Last Updated on 6 months by Susan Mayrich
If you want to learn how to remove screen printing from clothing safely and effectively, here are all the seven methods you can consider. This complete guide also includes tips for different materials to ensure you can choose the suitable technique for your clothing fabric.
Screen print design on a shirt can be removed, but you should know the ideal techniques for your garment materials. You can also refer to this guide on how to remove logos from clothing as an additional reference.
7 Effective Ways On How To Remove Screen Printing From Clothing At Home
Did you know that heat, specifically a heat gun, is an effective way to remove screen prints on t-shirts and other clothing items, with a success rate of approximately 80%? But since not everyone owns a heat gun, you can also remove screen printing on the clothing surface with an iron!
- Place the garment with the screen printing design you want to remove over an iron board
- Put a towel inside the shirt, underneath the screen print for protection
- Soak a white cloth in cold water and squeeze out the excess
- Put the damp cloth over the side with the design for heat protection
- Apply pressure to the printing by pressing the iron over the damp cloth
- Remove the iron once the damp surface dries up to prevent it from getting burned
- Scrape the edges of the design with a sharp knife to make them easier to remove, careful not to damage the material
- Peel the print by hand
Nail polish remover
Some clothing materials can’t be exposed to heat, so you should choose other methods to dissolve the ink of the print. Solvents or chemicals like acetone or nail polish remover is another effective technique for removing the screen print design or logo, with an approximately 70% success rate!
- Wear gloves for protection when handling chemicals
- Test the acetone or solvent in a small area of the fabric
- Soak a cotton ball or cloth in the nail polish remover
- Dab off the ink of the screen printing
- Alternatively, soften the design with the acetone-soaked cotton ball by leaving it on the surface
- Once the solvent worked within the fibers of the fabric, use a small brush or toothbrush and scrub off the ink residue of the screen printing
If you’re trying to remove screen printing designs from denim clothing, another way you can try is using the heat from your dryer cycle. You can also combine the dryer with other screen print design removal techniques.
- Use the cold wash cycle on the garment; using hot water might set the ink deeper into the fibers
- Run the clothing in a hot dryer cycle to make the design easier to peel off as it loosens the ink
- If you can’t remove the screen printing, dab the area with a cotton ball soaked in solvent
- Remove the ink gently by hand
- Wash the shirt and dry it in the dryer
If you want a relatively safe way to remove screen printing designs on t-shirts without heat or chemicals, you can make something abrasive to scrub off the ink from the surface. Try a sugar scrub for your garment, but remember that this method may not work for some screen printing designs.
- Pick granulated sugar with large crystals for a rougher abrasive
- Pour a teaspoon or more over the design
- To avoid injuring the skin on your hand, use another cloth to scrub the ink off
- Wash the clothes with cold water afterward
Baking soda is one of the homemade methods that some people swear worked for removing screen print from their old clothes. The way this technique works is similar to using a sugar scrub.
- Make a paste with baking soda and some water
- Apply the baking soda paste over the area with the print
- Scrub with a brush to remove the ink
- Wash the fabric in the washing machine as usual
For those trying to remove screen printing from cotton clothing items, try a plastisol remover f! However, remember to work in a ventilated area and wear protective accessories like a face mask and a pair of gloves before handling plastisol remover.
- Leave the plastisol remover over the designs for half an hour
- Alternatively, dab the ink with a cloth and plastisol remover
- Brush off the screen printing with gentle strokes
- Use another soft cloth to wipe off the plastisol remover
- Wash the garment with cold water and regular detergent as usual
- Air-dry the cloth
- For the remaining ink within the fibers, you can scrape them off by hand
Spot removal gun
A spot removal gun would be a good investment if you’ll have a lot of t-shirts to work on. If the garment also has multiple designs, then a spot removal gun is more convenient to use.
- Lay the shirt with the screen printing over a table and put a towel underneath the design
- Follow the instructions for setting up the spot removal gun, including the solvents to use
- Before working, wear protective goggles and gloves for protection from the chemical
- Use the gun according to the directions and recommended setting
- Wash the shirt in the washing machine as usual
Tips For Removing Screen Printing From Shirt
To avoid accidentally damaging your cloth material when removing screen printing designs, here are some tips to remember:
- If you did the screen print at home, avoid exposing the design to heat to prevent it from setting
- Submerge the recent screen print design in cold water and scrub off as much ink as possible
- Dab the remaining print with a cotton ball soaked in a solvent; make sure the acetone or rubbing alcohol is safe with the type of fabric you have
- Wash the clothing item as usual and air dry
- Newly-printed designs can be removed with a sugar scrub, but work it into the fabric gently
- Avoid using acetone or nail polish remover if the garment is made from over 50% polyester
- When using Plastisol remover, wear the proper protective clothing
- Do not use high-heat methods like ironing and stripping off the screen printing design on synthetic fabrics that can melt off
- Repeated washing of clothing items can fade off the screen print designs
How To Remove Screen Print From A Jersey
Screen printing is sometimes used for the designs and letterings on jersey shirts. However, if you want to remove an old design, the best method is an acetone or nail polish remover.
You can always test the solvent on a small hidden area of the jersey to know if it will affect its color before proceeding with the steps below:
- Soak a cotton ball or white cloth in acetone
- Rub the soaked cotton ball into the screen print to loosen the ink
- Rub off the design with a soft brush
- Wash the clothing item as usual
- Alternatively, flip the jersey inside out and apply the acetone underneath the design
- After a few minutes, peel off the dried ink
If you have more jersey shirts and clothing items like hoodies, we covered the best techniques to remove print from hoodie.
How To Remove Screen Printing From Polyester
Since polyester is a synthetic material, you cannot use removal techniques that involve heat when getting rid of screen printing designs because it can melt. Chemicals like spot removers are also not recommended for polyester.
Here is the safest technique to remove screen print ink on synthetic fabrics:
- Wash the clothes in warm water
- Spot-treat the design with dish soap
- Scrub the ink off the surface with a brush until it flakes
- Continue working on the design until it’s removed completely
How To Remove Screen Print From Cotton Shirt
If you’re working on a cotton cloth, you can remove the screen print from the shirt using a spot removal gun. Check the manual of the product, including the recommended spot removal fluid.
- Load the gun according to its instructions
- Spray directly on the design
- Wipe the stain off with water and a soft cloth
- Wash the cotton t-shirt, as usual, to remove any spot removal liquid in the garment
- Air-dry the clothing item
Does your cotton shirt also have a tag you want to remove? Here’s how to remove printed tags from clothes!
How To Remove Screen Print From Denim
Try the cold shock method if you’re trying to remove an old screen print design from denim. Denim is also a pretty sturdy material, so it’s possible to use a solvent after checking on a small hidden area so that it won’t bleach your denim garment.
- Place the denim item in the fridge and shock it in a cold wash
- Run it in a hot dryer cycle
- The screen print ink should be easier to peel off
- If the screen printing is relatively small, you can also just cover the design with a patch
If you opt just to cover the screen print with embroidery, you can learn the process of how to do embroidery on a sewing machine.
How To Get Screen Print Off Nylon
Since nylon is a synthetic fabric, you shouldn’t use a technique that involves high heat when removing screen print design on nylon t-shirts. Instead, what you can do is the viral method that’s used for removing oil stains on clothes.
- Spray WD40 on the surface of the design
- Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the WD40 to dissolve the screen print
- Scrub off the screen print ink with an old towel until it’s completely wiped off
- Wash the nylon t-shirt, as usual, to remove the remaining WD40 on the garment
Is Screen Printing On Fabric Permanent?
As proven by the methods and techniques discussed above, removing screen print on fabrics is possible. However, it’s crucial to pick the proper method for it to work safely on the type of clothing fabric.
What is the weakness of screen printing?
Screen print designs can also last several washes, but expect the ink to fade over time. The quality of the materials used and the process of printing will dictate the longevity of screen printing.
If the ink of the screen printing is not cured, it won’t last as long. In addition, hot water, frequent drying, and strong laundry detergents will eventually weaken the screen printing on fabric
How Long Does Screen Print Last On Clothes?
According to the American Screen Printing Association, screen print last very long on clothes. The design is expected to outlast the shirt if it is made with plastisol ink.
The color may fade, but the design itself should not come off. But, of course, other factors can affect the lifespan of the screen print.
An estimate of 50 washes is the expected longevity for screen print designs.
Screen print vs vinyl print
If you want your shirt design’s colors to look vibrant, screen printing is better than vinyl printing. Screen print also lasts longer and can withstand wear and tear much better than vinyl prints.
But if you’re dealing with vinyl designs you want to get rid of, here’s a guide on how to remove vinyl from shirts.
Can You Remove Plastisol Ink From Shirt?
Knowing how to remove plastisol ink from shirts is helpful because screen printing often uses plastisol inks or those made from PVC. The good news is yes, you can remove plastisol ink from shirts, and here’s how:
- Wear protective clothing since you’ll be handling a plastisol ink remover; wear a mask, goggles, and gloves
- Spray the plastisol design on the fabric with the plastisol ink remover
- Let the clothing sit for half an hour, then brush off the ink
- Spray more ink remover until the design is completely removed
- Rinse the garment in cool water and air dry
How To Remove Water-Based Ink From Shirt
Besides plastisol ink, screen print designs may also use water-based ink. Here is how to remove this type of screen printing if correcting a freshly printed clothing item:
- Place the shirt over a dry cloth to absorb the ink
- Blot off the ink with water until it transfers to the cloth underneath
- Spot-treat the residual ink stain with liquid detergent and let it sit for a few minutes
- Wash the t-shirt in hot water and air dry
How To Fix Screen Printing Mistakes
If it’s your first-time screen printing at home, here are some troubleshooting techniques for the most common mistakes:
Screen print ink stains
Make sure to remove the excess screen print ink on the fabric before they dry into a stain. Blot the ink cotton cloth to absorb it before it dries up.
Dull screen print designs
Make sure you use a screen with a low mesh count and a thick stencil to leave a thick ink deposit and prevent opaque screen print designs. You can also use a white underbase if the screen printing looks dull.
Screen printing washing away
If your screen print designs are getting washed off, the ink is not completely cured. Make sure to dry the prints well and reach the correct temperature to cure the ink.
Screen print peeling
It can be frustrating if the edges of the dried screen print design are peeling. Check if you’re using the correct ink for the shirt fabric and if it has cured long enough.
Screen print design cracking
Curing the ink properly is important to avoid cracked screen prints. Cure the printed clothing items longer if the ink cracks when you stretch the design on the shirt.
And that’s it! You just learned how to remove screen printing from clothing using an iron, nail polish remover, dryer, sugar, baking soda, plastisol remover, and spot removal gun.
The best method will depend on the design and shirt material. But to avoid damaging your garment, always test the product on a small spot beforehand.
Here’s a video on using acetone on shirt to remove screen printing:
Overall, screen printing is one of the most long-lasting designs on shirts. So if you’re doing one at home, remember our troubleshooting guides in case of mistakes.