How To Remove Sublimation Ink From Tumbler: 5 Simple Steps

How To Remove Sublimation Ink From Tumbler: 5 Simple Steps

Sublimating tumblers is an art form that can lead to magnificent creations, but it’s also a process prone to various errors. These mistakes, such as misaligned transfers, ghosting, or color inaccuracies, can be disheartening, leading to feelings of wasted effort and materials. This article, however, offers a beacon of hope. It’s focused on innovative ways to turn those sublimation mishaps into renewed works of art.

Throughout this piece, we’ll delve into the common pitfalls encountered in the process of sublimating tumblers. More importantly, we’ll highlight the significance of repurposing these items rather than discarding them. A key part of our discussion will be how to remove sublimation ink from tumblers, a crucial step in rectifying these errors. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and techniques to reinvigorate your sublimation projects, turning past mistakes into opportunities for creative triumph.

Understanding the Sublimation Process

Sublimation, a versatile printing technique, allows for the transfer of vibrant and detailed designs onto various surfaces, including tumblers. However, this process comes with its unique challenges that crafters often encounter.

Explanation of Sublimation and Its Challenges

The conversion of a solid into a gas without going through the liquid phase is known as sublimation. In crafting, it involves using heat and pressure to transfer sublimation ink onto a substrate, such as a tumbler’s coating. This process yields prints that are vivid and durable, but it requires accuracy and close attention to detail. Mistakes in sublimation can arise from issues like inaccurate transfer placement, color profile discrepancies, or incomplete transfers. These challenges can result in subpar tumbler designs that may not meet your expectations.

The Impact of Mistakes on Sublimated Tumblers

Mistakes in the sublimation process can significantly affect the quality and appearance of your tumblers. These errors can lead to ghosted or faded designs, misaligned graphics, or unwanted artifacts. When such mistakes occur, it can be disheartening, especially given the time and resources invested in the project. Crafters often find themselves faced with the dilemma of how to salvage these flawed creations.

The Need for a Solution

Recognizing the need for a solution, this article delves into methods to rectify sublimation mistakes on tumblers. By understanding the sublimation process and its challenges, you’ll be better equipped to explore innovative techniques for turning these errors into opportunities for creative transformation.

Supplies and Tools for Tumbler Sublimation

To perform tumbler sublimation, a process where designs are transferred onto tumblers, you will need specific supplies and tools:

  1. Dedicated Convection Oven: This is essential for even heat distribution during the sublimation process. It’s important to use an oven solely for sublimation to avoid contamination with food.
  2. Sublimation Printer and Paper: An Epson ET-15000 printer is used to print your design on A-Sub sublimation paper. Hiipoo sublimation ink is used in this kind of printer; when heated, it transforms into gas and bonds to the tumbler’s surface.
  3. Safety Precautions: Since the process involves heat and potentially harmful fumes, it’s crucial to work in a well-ventilated area and use protective gear like gloves and a mask.
  4. Sublimation Refresher: This could refer to a solution used to prepare the tumbler’s surface or a course to update your knowledge about the latest techniques and materials in tumbler sublimation.

Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Remove Sublimation Ink From Tumbler

Beginning with sublimation often comes with its fair share of mishaps. But fret not, as these mistakes don’t need to be discarded; they can be corrected. Get your workspace organized and ensure all your necessary materials are close at hand.

Step 1. Set Up a Convection Oven

Step 1. Set Up a Convection Oven

Your first step is to get the convection oven ready. Preheat it to a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. For precision, always use two thermometers. This will ensure you maintain the right temperature throughout the process.

Step 2. Prepare the Tumblers

2. Prepare the Tumblers

While your oven heats up, your tumblers need to be prepped. By cutting squares out of a thin silicone mat of TDHDIKE, you can create protective lids for the tumblers. This prevents any ink vapor from getting inside. For this guide, let’s work with two tumblers.

Step 3. Monitor the Oven Process

Step 3. Monitor the Oven Process

With your tumblers in the oven, they need to be checked periodically. At the 15-minute, you should see a slight blur on the tumblers, indicating some ink removal. Owing to temperature variations inside the oven, you should turn the tumblers a quarter of the way and let them sit for another 15 minutes. The blur should intensify, showing more ink being lifted off.

Continue this process, turning the tumblers every 15 minutes. By the 45-minute mark, much of the ink should be off. If traces remain, give them another quarter turn and another 15 minutes. It’s essential to ensure that the ink is removed evenly, so be sure to flip them over if the bottom appears less clear than the rest. By the end of roughly 90 minutes, most of the ink should be removed. Once done, remove the tumblers and let them rest overnight.

Step 4. Re-Sublimation

Step 4. Re-Sublimation

The next phase is re-sublimation. Start by designing and printing new patterns for your tumblers. Dark patterns are preferable as they effectively hide any remnants of the old ink. For this demonstration, the oven should be set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Adorned with new patterns, the tumblers should be placed inside and baked for six minutes. Remember to turn them in after three minutes to ensure even sublimation. Allow them to cool once done.

Step 5. Inspect the Results

Step 5. Inspect the Results

Now, it’s time to examine the fruits of your labor. Trace the progression of the tumbler from its original flawed design to its “unsubbed” state and, finally, its rejuvenated design. The new design should ideally mask any residual traces of the old ink. Minor imperfections might exist, but the overall appearance should be significantly improved.

Tumbler Care and Maintenance

Caring for a sublimated or re-sublimated tumbler properly extends its lifespan and preserves its vibrant design.

Handwashing Recommendations

  • Gentle Cleaning: Always handwash the tumbler with mild soap and warm water. Steer clear of harsh brushes or sponges that could scrape the surface.

Avoid Using the Dishwasher

  • Heat and Chemical Exposure: The high heat and harsh detergents in dishwashers can degrade the sublimation ink, causing fading or peeling. Always opt for handwashing.

Protecting the Re-Sublimated Surface

  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Chemicals can react with the ink, leading to color changes or damage.
  • Restrict Sun Exposure: Extended periods of exposure to direct sunlight may result in color fading.  Store the tumbler in a cool, shaded area when not in use.

Proper care and maintenance ensure that your tumbler remains a vivid and functional piece of art for a long time.


In conclusion, learning how to remove sublimation ink from tumblers is a valuable skill that opens up creative possibilities. This process requires careful attention to safety and patience. It’s evidence of the transformational potential of innovation and repurposing. Sublimation ink is a special type of ink used in the sublimation printing process. Embracing this method not only rescues tumblers from mistakes but also encourages exploration into new design territories. Whether you’re correcting a design flaw or simply seeking a change, the ability to remove and reapply sublimation ink empowers you to continuously refresh and personalize your tumblers. This journey from correction to creation highlights the joy and endless potential of customizing your own unique pieces.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is sublimation ink?

Sublimation ink is a special type of ink used in the sublimation printing process. When heated, it transforms from a solid state into gas, bypassing the liquid phase, and then adheres to polymer or polyester surfaces, including tumblers.

Why is it difficult to remove sublimation ink?

Once sublimation ink has been set (usually by heat), it chemically bonds with the material. This makes it resistant to washing and wear and more challenging to remove.

Can I scrub off the ink with soap and water?

Sublimation ink is designed to be permanent on polyester or polymer-coated items, so simply using soap and water is typically not enough to remove the ink.

Can I use bleach to remove the ink? 

Bleach might not be effective in removing sublimation ink and can alter the color of the tumbler or its design. It’s best to avoid using bleach.

Leave a Comment