Why is My Sublimation Print Faded After Washing

If you’re like many folks who use sublimation printing in their household, it is not uncommon for you to wonder why your finished product looks spotty and faded after washing.

So the question comes to your mind, Why is my sublimation print faded after washing?

Perhaps it was the wrong type of fabric used or maybe not enough heat application – either way, it can be frustrating.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why your sublimation prints may be fading after regular laundering and how to fix the problem for optimum color vibrancy going forward.

We’ll also explain what kind of fabrics work best for sublimation printing so that future projects don’t suffer from similar issues!

6 Reasons for Fading of Sublimation after Washing 

To ensure you get optimum longevity out of sublimated shirts, it is important to understand the reasons for their fading. So here are six potential culprits that cause sublimation to disappear after laundry cycles.

1. Incorrect choice of fabric

Using the wrong type of fabric for sublimation printing can lead to fading after washing due to the fabric being unable to hold onto the dye properly.

Generally, fabrics that are made from 100% polyester, or a combination of polyester and other synthetic fibers, are best for sublimation printing as they allow the dye to bond with the fibers and result in long-lasting prints.

If a fabric with higher natural fiber content is used for sublimation printing, it may cause fading after washing due to the natural fibers not having enough heat or pressure resistance needed for proper adhesion of the dye particles.

2. Bad Sublimation Ink

Another reason why sublimation prints may fade after washing is due to using low-quality sublimation ink. Low-quality inks lack the necessary properties needed to bond with the fibers of the fabric properly which can result in fading after washing.

Additionally, bad inks may contain weak dyes which are easily washed off with water and detergent during cleaning cycles.

It is important that only high-quality sublimation ink is used when doing transfers so as to avoid any subsequent fading issues afterward.

Check how long do sublimation ink last

3. Improper Heat Press Temperatures

If incorrect heat press temperatures are used when transferring sublimation prints onto a garment or textile, this could result in fading once it has been washed a few times.

The temperature must be just right – not too hot and not too cold – otherwise, it might not adhere properly and will be prone to fading afterward.

If temperatures are set too high, this could cause some areas of the fabric to burn to result in weak adhesion between the surface and ink; on the other hand, if temperatures are set too low then there won’t be enough heat energy available for proper transfer leading to faded prints later on down the line.

4. Overwashing/ Aggressive Cleaning Agents

Another cause of fading in sublimated garments is overwashing or using harsh cleaning agents that strip away colors from garments over time.

To help maintain vibrancy and prevent fading of printed designs it’s best practice to use gentle detergents specifically designed for colorfast fabrics when laundering these items.

Furthermore, avoid using bleach or other strong chemicals as they will accelerate color loss in these garments making them look duller than before after each wash cycle.

Read sublimation laundering instructions. 

5. Not using a good sublimation printer

A sublimation printer is necessary for successful and long-lasting sublimation prints. An inferior printer may use lower quality inks, which are less resistant to fading, or cheaper parts that won’t last very long when exposed to sustained high temperatures during printing.

Therefore, having a low-quality printer could be another reason why your sublimation print is fading after washing.

6. Low-quality Sublimation Paper

Sublimation paper is also essential for successful and long-lasting prints and should be of a high enough quality so it doesn’t break down in the heat of a sublimation transfer process.

Low-grade papers often have too low a melting temperature and don’t stay on the fabric properly during transfer, leading to significant fading after only a few washes.

Additionally, low-grade papers may contain more impurities that don’t bond with other materials well and are easily washed away over time, resulting in further color degradation in your designs over multiple washes.

How To Avoid Fading of Sublimation Prints 

By following these five tips you’ll be able to ensure your garments maintain longevity while still taking advantage of all the benefits associated with this innovative form of garment decoration!

1. Choose the correct fabric

Choosing the correct fabric is one of the most important factors in avoiding fading of sublimation prints.

The best fabrics for sublimation printing are 100% polyester and synthetic blends, as these fabrics are able to absorb the ink used for sublimation printing.

It is also important to avoid cotton or any other natural fibers that may not absorb the ink properly and could lead to fading of your prints.

2. Use the best sublimation printer and ink

Using a high-quality printer and ink is essential when it comes to producing long-lasting sublimation prints.

Certain Epson sublimation printers and inks are specifically designed for sublimation printing, so it is important to make sure you purchase a printer and ink with this exact purpose in mind.

This will ensure your prints last longer without fading or cracking due to low-quality materials.

Read Our Guide on Choosing the Best Sublimation Printer

3. Make sure to set the correct temperature

Setting the correct temperature when using a heat press is an essential step in avoiding fading of sublimation prints.

Each type of fabric will require a different temperature and time setting depending on its weight, thickness, and color; by following the instructions provided with the fabric, you can set the heat press correctly to allow for better absorption of the dye into your fabric, improving durability and longevity of colors over time.

Read Heat Press Temperature and Pressure Settings for Different Substrates [ PDF ]

4. Wash it gently

Washing garments printed with sublimation should always be done gently by hand or on a gentle cycle if necessary in order to prevent fading of colors over time due to excessive washing cycles or harsh detergents/softeners being used during washing cycles.

It’s also recommended that garments printed with sublimation should be turned inside out before washing to further protect from fading due to friction between colors during washing cycles.

Read our guide on how to wash sublimation shirts. 

5. Avoid UV / Sunlight

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from exposure to sunlight can cause colors on printed apparel items made with sublimation printing techniques to fade over time.

This is why it’s important to store these items away from direct sunlight when not using them, such as hanging them up in dark closets or drawers instead of leaving them draped over furniture where they can be exposed directly to UV light sources over prolonged periods of time.


How do you keep sublimation ink from fading after washing?

To keep sublimation ink from fading after washing, use cold water and mild detergent when laundering the garment. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, as they can impact the vibrancy of the colors. Additionally, turn the garment inside out before washing to protect the printed design, and air-dry or use a low-heat setting in the dryer to prevent excessive heat exposure.

How do I make my sublimation print brighter?

To make your sublimation print brighter, choose vibrant colors in your design, and use a white or light-colored base for the material. Ensure proper printing and heat press settings for optimal color saturation and brightness.

Why are my sublimation cups coming out faded?

Faded sublimation on cups can occur if the temperature, pressure, or time settings during the sublimation process are not accurate. Ensure that you follow the recommended guidelines for sublimation on cups, including the correct heat and press time, to achieve vibrant and long-lasting prints.


All in all, it is important to remember the key points of why sublimation printing can sometimes fade after washing.

While prevention is always best when dealing with sublimation fading, understanding why your items can fade after washing can help you work out practical preventative measures for yourself or your business.

Ultimately, investing in quality dyes for your sublimations will help make sure that your prints look just as vibrant wash after wash!

So I hope with these tips in mind, and we could answer the question: Why is my sublimation print faded after washing.

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