How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ricardo Seco 15 Oct, 2023 Blog

Every t-shirt lover knows the heartbreak of witnessing a favorite screen printed design fade away. Ever wondered what’s the secret to maintaining that fresh-off-the-rack look for your shirts? The answer is simpler than you think: mastering how to wash screen printed shirts. Dive into this comprehensive guide as we unravel the techniques and nuances of washing, drying, and caring for your screen printed treasures, ensuring they remain as radiant as your memories associated with them.

How To Wash Screen Printed Shirts

Screen printed shirts hold a special place in our wardrobes, often showcasing designs we adore. But with time, even the most vibrant prints can fade if not washed correctly. To retain their glory, understanding the intricacies of washing these shirts is paramount.

Washing Tips for Lasting Vibrancy

Here’s how you can ensure the longevity and brilliance of your screen printed designs:

how to wash shirts with prints
  • Always begin by turning your t-shirt inside out. This simple step provides a protective layer, safeguarding the print against direct friction from other clothing items. This method ensures the design remains bold, bright, and free from premature wear.
  • While the allure of a quick machine wash is tempting, gently hand washing your screen printed tees is the gold standard for preserving the print. If hand washing isn’t feasible, entrust your machine’s gentle cycle to do the job. This way, you mitigate the risks of print damage, fading, or cracking.
  • Hot water might feel comforting to us, but for screen printed shirts, it spells potential disaster. The heat can lead to fading, shrinking, and even damage to the screen print. Always lean towards cold water, whether you’re hand washing or using a machine.
  • Your choice of detergent plays a pivotal role in shirt care. Opt for a quality detergent like Skip, known for its Fibre Protection technology. Such detergents are formulated to cherish your clothing, ensuring cleanliness while preserving the fabric’s integrity. With the right detergent, each wash contributes to the longevity of your screen printed garments.

Machine Washing Screen Printed Shirts

Machine washing is a convenient way to clean our clothing, but with screen printed shirts, a bit of extra care goes a long way. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure your favorite printed designs maintain their allure, even with regular machine washing:

washing screen printed shirts

1. Before plunging your shirt into the washer, make sure it’s turned inside-out. This shields the print from potential friction with other clothes, preventing wear, tear, and the unsightly pilling of fabric.

2. Using a reputable stain remover spray, such as OxyClean, can make all the difference. However, remember to avoid piling on extra detergent. A gentle rub with a clean washcloth, or even rubbing the fabric against itself, can also help in lifting the stain.

3. Always group similar colors, textures, and weights together. Stay away from mixing heavy fabrics like jeans or towels with your tees, as they can be abrasive against the softer material of the t-shirt.

4. Select a gentle detergent, designed to be kind to fabrics. Pair this with cold water and set your washing machine on a gentle cycle. Resist the temptation of warm water and robust wash cycles, as these are the leading culprits behind damaged and faded tees.

Following this systematic approach ensures that every machine wash is not just a cleansing process but also a preservation ritual for your cherished screen printed shirts.

Hand Washing Screen Printed Shirts

While machine washing offers convenience, hand washing is often the chosen method for those wishing to provide their screen printed shirts with the utmost care. The hands-on approach ensures delicate handling, preserving the integrity of both the fabric and the printed design. Here’s a meticulous step-by-step process for hand washing your treasured tees:

can you wash screen printed shirts

1. Begin by filling a tub or sink with cool water. Cool water is gentler on fabric and prevents color bleeding. Add a splash of mild detergent, ensuring it dissolves completely to create a gentle cleansing solution.

2. As with machine washing, turning your printed shirts inside-out remains a crucial step in hand washing. This simple move shields the printed design, minimizing the risk of friction-induced wear.

3. Before immersing the entire shirt, address any noticeable stains. Apply a quality stain remover spray to the affected areas. Allow the solution to penetrate the stain for a few minutes before moving to the next step.

4. Using a clean washcloth, gently buff the stained areas. Alternatively, a mild rub of the fabric against itself can be equally effective, especially if a washcloth isn’t readily available.

5. Once any stains are addressed, submerge your tees in the soapy water solution. Allow them to soak for at least 10 minutes. This ensures thorough cleaning while being gentle on the fabric and print.

6. After soaking, it’s essential to rinse the shirts thoroughly. Using cool water, rinse until all the detergent has been washed away. Once the water runs clear, gently wring out the shirt to remove excess water, ensuring not to twist or stretch the fabric.

7. Finish off by placing your tee on a rounded hanger. This helps maintain the shirt’s shape while preventing creases. Allow it to air dry, preferably away from direct sunlight to prevent fading.

The Best Way to Dry Screen-Printed T-Shirts

Screen-printed shirts are more than just fabric; they carry the essence of art, memories, and personal expression. As such, drying them correctly is as vital as the washing process. How you dry your shirts can significantly impact their lifespan and the vibrancy of the prints. Here’s a definitive guide to ensuring your printed tees retain their charm:

how to wash printed shirts

Air drying stands unmatched when it comes to preserving the integrity of your screen-printed t-shirts. Not only does it prevent the risks of shrinkage and heat damage, but it also extends the life of your print. Hang your shirt in a shaded outdoor area, ensuring it isn’t subjected to direct sunlight, which can cause fading. If outdoor space is a constraint, positioning your shirt in front of a fan is an effective alternative.

The method of hanging can influence the shape and appearance of your shirt post-drying. Instead of pegging, opt for a sturdy, thick plastic hanger. This ensures an even drying process, avoiding unsightly peg imprints or distortions in your shirt’s fabric.

Sometimes, due to constraints or emergencies, tumble drying might be the only viable option. If this is the case, take precautions: turn your t-shirt inside out before placing it in the dryer. This minimizes the risks of pilling and potential abrasion from other garments, preserving the print.

Even within the confines of a tumble dryer, it’s possible to protect your shirt. Always select the lowest heat setting available. Excessive heat can lead to print fading, fabric shrinkage, and overall damage. A pro tip: Try removing the shirt a couple of minutes before the drying cycle completes. This ensures the shirt isn’t overly dry, which can be harsh on the print.

By adhering to these drying best practices, you can ensure that each time you don your screen-printed t-shirt, it looks and feels as delightful as the first time. The artistry on your shirt deserves this care, and with these methods, you can easily deliver it.

Dive deeper: Screen Printing vs Digital Printing: Which is Better? Discover more now!

Removing Wrinkles from Screen-Printed T-Shirts

A vibrant, freshly-washed screen-printed tee can lose some of its appeal if marred by wrinkles. Especially with cotton shirts, which are notoriously wrinkle-prone, achieving that smooth finish often requires an extra step post-washing. Whether you’re team iron or team steam, here’s how to ensure your graphic tees are not just clean and fresh, but also flawlessly smooth:


Ironing is a time-tested method to achieve that pristine, wrinkle-free look. However, when it comes to screen-printed shirts, there’s an art to it.

how to dry screen printed shirts

1. Start by turning your tee inside-out and lay it flat on an ironing board.

2. Set your iron to its lowest temperature setting. With screen prints, it’s essential to avoid high heat. If your iron has a steam feature, use it sparingly or not at all.

3. Before you press down, place a light towel or cloth between the iron and the t-shirt. This acts as a protective barrier, ensuring the print isn’t exposed to direct heat.

4. Progressively reposition the tee and the protective towel, ensuring every inch gets the wrinkle-free treatment without compromising the print.


For those wary of ironing or seeking a quicker alternative, steaming offers a fantastic solution.

1. Turn your shirt inside-out and hang it up. This ensures easy accessibility and effective steaming.

2. With your handheld steamer at the ready, set it to the lowest temperature setting. A cooler steam is gentler on the fabric and the print.

3. As you move the steamer across your shirt, be cautious around the printed areas. Avoid direct steaming on the print. Instead, work around it or offer only brief, sparing steams.

4. Ensure you steam both the front and back, including the sleeves. For the best results and to set the fabric, consider wearing the shirt soon after steaming.

Tips for Washing Screen Printed T-Shirts

Screen-printed t-shirts, with their vibrant designs and expressive graphics, aren’t just any piece of clothing. They are cherished souvenirs, expressions of personality, and sometimes, irreplaceable mementos. As such, they demand a touch of special care during laundry. Whether you’re a laundry novice or a seasoned pro, these tips ensure that your screen-printed shirts stay as splendid as day one:

1. Freshly screen-printed t-shirts come with ink that’s still settling onto the fabric. It’s vital to give these shirts a breather. Let them rest for a minimum of 24 hours after printing before subjecting them to washing. This waiting period ensures the ink bonds firmly to the fabric, guaranteeing longevity.

2. While labels are handy guides for garment care, screen-printed shirts throw a curveball. Since printing and manufacturing often occur in different places, the label’s instructions might not consider the special needs of the print. Rule of thumb? Always prioritize the print. Avoid excess heat, harsh chemicals, and definitely skip the dry cleaning for these unique tees.

3. Understanding the nature of the fabric is half the battle won:

  • Fabrics like cotton and wool are thirsty; they soak up more water, which means they’re more prone to shrinking. In contrast, synthetics like nylon and polyester are less absorbent. If shrinkage is a concern, consider opting for pre-shrunk screen-printed shirts.
  • The wisdom of segregating darks from lights isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Especially with screen-printed shirts, where ink migration can be a concern, segregate your laundry diligently. And remember, it’s not just about colors. Residual dyes from other garments can equally be culprits.
  • Just as color can affect your screen-print, so can texture. Rough materials, like towels or jeans, can be abrasive, leading to print damage. Ensure your printed shirts are washed with similar or softer fabrics to preserve their integrity.

4. It might seem simple, even trivial, but turning your screen-printed t-shirt inside out is a game-changer. This trick helps in reducing direct friction on the print, minimizing the chances of fading, and pilling. It’s a small step, but one that ensures your tee remains vibrant and fresh for longer.

5. The detergent aisle may be overflowing with options, but not all are screen-print friendly.

  • Avoid at all costs. Products containing bleach or other aggressive ingredients can damage the vibrant screen prints.
  • Beware! They can degrade the inks used in screen prints. Instead, lean towards detergents known for their gentleness which can naturally keep the fabric soft.

6. Cold water is the trusted ally of screen-printed shirts—it curtails shrinkage and prevents design distortion. As for drying, low heat or ‘air dry’ settings are ideal. The minimal contact with heat ensures the print remains intact. Pro tip: Elevate the care level by removing the shirt slightly damp and air drying.

In conclusion, knowing how to wash screen printed shirts is pivotal for preserving the vibrancy and design integrity of your cherished tees. By adopting the gentle care guidelines shared, you can ensure the longevity of your unique prints. For more expert advice and a range of stylish screen-printed t-shirts, don’t miss visiting Ricardo Seco Shop’s website. Our collection promises both fashion and quality, with ample guidance to keep your shirts looking pristine.