Screen Printing Ink Fading (Detailed Information)

The screenprint is frequently referred to as silkscreen print. It is the most popular method of customizing apparel as it is an easy and ancient way of garment printing. There are many new methods of screen printing and they are also becoming popular with their uniqueness. But screen printing will always be the king of this printing jungle.

Normally a screen-printed shirt gives lifetime durability. If you have your shirt it means you have your screen print on it. But sometimes they can fade for various reasons and you can fix these problems. But the funny part is you can fade the print by yourself by applying some techniques for an irregular look.

In this article, I will try to share my knowledge in screen print fading and solutions.

Details of screen printing

Screen printing is a process of printing where you print a t-shirt with a screen by using screen printing inks. Various ways to have a screen print on a t-shirt. They are most of the time the same process with a bit of change.

You cannot have a design that has a lot of colors in it by applying the screen printing method. As the printing technique uses one or two colors makes it an easy process to customize apparel.

If you want a multicolor design to print on your shirt you shouldn’t pick screen printing. It will limit you. For multicolor designs, you should go for a heat press or heat transfer vinyl.

Screen printing

Screenprinting and its journey 

Experts say it is china that actually used a new technique of fabric printing. There is proof that around 950-960 AD people of china first used silkscreen print to have new looks on their shirts or whatever they wore.

Countries like Japan and other neighbors adapt this screen printing process in their way. A few modifications helped them to adapt to this new technique and it was damn effective.

Japan used paper cutouts, and stencils to produce images and transfer them subsequently to t-shirts at the starting age.

To control the ink flow they used human hair-made mesh between the ink and stencil. Using a higher mesh count is more helpful.

They used stiff brushes to pull the ink through the fabric.

Silkscreens were later improved as a more effective and fashionable method of printing in the 17th century. French started to transfer print on their garments by this time.

At the edge of the 19th-century silkscreen print has been modified Squeegees were introduced in the first part of the 20th century as a technique to push the ink through easily.

Some artists tried screen printing onto paper in 1938. They first used the term ‘serigraphy’.

In 1960 Michael Vasilantone first made a printing machine for garments printing. It was very popular at the time and the machine’s design and origin are still in use today. 

This invention had a huge impact on printed shirts. The custom apparel printing revolution began by this invention from Michael.

Since then, many advances in printing have been made, such as DTG printing, dye sublimation, etc. But still screen printing is the most frequently used method of design transfer.

Ink use in Screen-printing

You can use different types of ink for screen printing. The ink will have a great impact on your design look. so choosing ink is an important factor. It should be chosen based on the fabric property that you want to print.

Ink use in Screen-printing

But Screen printing ink is mainly of two types.

Plastisol ink

Plastisol ink is the most used screen printing ink. Because it is user-friendly.

Plastisol ink is basically liquid plastic material. You can cure them without any hassle and can move them easily at the right temperature.

It is not impossible that you have a faulty print the first time. No worries if you used plastisol ink as you can cover up your mistake by giving it another pass through the printing process.

Water-based ink

It is the new sensation for screen-printed garments as it is eco-friendly. Water-based inks provide a thin layer of soft and flexible ink on the printed shirt.

This ink printing is not as easy as plastisol printing. Water-based inks include water, so when they’re exposed to air, they start to evaporate.

If you need to take a break, obliterate the design area before leaving.

Acrylic medium paints also can be used for screen printing. But the mixing ratio should be 1:1. It will help the ink pigments to dry slowly. So you will have an even and easy print.

The durability of screen printing

Do you want to know, how many washes screen printing? or why does screen printing ink fade after washing? Let’s find out together, read on!

The durability of screen printing

When you apply screen printing ink on dark garments or in light color garments the ink is not coming off. Plastisol inks or water-based inks don’t come off the garments if the ink is perfectly cured.

Experts say A screen-printed t-shirt that is properly cured with a heat press or any other machine with the right temperature will last more than 10-15 years.

The ink is pushed into the shirt’s fibers via screen printing, and the curing process permanently bonds it. So that you can have a nice-looking permanent customized design on your shirt.

Screen printing does not have this issue if done correctly. But Plastisol ink can deteriorate if the ink is not applied correctly or cured properly.

On the other hand, dtf printing or heat-transferred vinyl only lasts a few washes. It lasts approximately 2-3 years if properly handled.

So durability is not an issue for a screen-printed shirt. If the shirt lasts 10 years or longer your design will last the same. Screen Prints are lifetime durable.

But you can face some ink fading problems after or before washing.

Read more about how to wash screen printed shirts (11 pro tips)

Screen printing ink fading problem

While your screen printing your t-shirt you will face some major problems. Print fading is the most common problem for screen-printed shirts.

But nowadays folks fade their screen-printed garments by will. It’s a new trend to have a faded screen printed garment.

So now let’s talk about both intentional fading and unintentional fading and how to stop them.

Intentional silkscreen print fading 

How do you achieve a faded screen print look? Or, you want to have a design that looks older than it actually is on your customized apparel. Actually, you fade them intentionally.

This process is called having a vintage look. The screen print here looks faded and old.

Process of achieving a faded screen print look

Having vintage-looking customized apparel is not that hard after all. A two-step procedure will do that for your t-shirt print.

Here is the process for having a faded screen printed t-shirt:

First step: Texture adding

You have to give a texture to create an illusion that your print is old and has been used.

Both light and dark clothing require no underlays. creating a worn look to the pattern is simple. Color matching isn’t a precise science, and it’s not required to achieve a vintage effect. Standard plastisol inks can be used with a distressed art filter.

To do that you can use some texture adding apps or photoshop while designing the print image. Adding texture will give your design a bit of ash shade and eventually the print on the t-shirt will look faded.

Second step: Selection of Shirt

While you are fading your screen print you have to know that your t-shirt material is a huge factor.

100% cotton is the best fabric to have a fade print. Because after printing the look of the garment depends on its primary color. So having a soft fabric garment is good for screen printing fade.

You will be needing multiple color settings when printing a multi-colored customized design.

A screen with a mesh of 220-240 or higher will be very efficient to have a clean print. It stops the random flow of the ink to the printing garment. the thinner the ink deposit is, the print will be less opaque. 

Unintentional screen printing ink fading

You can have a fade-looking screen printed shirt if the tint is not cured properly.

If the curing temperature is not enormous your printed design will start fading after the very first wash.

Plastisol inks need approximately 315-325 degrees Fahrenheit to dry properly. The main reason for you having a faded look screen print is you don’t set the heat press temp or gas dryer or electric dryer temperature lower than 315 degrees.

You have to cure the ink at the right temperature for a long-lasting print.

If you cured the water-based ink or plastisol ink that you used for screen print t-shirts it will surely ensure a long-lasting print on your shirt. But good handling of your t-shirt will guarantee lifetime screen printed design on your customized apparel.

Tips and tricks to prevent screenprinting fading

Tips & tricks to prevent screenprinting fading

  • To avoid screenprint fading you have to wash your garments inside out.
  • To protect your printed design add multiple layers of fabric while ironing.
  • Try to avoid machine washing. Hand wash is best for screen-printed customized apparel. If not possible use a low heat and low spin setting on the washing machine.
  • Don’t use very harsh detergent. It can fade your design after washing.
  • Don’t wash your screen-printed shirt with jeans or other materials.
  • Hang the garment or lay it flat after washing it.
  • Don’t dry clean your silk screen printed t-shirt.
  • Using any kind of fabric softener can ruin your printed garment life. So avoid it to have a nice-looking print on your shirt.

By following these steps you can stop your screen-printed t-shirt from fading.

How to remove screen printing

As you know screen-printed designs are permanent. But actually, you can remove inks by using a few materials.

The best ways of removing the plastisol ink or water-based ink from your customized apparel are:

For fresh design 

1. Use cold water to wash while printing

If you want to remove the screen print ink right after the moment you had it a cold water rinse can help you.

Normally cold water can wash out the unexpected printing ink from your garments.

2. Sugar cube

If there is ink left after cold water washes you just put a spoon of eating sugar on the ink spotted area and wait for some time. Then rub it with a soft fabric for about 30-50 seconds and wash it again with cold water of course to remove all the sugar you put on it.

Bingo!! The ink that was a problem is now gone.

For an old screen printed design 

1. Use nail polish remover

It is a useful way of removing screenprint ink from your t-shirt.

Because nail polish remover is made of the chemical name acetone. Acetone can dissolve in water and remove an old design.

It is the most efficient method because most of you guys have it at your home.

2. Spot removal liquid

There are many commercially available ink removal products in the shops. They use both chemical and pressure to remove the plastisol inks or water-based inks.

While spraying the fluid you have to aim right at where you want the ink to remove.

3. Permanent ink remover

As screen print is done more often with plastisol ink, a plastisol ink removal can do the job for you.

At first wet a piece of fabric with the plastisol ink remover. Then put it on the area you want to remove your plastisol ink from.

Now wait 20-30 minutes and then remove the extra fabric. use a brush to rub the area properly and wash it with cold water. 

4. Harsh and regular wash

No matter in which method your design is printed on the shirt it is going to fade day by day.

Wash your customized apparel side out.use harsh detergents. After a few washes, your design will start to come off by itself.

But it is a very lengthy process and the fabric of your shirt can be harmed.


  • Don’t touch plastisol ink with your bare hand. It can harm your skin.
  • Use a well-ventilated area for your work.

You can remove screen prints or heat transferred prints by using these tips. Maybe both prints are not the same but they can be removed by the same chemicals most of the time.

Before selecting any chemical to remove inks consider your t-shirt fabric quality. Otherwise, your t-shirt can be demolished by chemicals.


Many printing methods have come into the printing world. But Screen print is an easy printing process. It is more durable than any other printing method. You have to know about the printing process to have a long-standing design.

Otherwise, your design can fade after washing. To have a perfect print on your garment after ages, care for your customized apparel properly. Screenprinting is legit from the past to present that still has demand on our supervision of the printing world.

Screen Printing Ink Fading

Read More Screen Printing Related Articles On:

How to Print on Transparency Paper for Screen Printing

T-Shirt Screen Printing Materials & Checklist For Beginners

How to Heat Set Screen Printing Ink with Heat Press?

12 Different Types of T-shirt Printing Methods

Suggested Articles

Leave a Comment