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Ways to Prevent Dye Migration on Custom T-Shirts

December 6, 2013

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Dye migration is a common problem in screen printing. The combination of darker hues and polyester fabrics could spell disaster if a shirt or garment is not printed or treated properly. Being professionals, we have developed methods to prevent this from happening.


Also referred to as bleeding or dye sublimation, dye migration is common with darker hues, specifically red, navy, maroon, or sometimes dark greens when using polyester garments.  We find that the using lighter colored tees and darker inks in the design will never have dye migration issues. Think about it, you can’t see light pink dye through black screen printed ink. The right color combination could save your printer a lot of time and effort.

If your design does not fall into those parameters, Rush Order Tees has seen enough orders to know exactly how to handle dye migration.

First, we always use high-quality t-shirts and garments. The better the canvas, the better your final product will be. We also review the design to see if it may require under basing, which is the process of putting a layer of lighter colored ink to make sure the design stays vibrant. For example, yellow is another troublesome ink. When printing yellow ink on a black polyester tee, we would place a layer of white ink underneath which doesn’t fall victim to dye migration often. It blocks the black and makes the yellow stand out.

According to screen printers, Catspit Productions, “The real cause of dye migration is simply the fact that the dyes in the polyester fabric sublimates or turns gaseous when heated to about 330 degrees Fahrenheit during the curing of the plastisol ink. Then the dye, in gaseous form, seeps into the ink layer thus tinting it the color of the shirt.”

The number one way to solve this problem is to always pay close attention to the temperature when a shirt is in the curing process. It is recommended to drop the temperature to 320 degrees to prevent dye migration since heat is the element that causes dye migration. recommends allowing additional cool-down time before stacking and packing the tees. If heat is still trapped in the garment it could result in a “ghost image” on the tee stacked on top.


They also recommend printing several samples when dealing with a dye migration-prone project. Since Rush Order Tees uses an in-house facility we are easily able to monitor our samples and products as they come off the line.

We assess the design along with carefully processing the order with the proper temperature and extra care needed to ensure your garment does not suffer from dye migration.

About the Author

RushOrderTees is a nationwide leader in custom apparel. Our screen printing, digital printing, and embroidery services create t-shirts, hoodies, hats and related apparel for individuals as well as group. Our staff regularly contributes knowledge and expertise to our blog to help those interested in creating custom apparel.