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Sublimation Spray for Cotton: Review

Does sublimation spray for cotton really work? I was curious so I picked up a bottle to test and review...and, of course, report back! 

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Sublimation requires at least 65% polyester, but this sublimation spray for 100% cotton claims it will allow you to get the permanency, vibrant colors, and no-hand feel of sublimation even on a shirt or garment that has 0% polyester. 
The sublimation spray I picked up from Amazon didn't include any directions. Not off to a good start.  

Even if the bottle of spray is only a few dollars, I'm not sure most people are a fan of sacrificing a few shirts to get the technique down, right? 

The only information I could find about it was in the Amazon reviews so I used that info and then did my own testing from there. 

Here's how I set this test up: 

Sublimation Spray for 100% Cotton Review

I printed 6 of the exact same design on a single sheet and grabbed a 100% white cotton towel. 

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I then divided the towel into 2 columns and 3 rows.  One column (half the towel) was pressed at 365 degrees and 40 seconds as suggested in the comments on Amazon.  The other column was pressed at 400 degrees for 60 seconds like traditional sublimation. 

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Each row was also different: 
  • 1 coating of sublimation spray
  • 2 coatings of sublimation spray 
  • no sublimation spray  

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To make sure I was covering the full area and not getting any over spray I used a paper template....and kept track of everything on this very official piece of scrap paper. 

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And to make sure that each column was only pressed for the right amount of time and the right testing temperature I only pressed half the towel in two individual presses. 

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By the time all six designs were pressed I had testing samples for:
  • 365 degrees @ 40 seconds with 1 coat of sublimation spray
  • 365 degrees @ 40 seconds with 2 coat of sublimation spray
  • 365 degrees @ 40 seconds with no sublimation spray
  • 400 degrees @ 60 seconds with 1 coat of sublimation spray
  • 400 degrees @ 60 seconds with 2 coat of sublimation spray
  • 400 degrees @ 60 seconds with no sublimation spray
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It's easy to see that the two images in the bottom row, where there is no sublimation spray, were not nearly as vibrant. However, the temperature and number of cotton sublimation spray coats didn't seem to make a big difference, but the real test will be after the towel is washed and dried..and specifically repeatedly. 

How Does Sublimation Coating Spray Hold Up in the Laundry?

After the first round through the washer and dryer it was clear the sublimation spray was definitely better than attempting to sublimate onto 100% cotton without it.  Remember the bottom row is the set without any sublimation spray. 

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The middle row was the set that had two coats of sublimation spray.  Looks like the 365 degree version remained more vibrant than the 400 degree test. 

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And I would have to say that that the double coating has a slight advantage over the single coating (top row). This means the double coating at 365 degrees for 40 seconds seems to give the best results after a single wash and dry. 

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I'll continue to launder this test towel to see if the colors fade any further. 

While the sublimation coating spray for cotton does a decent job on a 100% cotton substrate, I don't think there's any argument it's not the same quality as sublimating on garments with at least 65% polyester. 

While sublimation is amazing for hard goods it has limitations for textiles specifically that they need to be light colored and contain a high percent polyester. For that reason if you are considering adding sublimation to your small business, as an alternative to heat transfer vinyl, there are other types of printers that are more suited for bright, vibrant, multi color designs on cotton and darks that I would suggest you consider instead. 

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Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!


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3 comments

  1. The sub-on-cotton spray I used looked great-- until it was washed. It was nothing but a gray blob after 4 washes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did you have to let the spray dry for a certain amount of time or use it while still wet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Check out this video where we learn how to use it! https://fb.watch/v/1ZOKppQdq/

      Delete

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