Dye Migration

What is it and why is it bad?

Without getting TOO technical, dye migration happens when a garment has heated up too much during the drying process and the dye of the garment bleeds through into the ink, affecting the color. For instance, if you print white ink on a red t-shirt, you might see the white ink beginning to turn pink from the red dye of the shirt bleeding through. The majority of the time you see this happening it will be on  performance, over-dyed, tie-dyed, or camouflage garments.

How do we prevent it?

Now that we know what dye migration is, how in the world do we prevent it? There are typically 3 ways to prevent dye migration – (1) by using a preventative undercoat, (2) using all polyester inks, and lastly (3) making sure your garments are high quality and were made with proper dyeing techniques. We’ll walk through all the techniques below and some pros and cons of each.

Preventative Undercoats

Within this category we have 2 separate kinds of preventative undercoats. Performance undercoats and dye blocker undercoats. Performance undercoats act as a bleed resistant undercoat that blocks typical migration from happening. It is used INSTEAD of a normal undercoat and leaves a smooth finish. In comparison, dye block undercoats have properties that blocks any dye migration from occurring and are printed BEFORE the normal undercoat.


+  Blocks any sort of migration from occuring
+  Ensures accurate colors


 Print might feel heavier than normal
  More expensive than normal undercoats

Polyester Inks

Polyester inks, otherwise known as low cure inks, are specially formulated to cure at lower temperatures than normal inks. By curing at a lower temperature, the garment never has a chance to reach the “migration point” ensuring that your print will have it’s desired colors.


+  Better print hand than using a preventative undercoat
+  Prevents dye migration from occuring


 More expensive than normal inks

Use Higher Quality Garments


+  Lowers the chance of dye migration
+  Typically better fitting garments
+  Higher quality prints


 Higher quality usually means more expensive
  Might run into garment stock issues

animated GIF of plastisol shirts

Frequently Asked Questions

When do you need to use preventative inks?

A preventative ink needs be used on garments made from synthetic fibers (polyester, rayon, spandex, etc.) garments that are post dyed after manufacturing (tie-dyes, camos, sublimated garments, pigment dyed garments, etc.) and even some blends. For more information on whether or not your job requires a preventative ink, please contact one of our account representatives by clicking one of the buttons below.

Why are these dye migration techniques more expensive?

Due to their special properties, preventative inks cost more than our standard plastisol inks. Some of our preventative inks also require more attention during the production process.