Why You Should Pretreat White Shirts

Why You Should Pretreat White Shirts

Ruby Dann

The idea that white shirts shouldn’t be pretreated is a common myth. Most of the training that comes with a printer tells you the ink looks good enough by itself on white fabric. Pretreatments can also stain light shirts; either as soon as you press it, or later in the sun.

The trick is using a pretreat that can handle a CMYK-only print. Light garment pretreatments, like our FBX-VIVID, are made to avoid stains on whites while offering the benefits that you already see on your darks. Overall, pretreating lighter colors is just as vital as it is on any other print.

Boost Shirt Quality

The above image shows the difference that using FBX-VIVID Pretreatment on a white shirt makes. There is a very clear line where ink was able to react with pretreat and where it soaked into the fabric. This effect is even more obvious once you try to wash the shirt.

The difference that using a light garment pretreatment makes for your wash is impossible to ignore. Skipping this step guarantees that your customers will see the faded left shirt the first time that they wash it.


Print on More Fabrics

Not using a light garment pretreat makes ink much more likely to bleed into the fabric. You might not see this on full cotton, but your inks will run in any amount of polyester. The washout you can expect without pretreat will also worsen with polyester and blended fabrics.

DTG print onto 100% polyester with FBX-VIVID.


Light garment pretreatments fix these problems. These pretreats are also less prone to staining, making white ink free prints some of the easiest regardless of fabric. Blends, hoodies, and full polyester can all be printed by adding a quick layer of pretreat.

Save Money

This might seem backwards, but using a light garment pretreat can actually save more money than using no pretreat. Even though you now have to use an extra material, you will see your ink costs drop.

If a customer sends you the above design, you might have to print as much as a full milliliter of ink. If you buy your ink bagged, this print could easily cost $0.25 to print. A light garment pretreatment will cut your ink consumption in half.

This effect grows when you realize that a light garment pretreat isn’t limited to white shirts. If there is no white ink in the design, many lighter colored shirts can be printed without an underbase. The same is true even on darker colors with black ink only prints.

If you’d like to give our FBX-VIVID a try or have any more questions about pretreating lights, you can reach out to us at ink@firebirdink.com or call us at 203-306-2988.

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