Cleaning screens is a chore, but it can be done efficiently to save time and stress. Here’s how to clean plastisol and water-based inks off screens.
HOW TO CLEAN WATER-BASED INK
Water-based ink should be cleaned off a screen as soon as possible. If you’re leaving for lunch, taking a long phone call, or anything that will take you away from printing for a while, clean the screens first. Water-based ink dries quickly on screens, and it will cause problems later.
The good news is that water-based inks can be cleaned up with water. Using a product like Sgreen® Aqua Wash dramatically speeds up ink cleanup. It reduces image stain by picking up water-based pigments on the screen.
HOW TO CLEAN PLASTISOL INK
Plastisol ink, unlike water-based ink, doesn’t dry on the screen. It can be left out for a much longer period of time before the screen needs to be cleaned. When you’ve finished a job, go take that break. You deserve it. Then come back and clean your screens.
First, card off the excess ink and lay the screen flat. Use either Sgreen® Ink Degrader or Sgreen® Supreme Wash and wipe the screen with a rag. Supreme Wash is best for color changes or quick cleanup, while Ink Degrader is better for cleaning the ink off the screen when you’re done with a job because it takes longer to evaporate.
MAKE IT A HABIT
Cleaning ink off screens is easy if you make it a habit. The sooner the screen is cleaned of ink, the easier it will be to reclaim later. Setting the screen aside for a few days may seem tempting, but it can contribute to image stain if left for too long.
Image stain can be removed with Sgreen® Haze Remover. However, this should happen as soon as possible. If a screen is left to sit too long, the image stain will be permanent. If it’s helpful, designate a “reclaim day” or two where all screens get reclaimed. This creates a routine and ensures that your screens stay in good condition.
RECLAIMING VS. CATALOGING SCREENS
Once the screen is clear of ink, you can catalog it or reclaim it. Here’s what do to for each situation.
First, wipe the screen well to ensure that all the ink and residue from Supreme Wash or Ink Degrader is gone. Then, use Sgreen® Emulsion Remover and powerwash all the emulsion away. Spray Sgreen® Stuff or Haze Remover onto the screen to get rid of image stain, and finish up with Sgreen® Degreaser to degrease the screen before its next use.
Whether you offer your own clothing brand or have repeat customers wanting to print the same design, properly cleaning the screen to store it for future use is extremely important.
When using a chemical for the initial clean, use something that evaporates quickly (like Supreme Wash) to make sure your screen is both clean and dry. If you’re in a pinch, you can use the spray-out booth to ensure all residue has been removed from the screen.
The screen should be as dry as possible before putting it away. Use cotton material, like cotton T-shirts or shop rags, to absorb any leftover chemicals before storing the screen.
No matter what ink you use or what you’re using the screen for next, it’s important to remove as much as the ink from a screen before reclaiming or cataloging. It’s another step, but it’ll save you time and frustration in the long run.