remove screen print from shirt

Ink Vanish 101: How to Remove Screen Print From Shirt with Ease!

Have you ever gotten ink stains on your favorite printed shirt and tried everything to remove them to no avail? Screen-printed shirts can be difficult to clean once the printing ink sets into the fabric. But with the right techniques, you can remove screen printing somewhat or even completely in some cases.

Overview of Screen Printing on Shirts

What is Screen Printing?

Silk screening, or screen printing, is a widely used printing technique that is employed to transfer designs onto garments. It works by using a fine mesh screen with the desired image blocked out. Ink is pushed through the open areas of the screen onto the fabric below to imprint the design.

Commercial screen printing on garments primarily uses plastisol ink, a PVC-based ink that cures into a plastic polymer design when heated. This makes the printed design quite durable. But it also means it can be tricky to remove the prints once applied to the fabric.

Common Screen Printing Inks Used

The most common ink used in screen printing shirts is plastisol. When heated, plastisol ink becomes a permanent polymer on the surface of the fabric. Other fabric inks like water-based acrylics may be more removable but are less durable for clothing.

The permanence of plastisol ink makes removing screen prints quite difficult compared to cleaning standard clothing stains. But there are still several methods you can try to eliminate or reduce screen-printed designs on shirts.

Methods to Remove Screen Print From Shirts

Methods to Remove Screen Print From Shirts
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Using Solvents

One of the best ways to dissolve plastisol ink is using strong solvents containing acetone, like nail polish remover. The acetone can help break down the ink polymers.

Applying a cotton ball with a small amount of nail polish remover is all that’s needed. Rub gently on the printed area, being careful not to oversaturate the fabric. The solvents can damage or discolor some fabric types if left too long.

Pros and Cons of Solvents

Solvents like acetone work quickly to dissolve ink stains. But they can be harsh on some fabrics, damaging the color and integrity of the shirt over time with repeated use. Test them first on a hidden area of the garment.

Heating the Fabric

Heating up the fabric can help loosen up the ink and make it easier to remove.

Try washing the garment in very hot water, either in the machine or sink. For more concentrated heat, ironing the fabric on the inked side on a high setting may help soften and lift the ink. A heat press can also be used if you have one available.

Pros and Cons of Heating

Heat helps break apart the plastisol ink by re-melting it. But too much heat runs the risk of scorching or damaging the fabric itself. Use caution with irons and heat presses to avoid shine marks.

Physical Removal

For heavy ink staining, try gently scraping off the excess ink first before using any solvents. Use a dull object like a plastic scraper or the edge of a credit card. Avoid anything sharp that could scratch or rip the fabric.

Once excess ink is removed, soft cloths or paper towels can help lift ink in gentle circular motions. Repeat until no more ink transfers onto the cloth. A pressure washer may also help blast away stubborn ink stains.

Pros and Cons of Physical Removal

Physically removing ink can eliminate stains without chemicals. But it requires more time and labor. Friction can also damage fabric if done too aggressively. Test any abrasive removal on inconspicuous areas first.

Tips for Screen Print Removal

  • Always test any removal methods first on a small, hidden area of the garment to check for potential damage or discoloration.
  •  Use light pressure and gentle motions when rubbing or scraping. Too much friction can harm fabric.
  •  Allow adequate drying time after using solvents or heat. Rinsing when fabric is still wet can allow stains to redeposit.
  •  Consider the ink type (plastisol, acrylic, etc) and fabric material when choosing a removal method. More fragile fabrics require gentler techniques.


How do I remove plastisol ink stains?

Use solvents like acetone, heat up the fabric, or gently scrape off excess ink to remove plastisol prints. Always test on a small area first.

What household products remove screen printing?

Nail polish remover, hot water, ironing, and gentle abrasives like plastic scrapers can all help remove screen prints. Avoid harsh chemicals that may damage fabrics.

Does bleach remove screen printing?

Bleach is not recommended for removing screen prints as it can discolor or damage many fabric types. Try solvents or heating instead for best results.

Can you put a screen-printed shirt in the wash?

Yes, you can wash a screen-printed shirt, but the prints will remain. Washing alone won’t fully remove plastisol ink stains. Use additional removal methods.



Removing screen-printed designs from shirts can be tedious but is possible in many cases with the right techniques. Solvent-based cleaners work quickly but may require extra rinsing. Heating and physical removal are gentler but more time-consuming alternatives.

With a combination of careful heating, solvent use, and gentle abrasion, you can likely reduce or eliminate screen-printed ink stains without ruining your favorite tee. Have you successfully removed screen printing from clothing? What methods worked for you? Let us know in the comments!


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Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
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