How to Remove Sublimation Ghosting? [Proven Techniques]

Have you ever faced the frustration of sublimation ghosting on your printed items? Those faint, unwanted shadows that can spoil your designs? The good news is that you can tackle this issue effectively. In this article, we’re going to explore the best techniques to address the question: “How to remove sublimation ghosting?”

First, we’ll dive into the steps to actually remove the ghosting, because sometimes it’s inevitable. We’ll discuss methods like using denatured alcohol, cold water, bleach, and more to ensure that ghosting doesn’t haunt your projects.

But prevention is key. We’ll also share strategies on how to avoid sublimation ghosting altogether. From handling transfer paper correctly to adjusting settings on your equipment, we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re new to sublimation or a seasoned pro, these techniques will help you achieve pristine results. So, let’s banish sublimation ghosting and make your prints truly stand out.

How To Remove Sublimation Ghosting?

Unfortunately, you can not remove sublimation ghosting directly. You need to remove sublimation ink entirely using denatured alcohol, cold water, bleach, and other methods. Then do the sublimation printing again and just avoid ghosting from happening. To avoid sublimation ghosting do the following.

  • Stop the shift in Transfer Paper 
  • Use Special Adhesive Transfer Paper
  • Reduce the Ascent Speed
  • Use the cover-up method
  • Adjust the Gap to Avoid Axial Transfer Error
  • Make the Paper Smoother Before Printing

So, even though the answer for how to remove sublimation ghosting can be unexpected, you can avoid this problem. Let’s get into the details of the processes. 

Can I Remove Sublimation Ghosting?

Unfortunately no, you can not directly remove sublimation ghosting. Since there is a risk of impacting the remaining sublimation ink. If you get ghosting then you should remove the sublimation ink entirely. To remove the sublimation ink do the following 

  • Use Denatured alcohol
  • Use Cold water
  • Bleach it
  • Apply heat
  • Use soda water chemical solution
  • Use a pressure washer machine

After you are done removing the sublimation entirely, repeat the sublimation printing. But this time be careful, take all the necessary steps to avoid sublimation ghosting. Managing excess ink is crucial to prevent issues such as ghosting, cracking, peeling, fading, bleeding, and blurring.

How to Avoid Sublimation Ghosting?

If you are a sublimation printing pro, it is easy to avoid ghosting. Let’s get into the details of 9 effective methods to prevent sublimation from ghosting. 

1. Stopping the Shift in Transfer Paper

Firstly, stop the shift in the Transfer Paper. When the panel is hot, a shift in the Transfer Paper leaves a ghost image with the original one. So, you need to make sure to keep the Transfer stationary. This is how we think you can keep the Transfer Paper still:

  • Keep the Transfer Paper taped to the surface and leave it that way until the panel cools

But apart from keeping the Transfer Paper still, you can also avoid ghosting by properly picking up the Transfer. These are some good strategies to pick up Transfer paper to avoid ghosting

  • Detach the Transfer Paper vertically from the ground
  • Do not drag the Transfer Paper along the hot sublimated surface
  • Make sure to pull the Transfer Paper in one go. 

In this way, you can avoid ghosting your fabric. 

2. Use Special Adhesive Paper

You can also use a special Adhesive Transfer Paper to remove sublimation ghosting. By pasting the special Adhesive Transfer Paper with the fabric, you ensure that the paper and fabric stick together. When the paper and fabric stick together, the probability of shifting in Transfer Paper is avoided and ghosting reduces. 

3. Reduce the Ascent Speed

Make sure to reduce the Ascent Speed to avoid sublimation ghosting. Just adjust the cylinder or hydraulic cylinder speed control valve that is on the flat heat transfer press. Then turn down the valve controlling the pressure plates lifting. 

The intention is to make the lifting speed of the pressure plate slower. When this pressure plate is lifted, the Transfer Paper and the fabric are not sucked up together. This mitigates the problem of ghosting. 

4. Dip the Four Corners of the Transfer Paper in Water

If the sublimation ghosting occurs due to smaller Transfer paper, dampen the four corners of the paper with water. Add a little water, which could be a small dot or less than 0.5 square centimeters to the four corners.

Next cover the paper on the fabric for Transfer. After transferring, the adhesion will have no misalignment with the fabric which will lead to secondary Transfer ghosting. 

5. Cover-Up Method

You can use the cover-up method to avoid ghosting in fabric. The cover-up method means using a Transfer Paper that is larger than the cloth. To understand why we need a cover-up method, let’s take a closer look at how ghosting happens. 

When you are sublimation printing, the cloth can fall off the secondary transfer and leave a ghostly image behind. This happens when the cloth gets sucked off because of its electrostatic effect. The cloth is sucked up by the hot pressing plate.  

To prevent this ghosting effect, use a large-sized transfer paper bigger than the fabric you are working with. By doing so, the transfer paper will physically cover the cloth and block the electrostatic effect. Therefore, it will prevent the cloth from getting sucked up and ghosted. 

So using a bigger transfer paper than the cloth protects it from getting ghosted during the sublimation process. 

6. Adjust the Gap to Avoid Axial Transfer Error

Axial transfer error happens due to inaccurate paper transfer by the squeegee’s axial movement. Modify the space between the tight ring and the sleeve’s end surface on the roller gripper shaft. 

7. Make the Paper Smoother Before Printing

If the lotus leaf paper is not smooth enough then it will lead to sublimation ghosting. Due to the paper’s long edge, it compresses into the trailing edge and moves inward when the first color is printed. When the first color is pressed onto the second color, it becomes compressed right away. 

When randomly folding and releasing of the paper , imprints of the previous blanking remain on the substrate. But the current design is not properly aligned. This leads to the undesired effect known as ghosting. Just air-dry the lotus leaf Paper to make it Smoother Before Printing.

8. Adjust the Lining Data of the Printing Plate and Blanket Cylinder

how to get rid of ghosting sublimation
Source: eastyltd

In rotary heat press machine, two big rollers press on something called a rubber cloth. The rollers need to have the right amount of pressure and the shape to work properly. But if the roller shape or the pressure is not right, rubber cloth moves and forms sublimation ghosting. 

To solve sublimation ghosting, adjust the settings of the rollers so that they work perfectly. To solve this problem adjust the lining data of the printing plate and blanket cylinder.

9. Re-Tighten the Blanket

Ghosting can also happen when the Blanket is not stretched tightly enough. For loose overall stretch, or the blanket is cut unevenly, or the iron splint is poorly made, this occurs. Both of these impact the fabric and lead to ghosting.

Just re-tighten the Blanket and check if there is any sublimation ghosting. 

You can still solve the sublimation Ghosting by tightening the Printing Plate and holding the paper in place. Finally, make sure to use good quality sublimation ink as it will avoid ghosting and avoid harmful sublimation fumes

Apart from all these methods, we recommend not to try sublimation with iron because it will increase the chances of ghosting. 


Can I Use Transfer Paper when the Ghosting has Occurred? 

No, we do not recommend you use Transfer Paper when the Ghosting has occurred. Ghosting is caused by the sublimation ink remaining active after the heat press has been opened. Using the Transfer Paper will not remove the ghost image but make things even worse. So, do not use Transfer Paper on a substrate with ghosting and start again on a new substrate. 

Can Sublimation Ghosting Be Minimized By Using Different Types of Heat Presses? 

Yes, Sublimation ghosting can be minimized using different types of heat presses. There is a feature that allows the operator to adjust the substrate and transfer Paper before applying pressure. One feature reduces the amount of contact time between Transfer Paper and substrate and therefore reduces Ghosting. 

Does the Substrate Color Impact the Ghosting Visibility? 

Yes, the substrate color impacts the sublimation Ghosting visibility. But only to some extent, because in light-colored substances the substrate is more visible than dark-colored. However, Ghosting still happens on dark-colored substrates, and you need to maintain basic precautions.  


So even though the solution how to remove sublimation ghosting is unorthodox, you can avoid the problem easily. Follow the strategies included in this article and make sure to follow them while printing on your fabric. The best part is that all of these steps are quite simple to maintain. Finally, keep in mind the reasons for faded Sublimation.

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