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Things you can and can't do with a screen printed t-shirt

What You Can Do and What You Can’t With a Screen Printed T-shirt

Have you ever found yourself wondering what you can do and can’t do with your screen-printed t-shirt?

After all, screen-printed garments can’t be treated like any other clothes.

Spoiler alert: Certain precautions must be taken to prolong its lifetime.

So, what are the precautions, and is there any scope to experiment with the shirt without damaging it?

All your questions have been answered in this article. After reading the entire article, you will know exactly how to deal with a screen-printed t-shirt.

So let’s get down to business

Things You Can Do

Iron Your Screen Printed T-Shirt

Nobody prefers a wrinkled t-shirt.

It makes you feel uncomfortable and look clumsy. And what’s more, it creates a negative impression of you in people’s minds.

However, contrary to some bizarre claims on the internet, screen-printed tees can be ironed, and it’s totally safe.

But you may want to turn the shirt inside-out before ironing. Otherwise, the heat might damage the imprint.

To protect the t-shirt from heat, you may also like to place it between two pieces of clothes while ironing.

One thing that I would advise you against is sprinkling drops of water before ironing. For, moisturizing before ironing is detrimental to your t-shirts health.

Dye Your T-Shirt

Unlike cotton printing, the lettering on the screen-printed apparel doesn’t absorb the dye.

That means the dyeing process won’t mar the imprint.

Thus, instead of discarding you can inject life into your faded screen printed garments by dyeing them to a new color.

As a result, you get a set of brand new clothes without costing you a single penny.

I’d recommend that you use fiber reactive dye instead of the all-purpose dye.

Because the all-purpose dye contains acid, which can color the imprint of your t-shirt.

In contrast, the fiber-reactive dye does not alter the plastic design and leaves the imprint as it is.

Fiber reactive dye may not be available in local stores, so you probably have to order them online.

Tumble Dry in a Low Temperature

Tumble drying t-shirts on low heat in a washing machine is perfectly ok.

But keep in mind to keep the temperature low as high temperature can precipitate fading.

While tumble drying, remove the shirt from the washing machine before it dries completely and place it outside to dry naturally.

Wash With Your Own Hands

Washing screen-printed garments with your own hands is certainly a healthy practice.

Cold water and mild detergents are ideal for screen-printed apparel. Any water temperature under 90°F is considered safe for this sort of clothing material.

To prevent lint transferring, you should wash screen-printed garments of similar fabrics together. It will also help you to decrease pilling.

Things You Can’t Do Bleaching Your T-Shirt

Bleaching is very useful in removing obstinate stains from clothes that don’t go easily.

But screen-printed apparel is a horse of another color.

In short, Screen printed clothes do not react well to bleaching.

In fact, Bleach can distort the color and cause premature fading.

The agents in bleach are capable of altering the color of fabric threads and the dyes employed in the screen-printed t-shirts.

So, if you wish to preserve the original color of your t-shirt, you had better avoid the bleach.

Using Fabric Softener

Fabric softeners are known to have a negative effect on screen-printed materials.

The usage of fabric softeners on a screen-printed tee can result in fading of the imprint.

On top of that, it tends to break down the ink on your shirt.

Needless to say, your screen-printed tees apparels are better off without the fabric softener.

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning your custom t-shirt is like condemning it to ruination.

For, screen-printed items are susceptible to stain from the chemical used in dry cleaning.

Instead, you should opt for air drying to protect the shirts from stains.

Using Hot Water to Wash the Garments

There’s no apparent reason to wash your clothes with hot water unless you are cleaning hospital bed sheets.

Still, let me tell you that, it is completely prohibited to use warm water for washing screen printed apparel.

That’s because it causes shrinkage and makes it impossible for you to use it any longer.

The bottom line is, always use cold water for cleaning screen printed clothes.


Let’s recap: ironing, dyeing, tumble drying at low temperatures, and washing with hands are the things you are allowed to do.

While you are prescribed to avoid bleaching, dry cleaning, fabric softener or hot water to safeguard the interest of your screen printed apparel.

Now that you are aware of the things you can do and things you need to steer clear of, you can take care of your screen-printed t-shirts without a hitch.

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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.