Screen printed shirts are always trendy and stylish. They’re a great way to showcase talent, show love for a cause, team or athlete, and advertise an event. Screen printing gained popularity in the early 60s when artist Andy Warhol used the screen-print process to create an iconic image of Marilyn Monroe. With so many screen-print garments in the market, many people wonder how to care for these works of art. Particularly important is how to wash screen printed shirts. Here are a few factors to bear in mind.

How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts

Screen Print Care Do’s

  • Wash screen printed garments inside out. This helps to protect the printed surface from abrasions from other clothes in the washer.
  • Use a very mild detergent when washing screen-printed clothing.
  • Always wash screen printed shirts in cool water. Screen printed shirts are safe in waters below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To decrease lint transfer and pilling, wash screen-printed items with those of the same or similar fabrics.
  • If possible, hand wash screen printed garments or use the gentle cycle of the washing machine.How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts
  • Hang or flat dry the garment.
  • Use a cool iron or iron the garment inside out.
  • Protect the screen-printed design by ironing the garment between two pieces of cloth.

Screen Print Care Don’ts

  • Don’t use steam when ironing screen-print shirts.
  • Don’t dry clean screen-printed items. Chemicals in the dry-cleaning process can spot or stain your garment.
  • Avoid bleach because agents in bleach will discolor the dyes as well as the fabric threads used in screen-printing.
  • Don’t use fabric softener on screen-print garments. Fabric softeners degrade the ink used in screen printing and cause the printed areas to fade or crack.

Details and Common Issues


Shrinkage is a common problem, especially during the first washing. Many manufacturers counter this issue by pre-shrinking their fabric before it’s shipped for screen-printing. Garments that haven’t been pre-shrunk can shrink significantly after washing, often rending the garments unwearable. This is especially the case when dealing with fibers made from 100% cotton.


All fabrics regardless of quality have the potential for pilling. Friction from washing and wearing causes pilling. The friction loosens the fibers, forming “pills” on the garment’s surface. Turning your screen-printed garment inside out before washing goes a long way in helping to prevent pills.

Hard Water

Minerals in hard water can also cause significant damage to your screen-printed shirts. The mineral deposits stiffen the fabric. Hard water will also degrade the dyes used in the screen-printing process, causing the colors to run or fade. These minerals also cause pilling. And the best way to safeguard your screen-printed shirts from damage by hard water is to purchase a water softening system or soak them in a gallon of water mixed with one cup of white vinegar before washing.

Bottom Line

Learning how to wash screen printed shirts is not difficult but you need to pay attention to the do’s and don’ts. Wash your screen-printed shirts the right way and they’ll last for ages.