What is discharge printing?

Discharge printing is a screen printing process where the same techniques and equipment are used but instead of normal ink, discharge inks are used, which remove the shirt’s dye instead of putting a color on top of the shirt.

It is somewhat similar to bleaching in a design, except it doesn’t damage the fibers like bleaching would. It results in an extremely soft print, and shows the weave of the shirt.

It can be used by itself, as an underbase for other colors to be put on top, or with pigments added.

Pigmenting discharge can be difficult to achieve exact color results, as the discharge efficacy affects the color, and what you see is not what you get when mixing the pigments, but it can still be a great way to achieve colors on dark garments.

Some of what we have discharge printed before

Example discharge printing

3 color discharge print for an indoor volleyball arena.

2 color discharge print for a coffee shop, as modeled by Adam himself.

4 color discharge print!

Red and white discharge print for a band.

A fine detail zoom in on discharge ink. The white area has been printed with non-pigmented discharge, and the shirt fiber's original color is showing. That's why the print is so soft.

White discharge ink combined with black waterbased ink for the outlines.

One color print on both the front and sleeve of a shirt. And notice the custom inside tag work too!

Vibrant whites, reds and yellows give some variety to the same sleeve print within an order.

Simple white discharge print on a tri-blend shirt. You won't get a super vibrant white on tri-blend because it's only partially cotton, but it can look really cool still.

Discharge ink works on light shirt colors too, and can be used for photographic prints like this one of a hot air balloon.

A 3 color print on a solid gray shirt. Using negative space within the design makes it look more like a 4 color print.

Bright orange discharge print on a kelly green shirt for a coffee shop.

Positives of Discharge Screen Printing

• Very cool technique that removes the dye from the shirt

• Something different from screen printing “norms”

• We offer discharge printing at no additional charge. In fact, it’s often cheaper than traditional ink because it takes less layers

• Little to no feeling of the print on the shirt

• Vibrant colors

• Still able to do a great amount of detail

• The best way to print on dark shirts with non-traditional inks

Negatives of Discharge Printing

• Some styles may discharge better than others

• Not all shirt colors will discharge (royal blue never works well, for example)

• Process can be quirky

• Can be hard to use for photographic style or process printing

• Only works on natural fibers, like cotton, so 50/50 doesn’t discharge as well

But don’t worry, we are experts and will let you know how best to use discharge ink for your project, and if it should be used.

What does discharge feel like?

Discharge is soft. We keep saying that, but it's true.

People always notice how soft the printing is when they feel it. They say "you can't even feel it on the shirt!"

After being first printed, you do feel the discharge print a little bit on the shirt sometimes, but that goes away after the first time the shirt is washed.

Once it's washed, you can't tell where the design ends on the shirt because the design basically sits inside the shirt, so it's all soft and nice. That's part of the reason we're obsessed with discharge printing.

Why use discharge ink?

Discharge printing benefits

Noticeably soft

Since the design is in the shirt instead of on the shirt, the printing is as soft as the shirt itself

vibrant colors

Rich beautiful colors are possible, and we can match the print to your pantone codes


Discharge is a premium service but doesn't cost much more, if any more, than traditional ink

Stands out

Most printers and shirts still use the heavier traditional inks, so by using discharge ink you're already ahead

Why use Vacord for discharge?

Vacord has been a pioneer in discharge printing since 2008, when we got our first sample jar of discharge ink and became fascinated by the product. Shortly after that, we wrote openly about proper discharge printing techniques and became well known for it. Since then, we've further honed the craft.

When Fruit of the Loom wanted to test their shirts with discharge printing, they hired Vacord, and our experiments were written up in Impressions magazine, an industry publication.

We love discharge, we excel at it, and we want to print it for your projects.

Have questions about discharge printing? Want to get pricing?

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Let us know what questions you may have, or what your project would be like.

Not sure of all your answers? That's fine. You don't have to have everything figured out to get the conversation started. We can guide you to the best results.

Other ways to talk about your project

Email us at info@vacord.com

Call 888-787-4587

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