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How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts

How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts- Let’s Find Out

Ever watched the screen-printed graphic on your favorite shirt fade or crack after wearing and washing the shirt a few times? It must have been quite disheartening, right?

Although the durability of that design depends on the type of shirt it’s being printed on and the prowess of your screen printer, it also largely depends on how you handle your apparel, especially when it comes to washing it.

Today, we shall guide you through washing and drying your screen-printed shirts correctly and give you a few tips for taking care of your screen-printed shirts to make the printing last a long time, possibly as long as the garment’s lifetime.

Tips for Washing Screen-Printed Shirts Properly

1. Always Use Cold Water

First, there’s no reason why you should wash your clothes in hot water unless they’re hotel or hospital towels and sheets, in which case the hot water helps disinfect them. Hot water is not very gentle on fabric, and ultimately, it destroys it. Cold water, on the other hand, happens to be gentle on fabric and again, it gets your clothes totally clean.

2. Don’t Use Bleach or Strong Detergents

Like hot water, bleach and strong detergents are harsh on clothes. In fact, I would recommend that you totally avoid bleach and go for light stain removers to get rid of spots. Also, be sure to use mild detergent products on your clothes.

3. Wash Them Inside-Out

Before you place your clothes in the washing machine, turn them inside-out. Do the same before ironing them. That way, you will lessen the fading and your design will stay intact. If the screen-printed design’s quality is of utmost importance to you, ensure that it doesn’t get into contact with the washing machine very often so the ink doesn’t get strained.

Also, don’t wash your screen-printed shirts after every use. Yes, you probably think that wouldn’t be very good but think of it this way – each time you wash and dry your apparel, you’re speeding up its aging process. Is that what you really want? If your shirt is really dirty, okay, go ahead and wash it. But, if you’ve only worn it an hour or two and it doesn’t look dirty at all, consider folding it and placing it back in the closet.

4. Don’t Put the Shirt in A Hot Dryer

We can hardly stress this point enough. Don’t set the dryer to the highest heat level when drying your screen-printed shirt. Also, ensure that you remove it before it’s totally dry and place it in the clothing line outside or anywhere else it can dry naturally. Remember, high heat is possibly the worst enemy of screen-printed clothes.

5. Wash Similar Clothes Together

Maybe you had a white design on your blue shirt turn pink after a few washes, and wondered what contributed to that unfortunate turn of events. It’s possible that you washed the shirt together with some red attire, and the red color ‘sneaked’ into your white design, making it pink. That’s why it’s important that you wash only the shirts with similar colors together.

Color is not the only aspect to consider when choosing which shirts wash together; you also need to consider the fabric of the apparel. When you wash shirts (or any clothes for that matter) with different textures together, the fabrics might rub against each other, creating cracks from the friction that results.

It’s just like taking a piece of sandpaper and rubbing it on your wrist. How would that turn out? That’s how your custom-printed shirts feel when washed together with towels.


Don’t forget the important tips – wash them in cold water, use mild detergents, don’t use bleaching agents, don’t wash them together with different fabrics, don’t expose them to excessive heat levels, and let them dry naturally.

That way, your screen-printed design will remain fresh as long as the shirt lasts. And, these tips don’t apply to shirts only. They also apply to t-shirts, socks, sweaters, and any other garments.

Are you aware of any other care strategies to make screen printings last? Don’t hesitate to share them with us.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.


  1. what if the screen print shirt had to be washed in a laundromat and cannot be hang dried immediately after taking it from the dryer? not everyone can afford their own laundry facilities and have to use other methods like handwashing or using a paid laundromat. all steps were FINE till i read i had to hang my shirts to dry soon after taking them out of the dryer. kinda hard at a laundromat when they wont even open till the cycle is completely finished and is set to a specific temp.

    1. Just hang it up as soon as you take it out the washer instead of throwing it in the dryer and then hanging it up

  2. Have a new red shirt and had a printed team logo on it. Washed in warm water, air dried but the shirt dye turned my white logo pink. Any suggestions on who to make it white again?

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