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How to Wash Graphic Tees

Tom Gloubovich

Graphic tees featuring custom designs add personality to anyone's wardrobe. However, printed fabrics require special care to prevent cracking, fading, and damage over time. This comprehensive guide covers washing, drying, stain removal, and general care tips. Follow these techniques and your beloved tees will keep their swagger for life, staying as bright and bold as the day you got them.

 

Machine washing graphic tees

When it comes to washing printed shirts, gentleness is key. Harsh detergents, warm water, and aggressive washing can all cause cracking, fading, and premature deterioration of graphics. To clean tees safely:

  1. Pre-treat any stains by gently dabbing with a stain remover or natural solution like diluted vinegar. Never aggressively scrub printed areas.
  2. Use a mild, gentle detergent without added bleach or fabric softener. Look for cleaners specially formulated for delicates or sensitive skin.
  3. Turn shirts inside out to protect the design from pilling and friction. Turning them inside out prevents damage from contact with other items.
  4. Wash in cold water on a gentle or delicate cycle. Warm water can cause fading, and hot water damages prints. Cold water is ideal.

 

Hand washing graphic tees

When you really want to be safe and protect your favorite graphic tee from any potential damage, hand washing is the ultimate way to be sure. These steps ensure your DTF printed apparel is cleaned without compromising the integrity of the design.

  1. Prepare a basin or sink filled with cold water and infuse it with a gentle detergent.
  2. Turn the shirt inside out, ensuring the design is on the inside prior to hand washing.
  3. Apply a stain-removal solution to target any especially soiled areas.
  4. Use a clean cloth to rub any stains, or gently rub the fabric against itself to lift the stain.
  5. Allow the shirts to be immersed in the soapy solution for at least 10 minutes.
  6. Rinse the garments with cold water, followed by a careful wringing to eliminate excess water.

 

Drying graphic tees

Just as important as washing is proper drying technique. The heat and aggressive tumbling of dryers can crack, fade, and shrink printed fabric over time. For best results:

  • Air-drying: For best results, air dry printed tees by hanging on a plastic hanger or laying flat. Air drying is ideal to preserve graphics and avoid shrinkage.
  • Machine drying: Use the lowest heat setting possible. Dry t-shirts inside out. Remove items early before full cycle completion. The less heat exposure for graphics, the better.

 

    Removing wrinkles

    To finish off freshly washed tees, you'll need to smooth out any wrinkles. Carefully ironing or steaming can restore a wrinkle-free look without damaging designs:

    • Ironing: Turn the tee inside out and use the coolest appropriate setting for the fabric. Place a cloth between the iron and design. Iron until wrinkles release.
    • Steaming: Hang the tee inside out and use the lowest temperature setting. Avoid directly steaming printed areas--work around them instead.

       

      Caring for graphic tees: Top 10 tips

      Following these care tips will keep graphic tees looking like new, wash after wash.

      allow to cure

      1. Allow newly-printed tees to cure. Inks require 24 hours to fully set into fibers. Washing too soon can lead to transfer of uncured ink.

      ignore tag

      2. Disregard garment tag instructions. Though cotton tees may say "wash normally," take extra gentle precautions for graphics.

      separate

      3. Separate prints from other laundry. Wash by color and weight class. Heavy items like jeans can abrade delicate prints when washed together.

      pre treat

      4. Try natural stain solutions. Diluted vinegar or lemon juice can lift stains without using harsh chemicals. Spot treat and gently dab.

      laundry bag

      5. Use mesh garment bags. Bags protect delicate graphics from friction while allowing suds to circulate.

      non-clorine bleach

      6. Opt for non-chlorine bleach only. Chlorine bleach can strip color from prints and weaken fabrics. Hydrogen peroxide bleaches are gentler.

      no fabric softener

      7. Skip the fabric softener. Softener chemicals can break down print inks over time. For softness, add vinegar to the rinse instead.

      hang dry

      8. Remove shirts from dryer early. Limit heat exposure by pulling tees out before cycle fully completes. Allow to finish air drying.

      dry clean

      9. Dry clean vintage or specialty tees. Professionals have specialized methods to lift stains without damaging delicate prints.

      quality garments

      10. Choose high-quality tees. Budget t-shirts may start degrading after several washes, affecting the print. High-quality tees can last a lifetime.

       

       

      Preserve Your Prints with Proper Care

      With mindfulness and a gentle touch in both washing and drying, your graphic tees can serve you faithfully for years to come. Remember, by nurturing them with the right techniques, even the most delicate prints will retain their vitality. So treat your beloved tees with the love and respect they deserve - and they'll thank you by remaining bright, bold, and vibrant for many years to come.

      When you need some fresh new graphic tees, create your own with our custom DTF transfers.

       

      FAQs 

      How can I prevent cracking on graphic tees?

      Cracking occurs when prints are exposed to harsh detergents, warm water, and aggressive washing. Always turn shirts inside out and wash in cold water with a gentle cleaner to prevent cracking.

      How should I wash white graphic tees?

      Wash white graphic tees in cold water with mild detergent and bleach alternatives. Wash them separately from colors and air dry to protect the print and keep whites bright.

      How many washes can a graphic tee withstand?

      With proper care as outlined above, high-quality prints can last through countless washes without fading, cracking, or peeling. Lower quality prints may show wear sooner.

      Is hard water or soft water better?

      Beware of washing in hard water. Mineral deposits in hard water can damage prints. Wash printed tees at a laundromat or add vinegar to your wash water for softer water.

      Which print method is the most durable?

      Screen printing, sublimation, and direct-to-film transfers are among the most durable print methods. You can learn more about the different types of t-shirt printing

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