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Discharge Screen Printing-The Soft Hand Prints


Discharge screen printing is a screen printing method that essentially bleaches the color from a shirt.  This results in a print that is soft and  flush with the surface of the shirt.  With standard screen printing a PVC (plastic) ink is printed on top of a shirt and this ink has a thick and rubbery feel to it,  this is perfect for many applications but often a soft print is desired and that is where  water based screen printing and discharge screen printing are perfect.  Rather then stacking ink up on top of the shirt discharge ink changes the actual color of the fabric.  The discharge screen printing process is very versatile and can achieve many looks and effects.  When using the discharge screen printing method a shirt can be returned to its original color prior to being dyed.  This is referred to as straight discharge and results in the softest possible print and usually a cool tone on tone look.  For example a green shirt printed with straight discharge will often have a slight green tint and this gives the shirt a cool vintage super soft feel.  The other discharge screen print style is pigmented discharge and this is where the shirt color is removed and replaced with another color.  The pigmented discharge results in a soft print with vibrant color.  This print will have a slight feel to the print but after being washed the print will be as soft as the rest of the shirt.  See examples below.


stright discharge

Notice the color is a muted version of the shirt

and the fibers of the shirt are still visible.


pigmented discharge

Notice the vibrant colors and the shirt

fibers are still visible.

Straight discharge screen print

Pigmented discharge screen print

How do I order custom t-shirts with discharge printing?

Its easy, Just call us to place your order.  You can even design t-shirts online and save them with you email address.  You can also design and place your order online and in the notes section of the checkout process just write DISCHARGE PRINT.  Just remember discharge screen printing will not work for all orders and all shirt styles.  Here are a few thing you need to know about discharge screen printing before ordering:


-Discharge printing only works on 100% cotton t-shirts, even then some cotton shirts may not work as well as others.


-Purple, royal blue, maroon and certain shades of red shirts do not discharge well. Contact us with questions regarding if certain shirts or colors will work.


-Exact color matches are difficult and sometimes impossible with discharge screen printing.


-Discharge is for colored shirts only, for white or very light colored shirts we suggest either soft hand plastisols or water based ink.


-Discharge screen printing and water based printing have a higher spoilage rate then standard screen printing so you may want to order a extra shirt or 2 in each size, especially if your quantity needs to be exact.  We   will not charge for shirts that get ruined but often they can not be replaced or included with your order especially if they are special ordered tees, so order extras!  We will not set up your order again to print a few missing shirts.


Hybrid Discharge Screen Printing

Hybrid discharge printing is where we combine both water based discharge ink with soft hand plastisol ink.  In this scenario we first print a discharge underbase to lighten the color of the shirt for the other print colors to sit on top of.  The underbase is needed to prevent the color of the garment from showing through the ink.  After that we print a soft hand plastisol ink on top of the discharge underbase this results in a very soft, bright and durable print that will last a very long time.  So what is the difference from printing with all pigmented discharge inks?  This hybrid method produces a print that will stay brighter for longer and be more durable then an all discharge screen print.  This is because with an all discharge t-shirts the color is in the fabric and as the fabric wears the print will too.  By applying plastisol ink on top of discahrge ink the plastisol acts as a barrier to the fabric below it and helps prevent wear of the fabric itself.  It is difficult to explain but each method achieve certain looks.


If you want a super soft vintage feel go with all discharge ink.

If you want a soft print with the least color fade over time go with hybrid discharge printing.

If you want the brightest print but dont care about the softness go with all plastisol.

If you want the softest print on white or light shirts go with waterbased screen printing.


If you are ready to take your custom t-shirts to the next level and want a fashion forward look then consider discharge printing on you next order and call us we are Discharge Pros!