How to Remove Sublimation and Infusible Ink from Tumbler and Ceramic Mugs?

Today we will remove the sublimation and infusible ink from tumblers and ceramic mugs using different methods. Most beginners frequently wonder why getting rid of the messed sublimation ink is difficult. But honestly, if you have proper knowledge about the sublimation ink and process, it is very easy to re-sublimate and fix everything.

What is Sublimation Ink, and how does it Work on Tumblers and Ceramic Mugs?

Before going deep into the topic, we must learn what sublimation ink is and how it works. The sublimation ink is a mixture of polymeric amide, N-butyl acetate, vinyl chloride, petroleum distillate, and dye colors. We used this ink to transfer the digital designs on the ceramic mugs, t-shirts, tumblers, and caps. The word sublimation means converting solid material into gaseous without becoming a liquid. In sublimation printing, we reverse the ink from solid to gaseous. As you know, we can only sublimate the polyester material.

Have you ever thought about why? Here I am going to explain it. Once we apply the heat to the polyester and sublimation ink, the polyester opens its porous and binds with the ink at the molecular level. Molecular level? Yes, you read it right. Now one question arises: How can we clean the ink from different materials once it makes the bond at the molecular level? Don’t worry; every problem has a solution. During the past few years, I played with sublimation ink and learned a lot of things. I will share a step-by-step process, tips, and hacks to assist you.

How to Remove Sublimation Ink from Stainless Steel Tumbler?

During the last few months, most of my blog viewers requested I post an article about how to fix a sublimation mistake on a Tumbler. If you start a new sublimation business, you may need to correct some things. 

How to Remove the Sublimation Ink from the Tumbler by Using Convection Oven?

As you know, the sublimation ink makes the bond with the tumbler at 380f, so we’ll set the temperature of the convection oven a bit higher.

  1. Set the convection oven temperature to 400F. Cut the layer of a thin silicon layer and create lids for tumblers so while heating, no ink vapors will be inside.
  2. Heat it for 15 minutes; now open the oven cover and check the tumbler’s situation. If the ink is still on there, give it another 15 minutes.
  3. Repeat this process again and again until the ink goes completely. Let it rest overnight, and the tumbler is ready for the Sublimation.

How to Remove the Sublimation Ink from the Tumbler by Using Heat Gun?

Instead of cooking the tumbler in an oven, we will use the heat gun to remove the ink. This process will remove the ink more quickly than the convection oven. For this method, we need a tumbler and a heat gun.

  1. Put the tumbler on a solid surface and heat it using the heat gun. Please don’t put it on the wooden table because it will burn the surface.
  2. For a regular-sized tumbler, this process will take 20-25 minutes. I want to tell you that this method will not completely remove the colors, but it can make the Tumbler reusable.

How to Remove the Sublimation Ink By using White Vinegar?

This method will use white vinegar to remove the colors from the stainless tumbler. The white vinegar contains a 5% composition of acetic acid, which can easily remove the sublimation colors.

  1. Fill a bowl with the white vinegar and dip the tumbler into it for 45 minutes.
  2. Now scrub the colors, and if necessary, drop the tumbler in the vinegar again for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse it with water. We can also do the same process with HCL acid, but it is a very strong acid that can cause a burn and is not good for health. And on the other side, white vinegar is very safe to eat.

How to Completely Refurbish the Tumbler by Sanding, Painting and Coating?

The methods I discussed are good but will never make the Tumbler new. That’s why I will discuss the process of sanding, painting and coating. 

  1. Now use the 800 or 1200 sandpaper and soapy water to remove the ink as much as possible. You can also use an automatic sanding machine.
  2. Clean it with a dry towel and paint it with high-heat spray paint. If you want the best results, spray the stainless tumbler with gray paint before applying the white high-heat paint. We are using high heat temperature because while transferring the design onto the tumbler, we will give it a high temperature of up to 400f, and if we use ordinary paint, it may lose its colors or grip very quickly.
  3. During the painting process, you will need a tumbler turner. If you don’t have a tumbler turner, purchase a long foam noodle and insert a broomstick into the center of the hole. Now Push it down inside the tumbler.
  4. Next, we will use the poly glass over the finished white paint; mix 1ml of catalyst in 1 ounce of the poly glass. Stir the mixture for the 20s and ensure everything is fully mixed. Polyglass is not a strong chemical, but I suggest you mask your face before doing this process.
  5. Dip the paintbrush in the mixture and paint the tumblers.
  6. Let it dry for a day and cure it in an oven for 10 minutes at 320f. But if you have used regular paint instead of heat-resistant paint, please reduce the temperature and remedy it at 300f for 5 minutes.
  7. Let it cool to room temperature, and your tumbler is ready to sublimate.

    Tip: We have tested different time temperature settings and found that the 350F and 4:30 time is good for sublimating the tumbler.

    How to Remove Sublimation Ink from Mugs?

    I know you have paid a lot of money to purchase the mugs, and if you make a mistake and want to fix it quickly, don’t worry. I am here with more than 10 methods of removing the sublimation ink from coffee mugs or cups. Generally, sublimation ink is supposed to be permanent, but it can be removed easily by applying some tricks.

    Remove Sublimation Ink from Mugs By using Apple Cider Vinegar:

    Apple cider vinegar is one of the easiest and most popular ways to remove the sublimation pics from a coffee mug at home.

    1. Fill up a bowl with apple cider vinegar and submerge the ceramic cup. Make sure that you completely submerge it. Let it stay in the vinegar for a minimum of 3 hours.
    2. Now take it out and scrap it with a scrubber sponge. You can also use white vinegar if you don’t have apple cider vinegar.
    3. However, the process can tire you if you do multiple mugs simultaneously.

    Remove Sublimation Ink from Mugs With a Convection Oven:

    The method of removing the ink using a convection oven is the same as we have discussed for the tumblers, but there is a difference in time and temperature settings.

    1. Set the oven temperature to 400f and put the cup into it for half an hour. And make use to cover the mouth of the cup with a silicon lid.
    2. Let it cool down a little and rinse it with the eyeglass cleaning. You must reheat and rinse the color with the cleaning liquid if the color is still there.
    3. Do this process again and again until the ink completely goes off.

    Remove Sublimation Ink from Mugs By using a Dry Sponge:

    If you want to remove the ink from only one cup, you don’t want to waste a liter of vinegar. In this method, I discuss the cheapest way to fix the sublimation failure. This process needs a dry sponge and, of course, a coffee mug.

    1. Hold the cup in your hand and start rubbing the mug thoroughly. Continuous rubbing until you completely remove the ink or print.
    2. If you need to wash the mug with water, do it.

    Remove Sublimation Ink from Mugs By Using Thinner:

    A thinner is a volatile solvent and consists of Ethyl acetate, Xylene, Toluene and other volatile chemicals. It is commonly used to clean oil-based paints. We can also remove the sublimation ink with it.

    1. Apply a small amount of thinner onto the cup and rub it with the scrub pad. This process will clean the ink within minutes.
    2. Wash the cup with water and coat it with the sublimation coating liquid. Heat the cup in a convection oven for 10 minutes. Your mug is ready to get a new design.

    How to Remove Sublimation Ink By Heating the Mug?

    We will heat the design or printed area on the gas stove for 3-4 minutes. After that, we will peel off the design by scratching it with sandpaper or scotch brite. Make sure to use heat-resistant gloves while holding the cup in your hands. Once completely remove the designs or logo, coat the mug with the sublimation coating material.

    Remove Sublimation Ink from Mug By Using Dishwasher:

    You read it right; we can easily remove the sublimation ink in the dishwasher, but the process is very slow. For this method, you must put the cup or coffee mug in the lower rack of the dishwasher multiple times.

    1. Now turn on the dishwasher at high temperatures and allow it to remove the design. If you use the dishwasher daily, I suggest you keep the mug on the lower rack; after a few days, the ink will completely go off.
    2. But make sure to check that your mug is dishwasher safe.

    Remove Sublimation Ink from Mug by Using Acetone/Nail Polish Remover?

    Acetone is a solvent that can easily dissolve with the paint and is safe for the skin. Put some acetone on a cotton swab and gently rub it on the design you want to clean. Just keep scrubbing for a few minutes; eventually, the ink will start cleaning automatically.

    Remove Sublimation Ink from Mugs by Using Baking Soda:

    Baking soda is very commonly used in our kitchens. It contains only one ingredient, which is sodium bicarbonate. Make a paste with the water and baking soda and rub it gently onto the mug. Wash it with water and repeat the process if necessary. It is the cleanest and most eco-friendly way to remove the sublimation ink. It will not adversely affect the mug.

    Remove Sublimation Ink from Mug by Using a Detergent or Dishwasher Soap:

    Mix an equal amount of detergent or dishwasher liquid in the water and mix it well for 10 s. Apply it on the mug with a soft cloth and rub it gently. Doing this process for a few minutes will make your design completely clean from the mug.

    Remove Sublimation Ink By Soaking the Mug in the Bleach Water:

    Pour one gallon of the warm water into 1 tablespoon of bleach powder in a bowl and mix it well. Soak the mug in the mixture for at least 1 hour and then rub the printed area with the scrapper sponge. Wash it with warm water and let it dry for a few minutes. Your mug is ready for the sublimation process.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Leave a Comment