How to remove Sublimation Inks from Shirts | Shocking Hacks

We round up surprising and the easiest methods for how to remove sublimation inks from shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, and other fabrics. 

How To Remove Sublimation Inks from shirts

To err is human and sublimation constantly reminds you that, either by half transfer, blurred prints, faded designs, color bleeds and ghosting, and even wrong color outputs. Even if all works fine, you’d be having a pre-printed shirt that you’d want to sublimate again or want to remove the ink after the print has washed away, and boom! Sublimation ink is permanent and doesn’t react to any solvent.

It’s true though, but as humans can’t stop making errors, he goes beyond solving it, which gave birth to various methods that made this impossible possible. Well, we’re right here answering “how to remove sublimation inks from shirts”. with eight of the working methods that will remove all the sublimation stains while keeping up the quality still.

7 Super Easy Hacks to remove sublimation ink:

  1. Heat treatment 
  2. Cold water
  3. Bleach 
  4. Soda Treatment 
  5. Pressure washer 
  6. Laundry detergent/ Dishwashing detergents  
  7. Alcohol/ acetone/ paint thinner  

Well, these are 6 different ways you can get the ink stain out of your shirt. These are the easiest and hassle-free methods, plus require materials that are available at home, so it also doesn’t cost an arm and leg. We also like using go gone when the quality doesn’t matter to use, and want to keep that fabric for home use. It’s the easiest way, least messy, and cost effective. 

However, for you, the quality of your clothes matter as well. For example, some fabrics can’t withstand bleach, so you’ve to consider do’s and don’ts with it. Also, the removing percentage differs from method to method, so let’s dive in and see what goes perfectly for you. 

1. Step-by-step process of Heat treatment

  • Put the shirt in the dryer and leave it for twenty-twenty-five minutes. 
  • Get it heated until the ink starts to melt. 
  • Use a spatula and scrape it out. 
  • Wash the shirt and let it dry in the open air. 
Put the shirt in the dryer
Wash the shirt and let it dry in the open air

Our verdict:

This one is the safest method to get the ink out. We’ve tried this one with dark shirts and lighter ones alike, and though darker ones turned out quite well. With the lighter ones, we experience a minor change in the quality. Plus, you’ve to be careful while the ink is melting as you don’t want to get it encapsulated in other substances nearby. 

Ink removal percentage: 90%

2. Step-by-step process of using Cold water

  • Take a bucket of half liter water and add one kg of ice into it. 
  • Allow the water to get frozen cold before you put your shirt in it. 
  • Let that sink in—we meant the shirt, obviously. 
  • Leave the shirt for 5 minutes and use a spatula to let out the ink. 
process of using Cold water

Our verdict:

This is for minor errors only. It’ll not give satisfactory results and won’t even get the ink out properly, unless you’ve fresh sublimation. It’s most useful for printing blunders. 

Ink removal percentage: 60%

3. Step-by-step process of using Bleach

  • Make a spray of bleach in the bottle. 
  • Don’t add water to it. 
  • Spray the bleach to the sublimated area
  • Leave for thirty minutes. 
  • Rinse the shirt with lukewarm water.  
  • If possible, wash it out with powder/ soup. 
  • Dry in the open air. 
Spray the bleach to the sublimated area

Our verdict:

Hands down, bleaching is the best method for removing sublimation ink. However, look out for manufacturer advice, because some fabric gets damaged with it, e.g. polyester, nylon, etc. also, if your fabric is sensitive to bleach, you can consult your manufacturer and get any suitable chemical agent and follow the same procedure. 

We use ammonia when dealing with sensitive fabric. Also remember, go for the light colored or white cloths for bleaching, because it turns your shirts horrible if they were in dark colors.

Ink removal percentage: 99%

4. Step-by-step process of Soda Treatment

  • Take 500 ml of water and add half of that amount of soda. 
  • Mix the solution well. 
  • Soak your clothes for forty-five minutes. 
  • Rinse with normal water and wash it with soap afterwards. 
Take 500 ml of water and add half of that amount of soda. 
Soak your clothes for forty-five minutes. 

Our verdict:

Soda treatment is ideal for polyester shirts, those which you can’t bleach. Both dark and light colors work well with this one. However, the process is a bit lengthy. 

Ink removal percentage: 96%

5. Step-by-step process of Pressure Washer

  • Fill the pressure washer tank with normal water. 
  • Press it against the cloth. 
  • Repeat the process until the ink washes away. 
process of Pressure Washer 

Our verdict:

Pressure washers are expensive if you previously didn’t own one. Plus, the process gets messier if you’re doing it in a contracted area. However, the method works very well, without changing the quality. Though, we keep it for the commercial as it’s the least risky and full-fledged successful way of removing ink. 

Ink removal percentage: 98%

6. Step-by-step process of applying Laundry detergent

  • Take half a bucket of warm water and add laundry detergent/dishwasher salt/ or liquid dishwashing detergent. 
  • Leave your clothes in it overnight. 
  • Rinse with water and let them dry. 
Take half a bucket of warm water and add laundry detergent
Leave your clothes in it overnight. 
Rinse with water and let them dry. 

Our verdict:

Detergents are, by far, the most economical and risk-free method for the ink removal. You can use up any type of fabric, in any color, and it works pretty well. However, the results sometimes are not that much up to mark, especially if the ink has vibrant colors. We usually do this process for two days after which, it gives us the same results as bleach. Anyway, it gets a bit hectic. 

Ink removal percentage: 60%

7. Step-by-step process of using Alcohol

  • Take alcohol in a cap and spill it on the sublimated area. 
  • With the use of dry cloth, rub against the dampened part. 
  • Keep doing it until you lift all the ink into the dry cloth. 
Take alcohol in a cap and spill it on the sublimated area. 
wearing polythene gloves

Our verdict:

The method is all fine, but look out for your hands. We recommend wearing polythene gloves during the rubbing process, otherwise your hands will have to bear the consequences. Also, you need to be gentle, otherwise, it’ll make holes in the shirt. In case alcohol is unavailable, you may use acetone or paint thinner with the same steps. 

Ink removal percentage: 97%

So, what is the best method of removing sublimation ink from shirts?

Well, we’ve discussed seven different methods: and these are our go to ways which have never disappointed us. Though, we’d easily rank up bleaching to be the best method for removing ink. However, during the research, we have found this fancy method, and as you know, we couldn’t stop ourselves from trying this. It’s called “Removing Sublimation Ink Through Home Chemicals”. So let’s try this and give you our final analysis. 

The method involves the use of the following materials: 

  • Aluminum foil
  • Polymer crystals 
  • Distilled water
  • Iron 
  • Paper towels 
  • Denatured alcohol

Process:

  • Place a large aluminum foil on the ground or slab where you’re putting the shirt. 
  • Take out a bucket and fill it in half with denatured alcohol. 
  • Leave your shirt in the alcohol for fifteen minutes. 
  • Take the shirt out and squeeze it between two paper towels, such that it absorbs all the alcohol. 
  • Leave the shirt in the alcohol again for fifteen minutes. 
  • Press your shirt with iron while it’s still dampened. However, make sure you place paper towels between the shirt and iron. 
  • Place aluminum foil on the dried shirt and press the shirt again for 5-6 minutes. 
  • Keep the shirt aside. 
  • Now, add parts of polymer crystals with one part of alcohol and make a viscous mixture. 
  • Dampened two paper towels and applied this mixture on the sublimated area. 
  • Rub the shirt with it until the paper towel carries all the ink away.  
  • Rinse with clear water and let it dry. 

Our verdict:

Well, the process is hectic, undoubtedly. In fact, it made us give up in the middle for how lengthy it gets. We carried the process on our rooftop, and would recommend likewise, as the open area speeds up the drying process, and this method asks for too many. 

Also, we did one amendment, and that’s not using paper towels after we took out the shirt from the alcohol. Instead, we rinsed the shirt off with water and kept it again in the alcohol for fifteen minutes. Followed by everything as mentioned, and for us, this one’s tiring, but the results it provides are worth the efforts. 

Important Instructions:

Whichever method you’re adopting, make sure you’re adhering to the following instructions. 

  • Never use an electric dryer or iron to dry up your fabric. Instead, let open air do the work. 
  • If your method involves rubbing, be gentle and don’t scratch as it’ll open the threading of fabric. 
  • For ironing, don’t go to the max temperatures. It’ll burn the entire fabric. 
  • Don’t use solvents with chlorine count on dark fabrics. 
  • Always see the type of ink you’re removing. It can be water-based or oil-based. Then, follow the precautions suggested by the manufacturer. 
  • If a method doesn’t get you the required results at one time, repeat it again, but don’t go over three times with the same method. 
  • Always wear gloves. Never touch out any chemical substance with bare hands. 
  • While soaking the shirt before removal, always use warm water. 
  • For the final rinsing off, opt for the chilled out water. 
  • Don’t skip washing the clothes after using chemicals on them. 

FAQs:

Because using poor quality transfer paper, sublimation ink, or even sublimation printers. The wrong choices get your sublimation fade away in no time. 

Most of the time, sublimation prints start bleeding. This is because the substrate is wet or has moisture. Therefore, it’s always recommended to preheat your substrate before transferring the print.

Well, yes. Sublimation inks are permanent. And that’s why they don’t get easily out of the substrates. However, nothing is impossible and so, there are eight loaded methods to get rid of it.

Final Thoughts:

Sublimation ink is tough but tougher are those eight methods we just brought to you. And by illustrating each of them, we’re fully sure that now you know “how to remove sublimation inks from shirts”. 

And as for the best method, we’d still go for our bleaching agents for the white and lighter colors, and for the rest we’d use alcohol, as it provides the best results without any damage. Besides, if you’ve just one shirt or piece and prefer 100% removal, then home chemical method is all you need. 

Good luck, and let us know your experiences with sublimation ink removal. 

Emily

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