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How to Prevent Graphic T-Shirts from Cracking

May 20, 2023

Graphic tees are popular and for good reason – they’re stylish, comfortable, versatile, and affordable. That’s not all, they’re also a great way to express yourself.

There’s just one issue – the graphic tends to ‘crack’ over time. While it doesn’t make the tee unwearable by any means, it can affect its look.

What’s the best way to wash graphic tees? How can you prevent them from ‘cracking’? What type of detergent should you use? Find out here!

How to Prevent Graphic Logo T-Shirts From Cracking

graphic t-shirt crackingThere are a few things you can do to prevent the graphic print from ‘cracking’. Here are some tips.

Turn Your Graphic shirts Inside Out in the Washer

Friction can cause the ink to loosen and flake during the wash cycle. To prevent that, turn your graphic t-shirt inside out before loading it into the machine.

Not only will that minimize the risk of friction damage but it will also prevent the colors from fading.

Always Wash With Cold Water

Hot water is great for stains but it’s not so great for washing printed t-shirts. For one thing, the high heat can be quite harsh on the fabric, whether it’s polyester or cotton.

It can also dry up the ink, which can lead to premature ‘cracking. Given that, it’s best to use a cold setting when you’re washing a graphic tee.

Select the Gentlest Setting

how to wash graphic teesAlways use the gentlest setting if you’re using the washing machine. That will reduce the amount of friction that your graphic tees will come into contact with.

If possible, use a washing machine without an agitator. While they’re effective for cleaning, they’re also rough on clothes. So skip that if you can! The same goes for fabric softeners – it’s best to avoid them.

Do Not Tumble Dry

Graphic T-shirts don’t do well with heat. Given that, it’s best to skip the dryer altogether – even the tumble-low setting can cause the ink to crack.

Hang the shirts up on a clothesline instead. A drying rack also works great.

If you must use the dryer, choose the low heat setting.

Do Not Iron Your Graphic T-Shirts

Ironing your t-shirts regularly can make the graphic peel and crack prematurely. If you must iron your t-shirt, use the lowest possible temperature setting and turn the garment inside out beforehand. Never apply the iron directly onto the fabric.

To prevent your graphic tees from wrinkling in the future, take them out of the dryer while they’re still warm and store them properly on a hanger.

Do Not Put Them Under Direct Sunlight

Avoid putting your graphic tees under direct sunlight. While the UV rays will help kill bacteria on the fabric, the heat can also distort and damage the ink on your shirt, which can lead to premature wear and tear.

Hand Wash Your Graphic T-Shirts

how to hand wash graphic tees to prevent crackingUsing the washing machine may be a convenient way to wash your clothes but it’s not the best choice for graphic tees.

Even on the gentle setting, they will get tossed around inside the drum, and that over time, can cause the prints to crack.

To prevent that, wash your graphic tees by hand.

How to Wash Graphic Tees by Hand:

Start by filling a sink with cold water. Mix in some mild detergent like the one by ACTIVE to create a soapy mixture.

Turn your graphic t-shirt inside out and place it in the sink so that the fabric is completely immersed in the solution. For the best results, let it soak for 15 to 30 minutes.

Gently wash the fabric afterward by massaging it with your fingers. Rinse the shirt with clean water when you’re done and line dry or air dry on a clothing rack.

Do not wring the t-shirt – that can damage the ink and fabric.

Alternate Between Your Graphic Tees

how to prevent graphic tees from crackingHave a graphic t-shirt that you’re particularly fond of? Fight off the urge to wear it every day. Alternate it with the rest of your wardrobe instead – that way, it’ll last much longer.

Do Not Use Too Much Laundry Detergent

Follow the product instructions when you’re adding your gentle detergent – only add the necessary amount.

If you add too much, detergent will get embedded in the clothing fibers.

To get it out, you’ll probably have to run an additional wash cycle, which means you’ll be exposing your graphic tee to more friction.

Invest in a Laundry Bag

washing instructions for graphic teesPutting your graphic t-shirts in a mesh laundry bag is a great way to prevent them from getting damaged. The bag will act as a physical barrier and stop them from rubbing against your other clothes, meaning they’ll look new for longer.

If you want to be extra careful, turn your graphic tees inside out before placing them in the mesh bag.

Best Laundry Detergent For Graphic T-Shirts

ACTIVE Detergent is the best choice when it comes to washing graphic t-shirts. Not only is it gentle and effective but it can also be used as a stain remover – just dissolve the powder with some water, apply it to the fabric, and away you go.

It’s also free of harmful chemicals like preservatives and fragrances, which makes it ideal for those with skin sensitivities.

Washing a Graphic Tee – FAQs

Should you wash a graphic T-shirt with cold or hot water?

Always wash your graphic tees with cold water. You don’t want to expose them to unnecessary heat as that can cause the design to crack and peel prematurely.

What’s the best way to machine wash a graphic t-shirt?

Turn the printed t-shirts inside out, place them in a mesh laundry bag, and run a cold water cycle on a delicate setting. Avoid chemicals like fabric softeners and bleach.

How can you prevent a graphic tee from cracking?

Avoid exposing your T-shirts to heat and make a habit of using a mesh laundry bag when machine washing. It’s also a good idea to alternate between your T-shirts – that way, you can wash each of them less often.

Is it better to hand-wash graphic T-shirts?

Hand washing will always be more gentle than machine washing. For one thing, the T-shirt won’t be tumbled around, nor will it rub against your other clothes.

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Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

Comment (1)

  • Sarah Packer Reply

    My son owns a lot of printed t-shirts, so I wanted tips and advice on washing them better. I didn’t know you should wash your graphic tees with cold water, so it doesn’t crack when the ink dries on the shirt. I’ll have to keep that in mind, so when my son buys more shirts, they can last longer, thanks to this post!

    August 19, 2019 at 8:15 am

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