What Is Discharge Ink Screen Printing?

What Is Discharge Ink Screen Printing

T-shirts and other apparel that are soft to the touch are usually comfortable to wear. In addition to the material used in their production, the printing technique can make a significant difference in their feel. So, what is discharge ink screen printing?

The custom apparel industry constantly evolves and introduces new techniques for creating unique designs. In this article, we share the most common usages of discharge screen printing and the best time to utilize this printing method over other techniques.

What Is Discharge Ink Screen Printing?

In the past, manufacturers had to add a layer of ink when printing on dark fabrics to increase the print’s visibility. However, the final project didn’t come out soft even after taking this step during the printing process.

Luckily, the appearance of DTG discharge ink changed that and made the prints feel softer, which made the final projects higher in quality and more comfortable to wear.

The ink used in discharge ink screen printing is water-based, allowing printing on dark fabric without adding more layers. This printing technique results in fabric color deactivation, similar to bleach, to make the single layer of ink visibly clear and pleasant to the touch. However, discharge ink does not harm the fabric like bleach.

What Is Discharge Ink Screen Printing
Source: thrivescreenprinting.com

How does it work?

The discharge screen printing process involves multiple steps. First, we start preparing the design or artwork. We separate it digitally into color layers and save it in a format ideal for creating a stencil or screen. Then, we coat the screen with a layer of light-reactive emulsion to cover all areas where ink won’t pass through.

We expose the screen to UV light, hardening the emulsion and creating a design stencil. Next, we mix water-based ink and discharge agent to create a discharge ink and spread it evenly on the screen.

Then, we dry out the fabric using heat, activating the discharge agent to remove the dye and inspect its quality before delivering the final project to our clients.

What Is Discharge Screen Printing Used For?

Although screen printing is commonly used to print designs on various surfaces, discharge ink should only be applied to fabrics.

This product reacts effectively only on garments that don’t have synthetic fibers because it’s more difficult to remove the dye. However, we find it extremely beneficial for the following usages:

Achieving a soft feel

The most well-known advantage of discharge printing is the creation of soft prints. The final printed projects always feel smooth to the touch without bumps. It increases the garment’s comfort and makes it perfect for everyday wear.

Discharge ink can be applied to basic T-shirts and sweatshirts to make their designs softer. Many of our clients want to create promotional T-shirts that stand out. We can provide comfortable garments with vibrant colors and graphic designs using discharge ink printing.

We can also customize hoodies and merchandise for various brands. Not only can we make the designs eye-catching, but fans will also wear the garments for a long time due to their durability and comfort.

Achieving a soft feel
Source: thrivescreenprinting.com

Printing on dark garments

With discharge ink screen printing, we are not limited to printing only on light-colored garments. This printing method works well for both light and dark-colored clothing items. It provides various design options and color combinations to suit clients’ preferences.

The most important thing we focus on when using discharge ink is the fabric and color variation of the project. Before we apply it to any material, we test it to see its reaction to the discharge agent.

Throughout our experience using this technique, we discovered that usually, reactive dyes usually work the best because it’s easy to strip them from a garment. Thus, we can confidently print on dark garments and provide our clients with the highest quality projects.

Creating long-lasting design

We can transfer vibrant and durable colors onto garments with the discharge screen printing technique. The printing process involves dye removal from the fabric and replacing it with another ink color. This way, the final designs will stay bright and clear for many years rather than fading after a few washes.

Working with natural fibers

Polyester is a synthetic material commonly used to create athletic wear. However, this fabric makes it difficult for the discharge agent to strip the color, which is why natural fibers are best for discharge ink screen printing.

Although some people use fabric blends, 100% cotton or hemp is best for discharge printing. The discharge agent works best with natural fibers to create vibrant designs.

However, most hoodies and clothing items may not be made from all-natural fibers. Instead, they might contain 50/50 blend fabric (half polyester, half cotton). In these cases, discharge ink screen printing produces vintage-looking designs.

Discharge ink screen printing doesn’t produce vibrant designs on synthetic or blended materials. Despite this, they still look stylish, further proving the versatility of this printing technique.

Is Discharge Ink Screen Printing Eco-Friendly?

The printing industry is constantly evolving by the inclusion of environmentally friendly practices. If you are looking for a sustainable printing method, discharge ink screen printing is the perfect choice for you.

The inks used with discharge screen printing are water-based, PVC, and phthalate-free. Its discharge agents are usually biodegradable and don’t contain any harmful toxins, resulting in soft prints and the creation of comfortable-to-wear garments. Also, when mixed properly, discharge inks fuse with the fabric’s fibers, reducing ink waste

Suppose you want to try this eco-friendly printing technique for personal or promotional purposes. If so, you can rely on our team of professionals to create durable and customizable clothing pieces.

Is Discharge Ink Screen Printing Eco-Friendly
Source: thrivescreenprinting.com


What is discharge ink screen printing? Learning about it is crucial to discovering why your favorite dark-colored printed shirt may feel so soft. This printing method only works on dark garments made of natural fibers to make the designs high-quality, comfortable, and intricate.