How To Remove Screen Printing From Shirts

How To Remove Screen Printing From Shirts?

Have you ever wanted to get rid of an old, faded, or cracked screen print design from a shirt or clothing item?

Maybe you’ve made a mistake while screen printing at home and need to start over. Or perhaps you’ve found a great secondhand piece with an unattractive logo that needs to go.

If you’re in a situation like this, don’t worry!

In this article, we’ll explore ‘How to remove screen printing from shirts’. We’ll also discuss important considerations to keep in mind before attempting any of these methods.

So, let’s get started!

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Key Considerations Before Removing Screen Printing

Before we delve into the various techniques, it’s crucial to understand some essential factors and precautions to ensure the best possible outcome and prevent any damage to your garments.

How To Remove Screen Printing From Shirts
  • Fabric Type: Different fabrics may react differently to certain removal methods. For instance, some solvents or chemicals may not be suitable for synthetic materials like polyester or nylon.
  • Spot Testing: Always test any method on an inconspicuous area of the garment first to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage the fabric.
  • Safety Precautions: When working with chemicals or solvents, ensure proper ventilation, wear gloves, and follow all safety instructions. Some methods may involve flammable substances or strong odors.
  • Partial Removal: In some cases, you may not be able to remove the screen printing completely. Be prepared for the possibility of some residual ink or discoloration remaining on the fabric.
  • Patience and Persistence: Removing screen printing can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Be patient, as you may need to repeat the process or try a combination of methods to achieve the desired result.
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How to Remove Screen Printing from Shirts?

Below are nine proven methods to remove screen printing from shirts:

1. Acetone or Nail Polish Remover

This method is effective for removing cracked or old screen printing, but use caution as acetone is a strong solvent.

nail paint remover

Steps:

  1. Apply a small amount of acetone or nail polish remover (containing acetone) onto a cotton swab or rag.
  2. Dab the screen print design with the soaked swab, working in a small area at a time. Be careful not to oversaturate the fabric.
  3. The ink should start to dissolve. You might need to rub gently with the swab to remove it completely.
  4. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water to remove any leftover acetone.
  • Pro Tip: Wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when using acetone, as it’s flammable and has strong fumes.

2. Iron & Paper Bag

This method works best for prints with a plastisol ink base, which is a common type of ink used in screen printing.

Iron & Paper Bag

Steps:

  1. Set your iron to a medium heat setting suitable for the fabric of your shirt.
  2. Place a brown paper bag (kraft paper) over the screen print design.
  3. Iron over the paper bag, applying firm pressure and holding for short intervals (around 10-15 seconds).
  4. The heat should melt the ink, allowing it to transfer partially onto the paper bag.
  5. Carefully remove the paper bag. You might need to repeat the process a few times to remove all the ink.
  6. Use a toothpick or dull knife to scrape off any leftover ink residue.

3. Sugar Scrub

This is a gentler method but might not be as effective as others.

sugar scrub

Steps:

  1. Mix granulated sugar with a little water to create a thick paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the screen print design and rub gently in a circular motion.
  3. The sugar granules can act as a mild abrasive to remove some of the ink.
  4. Rinse the area with clean water and repeat if necessary.
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4. Cold-Water Rinse

This method won’t completely remove the print, but it might slightly fade the ink over time.

wash shirts

Steps:

  1. Wash the shirt in cold water only. Hot water can actually set the ink further.
  2. Repeated cold washes might gradually fade the print, but this can take a long time and might not be very noticeable.

5. Plastisol Remover

Plastisol is the most popular type of ink used in screen printing, and you can buy special ink removers that work effectively to remove this ink from the fabric.

Plastisol Remover

Steps:

  1. Soak a soft cloth in the plastisol remover and lay it over the design. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Use a soft brush to clear away the flaking bits of the design.
  3. Use a soft cloth to wipe away any remaining plastisol remover.
  4. Wash your item in a regular washing machine cycle with detergent to remove any residual chemicals.
  • Pro Tip: Plastisol removers are strong, so work in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves.

6. Spot Removal Gun

Spot-removal guns allow you to apply pressure and chemicals precisely to the target area, making them effective for removing small spots or errors.

Spot Removal Gun
Image Credits: Amazon

Steps:

  1. Fill the spot-removal gun with the spot-removing liquid.
  2. Place a towel or scrap material beneath the screen-printed surface to soak up the escaping ink.
  3. Aim the gun at the printed design and fire, allowing the pressure and chemicals to dissolve the ink.
  4. Wash the garment to remove any residual chemicals.
  • Pro Tip: This method works best for small errors or spots, as using it on large designs can be costly and time-consuming.

7. Dish Detergent Scrub

This method is suitable for removing screen printing from polyester garments, as polyester can be sensitive to chemicals and heat.

Detergent

Steps:

  1. Wash the polyester item in warm water.
  2. While the garment is still damp, squirt a dot of dish detergent onto the screen print design.
  3. Use a stiff brush to scrub at the design, allowing the detergent to act as a mild abrasive.
  4. If the ink starts to flake away, keep scrubbing until the design is removed.
  5. Wash the item again to remove any residual detergent.
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8. WD-40

WD-40 can be an effective solution for removing screen printing from nylon fabrics, as nylon requires special treatment to avoid damage.

WD-40
Image Credit: Amazon

Steps:

  1. Spray WD-40 liberally over the screen print design.
  2. Let it sit for a moment to allow the solvent to interact with the ink.
  3. Rub the design briskly with an old towel, allowing the WD-40 to dissolve and lift the ink.
  4. Wash the garment to remove any residual WD-40 and ink.

9. Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda can be a gentle yet effective abrasive for removing screen prints, and it’s a safe and readily available household item.

Baking soda

Steps:

  1. Create a paste by mixing baking soda with warm water.
  2. Apply the paste to the screen print design and gently scrub it in a circular motion.
  3. The baking soda will act as a mild abrasive, helping to lift the ink from the fabric.
  4. Rinse the area with clean water and repeat if necessary.
  5. Wash the garment to remove any residual baking soda and ink.
  • Pro Tip: Baking soda is a mild and safe option, making it suitable for most fabrics, including delicate ones.

Frequently asked questions

Below are a few frequently asked questions:

Is screen printing permanent?

No, screen printing is not necessarily permanent. The thick ink used in this process doesn’t fully absorb into the fabric fibers, making it possible to remove the design with the right techniques.

How do you remove heat press print from a shirt?

Many of the methods mentioned above, such as using acetone, plastisol remover, or spot removal guns, can be effective for removing heat press prints from shirts.
However, be cautious with heat-based methods, as they may set the ink further.

Is there a way to remove lettering from a shirt?

Yes, you can remove lettering or logos from shirts using the methods described in this article.
The nail polish remover or acetone method is particularly effective for removing old, cracked lettering or logos.

Wrapping Up

Removing screen printing from clothes can be a challenging task, but with the right methods and patience, it’s possible to revive an old garment or fix a printing mistake.

Remember to always consider the fabric type, test the method on an inconspicuous area first, and follow safety precautions when working with chemicals or solvents.

If you’ve tried any of these methods, let us know how they worked for you in the comments below.

And if you have any additional tips or tricks for removing screen printing, feel free to share them with our community!

Bella Williams

I'm Bella, a mom of 3 cuties. With 7 years of sublimation experience, my blog dyethrive.com focuses on all things sublimation and printing. Join me for tips, tutorials, and inspiration to enhance your sublimation journey. Let's create and thrive together!
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