How To Wash Sublimation Shirts – Sublimation Care

Sublimation on shirts is a work of art! In order to preserve this art or at least make it last longer, a few essential elements have to be considered. Along with choosing the right fabric for the shirt, its washing instruction also has to be known for the sublimation colors to stay vibrant and intact. When considering how to wash sublimation shirts, keep in mind that you need to wash them with cold water and take into consideration a few more precautions which have been explained below.

Washing Instructions For Sublimation Shirts

1. Use Cold Water

Sublimation is itself a heat transfer process, hence anything hot or warm for the shirt might not be beneficial in any way. Keeping that in mind the point that using cold water to wash your sublimation shirt makes thorough sense. There is no doubt that you will be losing some percentage of color after every wash, though, it may not necessarily be noticeable at first but over time the sublimation dye will fade. Cold water reduces the fading process compared to washing your shirt with warm or hot water. 

2. Remove Stains Earlier

If your shirt has stains, remove the stains prior to your washing. You can use a stain remover or an oxygen cleaner and apply it only to the part with the stain and hand wash it carefully. Once the stain is removed you can wash the whole shirt as you wish but keep in mind the precautions being mentioned.

3. Wash Inside Out

The best way to overall avoid or make less contact with the detergents is to wash your shirts inside out. The sublimation image is not directly exposed; hence, you are guaranteed to preserve the colors longer. 

4. Pick Your Detergent Carefully

You may not completely revert to changing your washing detergent for all your clothes but shirts with sublimation printing need a milder detergent as the only aim is to clean the shirt and not affect the colors of the dye. Also, remember that low or non-phosphorus detergents are the best because phosphates react with dyes and your colors may just bleed out of the shirt. 

5. Avoid Using Bleach

Using bleach for the fabrics has always been considered only in extreme cases and you know that it will weaken the fabric to some extent and let alone it will do damage to the colors of the shirt. So no bleach at all. If you are wondering how to whiten your white sublimated shirts then you may use some milder versions or home-prepared bleaches instead of using commercial bleaches to do the deed.

6. Avoid Fabric Softeners

It does sound strange that would I be asking you not to add a fabric softener to your sublimated shirts. Well, fabric softeners work by retaining some moisture in the fabric which is why it feels softer. I do not want your sublimated shirts to not completely dry hence fabric softeners are off the laundry list.

7. Avoid Spinning in the Dryer

Skip the part where you dry your laundry in the dryer and simply hang out your sublimated shirts after washing. The more they dry naturally the better the colors are maintained. For polyester shirts, you can hang the shirts on a hanger and then on the clothesline, this way they will be completely exposed to the air, dry faster, and won’t crease. As for cotton shirts, you can apply the same drying procedure, but there will be some creasing which can be ironed off later.

8. Dry in a Shade

It is given that direct sunlight has never done any good to the fabric colors. Similarly, exposure to UV rays from the sun can influence your sublimation colors as well. So it’s better to dry your shirt in the shade. 

9. Take Care When Ironing

If you do need to iron your sublimated shirts, especially the cotton ones then make sure you do it when they still feel a little moist. This way you won’t have to run the iron on full heat and the moisture will keep the temperature of the shirt from going too high. Also, it is one of the best ways to effectively and quickly iron your clothes.

10. Wash Separately

Finally, it is worth mentioning to wash your white and colored shirts separately – I know it is an obvious thing to do but it’s good to be reminded. Even if you have a bunch of white and colored sublimated shirts, and you are sure that the dark colors won’t bleed, still, make an extra effort to keep them separate while washing to avoid any accidents and unexpected color stains.

Sublimation Shirt Care

Once you are thorough with the instructions on washing a sublimation shirt there are a few other caring methods for the shirts or any fabric that has been sublimated.

  1. Keep account of how many times you have washed the shirt. Frequently washing a sublimated garment will lose color faster. Even though you may be careful about the washing instructions, the more times it is washed the higher the chances of fading of the sublimation dyes. 
  2. Do not use metallic hangers or racks even for your other clothes as they tend to get rusted and will eventually leave rust stains on your clothes. 
  3. Out of all bleaches, chlorine bleach is the worst to use for clothes. Unless it is absolutely necessary and all other hacks have failed then only opt for chlorine bleach but I would still not recommend it for a sublimated shirt as it will definitely affect the colors on the shirt. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does sublimation fade after washing?

Sublimation dyes do fade to some extent after every wash. But using cold water for washing delays the fading whereas hot water speeds it up. Moreover, even frequent washing can result in rapid loss of vibrancy of colors and fading of sublimation ink on the shirts.

Read More: How to keep sublimation from fading after washing?

2. Does sublimation wash out of cotton shirts?

Sublimation washes out of cotton shirts faster than polyester and blends. The rate at which you lose colors of sublimation on a cotton shirt is more than you would on a polyester shirt after an equal number of washes. 


Whether you are sublimating shirts for yourself or commercially you need to be aware of the washing and caring instructions for your own benefit and to pass on the information to your customers. Using cold water, washing separately, and avoiding softeners and bleach are some of the main aspects that have to be highlighted with every sublimation project on fabrics. Besides, the more you will look after the sublimated work and your shirt, the longer it will last. 

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