Will Acetone Remove Sublimation Ink?


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Sublimation is a tricky process requiring attention to detail. A minor mistake and you’d end up with a material that’s of no use anymore. But worry not, you can recycle it, as there are many solutions available to remove sublimation ink, including acetone. But will acetone remove sublimation ink from all the substrates?

Well, sublimation ink can be difficult to remove because it penetrates deep into the material and bonds with it on a molecular level. Acetone can definitely break down this firm bonding, but only when you consider a few important factors.  

Let’s dive in and explore how this chemical can help you reuse a spoiled substrate by removing ink stains effectively. 

will acetone remove sublimation ink


Is Acetone Effective as a Stain Remover?

Acetone is a colorless and highly volatile liquid that can break down and dissolve many substances, including oils, adhesives, greases, paints, and inks. Moreover, it can evaporate quickly when exposed to air, which facilitates 100% stain removal as it leaves no residue behind. 

This makes acetone an ideal chemical used in cleaning products, like nail polish removers, varnish and paint removers, and more. 

Will Acetone Remove Sublimation Ink?

Yes, acetone is a great solution for removing sublimation ink from a substrate. However, using this chemical in its pure form is not recommended. The composition of acetone has the potential to damage the substrate. Also, it might not work on certain materials for removing sublimation ink. 

To make sure that you effectively use acetone for ink removal, you need to learn the best way to use this chemical, as discussed below. 

Things to Consider When Using Acetone to Remove Sublimation Ink

Using acetone is not as easy as you might think. There are a lot of factors that you need to consider to get the best results with sublimation ink removal, including:

Type of Substrate

The type of substrate has a huge impact on the effectiveness of acetone in removing sublimation ink. This chemical works well on plastic products such as tumblers, phone cases, water bottles, and keychains. 

However, acetone is not so effective on materials such as fabric or ceramics. If used carelessly, it can damage the quality and shine of the fabric. But there are some other ways through which you can remove ink from soft fabrics, like using ice water on the stain. 

Type of Sublimation Ink

Sublimation inks from different brands differ in terms of their composition, as per the manufacturing formula. Therefore, some of these inks are more resistant to acetone than others. 

So, before buying an acetone-based sublimation ink removal solution, make sure to test it out on the type of ink that you use. If the solution works for you, you can purchase it for the long term. 


The temperature at which acetone is applied also matters when it comes to taking out sublimation ink. You want the temperature to be high as this softens the ink, making its removal easier and quicker. 

However, finding the right temperature for applying acetone is about trial and error. You’d need to try out different temperatures to get the best results in terms of sublimation ink removal.  

Acetone Exposure Time

You must leave the acetone long enough on the substrate that it takes out all the ink. However, make sure the exposure is not too prolonged, as it can damage the underlying material. 

It is ideal to test out the exposure time on a small piece of the substrate. So you can evaluate how long you need to leave this chemical on the substrate for effective outcomes. 

How to Remove Sublimation Ink Using Acetone?

You may make mistakes during sublimation printing. But now, there’s no need to waste your substrate. The process for removing sublimation ink using acetone is described in this section, which works best for small sublimation stains. But still, you can use it as a baseline when taking out bigger ink marks. 

Here is how will acetone remove sublimation ink:

Step 1: Pour 20 ml of pure acetone solvent into a bowl. 

Step 2: Soak the affected part of the substrate in the solvent. Leave the material in the solvent for about 5 to 7 minutes. 

Step 3: Gently rub the affected part of the material to get the best results. 

Step 4: Once the ink stain is removed, you can take out the substrate and let it dry. 

Note: If you don’t have access to pure acetone, you can use a nail polish remover as they generally contain this chemical as their primary ingredient. 

Safety Precautions 

Breathing high amounts of acetone in a short period can cause serious health issues, including headache, nausea, tightening of the chest, and throat irritation. Also, acetone is highly flammable, requiring extra care during its handling and application. 

To avoid the health concerns associated with using acetone, here are the recommended safety precautions:

  • Keep a first-aid kit nearby
  • Keep the acetone solution in a cool and ventilated area 
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, i.e., mask and gloves
  • Protect your eyes, skin, and clothing from coming into contact with acetone

Summing Up

Acetone solvent is one of the best chemical compounds that you can use to remove sublimation ink. Although this solvent is effective, but will acetone remove sublimation ink from all types of substrates?

After testing it out on different materials, we have found that this chemical works best on plastics. Moreover, applying acetone requires practice and patience. Make sure to follow the steps mentioned in this article, along with the safety precautions to remove sublimation ink the right way.  


Which chemical solution can remove sublimation ink?

Acetone, rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, and dish soap are some of the most effective chemical solutions that you can use to remove sublimation ink. Of all, acetone solvent is highly recommended because it is faster and does a great job at stain removal.  

How do you remove sublimation ink from a cup?

Using acetone is a great way to remove sublimation ink from a cup. If the cup is made with some other substrate, like ceramic or glass, you might want to use another method, such as heating the cup and rubbing it with scotch brite.

Can you burn off sublimation ink?

Yes, you can burn off sublimation ink. But this method is not recommended as it is dangerous for your health as well as for the structural integrity of the substrate. The method requires you to use high heat, around 400oC, to bake off the old sublimation design.  

Will acetone remove sublimation ink permanently?

Yes, sublimation can be removed using acetone. But you need to learn the right method based on the substrate you want to remove the ink from, as well as the type of sublimation ink. 

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