When to Use White Discharge Ink  | Screenprinting.com

Printing with discharge is fun, but the process has a lot of factors printers need to consider — type of garment, curing device, safety precautions, and more. Let's look at one question today: When would you use white discharge ink? 


The beauty of discharge ink is the feel of it. It's so soft, it almost feels like nothing is printed on the shirt. Printers also use discharge ink if they don't want to print-flash-print a high-solids acrylic ink. When using discharge, printers do not need an underbase, so it saves them time and money by using one less screen.


When a print contains white or the print has spots where white will show. For discharge printing, white is strictly another color. 

discharge print

Night Owls Print Shop use discharge ink often, like in the print pictured above.

If your customer is looking for white text on a black shirt and they want a soft-feel, you can use white discharge. Discharge ink isn't vibrant and when you're using white, there may be a slight tint of the shirt showing through the print. Make sure the customer is okay with an off-white.


No. No. No. No. And, no. Why? When the white cures, it creates a film. That film washes off; therefore, the colors on top of the white discharge underbase have a high chance of washing out as a well. If you are looking to make a vibrant yet soft print, you may want to look at printing high solids acrylic water-based ink or HSA ink instead.


Discharge has a lot of factors that need to be considered before you begin. Make sure you know these details before you dive in:

  • Discharge mainly works on 100% natural fabric like cotton, bamboo, and hemp.
  • Other blends may work, like the Allmade tri-blend. Always test before going into production.
  • Discharge does not work on all colors. Colors with some blue shades like royal blues, greens, purples, and reds may not work. 
  • The active ingredient in discharge ink is Zinc-Formaldehyde-Sulfoxylate (ZFS).
  • Sulfur is a skin irritant. Wear the proper safety gear when handling discharge ink.
  • To cure discharge, you need a forced air conveyor dryer. During the curing process, formaldehyde and sulphur bonds to create an inert molecule. That molecule is released in the air, so having an enclosed space (a conveyor dryer) is important because it'll let the molecule do its job while not harming you. 
  • Discharge isn't an ink you can use and forget about. The activating agent has a limited lifespan, so when you mix the ink, make sure you'll be printing that day as well.
  • Discharge is not CPSIA certified because it can exceed the limits of part per million on formaldehyde residue. Therefore, you should not use discharge on kids apparel.


Never printed with discharge ink before? No worries, we got you covered. The following videos go through each step of the process, so you'll be making mighty-fine prints.

The first video goes over which screens to use and how to properly prepare them.

The second video addresses how to correctly mix discharge ink. In the video, print expert Josh Wells uses the Green Galaxy Fusion Ink Mixing System to create the colors.

 In the last video, you'll learn tips and tricks for printing with discharge. The most crucial step you need to know is how to accurately cure the ink. Take a look.

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