How Far in Advance Can We Pretreat Shirts and Store Them For Direct To Garment Printing?


NOTE: This is a re-post of an article we posted in January of 2016. We get a lot of inquires about this, so we thought it prudent to repost this article for everyone’s knowledge base.

We often get asked how long can I pretreat a shirt and then leave it sit on the shelf before┬áthe “magical” properties of the pretreat are no longer good.

Well, when we originally started Image Armor back in 2013 we had pretreated some black shirts and set them on the shelf. Our intentions were to print them 12 months later. Business got busy, the shirts got buried and all was forgotten…until this morning.

We actually found the shirts a couple of days ago and decided that we would test out our theory. The shirts were originally pretreated with Image Armor DARK Shirt Formula on November 19th, 2013. You can see (click the picture to enlarge) my label showing we were supposed to print the shirt on November 19th, 2014 one year later.

The way this played out, and a testimony to our pretreatments, is that it officially have been 2 years and 2 months since we pretreated these shirts and put them on the shelf. They were not put into a bag, or sealed up in any way shape or form. The shirts actually had ink cartridges, paper, tools and all sorts of items stacked on top of them over the past two years. We printed these with our Image Armor E-SERIES inks this morning after heat pressing the shirt for 15 seconds to get rid of any moisture in the garment.

The results? Click on the picture above for a larger image. The results were extremely favorable. The whites were extremely white, just as if we had pretreated the shirt this morning prior to printing.

What does this say? If you wanted to pretreat ahead of time to save time and do your shirts in bulk, this is now been proven to work, at least with Image Armor pretreatments. We still do not recommend pretreating way ahead of time due to the fact that the more you handle the shirt, the more chance the fibers have to “pop up” and cause you issues when trying to get a nice smooth white ink film. But, if you feel the need, go ahead, pretreat in advance.

Just don’t forget where you put the shirts after you’ve pretreated them.