How to use sublimation spray for cotton?

Want to get the most out of your sublimation printing on cotton fabric but struggling with fading colors? Trust me, I’ve been there. With my experience and extensive research around this topic, I learned that using a specific product – sublimation spray, can greatly enhance the vibrancy and longevity of your designs.

This article: How to use sublimation spray for cotton? is designed to be your ultimate guide to understanding what sublimation spray is, how it works specifically on cotton fabrics, and detailed steps for you to use it effectively along with some pro tips! Ready to revolutionize your print game? Let’s dive in!

What is sublimation spray?

Sublimation spray is a unique product that is reshaping the world of fabric printing. For those unfamiliar with this game-changing tool, it’s a specially formulated coating applied to certain fabrics such as cotton to make them suitable for sublimation printing.

Sublimation, in essence, is a process where heat changes ink into gas without becoming fluid first, allowing the design to become part of the fabric rather than sitting on top of it.

However, sublimation typically works best on polyester materials. This is where our hero – the sublimation spray steps in! It gives life to cotton and other non-polyester materials by creating an adaptable surface for permanent sublimation designs.

Not just limited to textiles though; you can use these sprays on various surfaces compatible with adhesive or tape too! From adding color vibrancy and protecting your prints against time-related fading or scratches, its benefits are manifold.

With its increased application in custom gift creation due to its versatility, sublimation spray is truly broadening horizons for makers everywhere.

Why need sublimation coating spray for cotton?

As a sublimation maker, you may already be aware of the challenges when it comes to achieving vibrant and long-lasting prints on cotton fabric. That’s where sublimation spray can be a game-changer.

By using a high-quality sublimation spray specifically designed for cotton, you can enjoy several benefits.

First and foremost, using sublimation spray on cotton enhances the permanency of sublimation dyes on the fabric. This means that your printed designs will remain vibrant and sharp even after multiple washes.

And speaking of washing, another benefit is that sublimation sprays offer added protection to prevent scratches, fading, or smudging over time. So you can confidently create custom garments or textiles knowing that they will stand up to everyday wear and tear.

Additionally, using sublimation spray on cotton allows you to transform this natural fiber into one that is compatible with dye sublimation printing. This means you can achieve stunning results with bright colors and intricate details – just like you would on polyester materials.

Plus, depending on the desired effect, these sprays can create glossy or matte finishes for added visual appeal.

How to use sublimation spray for cotton?

To use sublimation spray on cotton fabric, start by preparing the fabric by ensuring it is clean and free of any wrinkles or creases.

Step 1: Preparing the fabric

Before applying sublimation spray to cotton fabric, it is crucial to properly prepare the material for optimal results. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Wash and dry the fabric: Start by washing the cotton fabric with a mild detergent to remove any dirt, oils, or sizing agents that may be present. Avoid using fabric softeners or bleach as they can interfere with the sublimation process. Once washed, tumble dry the fabric on medium heat until it is completely dry.
  2. Iron out any wrinkles: Use a steam iron to remove any stubborn wrinkles from the cotton fabric. Ensure that the fabric is smooth and flat before proceeding with applying the sublimation spray.
  3. Protect your work surface: Place a protective layer, such as a silicone sheet or Teflon sheet, on your work surface to prevent any overspray from damaging it.
  4. Secure the fabric: Lay out the cotton fabric on your work surface and secure it in place using tape or adhesive spray to ensure it remains taut during application.
  5. Lightly mist the fabric: Hold the sublimation spray bottle approximately 6-10 inches away from the fabric at a slight angle. Apply a light mist of sublimation spray evenly across the entire surface of the cotton fabric.
  6. Allow drying time: Let the sprayed fabric air dry completely before proceeding to avoid smudging or uneven results. The drying time can vary depending on humidity levels and room temperature, so it’s best to wait until there is no longer any visible moisture.

Step 2: Applying the spray

To achieve the best results when using sublimation spray on cotton, it is important to follow the proper application process. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply the spray effectively:

  1. Start with clean and dry cotton fabric: Make sure the fabric you are using is clean and free from any dirt or debris. It is recommended to wash and dry the fabric before applying the sublimation spray.
  2. Shake the spray bottle well: Before applying the sublimation spray, give the bottle a good shake to ensure that all the ingredients are properly mixed.
  3. Hold the spray bottle at a distance: When applying the spray, hold the bottle about 6 to 8 inches away from the fabric. This will help ensure an even application without saturating the fabric.
  4. Apply a light mist over the fabric: Spray a light mist of sublimation spray evenly over the entire surface of the cotton fabric. Avoid spraying too much as it may result in excessive saturation and affect the final print quality.
  5. Allow time for drying: After applying the sublimation spray, allow sufficient drying time as recommended by the manufacturer. This generally takes around 15 to 20 minutes but can vary depending on factors such as humidity and temperature.
  6. Press with heat: Once dry, place a protective sheet or parchment paper over your sublimated cotton fabric and press it with a heat press machine set at an appropriate temperature and pressure for sublimation printing on cotton. Follow specific instructions provided by your heat press machine manufacturer.
  7. Remove protective sheet: After pressing, carefully remove the protective sheet or parchment paper from your sublimated cotton fabric, being mindful not to smudge or damage your design.

Step 3: Drying and pressing the fabric

After applying the sublimation spray on your cotton fabric, there are a few important steps to follow to ensure the best results. Here’s a step-by-step guide on drying and pressing the fabric for successful sublimation:

  1. Allow Sufficient Drying Time: After spraying the fabric, it’s crucial to let it air dry completely before moving on to the next step. This typically takes around 10-15 minutes but can vary depending on the specific sublimation spray used. Make sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying times.
  2. Press with a Heat Press Machine: Once the fabric is dry, it’s time to press it using a heat press machine. Set the correct temperature and time according to the sublimation spray instructions or based on your experience with similar cotton materials.
  3. Use Protective Paper or Teflon Sheets: To prevent any unwanted transfer of ink or residue onto your heat press machine, place a protective sheet such as silicone paper or Teflon sheet over both sides of your fabric before pressing.
  4. Apply Even Pressure: When placing your fabric in the heat press machine, make sure it is flat and wrinkle-free. Apply even pressure across the whole surface by closing the heat press firmly.
  5. Follow Recommended Temperature and Time Settings: Refer back to the manufacturer’s instructions for recommended temperature and time settings specific to your sublimation spray and cotton fabric blend.
  6. Peel Hot or Cold? Depending on the type of sublimation spray you’re using, you may need to peel off any protective paper while the fabric is still hot or after it has cooled down completely. Again, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper peeling guidelines.
  7. Inspect Your Sublimated Design: Once you’ve completed these steps, carefully inspect your sublimated design for any imperfections or areas that require touch-ups. If necessary, repeat the spraying and pressing process until you achieve the desired results.

Tips for successful sublimation on cotton

To achieve successful sublimation on cotton, it’s important to choose the right sublimation spray for your fabric and properly test and adjust settings to ensure optimal results. Additionally, proper care and maintenance of sublimated cotton products will help preserve the longevity of the vibrant designs.

1. Choosing the right sublimation spray

When it comes to choosing the right sublimation spray, there are a few important factors to consider. First and foremost, make sure that the spray you select is specifically designed for use on cotton fabric.

Look for products that claim to allow sublimation on 100% cotton or cotton blends, as these will provide the best results. Additionally, consider the finish you want for your printed designs – whether it’s glossy or matte.

Different sprays offer different finishes, so choose one that aligns with your desired outcome. Lastly, take into account any specific instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure success in achieving vibrant and long-lasting sublimation prints on cotton materials.

2. Testing and adjusting settings

Testing and adjusting settings is an important step in achieving the best results with sublimation spray on cotton. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Start with a sample fabric: Before applying sublimation spray on your final product, it is recommended to test it on a small piece of fabric first. This will allow you to see how the colors and details turn out before committing to a larger project.
  2. Adjust the spray nozzle: Different sprays may have different nozzle settings that can affect the amount of spray being applied. It’s important to make sure the nozzle is adjusted properly for a consistent and even application.
  3. Test different pressures: The pressure at which you apply the spray can also impact the final result. Experiment with different pressures to find what works best for your specific project.
  4. Control drying time: Drying time can vary depending on factors such as humidity and temperature. Keep track of how long it takes for the sprayed fabric to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
  5. Test different temperatures: When using a heat press, experimenting with different temperatures can help determine the ideal setting for achieving vibrant and durable sublimation prints on cotton.
  6. Monitor color accuracy: As with any printing process, color accuracy is important. Test multiple designs and observe how they look after sublimating on cotton fabric.
  7. Fine-tune saturation levels: By adjusting the saturation level of your design, you can achieve a desired effect, whether it’s more vibrant or subtler hues.
  8. Evaluate durability: After completing sublimation on cotton, check how well the colors hold up through washing and wearing tests to ensure longevity of your printed designs.

3. Proper care and maintenance of sublimated cotton products

Taking proper care of your sublimated cotton products is essential to ensure their longevity and vibrancy. Here are some important tips for maintaining your sublimated cotton items:

  1. Wash with care: Always wash your sublimated cotton products separately or with like colors using a gentle cycle and cold water. Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, as they can damage the sublimation print.
  2. Turn inside out: Before tossing your sublimated cotton garments into the washing machine, turn them inside out. This helps protect the printed design from friction and potential fading.
  3. Use mild detergent: Opt for a mild detergent specifically formulated for delicate fabrics when washing your sublimated cotton items. Harsh chemicals can cause the colors to fade or bleed.
  4. Avoid high heat: When drying your sublimated cotton products, it’s best to air dry or use a low-heat setting on your dryer. High heat can damage both the fabric and the sublimation print.
  5. Do not iron directly on the print: Ironing directly on the printed design can cause it to melt or lose its vibrancy. Instead, turn your garment inside out and iron it on a low-heat setting, without steam.
  6. Store properly: To prevent any unintended damage, store your sublimated cotton products in cool, dry places away from direct sunlight. Folding them neatly will help maintain their shape and prevent creasing.
  7. Handle with care: While sublimation prints are durable, rough handling can still cause damage over time. Be mindful when wearing or storing your sublimated cotton items to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.


1. What is sublimation spray used for?

Sublimation spray is used to transfer designs onto various materials, such as fabric or ceramics, using a heat press. It helps the ink penetrate the surface of the material and creates vibrant and long-lasting prints.

2. How do I use sublimation spray?

To use sublimation spray, first, clean the surface of your material to ensure proper adhesion. Then, apply an even coat of the spray onto the area you want to print on. Allow it to dry completely before proceeding with your sublimation process.

3. Can I use any type of ink with sublimation spray?

No, sublimation sprays are designed specifically for use with sublimation inks. These inks have special properties that allow them to turn from a solid into a gas when heated, resulting in vibrant and permanent prints.

4. Are there any safety precautions I should take when using sublimation spray?

When using any kind of chemical product like sublimation sprays, it’s important to follow proper safety protocols. Make sure to work in a well-ventilated area or wear a mask if necessary. Avoid direct contact with eyes or skin and keep out of reach of children and pets.


In conclusion, mastering the art of using sublimation spray on cotton opens up a world of possibilities for sublimation makers. With the right technique and high-quality spray, it is possible to achieve vibrant, long-lasting prints on this challenging fabric.

By following proper instructions and testing different settings, sublimation sprays can transform cotton into a compatible material for dye sublimation, allowing for personalized creations that are both professional and durable—making them perfect for custom gifts or enhancing your own product line.

So go ahead and unleash your creativity with sublimation spray on cotton!

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