How to Wash Sublimation Shirts: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

How to Wash Sublimation Shirts: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

The individual has enhanced their wardrobe with visually captivating sublimation shirts, which are garments that showcase vibrant designs that resist fading over time. These garments possess more than mere functionality; they serve as a means of expressing one’s personal style and making a fashion statement. However, it is important to note that maintaining their optimal condition is not as simple as following a typical laundry regimen.

That’s correct, learning how to wash sublimation shirts is an art form in itself. Gone are the days of just throwing them in with your jeans and hoping for the best. If you want to preserve the vibrant colors and intricate designs, you’ll need to follow some specific guidelines. Stick around, and we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of how to wash sublimation shirts the right way.

What is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a specialized technique that uses heat to transfer dye onto materials like fabric, plastic, or even ceramic. Unlike traditional printing methods, where the ink sits on top of the fabric, the sublimation process embeds the ink directly into the fabric. When heat is applied, the ink turns into a gas, permeating the fabric and then solidifying into its fibers. The result? A print that won’t peel, crack, or fade easily.

This specialized technique differentiates sublimation printing from other fabric printing methods, making it a favored option for designs that are both colorful and durable. However, the lifespan of these prints also relies on appropriate care. This segues into the crucial subject of how to wash sublimation shirts. Adhering to the correct washing protocols ensures that the ink stays vivid and the fabric keeps its integrity, allowing your sublimation shirts to maintain their just-bought look for an extended time.

Why Proper Washing is Crucial?

Proper washing is crucial when it comes to sublimation T-shirts, and here’s why: these aren’t your run-of-the-mill cotton tees. The unique sublimation printing process embeds the ink into the fabric, making the design resistant to fading or peeling under normal conditions. However, improper washing can lead to color fading and fabric degradation, diminishing the shirt’s overall quality and lifespan.

The risks are real. Use the wrong detergent, or wash in hot water, and you can see those vibrant colors start to fade. Fabric degradation not only affects the feel of the shirt but can also impact how well the print holds up over time. Therefore, maintaining the quality of both the print and the fabric is paramount. By following the right washing guidelines, you ensure that your sublimation shirts remain as eye-catching and comfortable as the day you bought them.

We also write an article on how to bleach shirts for sublimation.

Equipment and Preparations

Before diving into the washing process for your beloved sublimation shirts, you’ll need some essential tools and take a few preliminary steps to prepare them for optimal cleaning.

Items Required for Washing

Priority Actions Before Cleaning

  • For detailed washing instructions, consult the care label.
  • Turn shirts inside out to save the artwork.
  • Use a mild detergent or stain remover to pretreat any stains.
  • Separate sublimation shirts from other fabrics and dark-colored clothing

Guide to Washing Sublimation Shirts in 9 Steps

Following the 9-step process mentioned below helps ensure that your sublimation shirts keep their original vibrancy and quality for years to come.

Step 1: Read and Sort

Begin your washing journey by carefully reading the care label attached to your sublimation shirts. This label often contains vital information on how best to maintain the garment’s quality. Next, separate these specialty shirts from your regular laundry and any dark-colored clothing to prevent any color bleeding or fabric damage.

Step 2: Pre-treat Stains

Before tossing your sublimation shirts into the washing machine, it’s important to address any visible stains. Use a small amount of gentle, color-safe detergent and lightly dab it directly onto the stained area. Let it sit for a few minutes to help break down the stain without affecting the shirt’s vibrant colors.

Step 3: Inside Out is the Way

When it comes to maintaining the brilliance of your sublimation shirts, turning them inside out before washing them is crucial. This helps to protect the vivid and intricate designs on the fabric from any undue friction or rubbing during the wash cycle. It’s a simple but effective way to prolong the life and quality of your shirts.

Step 4: Get the Detergent Ready

Ready your washing machine by adding a gentle, color-safe detergent, specially formulated to maintain the vibrant colors of your sublimation shirts. It’s crucial to avoid bleach and fabric softeners at all costs. These additives can negatively affect the fabric integrity and diminish the longevity of the shirt’s eye-catching designs.

Step 5: Optional Mesh Bag

For an extra layer of protection during the wash, place your inside-out sublimation shirts in a mesh laundry bag. This helps minimize friction and contact with other garments, thereby preserving the vibrant designs and fabric quality. Though this step is optional, it’s a highly recommended measure to extend the lifespan of your unique sublimation shirts.

Step 6: Load and Settings

Once you’ve prepared your sublimation shirts, it’s time to load them into the washing machine. Take care not to pack the drum too tightly; give the shirts plenty of room to move about.  If your washing machine has an “extra gentle” or “delicate” setting, make sure to select it. This helps to preserve the fabric and keep the vibrant designs intact.

Step 7: Washing Techniques

Start the washing cycle with cold or warm water to preserve the fabric’s quality and hues. If you’re hand-washing, employ a soft cloth to gently scrub the fabric, taking care not to twist or wring the shirt. The goal is to clean the garment while exerting the least amount of stress on the fabric and design.

Step 8: Unload and Inspect

After the wash cycle is complete, carefully remove your sublimation shirts from the machine or basin. Inspect each garment closely for any lingering stains or issues that may need further treatment. This step is crucial for catching any problems early, and ensuring your shirts maintain their original vibrancy and quality over time.

Step 9: Drying Methods

For the drying stage, it’s best to air-dry your sublimation shirts by hanging them up. Tumble dryers’ excessive heat exposure may deteriorate the print quality of fabric. If you find it necessary to iron your shirts, make sure to turn them inside out and use a low heat setting to prevent any damage.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to how to wash sublimation shirts, there are some common mistakes that can cost you the shirt’s longevity and vibrancy. One frequent error is using hot water, which can lead to color fading. Another mistake is using harsh detergents or bleach, which can degrade the fabric and affect the print quality. Overloading the washing machine is also a no-no, as it doesn’t allow the fabric to move freely, leading to unnecessary wear and tear.

To avoid these pitfalls, always opt for cold or warm water and use a mild detergent. Turn the shirts inside out before washing and make sure not to overload your washing machine. By steering clear of these common mistakes, you’ll extend the life and maintain the quality of your sublimation shirts.


Maintaining sublimation shirts may appear to be a challenging endeavor; yet, employing the appropriate methodology guarantees their long-lasting freshness and vibrancy. By diligently adhering to the nine fundamental processes, encompassing sorting, pre-treatment, as well as appropriate washing and drying techniques, one may effectively extend the lifespan and preserve the integrity of this distinctive clothing. The act of laundering garments transcends its utilitarian purpose since it encompasses the safeguarding of exceptional and frequently individualized wearable artworks.

So don’t dread laundry day when it comes to your sublimation shirts. With some thoughtful preparation and specialized techniques, washing these garments becomes a straightforward process. Remember, a well-cared-for sublimation shirt not only stands the test of time but also keeps its vivid colors and intricate designs intact.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are sublimation shirts? 

A: Sublimation shirts are garments with designs printed using sublimation ink and heat transfer methods. When heated, the ink transforms into a gas and fuses with the cloth to produce vibrant and long-lasting prints.

Q: Can I use bleach on my sublimation shirt?

A: Bleach should not be applied to sublimation t-shirts. Bleach can severely fade the vibrant colors and degrade the quality of the fabric, compromising the shirt’s appearance and longevity.

Q: Can I iron my sublimation shirts?

A: Yes, you can iron sublimation shirts, but with caution. To save the printed design from being harmed, turn the shirt inside out and use a low heat setting. Always test a small area first.

Q: Can I wash sublimation shirts with regular clothes?

A: It’s recommended to wash sublimation shirts apart from ordinary clothing and items with dark hues. This keeps the specialty shirts’ fabric and pattern intact and stops color bleeding.

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