How to Get Sublimation Ink Out of a Shirt


We are supported by our readers. We receive a commission if you purchase something through our links with no extra cost to you.

Ruined your sublimation design with the wrong color and thinking about how to get sublimation ink out of a shirt? Well, it’s a common sublimation printing mistake that can ruin designs if not handled correctly. Minor mistakes like this are bound to happen with most beginners and even experienced sublimation printers. 

But the good news is that these mistakes are reversible. In this blog, we have listed a number of different foolproof ways to help you get the ink off your shirt instantly. 

So, without any further ado, let’s get into this.

How to Get Sublimation Ink Out of a Shirt


Tips & Tricks to Remove Sublimation Ink from Your Shirt

1. Use Ice Water

The ice water method is one of the most commonly used ink removal tricks among sublimating experts. This DIY can help you remove sublimation ink in most cases. To perform this method, take a bucket of ice water and completely soak your shirt in it. Once in contact with cold water, the ink on your shirt will start to harden at a much faster rate causing it to crack.

Cracking and hardening the ink stops it from settling into the fabric, so all you need to do is to grab a spatula and remove the hardened ink in small pieces.

2. Bleach It

Bleach, as they say, is the enemy of any sublimation print. Thus, a good bleaching agent can be a great way to get sublimation ink out of a shirt.

For bleaching, pour a lot of bleaching agents inside a container and soak your shirt inside it for an hour. Once soaked, you will find that the ink on your shirt fabric has been completely dissolved with the bleach.

3. Heat the Stain

Heating the stain is a chemical-free way to get sublimation ink out of a shirt. All you need for this trick is an iron, a thick-dry cloth, a wet-thin fabric, and a regular-sized spoon.

Lay down your shirt wrinkle-free on an iron stand, and place the thick-dry cloth inside the shirt, directly under the inked area. Next, place the wet-thin fabric directly onto the print. Now begin ironing the fabric; start from medium heat and gradually increase it.

Iron for about 10 minutes, and then scrub off the sublimation ink once you are done. We recommend using the spoon for scrubbing the ink before the stains are too small; after that, you can even use your fingers, if required.

4. Use a Hair Spray

Hair spray contains chemical compounds such as polymers, solvents, and propellants that aren’t ink friendly. Its ink-removing properties allow you to get sublimation ink out of a shirt. Just apply hair spray on the ink-stained area and pat it down with a cloth; you will notice the ink dissolving. Repeat this process until no stains are left.

5. Wash With Rubbing Alcohol

Treating sublimation ink stain with rubbing alcohol can work wonders if you are patient with the process. Grab a bottle of 70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol, pour it into a small bowl, get a few cotton balls, and you are good to go.

Next, you will have to soak the cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and pat the ink stain until it’s completely removed. Make sure you keep changing the cotton ball, or things can get messy.

Once you have removed a significant amount of ink from your shirt, we recommend rubbing the leftover stain with a cloth and finally washing it with cold water to give that one final touch.

6. Use Acetone

Removing sublimation ink stains through acetone can be a risky and lengthy process, but it is guaranteed to remove ink stains off your shirt completely. For this process, we recommend using Alcohol-containing acetone, which works great on stains.

Select a ventilated space and put an aluminum foil on your table or floor, pour your acetone into a bowl, wear strong rubber gloves, and soak a cloth into the acetone.

Apply the soaked cloth onto the area with the sublimation ink and wait for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, simply wipe off the area with paper towels and rub the ink gently. When you notice the sublimation ink has been successfully removed, wash the shirt in cold water.

7. Apply Denatured Alcohol & Polymer Crystal Solution

For this remedy, you need aluminum foil, denatured spirit, paper towel, and iron. This method is much faster and strong enough to remove most sublimation ink stains. However, when performing any remedy involving a denatured spirit, we recommend you be extra cautious.

Lay the stained area of the shirt onto a clean piece of aluminum foil. Soak a paper towel with denatured alcohol and scrub it onto the stained area. Be careful not to saturate the fabric. Place another paper towel on the stained area and press down firmly with a hot iron. The heat and pressure will help transfer the ink from the shirt onto the paper towel.

Mix a solution of alcohol and polymer crystal. Dip a paper towel into the solution and dab it onto the inked area of the shirt. Be sure to use only a small amount of the solution.

After that, place a paper towel on the stained area and press down firmly with a hot iron. This will help the solution penetrate the fabric and lift out any remaining ink. Rinse the shirt with cool water. Finally, blot the shirt dry with paper towels, then hang it to air dry.

8. Soak Your T-Shirt in Soda Water

Lastly, soda water bottles that are easily available at your nearest supermarkets can also remove sublimation ink from your shirt, but this method doesn’t work 100%. We recommend mixing soda and tap water in a 90% to 10% proportion and stirring the solution.

Once the solution is ready, submerge your shirt inside it, and wait for over half an hour. We recommend stirring the solution on and off while waiting. Once you finish the process, you will be left with only a small amount of noticeable ink stains on your shirt.

Homemade Remedy to Remove Sublimation Ink Stain

This method for removing sublimation ink from a shirt involves white vinegar, dish soap, lemon, and hydrogen peroxide. While it requires several ingredients and can be time-consuming, this remedy guarantees a successful solution of how to get sublimation ink out of a shirt, no matter how tough your ink stains are.

  1. Take a solution of white vinegar and water. Soak the shirt in this solution for 30 minutes. Once soaked, remove the shirt from the solution and rinse it thoroughly with cool water.
  2. Next, apply a small amount of dish soap onto the ink spot and gently rub the fabric together. Do not scrub too hard because this can damage the fabric.
  3. Rinse the shirt with cool water once again.
  4. Next, mix a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. Soak the stained area of the shirt in the solution for about 10 minutes.
  5. After soaking, remove the shirt from the solution and rinse it thoroughly with cool water.
  6. Cut a lemon and scrub it onto the stain. Now wait a few minutes until the lemon juice sits on the stain.
  7. Sprinkle some baking soda on the stain, then gently rub the fabric together.
  8. Lastly, rinse the shirt with cool water. Blot the shirt dry with paper towels, then hang it to air dry.

Bottom Line

Sublimation ink stains can be nasty and difficult to get rid of, but not when you have the right tricks up your sleeves. So if you have already drawn your design with the wrong color, you can try above mentioned effective DIYs about how to get sublimation ink out of your shirt.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes throughout this learning process because that’s how your designs will turn into something new and better.


Can sublimation ink wash out of a cotton shirt?

Sublimation ink is specifically designed to bond with polyester; therefore, any sublimation print on a 100% or even a 50% cotton shirt can easily wash out. This makes sublimation printing on a cotton shirt a bad idea.

Can sublimation stains fade after washing?

Unlike many other fabric printing methods, sublimation is permanent and does not easily fade after washing. However, these stains can fade on a non-polyester fabric since sublimation ink is designed to bond with polyester or polyester-coated substrates.

How to remove ink from a 100% polyester t-shirt?

Polyester is ink-friendly; thus, removing ink from a 100% polyester t-shirt can be quite challenging but not impossible. You can try a number of different alcohol-involved chemical methods, such as using hairspray or patting rubbing alcohol onto the print.

Image Source: Pexels

Featured Posts