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Custom t-shirts are more than just clothing—they’re personal statements, artworks, and keepsakes. Ensuring they remain in pristine condition is crucial, whether you’ve just added one to your collection or you’re in the business of selling them. Proper care not only guarantees longevity but also maintains vibrant prints and fabric quality.
As a print-on-demand company, we’ve curated the best practices to keep custom t-shirts looking their best, even after countless adventures. Dive into our comprehensive care guide to understand the essential steps for t-shirt durability and longevity.
One of the benefits direct-to-garment technology (DTG) offers is long-lasting print designs. The high-quality ink used for printing makes your custom t-shirts stand out with vivid, detailed designs. Let’s go through the tips and tricks that will help maintain the vibrancy and quality DTG prints are known for.
Turn your t-shirts inside out—a small yet crucial step to avoid scratches and friction and keep the printed area safe.
Wash with cold water—opt for temperatures at or below 30°C (86°F) to be gentle on the print, preventing it from fading or shrinkage.
Delicate cycle—set your machine to a delicate cycle, ideally around 600 rpm to minimize friction.
Soft detergent—use a mild detergent, as harsher detergents can cause the ink to fade or discolor.
Avoid fabric softener and dry cleaning, as it can be too harsh for the ink, degrading the print quality.
Avoid bleach—although it’s best not to use bleach, you can opt for a non-chlorine bleach, if necessary.
Keep the t-shirt inside out.
The best option would be to hang dry them, but with DTG-printed t-shirts, you can also use tumble drying.
If you choose tumble drying, do it on a low heat setting, as over time higher temperatures can dry out the ink, causing it to crack.
Since the DTG printing process involves applying ink directly to the garment, it may leave an unpleasant, slightly vinegar-like scent. But no worries, this is quite normal, and it will go away after the first wash.
You may also notice some discoloration or an off-white residue on the garment. Since DTG inks are water-soluble, this can easily be washed away.
Avoid direct sunlight before washing—due to the pre-treatment of DTG printing, direct sunlight can cause sun staining, which is nearly impossible to get rid of.
Ironing—keep the t-shirt inside out and avoid ironing the printed part directly.
Separate laundry—divide light and dark garments to reduce any chance of color bleeding.
Direct-to-film printing technology (DTF) offers customers long-lasting durability and colorful, high-quality prints.
So, let me walk you through the do’s and don’ts, as well as some extra tips to keep your t-shirts vibrant for a long time.
Turn your shirt inside out—this small but vital step helps the print last longer.
Wash with cold water—always opt for cold water, ideally at 30°C (86°F), whether hand washing or using a washing machine. Hot water can lead to shrinkage and fading of the vibrant colors on your t-shirt.
Delicate cycle—although it’s recommended to hand wash, if you choose to wash in the washing machine, opt for a gentle cycle of around 600 rpm. Keep it below 800 rpm to avoid stretching the t-shirt.
Natural shrinkage—natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk, or linen, have a higher risk of natural shrinkage. So, take extra precautions to keep the washing temperature cool.
Use mild detergent—it’s recommended to use a mild detergent. Strong detergents may cause the prints to fade quicker.
Avoid fabric softener—it can interfere with the adhesive used in DTF printing. It’s best to avoid the softener and use only a mild detergent.
Remember to keep the t-shirt inside out.
Air dry—the recommended way to dry DTF t-shirts is to air dry. Dry your t-shirts on the hanger to prevent any heat damage to the prints.
Low-heat dryer—if you prefer to use a dryer, keep it on a low heat setting to prevent the printed area from cracking.
Avoid over-drying—it may cause shrinkage, instead of drying faster.
Avoid dry-cleaning—DTF-printed garments can’t withstand the high temperature and chemical solvents involved in the dry-cleaning process.
Keep the DTF shirts neatly folded to prevent creases or wrinkles on the print.
Separate laundry—keep separate piles for light and dark t-shirts to avoid any color transfer.
Limit ironing—although ironing is not recommended, if necessary, do so on low heat, keep the t-shirt inside out, and avoid direct contact with the print.
A blend of art and fashion, embroidered t-shirts have designs sewn onto the fabric. To keep the intricate and beautiful design looking good for a long time, you need to know how to handle it with proper care.
Turn the shirt inside out—the first and foremost thing to do is to turn the embroidered t-shirt inside out.
Machine wash carefully— use a gentle cycle at 400–800 rpm to minimize the risk of snags in the embroidery.
Wash with cold water—set the temperature to 30°C (86°F) or less. This will maintain the color of the fabric and keep the threads intact.
Gentle detergent—use a gentle one is preferred as a harsher one will weaken the threads and cause the color to fade.
Check for sharp items—don’t wash your shirt together with garments with buttons, sequences, or zippers, as they can pull on the embroidery.
Don’t let it soak—once the wash cycle is done, immediately take out the laundry and dry it.
Avoid using bleach—use a non-chlorine bleach if you can’t avoid using it altogether.
Don’t wring—although you might feel it’s a good idea to wring out the garment to let it dry faster, don’t do it, as it can damage the embroidered threads.
Opt for cool drying—you can either air dry or use a tumble dryer with a cool air setting. To ensure complete dryness without harming the fabric, consider a combination of tumble drying on a low setting followed by hanging it out to dry.
If you spot any color residue in the water, rinse the garment in moderately warm water and then in cold water. Repeat until there’s no more color bleeding.
Gentle hug—to better preserve your embroidery designs, turn the t-shirt inside out and gently press between two towels. This will remove any excess moisture.
While ironing, keep the garment inside out and avoid the steam mode. Make sure the embroidery is dry and keep a piece of cloth between the embroidery and the iron.
For embroidered accessories, it’s advised to simply wipe them with a damp cloth. If necessary, you can hand-wash your accessories, but it’s better to avoid it.
One of the most popular and traditional ways of printing t-shirts is sublimation. And that involves transferring the ink directly onto the fabric, resulting in a crack-free design.
But even so it needs to be properly handled to preserve the vibrant colors and details.
Turn the sublimation t-shirt inside out—it will prevent any possible friction or abrasion.
Machine washes—set the temperature at 30°C (86°F) or less and use a mild cycle with an average of 600 rpm. Setting it higher than 800 rpm for a longer duration can badly affect the prints and the garment.
Soft detergent—using harsh detergents can take a toll on sublimation prints and cause the prints to fade.
Avoid bleach at all costs—if you need to remove a stain, apply a stain remover directly on the stain before washing.
Wash with similar fabrics or products—heavy garments like jeans, towels, or jackets can wear down the quality of the sublimation-printed t-shirt.
Shape it back immediately—once out of the washer, smooth out the wrinkles and folds.
Keep the garment inside out—if you’re machine drying the t-shirt, keep it inside out to avoid scratches or color transfers on the good side.
Air dry or tumble dry—we recommend drying your clothing on a hanger. Although a tumble dryer can cause the prints to dry out and fade, if necessary, you can opt for tumble drying at a low heat.
Iron the t-shirt inside out. Iron the garment at a low heat, but avoid direct contact with the printed area.
Separate laundry—sort darker colors from light ones before washing.
After washing, it’s better to smoothen out the wrinkles as quickly as possible. Then either fold (without cracking the printed area) or roll the shirt, and keep it stored away from sunlight.
It’s better not to hang your t-shirts, as it could stretch the neck. But if necessary, insert the top of the hanger through the bottom hem of the t-shirt instead of through the neck opening to prevent stretching.
The key is to act swiftly. Blot the stained spot gently with a clean cloth, draining the liquid. If the stain is light, apply some soap and gently rinse it away. For tough stains, use a stain remover (or substitute it for hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar) and apply it directly on the stain.
Lastly, soak the shirt in water for 15 minutes. Use cold water only for protein-based stains such as blood or vomit. Then, you can either wash it or, for minor stains, just rinse once more in cold water and let it air dry.
Now that you know how to properly take care of different types of t-shirts, you can use these tips in your daily life and pass them on to your customers. Together we can make fashion sustainable and long-lasting, promoting quality over quantity.
And with that, go ahead and wear your tees in style!
Aesha is a freelance content writer. She is also getting her Bachelor’s in Intl. Communication Management. And not so surprisingly, reading is her favorite hobby.
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