Garment Dyeing Process

About discharge ink

Discharge ink is a wonderful technique to create super soft vintage style prints once you understand the limitations.  Think of it more of a garment dyeing process than a printing process. If color accuracy and flawless prints are your criteria best to stick to plastisol. If you are more concerned with wearability and feel then discharge ink is right for you. If you would like to print with discharge ink please review the information on this page and then submit the consent agreement through the link below.

Color options and issues


Color accuracy and consistency is not possible when using discharge ink. Garments are created and then dyed a specific color. The original color, the unprocessed knitted fabrics of the garment is called the grey goods. Since the shirts will be dyed there is no need for manufacturers to quality control the color of the grey goods for consistency. This results in the base color being not being a true white but varying shade of warm and cool grays and tans. When the discharge ink sits on top of the grey goods color that base color will affect the pigmentation of the deposited dye. Resulting in varying shades of warm, cool, grey, tan color shifts. There is no way of knowing when and where this will happen. Often times it is completely random, or it is all one size that is different or it may not happen at all. Because of this we have no way of determining if your order will have tone variations and it is to be expected that it may happen. 

Available free colors

If we don’t use one of the premixed colors, we can mix our own for a $25 fee. We like to mix discharge ink a few hours in advance before adding the discharge powder. Once the powder is added it only has a shelf life of around 12 hours. This means we have to mix colors to order and can’t keep them on hand. We also have to mix around 20% more ink then we need so we can keep the screen image flooded so the screen doesn’t dry out. 

Print design colors

We limit our discharge printing to 4 colors in most cases. Water based ink dries out quickly in our dry rocky mountain air. Because of this we need to print quickly and humidify our screen areas. Attempting to print over 4 colors will often extend our on press time to the point where we encounter ink drying issues.

Fabric guidelines

Discharge will only remove the dye on cotton fabrics. So using discharge in on a blended fabric will result in a faded print. The cotton will discharge but the other fabrics will not. Since the fabrics are woven together you end up with a nice heathered pattern in the ink deposit. This can create a very cool effect but can’t be controlled because it is all dependant on how the fabric is originally sewn together. Different dye colors also determine the discharge effectiveness this differs from brand to brand and batch. 

Washing instructions

We recommend washing discharge shirts prior to wear. The ink will have a slight hand to it before it goes through the first wash. The garment deign may also appear to be warped. Circles will look oval shaped and straight lines may be curved. This is because the printed section of the shirt was wet and stretched while being pulled off the pallet while the rest of the shirt remained dry. Once the whole shirt is wash the garment will return to the true shape. Discharge inks contains sulfur and will react to anyone with a sulfa allergy. Discharge ink vibrancy will fade over time and washings but you can wash and dry according to the shirt instructions. 

Great video to nerd out to (not ours)

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