Discharge Screen Printing

Discharge is a type of water-based ink for screen printing that doesn’t exactly “ink” the garment it’s applied to. It acts more like bleach and removes the dye of the fabric. While it doesn’t actually bleach or damage the apparel, it exposes the natural color of the fabric, which is typically a light tan or greyish-white color. It can be used as a stand-alone ink or altered with other colors and pigmentations. It’s a great way to add a design to a dark colored shirt, and maintain a soft feel with a vibrant appearance. Even though it’s a great option for dark apparel, it doesn’t work on everything.  Similar to water-based ink, there are advantages and disadvantages that must be taken into consideration when determining whether discharge is the best print method for your project.

discharge ink on a shirt

Advantages

  • Discharge ink can make a design very vibrant and detailed. It’s a fantastic print method for garments that are dark and have a high cotton count.

  • It is so soft and lightweight. Once applied (and washed), it doesn’t add any weight to the apparel. For the most part, you won’t feel any difference in the feel of the apparel item, and if you do, it’ll be so minor that it may as well not be there at all.

Disadvantages

  • Unlike plastisol ink, discharge ink doesn’t work well on synthetic fabrics, like polyester. It can work on some blends (primarily those with a higher percentage of cotton), but the results may vary.

  • It’s not meant for light colored apparel.

  • Discharge ink has a short shelf-life, so it is not an economical option for hobbyists and smaller screen printing shops.

Is Discharge Screen Printing Right For Your Project?

We love screen printing with discharge ink. It provides a vibrant, detailed look and a soft feel. But since not all garments “discharge” the same way, we can help you decide if discharge is the best method for your custom apparel printing project.

Find Out if Discharge Ink is Best for Your Custom Apparel