How to get the perfect bleach shirt for sublimation printing

You’ve decided to print your own designs on t-shirts, and you want it to look great. Your first step? Buying the best shirt possible, of course!

To help you make the right decision, we’re sharing our ultimate guide on how to bleach shirt for sublimation printing, including how to pick the right material type, how to prep your garment before bleaching, what to do after bleaching, and more.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about this important process! We also have a tutorial video so you can see the steps in action!

Bleach a Shirt for Sublimation Printing

  1. Wash and dry your t-shirt. You’ll need a t-shirt that’s 100% cotton – polyester blends won’t work because they don’t shrink the same way.
  2. Fill a bucket with water and mix in 1/2 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach TM liquid laundry detergent (not Ultra or Plus) per gallon of water, then add three cups of white vinegar to prevent colors from running.
  3. Soak your t-shirt in the bleach solution overnight, making sure it’s fully submerged at all times so you can remove as much color as possible.

9 tips on how to prepare a good bleach shirt for sublimation printing

  1. It is important that you have a good understanding of how many garments you are bleaching, as this will dictate how much bleach powder you need and how many rounds of bleaching and rinsing it will take.
  2. Before adding your clothes in, be sure to add a small amount of household dish washing detergent or laundry soap into your bucket to help with the removal process after bleaching.
  3. Fill your tub with water so that it covers all the clothes and fully submerge them before putting in any powder or liquid, which will ensure even coverage of all items within the container
  4. If you’re using liquid, pour an equal part (in ounces) as measured on a measuring cup into your dye tub 5. Stir until mixed
  5. Keep stirring and mixing until dissolved
  6. Add the contents of one packet per gallon to your wash bath
  7. Mix well
  8. Place clothing inside
  9. Fill up bathtub with cold water

Prewash Tips

-Start with a good quality shirt that is preshrunk and 100% cotton, and make sure there are no holes or tears in it.
-Prewash your shirts. This will help set the color, minimize shrinking, and prepare you for all of the clothespins you’ll need to finish up with.
-Wash your shirts on a cool setting with cold water. Do not use any laundry detergent or fabric softener!
-Inspect each t-shirt after it comes out of the wash and remove any that are too wet from overloading your washer with t-shirts at one time or from being left in too long in the dryer after coming out of the wash.

Stabilization and Fixing after Bleaching

This is the step where many people mess up because they think that all you need to do is just put a t-shirt in and press go. The truth of it is that there are a few different steps that need to be taken care of before running your t-shirts through the machine.

First, you will want to stabilize your shirt in order to help prevent stretching during printing. After this, it’s time for fixing. This step helps shrink any loose fibers on your fabric which can cause bleeding or inconsistent colors when printed onto other materials such as shirts or sheets of paper.


The first step in getting your desired print is preparing your stencil. You can do this by using a vector software like Adobe Illustrator, or you can take a picture of whatever you would like to be on your t-shirt and use that as a stencil. The more detailed it is, the better it will turn out.

This will also help if you are trying to fill a certain space with something such as wording or an image. After you have your stencil ready, place it where you want it on top of the shirt and tape it down with masking tape so that it doesn’t move while putting bleach over it.


It is best to iron your shirt before you apply heat in order to make sure it is flat and wrinkle free.
Place a towel over the ironing board or other protective surface, then lay the t-shirt face-down on top of it.

Iron on a low setting and make sure not to over-iron. Move slowly around the edges of your t-shirt, and use less pressure on areas that are already flat.

Design Tips

  1. Always test your garments with a hidden part of the garment, such as the inside hem or cuff first
  2. Make sure to wash and dry your garments at least 3 times before starting any sublimation process 3. Only use Clorox® Regular-Bleach when mixing your solution
  3. Make sure that you are mixing enough water with each ounce of Clorox® Regular-Bleach
  4. Pour Clorox® Regular-Bleach on your garment and then pour enough water on it so that it is completely wet
  5. Put something heavy over the garment such as a cutting board
  6. Wait up to 30 minutes and then check for desired results
  7. Do not touch or disturb fabric until complete

Last Updated on October 22, 2022

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Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith is an editor and author for Printerchief, specializing in creating informative content on the topics of office printing and paper processing technology. When he is not working, he enjoys exploring the great outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, along with activities like hiking, cycling, fishing, and reading. Additionally, Andrew loves working on various projects for his home and garden to keep himself busy and continue learning new skills.


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