What You Should Know About Discharge Printing

Extreme Screen Prints
September 8, 2023
What You Should Know About Discharge Printing

Discharge screen printing is a popular technique in the world of customized apparel. It offers unique benefits and results compared to traditional screen-printing methods. If you're considering discharge screen printing for your custom clothing needs, there's much to learn. We'll teach you what you need to know about discharge printing so you can better understand this unique printing technique and decide whether it's right for your needs.

What Is Discharge Screen Printing?

Discharge screen printing is common in the textile printing industry and results in vibrant and soft-to-the-touch prints. Unlike traditional screen printing, that relies on thick layers of ink to produce designs, discharge screen printing uses a special ink that removes or "discharges" the original color of the fabric. This makes it possible to print light colors on dark garments and achieve a soft feel.

This process offers numerous benefits. Some advantages include top-quality designs, vibrant colors, and unmatched durability. Discharge screen printing is ideal for sweatshirts, T-shirts, and other items made from natural fibers like cotton.

How Does Discharge Screen Printing Work?

Discharge screen printing is a multi-step process. We’ll delve into the steps so you can better understand how it works.

Design Preparation

The process begins with the preparation of the design or artwork. The design is digitally separated into layers by color and saved in a format ideal for creating a stencil, or screen.

Screen Preparation

In this step, a polyester mesh screen is coated with a layer of light-reactive emulsion. The emulsion covers all areas on the screen where ink should not pass through.

Exposing the Screen

The design layers are printed on transparent film, placed on the screen, and exposed to UV light, which hardens the emulsion. This creates a stencil of the design on the screen.

Ink Mixing

The discharge ink, which consists of water-based ink and a discharge agent, is carefully mixed to ensure the right consistency and color.


The screen is placed on top of the fabric, and the discharge ink mixture is spread evenly across the screen. The ink flows through the exposed design areas onto the fabric, creating the print.


The fabric is placed into a dryer or under a heat source, which activates the discharge agent and removes the dye from the fabric while setting the ink.

Final Inspection

Once the process is complete, each item is inspected for quality before being shipped to the customer.


Working with an experienced professional can make all the difference in achieving the best prints.

Benefits of Discharge Screen Printing

Discharge screen printing brings multiple benefits to the clothing industry. Here are a few ways in which discharge screen printing outshines its counterparts:

Soft-Hand Prints

A standout feature of discharge printing is its ability to create soft prints. The outcome feels smooth to the touch, unlike other printing methods, which can create a rough or bumpy texture. This increases the comfort of the garment, making it ideal for everyday wear.

Vibrant and Long-Lasting Colors

Discharge screen printing techniques transfer vibrant and durable colors onto garments. The process involves removing the dye from the fabric and replacing it with the desired ink color. This means your favorite designs will stay bright and clear for a long time rather than fading or cracking after a few washes.

No Limitations on Garment Colors

With discharge screen printing, you're not limited to printing on light-colored garments. This method works exceptionally well for both light and dark clothing items. It enables a vast range of design options and color combinations to suit your preferences.

Clothing Products That Use Discharge Screen Printing

Another important thing you should know about discharge printing is the type of products it works on. You can apply this technique to various clothing items, including the following:


Discharge screen printing is an excellent choice for T-shirt designs due to its vibrant colors and soft prints. It’s perfect for companies looking to create high-quality branding and promotional tees or fashionable graphic shirts.

Hoodies and Sweatshirts

Thanks to its ability to work on both light and dark garments, discharge screen printing is ideal for customizing hoodies and sweatshirts. The soft prints ensure comfort, and the long-lasting colors turn these clothes into statement pieces in anyone's wardrobe.

Band Merchandise

Bands and musicians want to give their fans merchandise that can withstand numerous washes and maintain its original appearance. Discharge screen printing enables them to create durable and eye-catching merchandise that fans will cherish for years.

Does Discharge Screen Printing Work on Synthetic Fabrics?

You may have heard that discharge screen printing doesn’t work well on synthetic fabrics. Is this true? The short answer is yes. Discharge screen printing works best on 100 percent cotton fabrics. Why is this the case?

Discharge Ink Chemistry

The process of discharge printing involves using a specialized ink that contains a bleaching agent. This agent removes the fabric's original color, allowing the new ink to penetrate and create a crisp, vibrant design. Since synthetic fabrics often have dye-resistant properties or are made with dyeing methods that don't allow the bleaching agent to work, the discharge process isn't as successful on these materials.

Results on Synthetic Fabrics

Though it's possible to use discharge inks on some blends of cotton and synthetic fabrics, the results can be unpredictable. The final print may appear more faded and uneven on synthetic materials compared to the consistent outcomes on 100 percent cotton garments.


Consider exploring other printing techniques if you're looking to print on synthetic fabrics. Water-based and plastisol inks are well-suited for these materials.

Is Discharge Screen Printing Eco-Friendly?

If you’re an eco-conscious individual or company, you may wonder if discharge screen printing is a green process. In most cases, it is! A major benefit of discharge printing is the inks are PVC and phthalate-free. When mixed and used safely, discharge inks produce incredibly soft prints that fuse with the fibers of the fabric. This results in less ink waste.

Discharge screen printing has revolutionized the clothing industry. Whether it's for your personal use or promotional purposes, this screen-printing technique ensures your clothing products retain their charm and quality after multiple washes. Consider discharge screen printing services from Extreme Screen Prints for your next clothing venture. When you rely on professionals like us, you can enjoy the benefits of long-lasting, customizable, and comfortable clothing.

What You Should Know About Discharge Printing
Extreme Screen Prints
Last Updated:
September 8, 2023