How to sublimate on cotton (easy and fast)

Surely if you like to wear t-shirts and combine them, you have already thought of millions of designs that you would like to print. Different drawings, colors, and even photos could look super cool on your outfit.

That’s why today I bring you a super easy technique to discover how to sublimate on cotton. It really is a much faster method than screen printing on fabric and even simpler to execute. 

How to sublimate on cotton?

In today’s case, we’ll be looking at how to sublimate on cotton, as not just any shape will do, since cotton tends to repel sublimation ink.

If you want your design to really stick to your garment and last, you can keep reading, because here we have the solution. 

Another important detail is that you try to wash your garment by hand and with a mild soap, because if you put it in the washing machine or wash it many times with normal soap, the print may deteriorate over time.

The result is that it will not come off completely, but you can lose parts of the sublimated image on your t-shirt and that will definitely not be to your liking.

Rather than regret, my advice is to take care of the garment as much as possible, especially if you did it with an idea that you really like and you made it yourself.

All you need is:

  • Iron
  • Sublimation Printer
  • Sublimation paper (also sublimation films)
  • The image or drawing that you have chosen
  • And of course a t-shirt.

How to sublimate your t-shirts(100% cotton)

let’s start with the tutorial!:

  1. First of all choose the drawing or design you want to go on your t-shirt and where you would like it to adhere. This means if you want to place it at the top near the neck, in the middle, or at the bottom of your garment.

    Here you can see some t-shirt design ideas.
  2. Once the design is determined, we print it on the sublimation paper. This type of paper comes ready to use and is not expensive, so it is the best option I recommend to sublimate on cotton. 

  3. Ready your sublimation paper with the drawing, it would be like a kind of sticker that you have to place on your t-shirt.

    In this step pay close attention before ironing. You have to place the drawing face down and the paper that covers it on top. Also, try to be as neat as possible and to frame your design well on the garment.

Here is a step-by-step video about a new way to sublimate on a 100% Cotton black Shirt!, so you can guide better:


  1. When you have all your sublimation paper in the perfect and correct place, you can pass the iron.

    Remember that the iron must be in ideal mode for cotton (temperature between 140 and 210 ° C) and no more than 2 minutes (ideally always apply heat for 1 minute or minute and a half to settle the sublimation on the shirt and not to damage the fabric).
  2. Pass the iron evenly and by sectors. For better control, I recommend doing it from top to bottom or from right to left. This technique will help you to get a perfect print and leave some parts without adhering. Also to reinforce you can at the last step, pass the iron over the entire fabric, so that it covers everything and nothing escapes.
  1. Let the print cool down for 1 or two minutes before removing the paper. Then choose one end and very delicately lift the paper.

And that’s it! Your sublimation on cotton is done and it sure looks fabulous!  

As you can see, the drawing you chose looks perfect and the colors are much more vivid and have all the sharpness you were looking for.

From now on when you are asked: ‘can you sublimate on cotton’? your answer should be a big yes! 

You can teach others to do it because as I anticipated, it is a super easy and fast method.

Moreover, compared to other methods such as transfer, it is much faster and even more economical, since sometimes inks such as plastisol may not be very accessible and the process takes much longer than sublimation cotton. 

Sublimation on cotton vs sublimation on polyester

Sublimation on cotton is different than sublimation on polyester.

In the case of polyester what we do is to leave the ink of the film on the fabric, on the other hand with cotton, what results is a kind of sticker or “sticker” that is adhered or stuck directly on the fabric and that produces that the drawing has greater clarity and the colors are enhanced.

The result will be that one will be like a sticker effect (the cotton) and the other will be with the ink impregnated in the fabric, as in the case of polyester. 

In conclusion, both are valid ways to print images on your T-shirts and they will look great! 

In both cases, we will use heat and foils (different) but with the same result.

I invite you to try and see the great and immediate results! 

Dare to experiment and see which option you like the most to design your cotton outfit.

You can also see this article about how much does a hoodie weigh’, by clicking here!