How to Remove Sublimation Ink From Shirt, Mug & Tumbler [Ultimate Guide]

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Many people have frequently wondered how to get sublimation ink off of surfaces. It made me curious to try and figure this out. I do want to let you know that it is possible to remove sublimation ink from different things if you know the proper technique to do so.

This article will hopefully answer some questions on how to remove sublimation ink.

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What is sublimation ink?

With the popularization and advances in biotechnology, many new types of ink have been developed. One of these is sublimation ink, which is a form of dye that does not mix with the other pigments and can be used for tattooing. The advantages of such ink are its low cost, low risk of infection, and sensitivity to allergic reactions.

However, this has also come with some disadvantages, like the fact that you cannot use it in environments where there are substantial levels of humidity or heat; it’s an all-or-nothing approach in terms of color choice; faded tattoos will become non-tattoos over time, making them easily removable by rubbing or washing away with soap and water.

Now, while this may seem like a pretty big deal, such a disadvantage has led some to tinker and find new uses for sublimation ink as an ink alternative to fabric dyeing. The reason people have found sublimation ink most desirable is because of its ability to dry quickly and then remain permanently on the fabric.

Other than having a robust resistance to washing, sublimation inks have been known not to cause damage even when the T-shirt fibers are stretched beyond their limit.

How to Remove Sublimation Ink From Shirts

There are a few different methods you can use, including using steam, using a de-ink remover, using vinegar or other household products like peanut butter, or spraying a fabric spray cleaner over the marks. Keep in mind that you will need to test the method on an inconspicuous area of your garment first before trying it on your main garment for the best results.

Top 13 Ways To Remove Sublimation Ink

To remove sublimation ink from shirts, I tried the following methods: I’ve found that the best way to remove sublimation ink is to use a combination of methods. The goal is to try to get as much of the fabric covered by ink as possible while getting most of it off without too much scrubbing. 

Here below are the best ways to remove sublimation ink,

  1. Cold water
  2. Heat treatment
  3. Soda treatment
  4. Bleach method
  5. Pressure washer
  6. Sublimation remover
  7. Use household chemicals
    1. Salt
    2. Starch
    3. Vinegar
    4. Water
    5. Paper towel
  8. Detentureed spirits
  9. Dryer sheets

Let’s discuss these ways in detail.

Cold Water

Use cold water to remove sublimation ink. Before using cold water, ensure the wash is done properly. Washes should always be as mild and gentle as possible because heat treatment will not be effective if the clothes are washed with rough brushes or rough clothes. The water temperature should be about 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit for washing. When the water is heated to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the dye particles on the cloth surface will be detached from the fabric fibers and easily washed out.

When using cold water, soak clothes from time to time in cold water (40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes. After soaking clothes in cold water for a long time, pour clear clean water into them several times until all stains are removed. If stains are still not removed, then add a few drops of detergent to the laundry and leave for 1–2 hours. Start washing the clothes after soaking stains with detergent for a long time.

The cold water needs to be changed until the clothes become clear enough. The stain can be removed after a few changes of water. Let the clothes dry in shade (do not put it under direct sunlight). If you want, you can also use a dryer at normal temperature to dry these clothes completely. After wearing the clothes, they will produce a fresh odor.

Heat Treatment

Heat treatment can also be applied to remove sublimation ink from clothes. When heat treatment is used, the temperature can be adjusted according to the sensitivity of the fabric. To ensure that the fabric does not discolor, it is best to use a dry iron. For dyeing fabrics with low sensitivity, heat treatment should be done at a temperature of about 140 degrees Fahrenheit for about 5 minutes. The intensity of color transfer will decrease with increasing temperature and time of treatment. It is advisable to heat treat new clothes in order to remove color from cloth easily.

To remove sublimation ink from clothes with normal sensitivity, heat treatment should be done at a temperature of about 110 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. If the color intensity is not strong, it can be removed in 10 minutes. If the fabric is highly sensitive, then the temperature used for heat treatment should be about 100 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes to remove sublimation ink.

Using Soda Treatment

If you are using a special type of laundry detergent, soda treatment is effective for removing ink from fabric. However, it should be noted that the soda treatment can make your laundry stiff by setting off static electricity. In addition to this, the effect of clean towels and garments will be reduced by using soda treatment. The best choice is cold water or heat treatment after washing the clothes well.

The effectiveness of this method varies depending on the type and strength of detergent used. Soda treatment can be done again after 2–3 washings when there are problems with stains returning later on in life (which should not happen if you use cold water or heat treatment after washing).

Using Bleach

This is the most common method used to remove sublimation ink from clothes. However, it is only effective for white ink that has been transferred to the fabric. To make the dye disappear, soak clothes in a bleach solution containing sodium hypochlorite (10% sodium hypochlorite). The solution can be made using an ordinary chlorine bleaching agent called “Chlorox”. The bleach solution can also be purchased in grocery stores or stores that sell household chemicals.

In addition to this, you should use a bleach solution that is customized to your fabric.

It is advisable to test a small piece of fabric before using it to apply bleach. If the dye was not completely removed after soaking, repeat the process until the color has disappeared.

Bleach can also be used by using a thing called “bleach powder”. The types of bleaching powder vary depending on the type of fabric and washing machine used.

The use of bleach to remove sublimation ink from clothing is not recommended because it can damage the fibers in the clothes. The water temperature should be about 90 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. Then wash clothes separately and immediately after this treatment without using detergent to change the water temperature for about 10 more minutes. Use this method again to wash clothes if the color is not removed from the clothing.

Another advantage of clothes that have sublimation ink on them is that they can be painted or dyed with normal ink to change the color. However, if you want to change the color completely, then you should use another chemical agent such as bleach. After applying these treatments, the ink will be washed off completely and no trace will remain on the clothing.

Using a pressure washer

Using a pressure washer is also effective in removing sublimation ink from fabric. Before using the pressure washer, make sure that the wash itself has been done correctly. Washes should always be as mild and gentle as possible because heat treatment will not be effective if the clothes are washed with rough brushes or rough clothes. The water temperature should be about 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit for washing.

When the pressure washer is used to remove sublimation ink from clothing, you need to set the pressure to about 40 PSI. The use of “jet output” is not recommended because it can damage fabric (when the jet stream goes through a hole, it creates a lot of damage on the fabric). Make sure that the water temperature is not below 40 degrees Fahrenheit because it will damage clothes.

Sublimation Remover

This one is definitely a great method to try. The de-ink remover works very well, but I didn’t want to risk ruining the shirt with over-scrubbing. Also, the remover only works with the white ink that is on the surface. After using this method, all of my shirts were covered in ink and water spots. I had to use a blow dryer and an iron to get the ink out of my shirts by raising the spots off with heat and pressing them with a towel. I will probably use a stain remover the next time I get sublimation ink on because this actually works very well and is safer for your clothes.

You can easily find many options out there on Amazon.

Use household chemicals

Another option to remove sublimation ink from clothing is to use household chemicals. The first step is to mix the appropriate amount of laundry detergent and soda powder in water. For example, you can use one cup of the mixture (laundry detergent and soda) in a tub of water, which is enough for one garment. You should always follow the instructions on the label or packaging when using this method. Always make sure that you follow all the instructions carefully so that your clothes do not become damaged when cleaning them.

Using a bleach symbol on the clothes is recommended because it removes these two elements from the fabric. The wash can be done in cold water for about 15 minutes before using a bleach symbol to remove sublimation ink. If the color does not come out completely, then repeat these steps until there are no problems with stains returning later on. Do not use bleach with soda because it will weaken the garment.

You can also check for other household items like:

  1. Salt
  2. Starch
  3. Vinegar
  4. Water
  5. Paper Towel

Salt

Salt works great as well, and you can use either table salt or sea salt. I would recommend using sea salt if you have it though, as table salt has chlorine in it which will damage your clothing. You can grab a large bag of sea salt for about five dollars at any grocery store, so it is much more affordable than dryer sheets for removing ink.

Starch

Another great way to remove sublimation ink from t-shirts is by using a starch-soaked cotton swab. Simply lightly swab over the stain while it is still wet and then once it has dried onto your shirt, rub it off with a soft cloth as described above.

Vinegar

I got vinegar at first but after reading reviews, it seemed like it didn’t work that great so I decided not to use it just yet. I recently bought a spray bottle and filled it with some vinegar and water. I sprayed the impacted area and let it soak for about 30 minutes. It worked really well and removed the ink almost completely. So, it is another great option to try out.

Water

I decided to try hot water and a bleach solution. The cold water method was mildly effective, as the ink wasn’t removed completely but my shirt came out much easier than with hot water and bleach.

Paper Towel

This is another great method to use for removing sublimation ink from clothing, as it not only removes the stain but also rinses clean without damaging your clothes.

To use this method, simply soak a paper towel with the solution and rub lightly over the stain until the ink begins to dissolve. Then, place a second paper towel on top of the first and allow it to absorb excess water before blotting it off with a third paper towel. Continue this process until the stain is all gone.

Denatured Spirits

Denatured spirits (alcohol) can also be used to remove sublimation ink. I only ever tried this method once, because it worked very well and I was able to remove the ink with no problems. The denatured spirits in combination with the heat and high pressure of water will remove the sublimation ink without damaging fabric, so that is why it works very well.

To use this method, simply pour a half cup of denatured spirits into a plastic container that has been filled with warm water. Then, soak the clothing that has been stained in this solution for at least one hour.

Dryer Sheets

This is a great way to remove sublimation ink from t-shirts, especially if you have white ink. But be aware that it will also remove any other color ink on the shirt as well (such as red or green) so keep that in mind before purchasing dryer sheets.

How to Remove Sublimation Ink from a Tumbler

Once the sublimation ink has dried on your tumbler, you will need to use rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. Rubbing alcohol is used to remove the ink from the tumbler, which is kind of like blotting your shirt with a wet piece of paper. Then you can use a cotton ball to clean up any remaining ink.

Here are some best ways to remove ink from the tumbler,

  1. Cleaning the tumbler with wax paper and rubbing alcohol
  2. Cleaning the tumbler with vinegar
  3. Cleaning the tumbler with dish detergent and water

Cleaning the Tumbler with Wax Paper and Rubbing Alcohol

This is where the wax paper comes into play. Rubbing alcohol will not work without the wax paper because rubbing alcohol is a liquid, and it would just drip off of a hard surface. When you put the oily wax paper on top of your tumbler, it will give rubbing alcohol something to sit on so that it no longer drips off in different directions.

The other thing you should know about this method is that you should never use anything other than rubbing alcohol with this type of tumbler; otherwise, the colors may be removed from your tumbler and may ruin your design if rubbed too hard.

Cleaning the Tumbler with Vinegar

Vinegar can be used as a tumbler cleaner as well. However, this method should only be used if you have an acid-resistant tumbler. You will want to put vinegar in your tumbler and let it sit overnight so that the ink can be lessened. Next, take off the top lid of your tumbler and pour out any vinegar that is left inside.

Cleaning the Tumbler with Dish Detergent and Water

Dish detergent is what you need to clean your tumbler in this case. Soak a cotton ball for about 15 minutes with dish soap and water. Then, take out the cotton ball, scrub the inside of your tumbler with it and dry it with a paper towel.

This approach only works for clear tumblers, and you will want to do this before you fill in your colored designs. Once you add your colored designs, it becomes very hard to clean them. If your design has started to fade or shrink; then this is the best method that you should use.

How to Remove Sublimation Ink from Mug

Sublimation is a process that uses ink to transfer dye from a printable material like film or fabric to ceramic or glass. The printable material is usually heated in order to activate the transfer process. Once activated, the resulting ceramic or glass product is dried and brittle. As such, it’s hard to remove if you don’t know how to do it. I didn’t find too many articles on how to remove sublimation from ceramic or glass, but I found several sites that helped me figure out how to remove and clean my metal mug.

There are several different methods you can use when removing sublimation from ceramic, glass, and metal products. Follow the instructions below for a method that will work best for your type of product.

  1. Using a mild abrasive
  2. Using rubbing alcohol
  3. Using soap and water
  4. Abrasive cleaning pads
  5. Use sublimation remover
  6. Using a pressure washer

Using a Mild Abrasive

In order to remove sublimation ink from ceramic products, you should scratch the ink off with a soft cloth. For example, you can use a baby wipe to wipe the ink off your mug. Rubbing alcohol is also an effective tool when removing sublimation on ceramics. You should wet the surface of the mug with rubbing alcohol and then rub it with a soft cloth until it comes out of its printable layer.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

You will first need to cover the printable layer of your ceramic mug in the lightest color that the product is made with. Next, pour rubbing alcohol into a cup and let it sit for a couple of minutes. You should then carefully dip a soft cloth into the alcohol and rub it gently on your ceramic mug until it comes out of its printable layer.

Using Soap and Water

To remove sublimation ink from ceramic products, you will need to apply a mild soap and water mixture to the ceramic product. Make sure that the ceramic mug is sprayed with a water mist before you apply the soap and water mixture. Allow it to sit for several minutes in order for the soap to soak into any sublimation ink stains. Use a sponge or soft cloth to gently rub off any ink stains that have been removed from the ceramic surface.

Abrasive Cleaning Pads

You can use cleaning pads to gently clean the surface of your ceramic mug in order to remove any ink that has been transferred to the mug. Simply soak the pads with warm water, and then gently rub the surface of your ceramic mug with them until the ink dries up. If you use a metal scrubbing pad, you should also rub it on an aluminum plate or foil in order to prevent damage to your metal product.

Use Sublimation Remover

The simplest way to be able to remove sublimation ink from your ceramic product is to use a sublimation remover, which is available at most stores that sell ceramics. Purchase the one that is designed for your specific brand and then follow the instructions on the label or packaging when using it. Be sure not to mix different types of removers together, so read the labels carefully before purchasing any products.

Using a Pressure Washer

Cleaning your ceramic product with a pressure washer is another effective method of removing sublimation ink from ceramic products. You can purchase one at most hardware stores, and use it to remove any printable ink that may have been transferred onto your ceramic product.

FAQ about Removing Sublimation Ink

Can you really remove sublimation ink from fabric?

Yes, yes you can. Sublimation ink does not always mean that it is impossible to remove ink from fabric. As with any stain on any kind of fabric, there will come a time when the stain will be too much or too obvious for you to continue wearing or using that fabric or clothing item. And if it starts to bother the wearer or user too much, the next action will be on how to remove sublimation ink from the fabric. 

Can sublimation ink be removed permanently?

Sublimation ink can be removed permanently. But if the ink is still fresh on the clothes then it might need some gentle washing to remove the ink, but if it is too late and the ink is already there for a long time (months and even years) then you will need to use a stronger solution to remove sublimation ink from fabric. As with all stains, sublimation ink removal can be permanent or temporary depending on how strong the stain is. 

Can we remove sublimation ink from tumblers?

Yes, you can. The tumbler should be washed in cold water with detergent. But if the ink has been there for a long time, it is best to use bleach to remove sublimation ink from the tumbler.

Can you remove sublimation ink from jeans?

Sublimation ink can be removed from jeans. If the stain spot is small and easy to wash out, then you can use an iron to heat treat the stain spot after washing and then wash the jeans again.

Will bleach remove sublimation ink?

Yes, sublimation ink can be removed with bleach. The amount of bleach and the time you need to leave it on will depend on how strong the stain is.

If I soak the clothes with sublimation ink for a long time, will it be removed?

Yes, it will. Sublimation ink can be removed by soaking clothes for a few days in warm water (about 60 degrees Fahrenheit).

How to remove sublimation ink from polyester?

For polyester fabrics, the best way to remove sublimation ink is to soak them overnight in warm water. Then wash clothes in the washing machine with detergent.

Can you remove sublimation ink from leather?

Yes, sublimation ink can be removed from leather, but it has to be done as soon as possible. The best way is to wipe over with a solvent such as turpentine or paint thinner, which may bleach the color out of some leathers.

How to remove sublimation ink from a mug?

Sublimation ink can be removed from mugs. For this, you need to soak the mugs for about 2 hours in warm water (about 60 degrees Fahrenheit). Then wash mugs with detergent and clean with a wet cloth or sponge.

Can you remove sublimation ink from the cloth?

Yes, sublimation ink on clothes can be removed by using hot water and boiling then washing it. You can also use a washing machine with cold and warm washes to remove them.

How to remove sublimation ink from stainless steel tumblers?

You can remove sublimation ink from a stainless steel tumbler by soaking the tumbler for more than 10 minutes in a mixture of vinegar and water directly. Then wash the tumbler with detergent.

How to remove sublimation ink from a heat press?

You can remove sublimation ink from the heat press with the use of a cleaner that is made for heat presses like EZ-Off Cleaner.

How to remove sublimation ink from jeans?

You can remove the ink by soaking the jeans in lukewarm water for a prolonged period. Then wash the jeans with detergent and warm water, but be careful not to overdry them.

How to remove sublimation ink from metal?

Sublimation ink on metal surfaces can be removed by using a material that is used for removing rust from metals. You may also use Rubbing Alcohol with a 91% concentration to remove sublimation ink from metal.

Can sublimation ink be removed from glass?

Yes, sublimation ink can be removed from the glass. The best way to remove the ink is by using a special cleaner made specifically for removing ink from glass like WD-40 chemical.

How to remove sublimation ink from the printer?

You can remove sublimation ink from the printer by using a special printer cleaner.

How to remove sublimation ink from wood?

You can remove sublimation ink from wood surfaces by using a cleaning product that is made for removing ink from wood or you can simply use baking soda mixed with warm water. You can make a thick paste by mixing the baking soda with the warm water and then apply it over your desired place and rub it with a damped cloth until the ink come out.

Final Thoughts

It is always recommended that you read the instructions before using a product and not follow a hint or suggestion from anyone. For example, some removers for sublimation inks are advertised as being very effective in removing ink from clothes.

However, sublimation ink can cause more damage to the body than other methods of printing. The sublimation ink that is classified as nontoxic has been found to be harmful to humans. The sublimation ink that is classified as toxic can cause increased skin allergies or contact dermatitis. 

Methods may seem too complicated but with a little effort and time, you can make a significant difference in removing the sublimation ink without damaging the fabric itself.

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