How to Soften a Screen Printed Shirt: Your Easy Guide

Ever bought a cool screen printed shirt but found it a tad rough on your skin? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many people have experienced the same issue, but they’ve discovered that softening a screen printed shirt can drastically improve its comfort.

First, let’s dive into the factors that contribute to a hard screen print. One major cause is the type of ink used in screen printing, with certain inks hardening on the fabric after printing. Another factor is the material of the shirt – cotton shirts tend to be softer in general, while polyester or blended fabrics may feel less comfortable.

Understanding Screen Printed Shirts

So, you’ve got a favorite screen printed shirt that’s a little on the stiff side, huh? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Before diving into how to soften a screen printed shirt, it’s essential to understand what screen printed shirts actually are and why they might feel stiff. Is it the ink? The fabric? Or the printing process itself that makes them this way? Let’s explore.

Screen printing is a popular method of printing designs onto garments using mesh screen stencils and ink. It’s the go-to choice for many designers and businesses because it allows for:

  • High-quality, long-lasting prints
  • Large-scale production
  • Cost-efficiency for printing multiple colors

Now, when it comes to that stiffness you’re feeling, it can be due to a few factors:

  1. Ink type and thickness: Plastisol is a standard screen printing ink that does not penetrate into the fabric but rather sits on top of it. The result can be a thicker, rubbery feel, especially when printers use more ink layers on the design.
  2. Fabric material: Screen printing works on a variety of materials, including cotton, polyester, and blends. Stiffer fabrics might not feel as soft after printing as more lightweight ones.
  3. Printing process: Factors like drying temperature and curing can impact your shirt’s final feel. If the ink is not cured correctly, it might feel thicker or stiffer.

Now that we’ve discussed the possible reasons for the stiffness, here are some tips for softening your shirt:

  • Wash it: Washing a new screen printed shirt can help soften it up, but be sure to follow the care instructions to prevent damage.
  • Air dry: Sometimes tumble drying can amplify stiffness in screen printed shirts. Try air drying your shirt for a gentler dry.
  • Fabric softener: Adding some fabric softener to your laundry routine can also be useful to keep your screen printed shirts soft and cozy.
  • Iron the shirt: Ironing can smooth out the fibers in your shirt, making it feel softer. Be sure to use a low heat setting and place a thin cloth between the iron and the print to prevent damage.

By understanding the different factors that can affect the feel of a screen printed shirt, you can take the proper steps to soften it. So go ahead and give these tips a try, and soon enough, you’ll be enjoying a softer, more comfortable shirt that you can wear with pride!

Methods to Soften Your Print

Fret not! There are several ways to soften that screen printed shirt, making it super comfy and enjoyable to wear. Let’s dive into some useful methods that’ll help you out:

  1. Wash it: Sometimes, a simple wash can make a difference. Be sure to follow these pointers for the best results:
  • Turn your shirt inside out before washing.
  • Use cold water and a gentle cycle to prevent shrinking.
  • Consider adding a fabric softener to the mix.
  • Air dry the shirt, rather than using a dryer, to keep the print intact.
  1. Vinegar to the rescue: Using vinegar is a popular and natural method to soften your screen printed shirts. Here’s how:
  • Create a vinegar solution by mixing one part vinegar to three parts water.
  • Soak your shirt in the solution for about 15 minutes.
  • Rinse your shirt and wash as usual.
  1. Give it a salt bath: Surprisingly, salt can help soften that rough screen print! You’ll want to:
  • Fill a bucket with a gallon of water and mix in half a cup of salt.
  • Allow the shirt to soak for about three days.
  • Rinse and wash as normal.
  1. Rub away with a pumice stone: A little elbow grease can work wonders! Here’s what you need to do:
  • Place your shirt on a flat surface, print side up.
  • Gently rub the pumice stone over the print in circular motions.
  • Be cautious not to damage the print, sticking to gentle strokes.

Remember, it’s crucial to follow the care instructions on your shirt to preserve its quality. With a little time and attention, you’ll have that screen printed shirt feeling softer and comfy in no time.

So go ahead and try these methods out! Your favorite screen printed shirt will now be your go-to for ultimate comfort.


You’ve made it! Now you know how to soften a screen printed shirt, and you can confidently wear your favorite tees without worrying about them being too scratchy or stiff. Just to recap, here are the steps you’ve learned:

  • Pre-soak your shirt: Soak your shirt in cold water with vinegar for at least 20 minutes to help break down the ink.
  • Wash gently: Use a mild detergent, and wash your shirt inside out on a gentle cycle.
  • Tumble dry on low: Drying your shirt on a low heat setting further softens the print.
  • Use a fabric softener: This optional step can help to make your shirt even more comfortable.

As you go forward with your freshly softened shirts, be sure to consider the fabric quality and care instructions before attempting these methods on other shirts in your wardrobe. By following these practices, you’ll enjoy comfortable screen printed shirts for years to come.

Alright, it’s time now for you to show off your soft and stylish tees. Trust us, you’re gonna love the newfound comfort that comes with a perfectly softened screen printed shirt. Good luck, and happy wearing!

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