How to Wash Sublimation Shirts? (Washing & Care Instructions)

Sublimation is an easy and affordable way to create long-lasting designs on shirts. Still, the sublimation design quality will remain the same if you wash the shirt with proper instructions. A sublimated shirt is a little expensive compared to the others, but on the other hand, due to the design quality, it is an excellent asset to your clothes collection. Most of the people who don’t know how to wash sublimation shirts?

No need to worry; it is simple and easy. You just need to follow the instructions. Always wash the sublimation shirts in cold water because the warm water can damage the fabric and the sublimated design over time. Don’t use bleach if your shirts have stains because they contain sodium hypochlorite, directly affecting the sublimation design. Here I have mentioned a step-by-step guide that will guide you on how to wash sublimation shirts and care instructions.

Quick Response:

A step by step quick guide to wash sublimation shirt
  1. Use cold water to wash the sublimation shirts.
  2. Never use bleach to clean the stains. 
  3. Always wash the sublimation shirts in a mild or phosphorus-free detergent.
  4. Don’t dry the clothes in direct sunlight if you have not used the fade-resistant anti UVsublimation ink.
  5. Turn the shirt inside out before washing; this will help prevent the sublimation shirt from fading.

Washing Sublimation Shirts

1: Fill the tub or sink with cold water

A tub with cold water

The very first thing that you need to do while washing the sublimation shirt is to fill the tub or bucket with cold water. If you are washing only one or two t-shirts, I suggest you hand soak them in a tub or bucket. 

Choose a deep bucket that is small in diameter so you do not need to add the water and detergent in large quantities. If you are washing the sublimation shirt in the sink, then make sure to set the sink stopper.

2: Add 1 tablespoon of mild detergent:

A tub of cold water and a table spoon of detergent

Now mix one tablespoon (15 ml) of non-phosphorus detergent in the tub and mix it well with the cold water. Most detergent companies use phosphorus because it can quickly soften the water, allowing the detergent to break up the dirt and remove the stain easily. 

But on the other hand, it also damages the dye sublimation ink. So, don’t use strong detergent while washing the sublimation shirt.

3: Submerge shirts and soak.

A sublimation shirt in a bucket of cold water

Turn the shirt inside out and submerge them in the tub. In general, the soaking time of the shirts depends on the number of stains and dirt. I soak my shirts for about 10-15 minutes, but if your shirt contains more stain and dirt, you can wash it for an extra 5-10 minutes.

Now swish the items gently until clean.

4: Drain the tub and refill it with cool water.

a tab of water and bucket

Push shirts up and down until detergent is removed. Repeat this process as necessary. Now squeeze and wash the the sublimation shirts gently without stretching. 

You can also wash out the t-shirts under running cold water. This process will help to rinse out the detergent more quickly.

5: Dry the washed sublimation shirt under a shade.

A sublimation shirt is drying under the shade

First, lay the shirt between the two towels and gently press it; it will help to absorb more moisture from the sweater quickly. Now hand the shirts to dry in a shady area.

Always use the wooden or plastic hanger to hand the t-shirts because the metal hanger can leave a stain mark.

Sublimation Washing Instruction:

Washing instruction for a sublimation shirt

Hand Washing the clothes is an effective and gentle way to clean the sublimation shirts easily. Although washing machines are widely used to clean shirts, they can be harsh on the sublimated design and damage it over time.

Always wash the sublimation shirts with cold water because the warm water can discolor the shirt and the sublimation design. 

If your sublimation shirt has so many stains, we recommend you soak it for 5-10 minutes extra in the phosphorus-free detergent to help clean the stains easily. 

Please don’t use bleach because it can create oxidation which breaks the stain at the molecular level. As you know, that sublimation ink also makes the bond with the fabric at a molecular level, which is why the bleach can quickly deteriorate the sublimated design.

Some people use fabric softener to keep the shirts mushy, but regular use can create a thin wax layer to the shirt, damaging the design over time.

Sublimation Care Instructions:

Care instructions for sublimation shirt after washing

Avoid frequent washing:

Don’t wash sublimation shirts regularly. Every time you wash the shirt, it will lose a little bit of color, whether you are following the proper instructions.

Not dry clean:

Avoid dry cleaning the sublimation shirt at any cost. Most fabric and t-shirts are safe for dry cleaning, but if they contain a sublimation design, the dry cleaning can quickly harm the sublimated design.

Not to dry in direct sunlight:

Always dry your sublimated shirts under a shady area. The UV sun can damage the sublimated designs rapidly, but if you have anti-UV sublimation ink while sublimating the t-shirts, then no need to worry; you can dry your clothes inside or outside.

Wash the different color sublimation shirts separately:

If you are washing the dark and light color sublimated shirts together, don’t because the dark color t-shirts can leave their colors on white or light color shirts, so avoid washing them together.

Read Article: Best Sublimation Printer for Heat Transfer

HTV Shirts Care Instructions:

Care and wash instructions of HTV sublimation shirt

If you have recently sublimated the shirt with htv, wait at least 24 hours before the first wash.

Turn the shirt inside out before washing and drying it; otherwise, it will leave wrinkles on the sublimated design.

Try to hand wash the sublimation shirt in cold water(if not available, you can wash it in lukewarm water but not warm water.

Please do not use the iron on the htv shirts directly because it can burn the design quickly. Iron the htv when necessary by using butcher paper at low temperatures.

Like the ordinary sublimation shirt, use phosphorus-free or mild detergent while washing the htv shirt.

How to Remove Stains From a Sublimation Shirt Without Bleach?

Many methods are used to clean stains from sublimation shirts, but I used vinegar and lemon juice to remove the stains from sublimation shirts. The p.h of the vinegar is higher as compared to the lemon juice, so if you have fewer stains, then use the lemon juice.

Remove stain from sublimation shirt by washing it with vinegar:

Add two tablespoons of vinegar to one liter of water and mix it well. Now soak the sublimated shirt in it for about half an hour and squeeze it smoothly. Rinse it with cold water and see if the stain has been gone.

Remove stain from sublimation shirt by washing it with lemon juice:

We will not directly apply the lemon juice to the sublimated shirt because it can damage the fabric. Instead, we will cut the lemon into four pieces and boil it in a liter of water. Now separate the lemon from the water and let the water cool. Soak the sublimated shirt in it for about an hour and wash it with cold water. (Don’t wash sublimation shirts in warm water because it will fade the sublimation design immediately)

Frequently Asked Questions


Washing the sublimation shirt is easy if you follow the guidelines and care instructions I shared above. No matter from which material your shirt is made, the instructions will remain the same. 

If the sublimated shirt still loses the quality after washing it with the instructions, please check that you are using the anti uv or fade-resistant sublimation ink. You can also make the sublimation coating for cotton fabric at home.

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