How to Wash Printed Shirts? (Comprehensive Guide)

Printed shirts and T-shirts are delicate.

The printed design in them is prone to peeling, fading, and cracking in the long run if not taken care of properly.

These types of fabric require extra care when washing them in a washer or by hand.

The absolute best way to wash your printed shirts is by hand. Simply turn them inside out before washing and let them soak in cold water and mild detergent for 10 minutes or more, then gently agitate for a few minutes, rinse, and air dry.

In this article, you will learn how to wash your printed tees and shirts safely step by step.

Here’s what this article covers.

How to wash printed shirts?

In order to wash the printed shirts you can take any one approach from the below two methods:

  • Method 1: Washing by hand
  • Method 2: Washing in a machine

Let’s take a quick look at both approaches in detail.

How to Wash Printed Shirts by hand?

Washing screen printed shirts and t-shirts is easy and simple.

Follow the step-by-step instructions to hand wash and dry screen printed clothes.

Step 1: Turn the Clothes Inside out

Turning the screen-printed t-shirts inside out helps to prevent cracking, fading, or pilling.

Step 2: Fill the Tub with Water and Mix Detergent

Fill the tub with cold water and mix a small amount of mild detergent and gently agitate the water so that the detergent mixes properly.

Step 3: Soak the Clothes

Soak the tees and shirts in the tub for 10 minutes or more.

While doing so, just ensure that you have grouped similar colors together.

It’s recommended to soak clothes of similar color and fabric in order to get the best results without damaging the fabric.

Step 4: Gently Agitate and Rinse

Next, agitate the clothes gently and rinse thoroughly.

Lastly, using plain cool water, rinse thoroughly and gently wring out the clothes.

Step 5: Dry your Clothes

The final step is to hang them to dry or use a tumble dryer in a low-heat or no-heat setting.

It’s better to air dry naturally whenever possible as high heat from the dryer can damage the fabric.

Can you machine wash printed clothes?

While machine washing is an option, it’s not the best one as it can damage the fabric and lead to fading or peeling of the print.

If you’re going to machine wash your printed graphic t-shirts or shirts, then make sure to do so on a delicate cycle in cold water with a mild detergent.

In addition, always turn the clothes inside out before washing to protect the design.

How to Machine Wash Printed Shirts?

The overall methodology for Washing a printed shirt remains the same even with machine wash.

You will need to start by turning the clothes inside out and then follow the washing instructions below.

Step 1: Pre-Treat the Stains

If there are any visible stains on your shirt, use a mild detergent or a stain remover to pre-treat them.

But remember, do not apply stain removers on the graphic as it may ruin the design.

Step 2: Add your Clothes

To wash your printed shirts and t-shirts, simply turn them inside out and add your clothes to the washing machine.

Step 3: Add Detergent

Now add a mild detergent to the detergent dispenser according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

And, do not pour the detergent directly on the clothes in order to maintain the quality of the print.

Step 4: Select the right washing machine settings

Next, load your washing machine with cold water and set it to the delicate cycle.

Here are the ideal settings:

  • Wash Type: Delicate/Gentle
  • Spin Speed: Low
  • Soil Level: Normal
  • Water Temperature: Cold
  • Pre-wash: Not needed if you have already pre-treated.

Step 5: Dry the Clothes

Hang them to dry or lay them flat to prevent the design from fading or cracking.

Alternatively, you can even tumble dry them in low heat or no heat settings.

Note: If your printed Tee OR Shirt is new or if you have just finished the digital screen printing process, then it’s recommended not to wash them right away. Instead, wait for a day or two for the ink to settle. It needs at least 24 hours for the ink to settle.

Drying Screen Printed T-Shirts

Drying screen-printed t-shirts are simple as it does not require any special preparation.

There are several ways to dry screen printed t-shirts, but the most common way is to hang them up to air dry naturally. This method is effective, but it can take a long time for the shirts to completely dry.

Another way to dry screen printed t-shirts is to use a clothesline or drying rack. This method is faster, but it can cause the shirts to wrinkle.

The last method to dry your printed shirt is to use a dryer.

If you are using a dryer just make sure that you don’t set the dryer to the highest settings.

Instead, washing and drying your screen-printed clothes should be done on low and delicate settings.

Can You Dry-Clean Screen Printed Clothes?

Screen-printed clothes can be dry cleaned, but it is important to check the care label first.

Dry cleaning can remove stains that washing in a washing machine with detergent and bleach cannot.

It is also a good idea to dry clean your screen printed clothes if they are made of delicate fabrics such as wool.

However, dry cleaning is not necessary for all screen-printed clothes.

Can You Iron Screen Printed Clothes?

You can iron screen printed clothes, but you need to be careful not to damage the print.

Use a low setting on your iron, and don’t press too hard.

You can put a thin piece of fabric over the print before ironing as placing hot iron over the print can ruin the fabric.

How to keep the print from coming off the clothes?

Washing and drying your screen-printed clothes according to the care label will help to preserve the print and prevent it from coming off.

Also, avoid using iron directly on the print, if you want to use an iron make sure to put a thin piece of fabric over the printed side.

Furthermore, storing your screen-printed clothes in a cool, dry place will also help to keep your favorite shirt in good shape.

In Addition, follow the below care instructions to keep your favorite printed garment in healthy condition.

Common issues and challenges that you may encounter while washing printed shirts and their solutions

common issues and challenges while washing printed clothes

Fading Prints

One common issue is the fading of the printed design after multiple washes.

To prevent this, always wash printed shirts in cold water and use a mild detergent.

Avoid using bleach or strong detergents as they can accelerate color fading. Additionally, turn the shirts inside out before washing to protect the print.

Cracking Prints

The printed design may start to crack over time, especially if the shirts are not washed and dried properly.

To avoid this, avoid using high heat settings in the dryer and opt for air drying or low-heat settings.

Gentle care during washing and drying will help maintain the integrity of the print.

Peeling Prints

Prints may begin to peel off the fabric due to harsh washing methods or low-quality printing techniques.

To prevent peeling, always wash the shirts by hand or use a delicate cycle in the washing machine.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or stain removers directly on the print.

Color Bleeding

If the printed shirt contains multiple colors, there is a risk of color bleeding during washing.

To prevent this, sort the clothes based on color and wash similar colors together.

Use color-safe detergent to minimize the risk of color bleeding.

Stains on Prints

Accidental stains on the printed area can be challenging to remove without damaging the print.

When treating stains, avoid applying stain removers or bleach directly on the print.

Instead, use gentle stain removal methods and focus on the stained area only.


Washing printed shirts in warm or hot water can lead to shrinkage, distorting the print and overall fit of the shirt.

Always wash in cold water to minimize shrinkage and preserve the original size and shape of the shirt.


Improper drying methods can cause the shirts to wrinkle, affecting the appearance of the print.

To prevent wrinkling, hang the shirts to air dry or use a low-heat setting in the dryer.

Remove the shirts promptly from the dryer to prevent prolonged wrinkling.

Loss of Softness

Frequent washing and drying can make printed shirts lose their softness and comfort.

To maintain the softness, avoid excessive use of fabric softeners and opt for air drying whenever possible.

Faint Prints

Poor-quality printing or washing with harsh chemicals can lead to prints losing their vibrancy.

Choose reputable printers and follow the recommended care instructions to ensure the longevity of the print’s brightness.

Dealing with different types of printed shirts and specific care instructions for each type

Dealing with different types of printed shirts

The quality and durability of printed shirts can be significantly influenced by the choice of detergents and fabric softeners used.

Being mindful of the potential risks associated with strong detergents or fabric softeners is crucial to safeguard the vibrancy and integrity of the designs.

To ensure the longevity of the prints, it’s important to make informed decisions about the cleaning products used in their care.

Screen-Printed Shirts

One common technique for producing images on shirts is screen printing.

It involves pressing ink through a mesh screen to create the design.

Screen-printed shirts are known for their vibrant colors and durability.

Care Instructions for Screen-Printed Shirts

  • Wash inside out: Always turn the shirt inside out before washing to protect the print from rubbing against other clothes.
  • Hand wash or gentle cycle: Hand washing is the best option for screen-printed shirts. Also, when washing printed clothes in a machine, choose the gentle cycle and cold water.
  • Mild detergent: Use a mild detergent specifically designed for colored clothes to prevent fading.
  • Air dry or low-heat setting: Avoid high heat from the dryer, as it can damage the print. Hang the shirt to air dry or use a low-heat setting in the dryer.

Digital Printed Shirts

Digital printing, also known as direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, involves printing the design directly onto the fabric using specialized inkjet printers.

Digital printed shirts offer high-quality, detailed prints.

Care Instructions for Digital Printed Shirts

  • Wash inside out: Similar to screen-printed shirts, turn the shirt inside out before washing to protect the print.
  • Cold water wash: Use cold water to prevent color bleeding and fading.
  • Gentle cycle or hand wash: Opt for a gentle cycle or hand wash to preserve the print’s quality.
  • Mild detergent: Use a mild, color-safe detergent to maintain the vibrancy of the print.
  • Air dry: Air drying is the best method for digital printed shirts. Avoid using the dryer to prevent heat damage to the print.

Sublimation Printed Shirts

Heat is used in sublimation printing process to transfer dye to the fabric.

The dye becomes a part of the fabric, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting prints.

Care Instructions for Sublimation Printed Shirts

  • Machine wash in cold water: Use a washing machine with cold water to preserve the print’s colors.
  • Gentle cycle: Select a gentle cycle to avoid excessive agitation that may damage the print.
  • Mild detergent: Use a mild detergent that won’t fade or affect the sublimation print.
  • Air dry or low-heat setting: Air drying is recommended for sublimation prints. To avoid damage to your favorite printed tee, use the low-heat setting on the dryer.

Heat Transfer Printed Shirts

Heat transfer printing involves using heat to transfer a printed design onto the fabric.

It’s commonly used for custom and one-off designs.

Care Instructions for Heat Transfer Printed Shirts

  • Wash inside out: Turning the shirt inside out helps protect the transfer print during washing.
  • Cold water wash: Use cold water to prevent color fading and cracking.
  • Gentle cycle: Opt for a gentle cycle to avoid damaging the transfer print.
  • Avoid high heat: Use the low heat setting on your dryer or let it air dry because high heat might cause the transferred print to peel or crack.

Tips and Care Instructions for Printed Shirts and Tees

Follow these pro tips to wash your screen-printed tees and keep them looking fresh, new, and bright with easy-to-follow care instructions.

Wash Immediately after wear

To prevent stains, tee shirts should be washed immediately after wear. If a stain does occur, treat it with bleach as soon as possible. However avoid using the strong ones, especially chlorine bleach.

Wash in Cold Water

To prevent fading, darks should be washed in cold water, and towels and jeans should be washed separately.

When washing a load of laundry that contains printed t-shirts, use cold water and a mild detergent.

Furthermore, if you are washing multiple clothes at one go, ensure that you are washing fabrics of similar textures together.

Make Limited use of Fabric Softeners

Fabric softener will help to keep your screen-printed garments looking new.

With that said, excessive use of fabric softeners can work the opposite. Therefore, You can use distilled white vinegar instead of softeners.

Avoid Hot Water Wash

T-shirts may shrink when washed in warm water, so it’s best to use cold water.

Furthermore, Avoid washing your printed apparel in hard water as it can damage them.

Separate the Printed Garments

Printed Garments should never be washed together with other fabrics and always use light stain removers if you want to use one.

Air Dry the clothes

To keep them looking new and fresh and to prolong their lifespan it’s best to air dry them naturally.

If you are using a dryer, dry them in low heat settings, low heat drying help preserve the design.

Do Not Overload the Washer

Avoid overloading your washer as this can cause the t-shirts to rub against each other and damage the print.

Use a Mesh Laundry Bag

If your t-shirt has delicate embellishments, you can put them in a mesh laundry bag to protect them.

Avoid Strong Detergents

Avoid using strong detergents as they can be harsh on clothes.

Always use mild detergent products that compliment your washer as well as your screen-printed t-shirt.

Lastly, to avoid having your screen-printed shirts fade, you must use a detergent that is made for washing garments.

Note: If you do not follow these instructions, your t-shirts may shrink.

Final Thoughts

Always Wash and Dry your apparel according to the care instructions. Doing so will help preserve the quality of your clothes and keep them looking new.

Hand Wash gives more control over the washing process and is, therefore, gentler on clothes.

In addition, take care when ironing or using a hot dryer as this can damage the print.

Lastly, store your screen-printed shirts in a cool, dry place to prevent fading and damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some common questions related to washing printed shirts that may be helpful.

How to wash printed hoodies and Kurtas?

Wash them in a similar fashion as you would wash a printed t-shirt. Use cold water, and mild detergent to wash them, and once you are done with the wash simply air-dry them.

Can I use vinegar instead of fabric softener?

Yes, you can use vinegar instead of fabric softener as it is gentle on clothes and helps to preserve the color.

What is the best way to remove sweat stains from t-shirts?

To remove sweat stains from t-shirts, firstly, soak the shirt in cold water for about 10 minutes. Next, make a paste of baking soda and water and then apply it to the sweat stains. Leave it for 15 minutes and then wash the shirt as usual.

Can I use bleach on printed shirts?

No, you should not use bleach on printed shirts, especially chlorine-based bleach as it can damage the fabric and also fade the print. If you want to disinfect the shirt, you can either use a mild solution of Oxygen bleach or distilled white vinegar and water.

How to wash t-shirts with iron-on transfers?

To wash t-shirts with iron-on transfers, firstly, turn the shirt inside out and then machine wash it in cold water using a mild detergent. Do not use bleach or fabric softener. Once the cycle is complete, remove the shirt from the washing machine and then let it air dry.

How long does screen printing ink take to cure?

24 hours is sufficient for the ink to cure.

What’s the best way to wash football shirts with printing?

To keep football shirts with fancy prints and delicate logos in good shape, gently wash them by hand in cold water. This careful approach helps protect the shirt’s special designs, making sure they stay part of your sports memories.

Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at)