How to remove sublimation ink from fabric? [8 effective methods]

How to remove sublimation ink from fabric? The sublimation printing method is a printing process that creates high-quality images on a variety of surfaces and, unlike screen printing, uses special inks that are applied to transfer paper using a digital printer and then transferred to the surface under heat pressure.

However, it is possible for the ink to accidentally transfer to unintended areas of the t-shirt or other clothing, requiring removal or correction of the image.

Don’t worry!!! This article presents my proven methods that effectively get sublimation ink out of fabric.

how to remove sublimation ink from fabric

Methods for removing sublimation ink stain

Sublimation ink is a liquid for the sublimation printing process, that adheres perfectly to synthetic or polyester fabric. It penetrates the fibers and becomes gaseous under heat press.

This makes removing sublimation printing ink stains from a sublimated shirt more difficult.

But as mentioned, some methods can remove sublimation print ink from fabric that I have personally tested and can assure you that they are effective.

  1. Special solvents can break down sublimation inks and aid in their removal.
  2. The mechanical process to remove sublimation ink stains using special tools.
  3. Chemical removal process – removing the sublimation ink stains with a chemical solvent.
  4. Homemade solvent – preparation of a suitable solvent from simple ingredients to remove sublimation ink stain.

Let’s look at each method in detail.

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Special solvents for removing sublimation ink stains

Before using a special solvent, I advise you to check its compatibility with the fabric to avoid damaging the material. To do this, apply a small amount of solvent to an area of the t-shirt and leave it for some time. If the fabric remains undamaged after drying, you can proceed to remove sublimation prints.

The process to remove sublimation ink from fabric is usually as follows:

  • before start removing sublimation ink from a t-shirt, prepare all materials and clean with paper towels the flat surface where you will be working;
  • lay the t-shirt on a flat surface and use a clean paper towel to gently blot the area to absorb excess liquid;
  • apply a small amount of solvent to the sublimation ink area of the T-shirt;
  • leave the solvent on the surface of the sublimated shirt or fabric for a few minutes;
  • use a soft brush or sponge to thoroughly scrub the stain and remove the dissolved ink;
  • rinse the fabric in cold water to remove solvent and ink residue;
  • repeat the process as needed if the stain remains visible.

The use of special solvents helps to remove sublimation ink from a shirt and save your favorite thing from stains.

Chemical removal of sublimation printing ink strain

This method is based on my experience using specialty chemicals such as acetone and rubbing alcohol to remove ink.

Before starting to remove the sublimation ink stain from the t-shirt, read the instructions for the use of chemical solvent and follow all instructions. Carry out a test run on a small area of fabric to ensure that the solvent will not damage the materials.

Rubbing alcohol – stain buster

Rubbing alcohol, also called isopropyl alcohol, is a colorless and flammable liquid. It is commonly used as a stain remover for clothing and fabrics.

Its effectiveness is due to its chemical properties.

However, use it with caution, as it causes discoloration or damage to some fabrics if used improperly.

  1. Check the care label on the t-shirt to make sure it is safe to use alcohol on the fabric.
  2. Blot the stain with a clean paper towel or cloth to remove as much of the stain as possible.
  3. Dilute the alcohol with equal parts water.
  4. Using a clean cloth, apply the alcohol solution to the stain and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Blot the stain again with clean paper towels or cloth to remove the solution and the stain.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as needed until the stain is removed.
  7. Wash the clothing item as directed on the care label after the stain has been removed.
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Acetone – remove sublimation ink

Acetone can also help to remove the sublimation ink stains, but I advise using it with caution as it can be caustic to some types of fabrics.

Therefore, before using acetone, conduct a test on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric to ensure that it will not damage the material. If the test is successful and the fabric shows no signs of damage, proceed with the cleaning process.

Apply a small amount of acetone to clean paper towels or cloth and gently work it into the stain, making light gentle strokes.

If any negative signs such as discoloration or fiber distortion occur, discontinue treatment immediately.

After using a chemical solvent, rinse the fabric with clean water and ventilate to remove residual chemical vapors.

Keep in mind that each type of fabric may have different characteristics and requirements when removing sublimation printing ink.

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Bleach is good for white shirt

If the stain remains after using alcohol or acetone, use a bleach solution.

Bleach is a strong chemical that effectively removes stains, but it should be used with caution, especially on colored fabrics, to avoid fading or damaging the material. For treating white shirts, bleach is one of the most effective remedies.

However, before using it, dilute it with water to reduce the concentration and prevent possible damage to the fabric.

Start the process of stain removal with bleach by rinsing the stain thoroughly under cold water. Then apply the bleach to the stain with a clean cloth or sponge and leave it on for a while according to the instructions. After soaking, rinse the shirt thoroughly under cold water and air dry. Repeat the process if necessary.

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Mechanical removal of sublimation ink strain

If chemical methods do not work, try to mechanically remove sublimation print inks. This involves using mechanical tools and abrasive materials to remove sublimation printer ink stains. Depending on the surface type and condition, use different tools such as scissors, aluminum foil, iron, and other mechanical means.


One easy method for removing small sublimation print ink stains is to use scissors. This method is particularly effective for surface stains and can be a quick solution, especially if other removal methods have not produced the desired result.

When using scissors to remove sublimation ink stains, be very careful. Choose scissors with sharp and thin blades so that you can carefully cut the stain while minimizing damage to the surrounding fabric.

Before starting the process, assess the size and shape of the stain so that you can accurately cut it to the contour. Try not to cut too much material to avoid leaving visible marks on the fabric.

After the removing sublimation print ink, rinse the fabric area and allow it to dry naturally.

If the sublimation ink has penetrated deeply into the fabric’s fibers, use an iron. Apply detergent or stain remover to the stain and gently, in a circular motion, start to remove the sublimation ink from a shirt or fabric.

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If sublimation ink has penetrated deep into the fibers of the polyester garment, use an iron.

Apply detergent or stain remover to the stain, place aluminum foil over the stain, and run a heated iron over the foil with a light heat press. The heat press will help soften the remaining ink and make it more pliable for further removal.

After a few strokes, remove the aluminum foil and remove ink. If the material is heated enough, the stain should come out fairly quickly. If it doesn’t, cover the stain with the foil again and heat the iron again.

Then, using a damp cloth or any paper towel, gently wipe the stain. If necessary, repeat the procedure until the sublimation ink is completely removed.

However, before using this method to get sublimation ink out, I advise you to test it on a small area of fabric to make sure there are no unwanted effects.

Homemade solvent

This method to remove the sublimation ink is my preferred method, as you can make homemade solvent from simple ingredients you likely already have at home, like soda and vinegar.

Again, before using a solvent, I suggest that you test it on a hidden area of the fabric to make sure it won’t cause any unwanted side effects or damage. If the fabric shows a negative reaction to the solvent, it is better not to use it on the entire surface, but to try another method of removing the paint.

Follow safety precautions when working with solvent. Wear gloves and ensure good ventilation of the room. If paint accidentally gets on your skin or in your eyes, immediately flush the affected area with plenty of water and seek medical attention if necessary.

Soda is an effervescent savior

Believe it or not, baking soda is a common home remedy that can remove sublimation ink. This method is best for fresh or barely noticeable sublimation ink stains.

To use baking soda to remove sublimation ink stain, make a paste by mixing baking soda and water in a bowl. The paste should have a dense consistency.

Apply a paste to the sublimated shirt or fabric using a clean cloth or sponge. Rub the paste into the ink stain for about two minutes, ensuring it is well covered.

Allow the paste to dry for a short period. Leave the paste on the sublimated surface for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the paste by scraping it off, and then use a damp cloth or sponge to clean it.

Rinse the rag or sponge frequently to get rid of the baking soda. If the stain persists, explore the spill site and repeat the procedure after washing the product.

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Vinegar is another effective remedy to remove the sublimation ink stains from fabrics. First, mix equal proportions of vinegar and water in a clean container. Then, use a soft sponge or cloth to apply the resulting solution to the ink stain. Allow the vinegar to soak into the cloth for a few minutes.

After that, gently wipe off the sublimation ink stain using a soft cloth or sponge. Repeat the process if the stain remains visible.

Rinse the treated area in warm water to remove any vinegar residue and allow the cloth to dry naturally.

This method is effective for removing sublimation ink stains, but make sure the fabric is resistant to vinegar by testing on a small area before applying it to the entire surface.

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Professional services

If previous methods of removing sublimation ink stains have failed, seek professional help. Dry cleaning provides a reliable way to get rid of such stains and get your clothes back in perfect condition.

Experienced dry cleaners know exactly how to treat different types of fabrics and materials to prevent damage to the garment itself. They also test the products on a small section of fabric to make sure they are safe and effective.

When contacting a dry cleaner, show the sublimation ink stains and talk about the problem in as much detail as you can to help the experts choose the appropriate methods and products to remove the stains from your clothes. In addition to sublimation ink removal, they will also be able to deal with other stains, perhaps unnoticed by you.

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Additional tips and cautions

Do not use hot water to remove sublimation ink as this may cause the dye to harden and further penetrate the fabric fibers.

If possible, test the sublimation ink remover on a small area of fabric before using it on the entire surface. This will help avoid unwanted effects on your fabric.

If the paint stain cannot be removed independently, call the professionals – dry cleaners. They have specialized knowledge and tools to help restore your fabric without damage.

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Wrapping up

The dye-sublimation printing creates high-quality images on a variety of surfaces using special inks that are transferred to the surface using a heat press. However, accidental ink spillage may require removal or correction of the image.

Removing sublimation ink from fabric can be challenging, but it is doable with the right tools and approach. The choice of cleaning method may depend on the type and texture of the fabric, so not all products are equally effective for different materials.

If the stain persists, professional services such as dry cleaning help to restore your fabric without damage.

Topics & Questions

Below is a list of topics and questions related to sublimation ink removal.

What removes sublimation ink?

To get sublimation ink out of fabrics, I have personally tried liquid detergent, white spirit or thinner, vinegar and water, and special solvents.

Can you remove sublimation mistake?

Sublimation errors cannot be easily resolved once the ink is fully transferred, so I advise double-checking the design, colors, and location before starting the sublimation process.

How do you get sublimation ink out of cotton?

To remove sublimation ink from cotton, I used a mixture of vinegar and bleach, as well as specialized detergents or rinsing in cold water.

Does sublimation ink wash out?

Since sublimation ink is transferred to fabric using heat. I can assure you that sublimation ink will not wash off the fabric.

Marc Marsh

Your go-to guide to unveil the incredible potential of printers beyond the ordinary. As you delve into my blog, prepare to be amazed by the boundless horizons that these ingenious devices can unlock. Yes, you heard it right – printers aren’t just about mundane documents anymore.

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