You printed a t-shirt, but to your alarm, it was a terrible mistake. The print was all wrong; You did not achieve the effect you expected.
What do you do?
Instead of throwing the t-shirt away, remove the screen-printed error.
Use these tricks to remove the disastrous image from your t-shirt:
- Rinse the t-shirt quickly in cold water. Avoid using warm or hot water which only helps to set the ink deeper into the fabric.
- Afterward, rinse with warm water.
- Allow the shirt to dry completely. You will still see a little ink but don’t worry; you are not through yet.
- Put a paper bag over the shirt ensuring that the shiny side is placed on top of the area that still has ink.
- With a clothes iron that is set to dry (don’t use the steam setting!) heat the section of the paper bag placed over the ink. Heat from the iron will transfer the ink to the paper bag.
- Do the fourth and fifth steps again until you can no longer remove ink with these steps.
- Use some sugar and scrub the section of the garment on which ink is still present. It is important to rub the area gently to avoid damaging the shirt.
Alternatively, put a bath towel on a firm and flat surface, place the t-shirt on top with the printed side face up. Cover the printed area with a sheet of waxed paper, get an iron set to high cotton to iron the waxed paper (to melt the print and loosen it). Continue to iron until the ink is sufficiently melted and transferred to the wax paper. Use a plastic knife to remove the remaining ink from the t-shirt.
Another tactic is to put a bath towel on the flat surface and place the t-shirt on it, making sure that it is on the wrong side and the underside of the printed area faces up. With a cotton swab, dip isopropyl alcohol and apply to the underside area of the t-shirt. Thoroughly soak the area with the alcohol and wait for around 20 seconds. Return the t-shirt to the right side and use a plastic knife to loosen the printed ink. Continue to peel away the ink with the plastic until there is no sign of the ink. If ink remains, apply more isopropyl and continue.
Here are a few tips regarding the removal of ink from screen printed t-shirts (or fabrics in general):
- Using an iron to heat set the printed design into the t-shirt will make the print permanent. Washing the shirt immediately will fade images.
- If you have already heat set the image, you can still remove it using acetone.
- Alternatively, remove screen printed images with spotting fluid using a high-pressure gun
- When using chemicals such as spotting fluid, make sure that your work area is sufficiently ventilated. Otherwise go outside to avoid the harmful effects of chemicals.
- Wear gloves each time you attempt to remove permanent ink with spotting fluid. Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and cause damage and other health complications.
- Avoid ironing or applying heat directly to the area that has been screen printed. This will only embed the ink deeper into the fibers.
It would not be the end of the world if you made the horrible mistake of doing a lousy screen printing job on your t-shirt. Use these tips to safely and effectively remove ink and save your t-shirt for the next screen printing job.