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If you have a favourite item of clothing, you’ll know how disappointing it can be if it starts looking a little worse for wear. Just like other garments, custom printed t-shirts need to be looked after properly to keep them looking like new, but thankfully, we have some top tips to help keep your printed t-shirts in great condition.

Washing a printed t-shirt.

Over time, the designs on screen printed, heat transfer and vinyl printed t-shirts can start to crack and peel, so these types of t-shirts need a little extra care to keep them looking their best. Although the care labels inside the t-shirt can give some guidance, these are to protect the fabric rather than the print, so here is our advice.

Wash it carefully.

It is not enough to just throw your printed t-shirt into the laundry pile and hope for the best – just like when you separate your lights from your darks, you should wash your t-shirts with other t-shirts. This reduces the amount of friction inside your washing machine, which can lead to the ink starting to flake. For extra protection, turn your t-shirt inside out to stop the design from rubbing against other fabrics, helping you to preserve the quality. Make sure your washing machine is on the gentlest setting, too.

Keep it cool.

Not only do cool washes help minimise annoying t-shirt shrinkage but washing your printed t-shirt at no higher than 30c can also help keep the artwork in good shape. Avoid harsh detergents and bleach, too, as these can damage your t-shirt – a gentle detergent will do the trick.

Wash it by hand.

Hand-washing clothes isn’t as time-consuming as you might expect, and it is the best way to care for fabrics. To handwash a printed t-shirt, all you need to do is fill a sink with cool water, add some detergent and mix it together. Turn your t-shirt inside out and leave it to soak in the sink for at least 15 minutes before gently massaging the fabric and rinsing away the detergent. Resist the urge to wring it dry as this can harm the ink – instead, leave your t-shirt to air dry.

Dry it naturally.

Air drying is an important step for looking after your printed t-shirt, as tumble drying can cause your t-shirt to shrink and can damage the print. If you’re really pushed for time, tumble it in the lowest setting, but otherwise leave your t-shirt to dry on a drying rack or clothesline, out of direct sunlight.

Iron with caution.

Heat is the enemy of printed t-shirts, so if you must iron it, be extremely careful to avoid melting the design. Turn the t-shirt inside out and make sure that your iron is on the lowest setting or pop a tea towel or cloth over it before you start ironing.

Washing an embroidered shirt.

Just like printed t-shirts, embroidered t-shirts and polo shirts need to be handled with care, which means they also need to be washed carefully at low temperatures. Extra precautions should be taken to make sure your embroidered shirts aren’t washed with anything that might snag the threads, such as clothes with metal zips.

If you need to remove stains, avoid scrubbing at them as this can pull at the thread, so gently handwash the t-shirt instead to keep the embroidery intact. When it comes to ironing, cover the design with a cloth or iron the back of the t-shirt, being careful not to let the iron touch the design.

For more help and advice on all things t-shirts, take a look at our t-shirt content hub.