How long does a sublimation print last | Explained

Sublimation printing has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its excellent and vibrant printing results. One common question that people ask is how long does a sublimation print last. This durability concern is understandable because, after all, nobody wants to invest their money in a print that quickly fades away. In this blog post, we will delve into everything that you need to know about sublimation prints, their lifespan, and what factors may influence their durability.

If you print on quality sublimation paper and store them properly, prints can last an extended period. There are even reports of people purchasing old prints at estate sales that press perfectly fine, suggesting that they can stand the test of time.

Factors that affect the longevity of a sublimation print

The longevity of a sublimation print largely depends on various factors ranging from the quality of the inks used, the material on which the print is made, and its exposure to the elements. As for the inks, the higher the quality, the more vibrant, and long-lasting the print. However, even sublimated prints with the highest quality ink will fade eventually.

  1. Use material wisely

When it comes to material choice, polyester is the best choice for sublimation printing because it works well with the sublimation process. The polyester fabric must contain at least 50% polyester to achieve optimal results. When the material is 100% polyester, the prints will last longer and remain vibrant even after numerous washes. Other materials, such as cotton or blends of polyester and cotton, will not have the same durability as 100% polyester prints.

  1. Keep the Temperature Normal

Besides, exposure to elements like sunlight, heat, and moisture can hasten the fading process of a sublimation print. Therefore, if you want your print to last for longer, ensure that it is stored correctly and keep it away from direct sunlight, high humidity, and excessive heat.

  1. Keep the Pressure Normal

Another factor that may affect the durability of a sublimation print is the method used to transfer the print to the substrate. The most commonly used transfer method is heat press, and for optimal durability, ensure that the pressure is even across the print and that the transfer time and temperature are adequately set.

  1. Keep it Covered

To prevent lint and dust from contaminating prints, we take measures to keep them enclosed. Our accordion boxes have a flap closure which is always kept shut, and our tube mailers are sealed with securely fastened end caps. This ensures that no dust penetrates the packaging.

  1. Make it Dark

To preserve the quality of our 13×19 prints, we keep them in mailing tubes and place smaller prints in an accordion file box. Both print holders are stored in a closet to protect them.

  1. Use Quality Paper

When printing, it is important to use sublimation paper for lasting prints. Although A-Sub is commonly used, any sublimation paper should work. Printing on regular copy paper may result in prints that do not last.

  1. Maintenance 

Lastly, proper maintenance of sublimation prints helps to increase their lifespan. Hand washing or cold machine washing with mild detergents without bleach and tumble drying at low or no heat is recommended. Avoid exposing the print to heat from ironing or dry cleaning.

How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last On Shirts

Sublimation ink infuses into the fabric of shirts, becoming an integral part of the cloth and ensuring it won’t peel or fade. With proper washing, these garments can be washed and worn repeatedly with no loss of vibrancy or durability.

Sublimation prints are highly durable and do not form an added layer, thus feeling smooth to the touch. When washing, make sure to avoid using bleach, as per the main washing care instructions. If you’re interested in knowing more about the leading sublimation printers for t-shirts, feel free to check out our resources.

How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last On Paper?

Cricut infusible ink sheets are pre-sublimated sheets that can last on paper. To use the sheets, transfer them from the paper to the substrate. Moreover, sublimation ink on sublimation paper functions similarly to infusible ink sheets.

How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last On Cotton?

Sublimation ink is ideal for synthetic polyester fabrics, whereas natural cotton fibers are not compatible and the ink will easily dissipate after one wash. This is because cotton pores fail to open during the heat pressing process, resulting in an inability for the ink to fully bind with the fabric. The recommended alternative is to use Easysiser Subli for cotton. Furthermore, there are alternative methods available for sublimating cotton.

How Long Does Sublimation Last On Tumblers & Mugs?

Polymer-coated tumblers and mugs undergo sublimation which can last up to four years if washed carefully to prevent fading. It’s recommended to avoid sponges while cleaning with hot water. For non-polymer-coated mugs, sublimation ink may wipe out and wash off in a single wash.


In conclusion, sublimation prints are long-lasting, but their durability depends on many factors, including the quality of the inks used, the material on which the print is made, and proper maintenance. If these factors are well managed, sublimation prints can last for years and still retain their vibrancy.

When creating sublimation prints, ensure that you use high-quality materials, inks, and proper transfer methods to achieve longer-lasting prints. Remember to store your prints correctly, avoid exposure to elements that can damage the prints, and provide them with proper maintenance to ensure they remain to look great over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can you keep sublimation ink?

Sublimation inks used in printers have a finite shelf life. It is recommended to consume the ink cartridges within six months of installation to maximize their efficacy. Printing beyond the use-by date may result in issues.

How many times can a sublimation print be used?

Sublimation ink cartridges have a printed expiration date. The link will degrade with time, causing the sublimated dye to separate and reduce the quality.

How often do I need to use my sublimation printer?

To keep the ink flowing within the printer ink path and prevent the drying of print heads, we recommend printing with sublimation printers once a week. If printer head dry-out does occur, it can typically be resolved by quickly cleaning and flushing the print heads.

Is the sublimation paper permanent?

The inks used in dye sublimation printing transform into gas when heated, merging with the fabric and imprinting it permanently. This method forms a deep, long-lasting print as ink is absorbed by the fabric, as opposed to simply sitting on top. The result is less likely to fade.

What is the disadvantage of sublimation printing?

Sublimation items must have a white or light-colored print area. Black or dark-colored surfaces can’t be sublimated. The item may lose color over the months due to the effect of UV rays if it’s permanently exposed to direct sunlight. Like all inkjet printers, the printheads may clog if they are not used frequently.

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