Whether you have purchased a t-shirt that has been screen printed, transferred or had a design applied using the direct to garment (DTG) method, they may look good when they have first been created, but it is up to you to ensure that the designs stay looking their best wash after wash. If you don't take correct care when it comes to washing your printed t-shirts and other garments, you can soon find that the design begins to fade away and starts to look far from its best. While all garments do tend to fade over time (time has that effect on us all) there are ways in which you can help preserve that fantastic personalised t-shirt you have to keep it looking great for as long as possible.
- Turn the garments inside out prior to placing them in the washing machine. Contact on to your design should be seen as the enemy. This friction and constant rubbing impacts the application of the design to your garment, causing it to fade and break away over time. Turning it inside out greatly reduces this contact and preserves the design.
- Wash on a gently cycle and in cold water. This follows on from the previous guideline in that a gently cycle will reduce the amount of friction that the garments in your washer have with each other as they will be moving at a slower rate. Another alternative would be to wash your printed garments on their own, completely reducing the contact altogether. Just like friction, high heat rapidly increases the process in which your design begins to fade. Increased heat reduces the application of the design to the garment, causing it to flake and peel away at a much faster rate than if you were to have it on a cold cycle.
- Lay the garment out flat after washing. Once your personalised garments have come out of the washer you should lay them out on a flat service to allow them to dry naturally away from any heat. When a garment, such as a t-shirt, is in the washing machine, the cotton fibres absorb water which causes them to swell. This swelling shortens the length of the fibres, reducing the overall size of the garment. Although the majority of cotton shirts will see some form of shrinkage, even if it's by a very small amount, air drying your garments will give them the best chance of maintaining their original size.
- Avoid having the garments dry cleaned. When a dry cleaner washing its customers clothes, they tend to use a number of different chemicals to help speed up the process and aid in cleaning the garments. While these help the cleaning process, they won't be friendly to your printed designs. These chemicals can damage the application, resulting in fading occurring at an alarming rate.
- Avoid the use of steam when ironing. For any application, steam is the ultimate enemy. Think of any old film when someone tried to open a letter secretly. What did they use? Steam! Steam reduces the application of any surfaces whether it's the seal of a letter or a screen printed design on to Fruit of the Loom t-shirt. If you iron the garments using steam, this is doing to reduce the design application significantly, causing rapid deterioration in the quality of your garments.