How to remove sublimation ink from tumbler, shirt, and mugs?

Finding the right solution to remove sublimation ink can be quite a daunting task. Believe me, I’ve been there and spent countless hours researching the best ways to eliminate these persistent stains.

This article details proven techniques using common household items like denatured alcohol and vinegar to effectively remove sublimation ink from various surfaces like shirts, mugs, glass, and metal.

Ready for a clean sweep? Let’s dive in!

How to remove sublimation ink?

Denatured alcohol

To eliminate stubborn sublimation ink stains from your cherished items, denatured alcohol presents a highly efficient solution. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Start by draping a protective layer over your workspace to maintain cleanliness.
  2. Pour some denatured alcohol into a small bowl or container.
  3. Grab a cotton ball and soak it in the denatured alcohol until fully saturated.
  4. With gentle strokes, apply this soaked cotton ball directly onto the sublimated spot of your item; commonly used on shirts, mugs, or metal tumblers.
  5. Repeat this dabbing process until you notice the ink starting to fade away.
  6. Once you’ve achieved significant fading, continue with more soaked cotton balls as needed until the ink is entirely removed.

Cold water

To remove sublimation ink from your garments, one effective method is the cold water method. This technique can be easily done at home and requires minimal supplies. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with cold water.
  2. Place the garment with the sublimation ink stain into the cold water.
  3. Gently agitate the fabric to help loosen the ink.
  4. Let the garment soak in the cold water for about 15 – 30 minutes.
  5. After soaking, check if the sublimation ink has started to fade or come off.
  6. If necessary, lightly rub the stained area with your fingers or a soft cloth to encourage further ink removal.
  7. Once you’re satisfied with the results, rinse the garment thoroughly under cold running water to remove any residual ink and soap.
  8. Finally, launder the garment as usual.


Applying heat is another effective method for removing sublimation ink from various surfaces. Here are some techniques you can try:

  1. Ironing Method: Place a clean cloth or paper towel over the sublimation ink stain and apply heat using an iron set to medium-high heat. Gently press down on the cloth or paper towel and move the iron in circular motions for about 30 seconds to a minute. Check periodically to see if the ink is transferring onto the cloth. Repeat this process until the stain is completely lifted.
  2. Heat Gun Method: Use a heat gun on low to medium heat setting and aim it directly at the sublimation ink stain. Keep the heat gun moving back and forth over the stained area, maintaining a distance of about 4-6 inches from the surface. The heat from the gun will cause the ink to liquefy, making it easier to wipe away with a clean cloth or sponge.
  3. Hairdryer Method: Set your hairdryer to its highest temperature setting and aim it at the sublimation ink stain. Keep moving the dryer around constantly so that you do not focus too much heat on one spot for too long, which could damage or scorch delicate fabrics or surfaces. As you direct hot air onto the stain, use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot away the melted ink.

Soda water

One effective method for removing sublimation ink is by using a soda water solution. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Pour soda water into a bowl or container.
  • Soak the affected area of the fabric or surface in the soda water for about 10 minutes.
  • Gently scrub the area with a soft brush or sponge to help lift and loosen the ink.
  • Rinse the fabric or surface thoroughly with cold water to remove any residue.
  • Check if the ink has been completely removed. If not, repeat the process until it is gone.

Pressure washer

When removing sublimation ink from surfaces like shirts, mugs, and metal tumblers, using a pressure washer can be an effective method. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Prepare your pressure washer: Make sure it is set at a low power setting to avoid damaging the surface or spreading the ink further.
  2. Position the item: Place the shirt, mug, or tumbler in a secure position so that it won’t move or get damaged during the process.
  3. Aim and spray: Direct the nozzle of the pressure washer towards the sublimation ink stain on the item. Begin spraying at a distance and gradually bring it closer until you start to see the ink fading away.
  4. Control water pressure: Adjust the water pressure as needed, increasing it slightly if necessary to target stubborn areas or decreasing it if you notice any damage occurring.
  5. Move in a controlled manner: Use smooth and controlled motions while spraying to ensure even coverage across the ink-stained area. Avoid staying in one spot for too long as this may result in unintended effects or damage.
  6. Continue until clean: Repeat these steps as needed until all traces of sublimation ink are removed from the surface.
  • Start with low power settings to avoid damage.
  • Gradually increase water pressure if necessary.
  • Use smooth and controlled motions while spraying.
  • Pay attention to any specific instructions from manufacturers.
  • Exercise caution when working with delicate items like shirts.

How to remove sublimation ink from mugs?

To remove sublimation ink from mugs, there are specific techniques you can try. Nail polish remover can be used by applying it to a cotton ball and rubbing it on the ink stains. Another method involves using a dishwasher or toaster oven to heat the mug and then gently scrubbing away the ink with a sponge or cloth.

White vinegar is also effective when soaked in a bowl and leaving the mug submerged for some time. These techniques provide targeted solutions for removing sublimation ink from mugs effectively.

Nail polish remover

To remove sublimation ink from mugs, another effective method is using nail polish remover. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by ensuring that the mug is clean and dry before proceeding with the removal process.
  2. Take a cotton ball or pad and soak it with nail polish remover.
  3. Gently dab the soaked cotton ball onto the sublimated area of the mug.
  4. Continue dabbing and rubbing in circular motions, applying slight pressure to lift off the ink.
  5. As you work on removing the ink, you may need to switch to a fresh cotton ball or pad if it becomes too saturated with ink.
  6. Keep repeating the process until all traces of sublimation ink are removed from the mug.
  • Use caution when working with nail polish remover as it can be flammable.
  • Work in a well – ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes.
  • Avoid contact with skin and eyes, and wash hands thoroughly after handling nail polish remover.
  • If you’re unable to remove all traces of sublimation ink using this method, consider trying other techniques mentioned in this article.

Dishwasher and toaster oven

I’ve found that the dishwasher and toaster oven method is a quick and easy way to remove sublimation ink from mugs. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Preheat your toaster oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the sublimated mug upside down on the top rack of your dishwasher.
  3. Run a regular cycle with hot water and detergent.
  4. After the dishwasher cycle is complete, carefully remove the mug and place it in the preheated toaster oven.
  5. Leave the mug in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes to allow the heat to break down the sublimation ink.
  6. Carefully take out the mug using oven mitts or heat-resistant gloves, as it will be hot.
  7. Use a soft cloth or sponge soaked in warm soapy water to scrub off any remaining ink residue.
  8. Rinse the mug thoroughly under running water to remove any soap residue.
  9. Dry the mug completely before using or decorating it again.

White vinegar

White vinegar is a versatile household ingredient that can be used to effectively remove sublimation ink from ceramic mugs. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Fill a bowl or basin with white vinegar.
  2. Submerge the sublimated mug in the vinegar, ensuring that the ink-stained area is fully immersed.
  3. Let the mug soak in the vinegar for at least 30 minutes.
  4. After soaking, gently scrub the stained area with a soft sponge or cloth.
  5. Rinse the mug thoroughly with water to remove any residual vinegar and ink particles.
  6. If needed, repeat the process until all traces of sublimation ink are removed.

How to remove sublimation ink from tumblers?

Removing sublimation ink from stainless steel tumblers and metal surfaces can be a bit trickier compared to shirts or mugs. However, with the right techniques, you can effectively get rid of those unwanted ink stains.

One method is to use rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. Simply pour some rubbing alcohol onto the cotton ball and gently scrub the stained area until the ink starts to fade away.

Another effective technique is using white vinegar. Fill a bowl with vinegar and soak your stainless steel tumbler or metal surface in it for about 30 minutes. Then, use a soft cloth or sponge to scrub off any remaining ink stains.

If you’re looking for a faster solution, consider using an oven, such as a toaster oven. Preheat the oven to around 375°F (190°C) and place your tumbler or metal surface inside for about 10-15 minutes.

Make sure to keep an eye on it during this time to avoid any damage.

Remember that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to sublimation ink spills on stainless steel tumblers or metal surfaces. Always handle your printing materials carefully and protect these surfaces with masking tape before starting your sublimation process.

By following these methods, you can safely remove sublimation ink from stainless steel tumblers and other metal surfaces without causing any damage or discoloration. Keep in mind that not all techniques may work perfectly for every situation, so it’s essential to test them out on small areas first before applying them widely.

I hope these tips help you successfully remove sublimation ink from your stainless steel tumblers and metal surfaces!

How to avoid mistakes with sublimation ink?

As a sublimation maker, it’s important to avoid mistakes when working with sublimation ink. Here are some tips to help you prevent common issues and ensure the best results:

  1. Use high-quality sublimation ink: Investing in good quality ink is crucial for achieving vibrant and long-lasting prints. Inferior ink can lead to faded or blurry designs.
  2. Store your ink properly: Proper storage of sublimation ink is essential for maintaining its quality. Keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent degradation.
  3. Shake the ink before use: Sublimation ink tends to settle over time, so make sure to shake the bottle well before using it. This helps distribute the color evenly and ensures consistent printing results.
  4. Conduct regular printer maintenance: Maintaining your printer is key to avoiding issues with sublimation ink. Clean the print heads regularly and perform any necessary calibrations to ensure optimal performance.
  5. Use the correct settings: Different printers have different settings for sublimation printing. Consult your printer’s manual or manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure you’re using the right settings for your specific model.
  6. Test print before production: Before printing on your final substrate, it’s always a good idea to do a test print on a sample piece of fabric or paper first. This allows you to check colors, resolution, and overall print quality before committing to larger production runs.
  7. Choose appropriate substrates: Not all materials are suitable for sublimation printing. Make sure you select substrates that are specifically designed for this process and can handle high temperatures without warping or discoloring.
  8. Avoid excessive heat exposure: Overheating can cause sublimation ink to spread beyond the intended design area, leading to blurred images or color bleeding. Follow recommended temperature guidelines and avoid prolonged exposure to heat during pressing.
  9. Mirror your designs correctly: When printing designs for sublimation, remember to mirror them horizontally. This ensures that the final image appears correctly when transferred onto the substrate.
  10. Handle with care: Sublimation ink is sensitive and can easily smudge or transfer if mishandled. Be careful when handling freshly printed materials and avoid touching the ink until it has fully dried.


1. Can sublimation ink be removed from fabric?

Unfortunately, once sublimation ink is heat-set onto fabric, it becomes permanent and cannot be easily removed without damaging the material.

2. How can I remove sublimation ink stains from my clothes?

To try and remove sublimation ink stains from clothing, you can try using a pre-treatment stain remover or a laundry detergent specifically designed for removing tough stains. However, there is no guarantee that the stain will completely come out.

3. Is there a way to remove sublimation ink from hard surfaces?

Sublimation ink tends to bond strongly with hard surfaces like ceramics or metals, making it difficult to remove. Some suggestions include using specialized cleaners made for these materials or gently sanding the surface if appropriate.


In conclusion, there are several effective methods for removing sublimation ink from various surfaces such as shirts, mugs, and metal tumblers. By utilizing common household items like denatured alcohol, vinegar, or cold water, you can safely and easily eliminate unwanted sublimation ink stains.

Remember to follow the specific techniques outlined in this guide to achieve optimal results. With these simple yet powerful solutions at your disposal, you can effortlessly restore your sublimated creations back to their original condition.

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