How To Remove Screen Printing From A Shirt?

There is no design more chic and stylish than a minimalist screen printed logo, or a pattern. However, printing such designs is a tedious task since a slight mistake could lead to an ink smudge ruining your order.

Moreover, screen-printed designs tend to wear out with time, leading you to look for ways on how to remove screen printing from a shirt. Although such prints are meant to be permanent, it is not impossible to remove them.

Based on the fabric, the method of removal might vary, but the results are always the same with a clean, spotless tee. This article contains all the different methods you can use to remove screen printing from your favorite shirt or rectify a mistake for your client’s order.

For cotton shirts

Usually, screen printing is done on cotton fabric. This is why we are going to start off with some tried and tested methods of cleaning a cotton shirt. You can pick any method that seems easy to you, they are all equally effective.


1- Using a paper bag and iron

When it comes to how to remove screen printing from a shirt, this is the most talked-about method. It works on the century-old formula of transferring the ink from fabric to paper and vice versa using heat.

  • Start with washing your shirt with cold water. Make sure not to use warm or hot water, since it will make your job more difficult by making the material stick firmly to the shirt.
  • Let your shirt dry completely. There is nothing to worry about if you do not see any difference right now, it will be all gone once it passes through the heat.
  • Take a paper bag and place it on the screen print you want to remove. The waxy side should be facing the print. Next, run your iron over the paper. This way the ink will be transferred to the paper. Repeat the process until it is all gone.

2- By sugar scrubbing

Sugar is a fantastic abrasive, and can greatly help remove small pieces of scattered ink.

  • Wash your shirt with cold water as you do regularly.
  • Depending upon the size of print you want to remove, take some sugar in your hand. Start scrubbing the printed area gently, so you do not damage the fabric in the process. You will see pieces of prints coming off.
  • Once you see it all gone, rinse your shirt well to get off the residue.

3- Using a nail polish remover (Acetone)

Acetone is a strong compound that is capable of dissolving ink from screen printing. However, fabrics other than cotton may react to it and melt so you need to be careful of the material. Good news is that your regular nail polish remover contains acetone. You only need to dig it out from your vanity and use it.

  • Start with washing your shirt with cold water and letting it dry completely. This loosens the ink which makes it easier to remove it afterward.
  • Take the nail polish remover on a cotton pad and dab it on the printed area. Do not apply the acetone directly to the fabric as it may cause it to lose its original color.
  • Keep dabbing on the spot until you see ink peeling. Use your fingers to pull it off and give your shirt a final wash.

4- By spot removal gun

This method is rarely used when it comes to removing screen printing from a shirt. This is because the spot removal gun is relatively expensive equipment, so it is way better to buy a new shirt than to invest in it. However, this is the most effortless way of removing ink so you might want to give it a try.

  • Place cardboard or towel on the backside of your shirt so the fluid does not seep through the front and ruin it.
  • Fill your gun with the spotting chemical and spray on the print. Be careful not to spray it on the fabric since it leaves marks.
  • When you see the ink coming off, use a wet cloth to wipe the chemical.
  • Give your shirt a good wash to remove all chemicals before wearing it.

5- Using Plastisol remover

Since Plastisol is the most common screen printing ink, it is understandable that there is a specific remover for it. However, you need to be careful while using it since the ingredients are toxic and strong. Choose a well-ventilated location, and wear safety gear before attempting it.

  • Apply the remover on the print and leave it on for thirty minutes.
  • Use a brush, rub off the ink from that area. You should be able to see flakes of ink coming off.
  • Once all of it is cleared, use a wet cloth or towel to remove the ink residues and give your shirt a good wash.
  • You can repeat the process a few times, but do not overdo it or it may damage the fabric.

For polyester shirts

How to remove screen printing from a shirt if it is made of polyester is a bit tricky. Polyester is composed of synthetic fibers, therefore, you cannot use any chemical or heat on it. The heat melts the fabric, while harsh chemicals burn it. The only way to go forward is through comparatively mild detergents.

  • Wash your shirt with warm water, and apply a layer of dishwashing detergent to it.
  • Take a bottle brush and rub it on the printed area. Keep scrubbing it until you see the ink flakes coming off.
  • After that, wash it like you normally do.


As opposed to the general idea, how to remove screen printing from shirts is not a lost cause after all. You only need to be persistent in putting in effort especially if you are using any of the manual processes.

It may take some time to get your desired results, but it will be worth it in the end. Be careful while handling chemicals and strong fluids like spot remover, and get going to revive your old, damaged shirt.

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