need to do it after turning them inside out of the shirt.

it’s recommended to not use any hot dryer on shirts with screen printing. Drying in the natural environment is the best way.

6. Wash Similar Clothes Together

Isolate shirts with the same color and wash them together to avoid clothes with running colors ruining the design and prints on your shirts.

Sometimes the reason why you should wash similar colors together is that the type or nature of fabric also may force you to wash matching clothes together. Washing fabrics with varying textures together, they may rub against each other causing cracks to ruin the design.

Wash Similar Clothes Together

Picture rubbing sandpaper on your wrist and imagine the result that is how shirts feel when washed together with different materials.

7. Stay Away From Irons

As already stated that too much heat is not a good thing for your printed shirt. However, if you must use an iron, use the lowest setting, and make sure the shirt is turned inside out.

Do not use irons

But I recommend you not use iron. If you are asking which is a better option in steam ironing and traditional ironing machine? I would recommend a traditional ironing machine but turning the inside out of the shirt is a must.

8. Dry Cleaning of the Shirt

Screen-printed shirts may undergo dry cleaning. However, you need to exercise caution when dealing with dark shades to avoid spotting. Chemicals used in dry cleaning may also cause spotting and spreading of ink.

I recommend you to not use dry cleaning. Although if you still want to use dry cleaning, you need to know which chemicals are going to use in the cleaning process and what their reaction of them to the ink used in shirt printing.

9. Printed Tees Shrinking

Shrinking can cause you frustration when the garment no longer fits. Most manufacturers prefer to pre-shrink their fabric before sending it to the printer. Shrinkage is caused by heat from the dryer and hot washing during the printing. The standard rule is that if your garment is 100% cotton, always remember there is a real potential to shrinkage.

Printed Tees Shrinking

To prevent this shrinkage of your printed garment tries to avoid hot wash or any heat involved methods with more than 30 degrees Celsius temperature.

10. Pilling May Cause Extensive Washing

Pilling does not only affect clothes of poor quality because all fabrics are prone to pilling. The friction that comes from wearing and washing can also cause pilling. Such friction loosens the fabric by pulling fibers away. You will notice fibers in the form of fuzzy balls or pills on the surface of the cloth.

You can use a handheld fabric shaver to eliminate pills, but the best way to prevent them is to wash garments inside out.

Related article: How much does Screen Printing Cost

11. Wash with Hard Water

Hard water contains minerals that can ruin screen-printed garments. These minerals will deposit in the fabric leading them to stiffen. Hard water also degrades the dye used in screen printing and colors may start to fade. You can opt to buy a water softening system or fabric softener or soak the clothes in a mixture of white vinegar and water before washing.

Prevention of potential laundry problems that may ruin printed garments is not a difficult thing to do. All you have to do is pay attention to details. Make sure you follow these tips and maintain the quality of your shirt.

FAQs on How to Wash and Dry Screen Printed Shirts

How long should you wait to wash a shirt after screen printing?

You should wait at least 24 hours before washing any printed shirt. The longer you wait is better for print. In most cases, screen printing ink takes to dry within 1 hour at 21 degrees Celsius but can retain ink for up to 72 hours after printing.

Can you dry screen print shirts in the dryer?

Yes, you can, but I recommend you not to. It could potentially ruin the print on the shirts. To use the dryer in case of screen printed shirts, lay the shirts on a flat surface and Cover the shirts with towels or any other clothes. The dryer needs to be set in the lowest temperature setting.

How long does screen printing design last on a shirt?

It depends on several factors, including the type of ink, the fabrics of the shirt, the shirt care, the type of shirt used, the number of washes, and a few more factors. Usually screen printing designs on a shirt last for 40 to 60 washes, which means almost the same as the lifetime of the shirt.

Can you reuse a screen printing screen on a shirt?

Yes, technically you can reuse a screen printing on a shirt, but it is not recommended. If you want to reuse you need to clean the old screen print designs of the shirt completely. Also, need to trace chemicals are from leftover ink on the face of the screen before the reprint. If you fail to remove it properly you know what’s going to happen.

Final Words

The quality of the shirt will also affect the duration of the print and how it reacts to soap and water. The higher the quality of the fabric the longer the design will last. Before deciding to wash your cloth, ensure that you read the care label because of the important information on how to handle the material.

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