How to Remove Screen Printing Ink from Your Screens

How to Remove Screen Printing Ink from Your Screens


Screen printing is a popular and versatile method of transferring designs onto various garments. After a successful print run, it's essential to know how to remove screen printing ink from your screens effectively. This guide will walk you through the process and ensure that your screens remain in optimal condition for future projects.

What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing, also known as silk screening or serigraphy, is a technique that involves pushing ink through a stencil or mesh screen onto a substrate. This method has been used for centuries to create vibrant, long-lasting designs on various surfaces. The process can be manual or automated, depending on the scale and complexity of the project.

Types of Screen Printing Inks

There are several types of screen printing inks, each with different properties and requirements for removal. Understanding the characteristics of these inks is essential when it comes to cleaning your screens effectively.

Screen print inks

Example of plastisol inks

Plastisol Inks

Plastisol inks are the most common type of ink used in screen printing due to their durability, opacity, and ease of use. They are composed of PVC particles suspended in a plasticizer, which makes them resistant to water and solvents. To remove plastisol inks, you'll need to use a specific solvent designed for this purpose.

Water-Based Inks

Water-based inks are more eco-friendly and easier to clean up compared to plastisol inks. As the name suggests, these inks are primarily composed of water, making them easier to remove with water and mild detergents.

Discharge Inks

Discharge inks are a type of water-based ink that contains a bleaching agent. This agent allows the ink to remove the dye from the fabric, leaving the design in its place. Because discharge inks are water-based, they can be cleaned up similarly to other water-based inks.

Importance of Properly Cleaning Screens

Properly cleaning your screens is crucial for maintaining their longevity and ensuring the quality of your future prints. If ink residue remains on the screen, it can block the mesh openings, preventing ink from passing through and causing print defects. Additionally, screens can become weakened or damaged if not cleaned and stored correctly.

Screen print cleaning

Example of properly cleaning ink from a screen used for screen printing

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Screen Printing Ink

Preparing Your Workspace

Before starting the ink removal process, make sure you have a clean and well-ventilated workspace. This will help prevent contamination and ensure that you have a safe environment for working with solvents.

Removing Ink with a Solvent

Depending on the type of ink used, you may need to use a solvent to break down and remove the ink from the screen. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the specific solvent you're using.

Types of Solvents

Different solvents are suitable for different types of inks. For plastisol inks, you'll need a plastisol ink remover, which is specifically designed to break down the PVC particles in the ink. For water-based and discharge inks, a mild detergent or a specialized screen printing ink remover can be used.

Safety Tips for Using Solvents

Working with solvents can be hazardous, so it's essential to take safety precautions. Always wear protective gloves and eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Avoid inhaling fumes, and keep solvents away from open flames or heat sources.

Washing the Screen

After applying the appropriate solvent to the screen, you'll need to wash the screen to remove the ink and solvent residue thoroughly.

Using a Pressure Washer

A pressure washer can be an effective tool for removing ink from your screens. Place the screen on a flat surface, and use the pressure washer to spray water from the top down, ensuring that you cover the entire screen. Be cautious not to use too much pressure, as this can damage the mesh.

Hand Washing

If you don't have access to a pressure washer, you can also wash the screen by hand. Fill a large sink or tub with warm water and a mild detergent, and gently scrub the screen using a soft brush or sponge. Be sure to rinse the screen thoroughly to remove all traces of ink and detergent.

Drying and Storing the Screen

Once the screen is clean, gently shake off excess water and lay it flat to air dry. Ensure the screen is thoroughly dry before storing it to prevent mold or mildew growth. Store screens vertically in a clean, dry area, and avoid stacking them to prevent damage.


Removing screen printing ink from your screens is an essential step in maintaining the quality and longevity of your screen printing equipment. By following these steps and using the appropriate solvents and cleaning techniques, you can ensure that your screens are ready for your next print run. Remember always to prioritize safety and proper storage when working with screen printing materials.


Q1: Can I use household cleaning products to clean my screens?

A1: While some household cleaning products may work for water-based inks, it's best to use specialized screen printing ink removers or mild detergents to ensure the best results.

Q2: How often should I clean my screens?

A2: Screens should be cleaned immediately after each print run to prevent ink from drying and clogging the mesh.

Q3: Can I use a regular washer and dryer to clean my screens?

A3: It's not recommended to use a washer and dryer, as the agitation and heat can damage the screens. Stick to hand washing or using a pressure washer, and air dry the screens.

Q4: Can I reuse a screen after removing the ink?

A4: Yes, if properly cleaned and maintained, screens can be reused for multiple print runs.

Q5: How can I prevent ink from drying on my screens during printing?

A5: To prevent ink from drying on your screens, keep them flooded with ink during printing, and avoid leaving them exposed to air for extended periods.

Screen Printing Resources:


Unveiling the Best Screen Printing Machines for Beginners: Your Ultimate Guide

How to Choose the Right Screen Printing Press for Your Business: A Comprehensive Guide

The Ultimate Screen Printing Kit Buying Guide


A Beginner's Guide to Screen Printing Inks

Why Water-Based Screen Printing Ink is the Future

The Benefits of Using Discharge Screen Printing Ink


How to Choose the Right Screen Printing Mesh for Your Project

Everything You Need to Know About Screen Printing Frames

The Ultimate Guide to Screen Printing Emulsion


7 Essential Screen Printing Techniques for Beginners

How to Screen Print on Fabric: A Beginner's Guide

The Basics of Screen Printing on Paper


Get Custom Screen Printing for Your Business or Event

Find Screen Printing Services Near You

The Best Online Screen Printing Services for Your Business


The Essential Screen Printing Supplies You Need

How to Remove Screen Printing Ink from Your Screens

The Ultimate Guide to Screen Printing Squeegees

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