If you’re in the Direct To Garment printing business then you know the Red Tshirt is not like the others… Like a true red head it’s fiery and passionate, but can be temperamental and difficult!

If you haven’t heard about the woes of printing on red shirts then this post is a good tutorial for you.

The issue with most red shirts is the way the red dye in the materials reacts with the printer ink. In this situation, the pretreat process is crucial to the success of your print. If you use too much pretreat it will appear as a stain on the fabric and you will see the pretreatment spots/staining. Obviously, this is not something you want to present in your product to customers.

For red Tshirts, use pretreat for dark-colored fabrics, since you will most likely need a white base layer under the ink. Use more than you would typically spray on a white Tshirt, but less than you would use for a black Tshirt.

[embedplusvideo height=”200″ width=”450″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1cZPSfp” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/_zLHIhMtbNI?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=_zLHIhMtbNI&width=450&height=200&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep1903″ /]

When curing the shirt with a heat press machine, lower the temperature. The normal setting is 350 degrees Fahrenheit, but for red materials you should lower the temp to 340 degrees. Keep the shirt in the heat press for about 20-30 seconds or until the pretreat is completely dry. When the shirt is removed from the press, you may see some dark discoloration where the material is connected with heat. This is normal; it’s the red dye reacting with the heat. Fortunately, it’s temporary and should return to its original color in about 10 minutes or less.

                                                                                        Immediately after Heat Press Exposure

10 Minutes Later


This is an example of what a Red Tshirt should look like after proper pretreat and heat press application. Special thanks to Maria Cervantes, the “Staff Pick Winner” of our T shirt Design Contest for letting us use her image for this demo!

Over pretreating a red T shirt can result in permanent spotting on the material. As an example of what NOT to Do, I sprayed dark pretreat down the middle of this shirt about 6 times.

Immediately After Applying Pretreat            Immediately After Heat Press Exposure


The over use of the pretreat is evident by the slight discoloration above the image near the collar in the final product.

The staining is faint and looks very similar to a water spot, but customers will notice the discoloration. High-quality products are what your customers will expect, and a mistake like this just might cost you the sale.

Now let’s do a quick recap!

1) Proper pretreatment is KEY

  • Use dark pretreat solution
  • Spray more than you would use for a white tee, but less than you would use on a black tee

2) Heat press

  • Lower the temperature to 340 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Some discoloration from the heat is normal and should fade away in about 10 minutes

Remember, too much pretreat will create spotting and a stained look so make sure you experiment with the pretreat process on red T shirts before completing an order to save yourself time and money later.

Have you had a similar experience on printing red Tshirts? Tell us what happened and how you handled the issue!


OmniPrint International