What is Discharge Ink?

Get a Super Soft Feel with Discharge Ink

Discharge ink is a specialized water-based ink that uses an activating agent to remove the dye from natural fibers, then adding the color dye of your choice, giving it that super soft and lightweight feel that is as soft as the shirt itself.

Discharge inks are limited to being used garments with natural fibers like 100% cotton or hemp and some natural/synthetic blends like cotton/polyester blends.  Results vary between garment manufacturers.  Some royal blues, purples, bright reds, and Kelly greens struggle to discharge. We specialize in Discharge and Water-based inks and can help you determine if the garment you have chosen will print well.

Discharge ink is the best solution for bright color, soft, lightweight, and high detail prints on dark garments.

Why can’t I use water-based and discharge inks with 100% polyester garments?
Synthetic fibers like polyester use different dyes than natural fiber garments like 100% cotton.  These dyes do not react with discharge activating agents and will not be bleached.  Also water-based ink does not form as strong a bond to synthetic fibers.  For 100% synthetic fiber garments plastisol or other specialty inks will have the best results. 

If you are looking for a softer more flexible print on your 100% synthetic garment, we recommend choosing a light colored garment with a dark ink color.  This is because printing light colors on a dark garment (especially white) will force us to use multiple layers of ink to obtain a nice opaque color, as well as prevent dye migration.

What is dye migration?
Dye migration is a problem in screen printing when printing light ink colors on dark 100% synthetic garments.  When the dyes used on synthetic fibers are heated some of the dye will be released as a gas in a process that is called sublimation.  This gas will leach into the screen printed ink.  Without care and use of layers of special dye blocking inks white ink printed on a red 100%polyester shirt can have the potential to turn pink.

Learn more about water-based inks and why we push the limits of excellence.