How to Wash Sublimation Shirts: Easy Steps With Dos and Donts

How to Wash Sublimation Shirts

Personalized shirts are perfect for people who like to make a fashion statement with unique, fun outfits. You can print anything on your clothing- images, patterns, text, and more. Dye-sublimation is the best technique for imprinting designs onto fabric. Sublimation printed designs are high-quality and vibrant, and with appropriate care and maintenance, the images will last as long as the shirt itself. People who have personalized apparel hanging in their wardrobes or beginners often wonder how to wash sublimation shirts.

Customized t-shirts are expensive; taking good care of them is essential to prolong their lives as much as possible. If you do not clean them with care and tenderness, the colors will fade, and the design will wear out. But worry not, washing sublimation shirts is not that difficult. It is simple and easy, but you should be careful of a few washing instructions. If you own a dye-sublimated shirt, the article is for you. We will explain how you can wash your sublimation shirts without ruining the design and the fabric. So let’s begin!

How Do I Wash My Sublimation Shirts? 

Here is a list of steps you should take while washing sublimation shirts.

Remove the Stain

how to wash sublimation shirts

If you have a stain on your shirt, remove it before washing the whole shirt. Use a mild stain remover to gently remove the stain or dirt before soaking the shirt in water to restrict it from spreading over the fabric. If you are running short on time and want to wash the shirt in the washer, you can use a small amount of oxygen cleaner. Throw it in the washer with the cloth.

It will clean stubborn stains like grease, oil, sauces, or curries. You can also mix some peroxide with water, apply it to the soiled area, and rub it gently with a soft cloth. It is a quick and effective stain-removal trick.

Use Cold Water

how to wash sublimation shirts

While hot or lukewarm water is excellent for washing regular clothes, it’s a strict no for sublimation shirts. Washing sublimation shirts with warm water will make the color bleed and compromise the longevity of the design. Cold water will keep the sublimation image intact and its colors vibrant. Set the washer settings on cold water if you do not want to hand-wash the cloth.

Wash With Mild Detergent

Always use mild soap or non-phosphorus detergent to wash sublimation shirts. Use one that does not have harsh chemicals to prevent the ink from fading. Also, limit the quantity of soap. A couple of tablespoons of detergent are sufficient.

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Detergents can break down dirt and grease, but too much can leave residue and make your design appear dull. Soak the shirt in cold soapy water for a few minutes, then wash it with gentle hands or use a soft-bristled brush. If you are using a washer, remember to take it out immediately after.

how to wash sublimation shirts

Rinsing and Drying Instructions

Once your shirt is clean, rinse it with cold water and air dry it. Rinse it thoroughly to remove all the soap from the garment. Hang it outside with a wooden or plastic hanger. Make sure you hang it in a place with minimal sunlight exposure. We do not recommend using dryers. The heat and roughness of a dryer loosen the bond of fabric with sublimation ink.

Turn the shirt inside out and iron it while it’s still slightly damp, but make sure it is not wet. Ironing the shirt helps set the design and protects colors from fading. Adjust the iron heat to medium to high for dark-colored shirts and low for light-colored fabric.

how to wash sublimation shirts

What Not To Do When Washing Sublimation Shirts?

Now, you know how to wash sublimation shirts. Let’s learn about things you should avoid while washing shirts with sublimation-printed designs.

Avoid Using Dryers

how to wash sublimation shirts

Never dry sublimation shirts with a dryer. The high temperature and pressure a dryer applies to dry clothes are unsuitable for clothes with a dye-sublimation design. If, for some reason, you still want to use a dryer, adjust it to the lowest heat setting available. Also, steer clear from sunlight- let them air dry, then iron them while moist. Avoid using metal hangers; use wood or plastic hangers instead.

Say No to Fabric Softeners and Bleach

how to wash sublimation shirts

Do not use fabric softeners, bleach, or other cleaning products containing harsh chemicals. The chemicals in these products, like silicone, ammonia, etc., slacken the sublimation inks from the fabric. Instead of bleach, use vinegar to remove stubborn stains that won’t go away. Soak the shirt in vinegar if you are having trouble removing stains from your shirt. You will be surprised at how easily you will remove them after. Wash and rinse the fabric with cold water multiple times after using vinegar to clean it.

Do not use hot water

Never use hot water to wash shirts with sublimation images. Cold water also helps set the dyes into the fabric and keeps the vibrancy of the print alive. Try to launder the shirts by hand or wash them in a gentle setting in the washer. Soak and wash sublimation-printed shirts separately. Also, never soak light and dark-colored shirts together. Don’t forget to turn the shirt inside out before washing it.

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Do not Wash Them Frequently

Even if you follow all the laundering instructions, the quality of your sublimation print will slightly decline after every wash. To prolong the life of your customized shirts, wash them only when it’s required. If you get a stain on your shirt, remove it using a stain remover on that particular patch instead of throwing the whole shirt in the washer. 

Re-Sublimate Your Shirt

If you have the equipment and supplies and know how to print sublimation images, you can always re-sublimate the design if it fades after a few washes. The design loses its color and brightness each time you wash it. If you have a favorite sublimation-printed shirt that you just can’t let go of, re-sublimate it, and you could keep it for life. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does washing make sublimation prints fade?

A: No, washing does not make sublimation prints fade. But, over time, the quality deteriorates with washing, and the sublimation image may lose its vibrancy.

Q: Can I wash the shirt immediately after the sublimation transfer?

A: You can wash the shirt immediately after the design transfer. Washing will have no impact on the design. However, ensure the print is completely dry before washing the shirt.

Q: Why did my sublimation image fade after washing?

A: There could be several reasons. Maybe you have used a phosphorus-based detergent or a cleaning product containing chlorine.


The colors and quality of sublimation-printed designs are second to none. You can wear your personalized t-shirt for several years if you wash, dry, and store it appropriately. Even the slightest error, such as using hot water to clean your shirt, could significantly harm the sublimation print. We hope this article gives you all the information you need on washing your sublimation shirts without ruining the design. These simple washing and care instructions will make cleaning your customized shirts easy and hassle-free.

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