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How to Prevent Ink From Rubbing Off Your Promotional Items

Alyssa Mertes

Published: February 18th, 2022

Have you ever accidentally destroyed a photo mug in the dishwasher? Maybe your concert shirt is cracked and isn't as vivid as it used to be. Either way, it can be a serious bummer for the print to come off your favorite custom gifts and branded merch.

Promotional items are special, and you want the design to last for a long time. Here's everything you need to know about preserving the print and keeping everything in great condition!

How to Make a Custom Print Last

It's very easy to make a custom print last, whether it's on a graphic tee, logo coffee mug, or handmade blanket. Above all, you should avoid heat, light, and harsh cycles in dishwashers and washing machines.

Take all of these steps to preserve the ink on your screen printed items:

  • Avoid heat
  • Stay out of UV light
  • Hand wash the items
  • Wear custom apparel at the right times
  • Do not sleep in custom apparel

Avoid Heat

You should hang custom shirts up to air dry rather than putting them in the dryer. It's also important not to leave any printed items in the sun for too long as the heat may cause the ink to fade.

Stay Out of the Light

Don't go toward the light! UV rays can cause the design on your items to fade. For that reason, you should keep promotional items or anything with a custom print away from windows.

Hand Wash

Even if your cups or water bottles are dishwasher safe, it's much better to wash them by hand if they're customized. The same holds true for other promotional items that you may clean like blankets, towels, and tablecloths.

Wear Your Apparel at the Right Times

Is it supposed to rain? Are you doing a paint night with your friends? Think about what you have going on during the day before you put on custom printed clothing.

Do Not Sleep in Custom Apparel

You shouldn't be falling asleep in your favorite personalized t-shirt! Take it off before you hit the hay, and you can avoid cracking the printed design.

These are the general rules of thumb when it comes to keeping ink from rubbing off your custom items. It gets more specific from product to product, so read on for the precautions you can take now to ensure your branded merch lasts for a long time.

How to Stop Ink From Coming Off Custom Kitchenware

Prevent the ink from rubbing off your custom drinkware and cookware by washing by hand. All you need is a kitchen sink full of soapy water, and you're good to go!

Wash all of the following by hand:

3 coffee cups

Custom Coffee Mugs

Wash your coffee mugs by hand to prevent the logo or picture from chipping off. Use cool water and a mild detergent. The dishwasher cycle is a little too harsh and could cause the graphic design to peel away.

2 beer glasses

Personalized Drinking Glasses

Do you have souvenir glasses from your favorite restaurant? Keep the logo in pristine condition by soaking the cups in soapy water and gently washing the inside with a soft sponge.

plastic water bottles

Custom Water Bottles

Not all water bottles are dishwasher safe, and when it comes to custom bottles, it's better to wash them by hand anyway. Do your water bottles have a smell? Pour baking soda inside, let it sit overnight, and wash it out in the morning.

3 plastic cups

Personalized Bowls & Plates

Sure, you love messy spaghetti and BBQ, but this food isn't the best to serve on your custom plates and bowls. Use them for dry foods that can easily be washed away by hand. Better yet, don't use your personalized dinnerware for food at all, but rather use it as decorations in your kitchen!


Custom Cutting Boards

Custom wood, plastic, and marble cutting boards should be washed by hand with a soft sponge. The only exception is if the cutting boards are engraved since there's no ink that can chip off in the dishwasher.

Custom Food Containers

Bring your meal to go with the help of custom food containers! Wash the piece with the printed design using cold water, mild dishwashing soap, and a soft sponge. The non-customized piece, whether it's the lid or box, can go right in the dishwasher.

Personalized kitchenware, like coffee mugs and pint glasses, are very popular as favors for weddings, baby showers, and other milestone events. Do everything you can to make sure they stay in mint condition!

*DISCLAIMER: Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any damage caused by washing your custom kitchen items.

Did you know?

How Do I Keep the Print From Coming Off My Clothes?

You can keep the print from coming off your graphic t-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, and hats by using the right water temperature and detergent. A little bit of mindfulness while washing goes a long way in preserving the design.

Cool people on couch

Graphic T-Shirts

Turn graphic t-shirts inside out before washing to prevent the screen print from fading. It's also a good idea to use cool water and a delicate cycle. Don't put your custom t-shirts in the dryer!

person on bed with records

Custom Sweatshirts

Just like t-shirts, you should turn custom sweatshirts and hoodies inside out to preserve the print. You don't have to wash bulky sweaters and jackets as often as you would tees and tank tops, so put them in the washer only when necessary.

Person with tote bag
baseball hats

Personalized Baseball Hats

You may not think about washing your baseball hats, but it's not a bad idea if they're dirty or sweaty. Preserve the print on the front by cleaning the cap by hand using cool water, dishwasher detergent, and a scrub brush. Hang to air dry.


Custom Knit Beanies

Brr…it's cold out there! Wash your beanies by hand to preserve the design. You can do this in the sink using cool water and a mild laundry detergent. Do not wring or twist the hat to dry at the end, but simply lay it on a towel.

Everybody loves custom clothing! After all, who doesn't have at least one concert tour shirt, sweater printed with a cartoon character, or sports jersey in their closet? Take care of your personalized clothing so it will last for years and years!

*DISCLAIMER: Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any damage caused by washing your custom clothing.

How Do I Protect Items From Sun Damage?

Natural light may cause damage to your promotional items. The best way to protect your products is by limiting their exposure to the sun and staying in the shade whenever possible.

Outdoor Signs & Banners

Be smart about where you set up your outdoor signs and banners. Angle them so they face west to east, and get them printed with UV-resistant ink. Take your signs down at the end of the day if possible, and store them in a dark, dry location.

Lawn Chairs

The best way to keep custom lawn chairs in good condition is by setting them up in the shade. For storage, keep your chairs in a dry location like your garage, basement, or shed. You can also buy special UV protection sprays if you're going to be outdoors for an extended period of time.

Plastic Toys

Are you printing on plastic toys like Frisbees? Use a little baby oil to protect the personalized toys from sun damage! As long as they stay out of the water and extreme heat, you won't have to worry about the custom design fading.

cooler on lawn

Portable Coolers

Do you have outdoor coolers that are decked out with decals or some other custom design? Keep them from cracking and peeling by limiting their exposure to direct sunlight. Shady areas are also recommended for set up.

Are you hosting a summer event? Keep these tips and tricks in mind so you don't ruin your promotional items. And remember to protect yourself with sunscreen!

What Problems Might Occur When Printing?

Are you ordering custom promotional items? The factory that's working on the products may face a few issues along the way.

Here are 4 common printing problems that may affect the quality of your design:

  • Dye migration (aka bleeding)
  • Ghosting
  • Banding
  • Peeling sublimation

It's your job as a consumer to ask as many questions as possible when ordering. By being proactive, you can avoid issues with the print in the future.

Periodic table on t-shirt

What is Dye Migration?

Periodic table on t-shirt

Dye migration or bleeding is when the color on a piece of fabric (usually polyester) bleeds into the ink that is screen printed on the front. This will cause the custom design to look like it's a different color.

Think of a red t-shirt with a word written in white ink across the front. If dye migration were to occur, the white text would end up looking more pink.

Screen printers can avoid this issue by using a special ink that is designed to adhere to the material. Ask your sales rep what ink was used to avoid dye migration when you order custom clothing. You'll thank yourself later when there aren't any issues with the print.

What is Ghosting in Screen Printing?


No, this isn't when your date doesn't call you back! Ghosting is when a customized t-shirt comes into contact with another and leaves a faint image behind of the print. It's basically like the design of the past haunting the other shirts that are being created.


To avoid this issue, the factory should use plastisol inks that are fully cured. This means that the ink is hard to the point where it's mostly dry when touched. Curing the ink requires the use of ultraviolet light. The factories should also make sure the shirts are totally cool before they stack them on top of each other.

Knowledge is power. Always ask the promotional products company that you're ordering from if they're using cured ink to customize your items. This helps ensure that you have a high-quality print that won't end up in your nightmares later!

What is Banding in Screen Printing?

banding on screenprint

Banding is when there is ink missing in the printed design. This creates blotchy lines that run through the image, kind of like what you'd see on an old television set.

banding on screenprint

This could happen to even the best factories if they have clogged ink nozzles. Are you ordering promotional products for the first time? Feel free to ask how often the factories clean their machines. It's not an intrusive question since you want to ensure you're working with a company that pays attention to the details!

Will Sublimation Peel Off?

Promotional products

The sublimation on some promotional items may peel off over time. This is an especially big risk with mugs, water bottles, drinking glasses, cups, and tumblers. Do not put custom drinkware in the dishwasher to preserve the imprint and keep it from chipping away!

Promotional products
Did you know?

For the best quality, you should vectorize the design that you want to print. This can be done in Adobe Illustrator. Don't have Adobe? Most screen printers and promotional products companies will take care of this for you!

How Long Do Promotional Items Last?

Various promotional products mobile

As long as you take care of them, your promotional items can last for years! Do you still have t-shirts from high school? Are you struggling to give up your favorite mug? Protect the ink and your custom items will be in good condition for a long time!

Various promotional products desktop

The Bottom Line

Robert Frost said it best: "Nothing gold can stay!" There's no way to make your promotional items last forever, but you can at least do your best to preserve the custom design. Wash by hand, stay out of the sun, and above all, treat these products with the love and care they deserve!

Quality Logo Products are experts on all things printed and promotional. Let our team of awesome, incredibly good looking, and fun promo nerds help you select awesome promotional swag today!

4 random promtional products 4 random promotional products tablet
Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. As a promo expert, she's uncovered the world's first custom tote bag, interviewed the guy behind rock band ACDC's logo, and had a piece published by the Advertising Specialty Institute, a leader in the promotional products industry.


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