How To Wash DTG Printed T-Shirts

The design possibilities of DTG printing are endless, and this printing method has become increasingly popular because of the intricate, high-quality images it produces. DTG printed garments require more aftercare and delicate washing than other printing methods.

What is the Best Way to Wash DTG Printed T-shirts?

T-shirts with DTG prints should be washed inside out. It is best to wash your DTG printed shirts with cool to cold water and on a gentle cycle in your washing machine. DTG shirts should be hung in a shady area and left to dry, avoiding unnecessary sun damage and avoiding the use of a tumble dryer. Lastly, DTG-printed t-shirts should not be washed with fabric softener.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your custom-designed shirt or wanting to look after a printed keepsake, proper aftercare of a DTG print will keep the print as close as possible to its original condition.

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro from Pexels

Different printing techniques can vary, but depending on the quality of the print, and the method of pretreatment, it is important that DTG prints are washed with extreme care. Incorrect washing techniques could leave your cherished DTG print faded, peeling, damaged, or destroyed.

Which Wash Method Is Best For DTG Printed Shirts?

The best method to wash a DTG shirt is using a washing machine. Hand washing your shirts is also a good option. Many printed shirt lovers are tempted to scrub or roughly handle their shirts when washing, but you should also avoid this. A few important steps are involved when washing your DTG printed shirts correctly.

Turn Your DTG Printed Shirt Inside Out Before Washing

Before you begin washing your DTG printed shirt, turn it inside out, this step prevents the print from being damaged during the washing process. Washing your shirt inside out also extends the life span of your shirt as the print is not as exposed to the harsh detergents that could damage your print.

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Avoid Using Hot Water When Washing Your DTG Printed Shirt

Washing your shirt in hot water can lead to the loss of color in your shirt, shrinkage, and damage to the print. Washing in cool water keeps the color vibrant and increases the length of use of your shirt. The shirt will retain its size, and the hot water will not damage the print. A good temperature is around 86°F.

Wash Your DTG Printed Shirt Gently

If using a washing machine, the best cycle for a DTG printed shirt is a gentle or delicate wash, keeping in mind to wash color items separately from whites. Limit the spinning setting on your washing machine if possible to avoid unnecessary damage to your print. If washing by hand, wash gently without squeezing, pulling, or brushing the shirt.

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

The gentle washing powder or liquid is the best washing detergent for retaining your print quality. Harsh chemical detergents could wreck your shirt.

After Washing Your DTG Printed Shirt, Air Dry It

After your shirt has been washed, leave it turned inside out and hang it out to air dry naturally in a shady area. If exposed to direct sunlight, the high heat generated from the sun may result in the print fading or cracking and quickening the aging process of the shirt.

A tumble dryer should not be used when drying your shirt. If necessary to use a tumble dryer, then the temperature should be kept low and the cycle on the lowest setting.

Opt For Cool Ironing Your DTG Printed Shirt After Washing

If ironing is required, you should only cool iron your shirt on the lowest setting while your shirt is inside out. Typically ironing isn’t required for shirts, but using a piece of cloth between the iron and your shirt will also minimize the risk of damage to the print.

Can You Use a Fabric Softener When Washing a DTG Printed Shirt?

No. Do not ever use a fabric softener when washing a DTG printed t-shirt. The reason is that fabric softeners coat the shirt with a chemical compound that cause a cationic charge to occur when the shirt is washed. You never want to add any “chemical” to the DTG print, and you also do not want to “soften” the DTG shirt up, which can soften up the print and cause it to fade or peel.

Why Should You Wash Your DTG Shirts With Care?

DTG is a durable printing method for garments; however, there are a few concerns when retaining print quality. Many prints crack, fade and become damaged due to improper aftercare and handling of your printed shirt.

A common error when washing DTG printed items is that the items are washed at a temperature much higher than required, resulting in cracked and peeling prints.

Many DTG printing companies use a pre-treatment before printing and then a heat press to secure the design once printing is complete. Too little or too much pre-treatment can cause the print to crack. Not pressing the heat press down for long enough could also cause the print to crack when washed incorrectly.

Man heat-pressing a t shirt in shop

If a reputable printing company did not print your shirt, your print might be more prone to damage if the correct care isn’t taken when washing the printed shirt.

Best Temperature For Washing Your DTG Printed Shirts

The best temperature to wash DTG printed shirts depends on the quality of the garment and the inks used for printing. The water temperature should remain cool to avoid damage to the print.

A safe temperature is generally 86°F, around 30°C, but cooler water is also acceptable. Cooler water may not clean the garment as well as warmer water, but it’s best to stick around the 86°F when washing your DTG printed shirt.

How Many Washes Do DTG Printed Shirts Last?

The industry standard for shirts is approximately 50 washes. DTG prints with water-based inks can last longer than 50 washes. The length of time your print lasts also depends on the type of detergent used, the temperature, and aftercare taken when caring for your printed shirt.

The pre-treatment also plays an important role in how long your print will last. Normally DTG prints have a long life span and can last just as long as your shirt. Avoiding direct sunlight and high temperatures will retain your printed shirt’s print quality and lifespan.

Conclusion

Many of us hold onto the sentimental value and cozy feeling our favorite shirt brings. There’s nothing worse than putting your shirt in the wash and realizing you’ve destroyed the print. The proper detergent and careful washing techniques will let you keep your print looking as good as new for at least 50 washes or for as long as your shirt lasts.

Adopting a strict aftercare routine with DTG printed shirts allows users to enjoy customized shirts without cracked, faded, or sun-damaged prints.

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Bryan E. Robinson is the owner of TshirtGrowth. He has sold t-shirts since 2006 through dropshipping, screen printing, vinyl printing, DTG, Print on Demand, and more. Bryan has created his own t-shirt designs through Photoshop, Canva, and other platforms, as well as worked with freelancers to create many of his designs. Besides t-shirts, Bryan has 18 years of experience in online marketing with eCommerce, B2B SaaS, B2C products, and more.

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