It may seem easy to take care of sublimation prints, but here are some key guidelines on how to wash sublimation shirts safely. The more people know about washing care instructions, the longer the shirt will live a life.
How to wash sublimation shirts
The way of washing sublimated shirts slightly differs from washing regular clothes.
It is not correct to use hot water, which breaks down fibers. Only cool water should be used, and a machine wash cold regime is to be set. For drying, one should hang up sublimation shirts outside rather than put them into the dryer. The shirts will smell fresh enough due to the cold water and sun exposure.
Cold water should be used for washing dye-sublimated shirts. Before one starts washing, the shirt is to be turned inside out to make the life of a dye-sublimated shirt longer.
In case a sublimation shirt has stains from food, it is first sprayed down with a stain remover and then put into the washing machine.
An oxygen cleaner serves as another proper way for the preliminary treatment of the stains. It is a great and natural means for attacking tomato sauce, grass, and grease stains. One packet of the cleaner will be enough to wash an average amount of the laundry.
Why does sublimation fade when washed?
The quality of the sublimation print appearance depends on how often you wash the sublimation clothes. At frequent washing, the print ink mixes with water, which makes the sublimation print fade. So, it is recommended to limit the washing frequency.
In some cases, it is possible to re-sublimate the garments after washing to prolong the life of the shirts you like most.
Colored garments should be washed separately from the sublimated clothes. Each time one re-sublimates the sublimated shirt, the color appearance becomes fresher.
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Damage by ultraviolet
UV rays can cause damage to the dye sublimation ink and result in garment prints fading. It is strongly recommended not to dry the clothing with printed areas in the sun.
It is suggested that shirt care instructions should be followed to avoid the fading of the clothing, and the shirts should be dried under shade.
Furthermore, it helps prevent the spreading of the print to other garments.
How to wash sublimation shirts? Separate washing
As part of sublimation washing instructions, it is essential to wash sublimation shirts separately from other clothing at both machine and hand wash.
Dye-sublimated shirts may take colors from other garments. It is also obligatory to wash white and colored things in isolation from one another.
How to wash sublimation shirts? The moderate use of detergents
There is no need to use too much detergent if one wants to wash sublimation.
If there is too much detergent in a washing machine, the wash material residue will affect the ink and make the clothing fade.
The proper detergent amount is two tablespoons of the washing agent.
How to wash sublimation shirts? Water temperature
Only warm water at low heat can be used during the wash cycle. Using warm water is a key aspect of washing instructions when dealing with sublimation.
Using hot water lowers the dye quality. To prevent fading of the ink, only a gentle cycle should be set when you wash the sublimated shirt.
It is also unacceptable to dry-clean the sublimated shirts. Dry cleaning will damage the print.
When adding chlorine bleach
It is strongly recommended not to add bleach and fabric softener when people wash sublimation clothing.
Fabric softener interferes with proper drying of the sublimation printing. Chlorine bleach can damage the dye.
Alternatively, cold water is to be used to wash the shirts, as hot water raises the risk of fading of the sublimation ink when treated at extreme temperatures.
There is no need to add bleach or fabric softener when sublimating the fabric of white polyester.
In the case of light polyester fabric, bleaching highlights the design of a sublimation shirt.
Most significantly, the bleach has an impact on the print parts with white sublimation ink.
Screen print dryer
No screen print dryers can be utilized when you wash your shirt. Sublimation clothes should not be placed into a dryer of high heat.
The right way of using the dryer is only when the appliance has heat and pressure controls. It will then save the color on the shirt.
How to wash sublimation shirts? Hang dry
As it is said above, the textile should not be placed into the dryer not to make it fade. It is recommended to hang the apparel up immediately after proper rinsing.
Dry completely the things before wearing them.
How to wash sublimation shirts? Natural whitening
Vinegar strips dirt away from the garment, and it plays a role of a natural whitener. Vinegar can be added to cold water at hand wash or into a washing machine.
Vinegar could also serve as a means for stripping off oil paints.
After processing the shirt in vinegar water, another wash cycle is needed.
Read also: What is the best shirt for sublimation?
How to iron the sublimation shirts
The high heat of ironing might become the reason for fading of sublimation shirts. It is better to use dry-ironing of garments.
If a color of a sublimation shirt is dark, a medium-high temperature is to be set. In the case of light-colored T-shirts, the ironing temperature is kept low; otherwise, the shirts will turn yellow.
The best way to iron the shirt is when it is slightly wet. It prevents the clothing from the heat of ironing.
The temperature does not have much influence on fading. But it can change the color of the print and must be controlled.
Sublimation tumbler care instructions
There are two types of tumbler care instructions, depending on the manufacturer. One presupposes handwashing only, another for dishwasher safe.
At machine wash, choose the tumble dry setting on low heat.
Conclusion: How to wash sublimation shirts?
A sublimated shirt in one’s stock of clothes appears an amazing asset to have. And shirt care instructions are not from the field of rocket science.
At the same time, one should follow sublimation care instructions and know how to wash sublimation shirts.
Bleaching and dry cleaning should be excluded.
It is extremely important to manage the heat during washing, not to let the shirts fade.
Follow the sublimation shirt washing instructions.
One should remember, that the existing laundering instructions describe different ways of the sublimated textile treatment depending on the print type, color, and ink used.
Not all functions of a modern washing machine apply to sublimation products. Automatic drying, for example, is often unacceptable for sublimation prints.
Washing temperature range is of great importance. Cool water is mainly used to clean the sublimated shirts.
The choice of detergents is limited when washing sublimation shirts. Often, ordinary mild soap is preferable to common cleaning detergents. Fabric softeners and optical brighteners should be excluded.
Thus, the matter of how to wash sublimation shirts can be easily settled, if one adheres to the suggested instructions.
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How to wash sublimation shirts: FAQs
Does sublimation fade after washing?
Fading of sublimation shirts occurs if sublimation care instructions are violated.
How do you keep sublimation from fading in the wash?
The following washing tips will help prevent sublimation shirts from fading.
Using proper detergents
Adding phosphates into detergents often results in color bleeding. For better performance, it is preferable to use a non-phosphorous detergent.
Also, one should avoid fabric softeners and chlorine bleach, since they induce skin irritation and may cause damage to health.
A mild soap instead of any other mild detergent can give better results than bleach or fabric softener. The addition of optical brighteners is not recommended.
Exclusion of screen print dryers
Do not use a screen print dryer on sublimated shirts. The ink will not resist the dryers, utilized under high pressure and heat.
No sunlight for drying
Sublimation shirts will fade when put in high sunlight exposure. So, drying in a shade and natural air is preferable to prevent the spread of colors to sublimated clothes.
Metal hangers for drying sublimation shirts can leave rusty stains, so wooden or plastic hangers will suit you better.
Will sublimation wash out of cotton?
The answer is “Yes”. It is not recommended to use pure cotton for sublimation. Pure polyester or a combination of cotton and polyester and cotton will meet the case better.
How do you wash sublimation clothes?
When washing sublimation clothes, it is recommended to use a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using bleach or harsh detergents, as they can damage the vibrant colors and prints. It is best to air dry or use a low heat setting on a dryer to prevent any shrinkage or distortion of the fabric.
Can you wash a sublimated shirt?
Yes, sublimated shirts can be washed, but it is important to follow proper care instructions to maintain their quality. It is recommended to wash them in cold water with a gentle cycle, avoid using bleach or harsh detergents, and either air dry or use a low heat setting on a dryer to prevent any damage to the sublimated design.
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Hi, I’m artist and sublimation printing expert. Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, I had passion for photography and painting from my childhood. I started my career as a sublimation print operator for a local printing company in 2012. The role exposed gave me lots of practical knowledge about printing process, from managing color profiles to ensuring print quality on various materials.