TBT – Mysteries and Ghosts

This is a post that I first did a couple years ago about a disastrous problem called ghosting. Here’s our throwback Thursday version.
Ghosting is a bit subtle or is going on hidden to the eye under the printed shirts as you stack them. If you don’t watch it you will have piles and piles of rejects before it is noticed, or sometimes nobody notices at all if you never turn the shirts over. Well, nobody until the customer receives them.

The article is still timely. This problem persists and is probably more common with all the poly and poly blends we use now. I’ll be writing another article soon about shirt problems that can cause ghosting, sometimes with almost no solution. However, for now, let’s stick to the usual, which is the printer has the issue.


You print on the front of a shirt and a ghostly image shows up on the back of the shirt.

You print on the front of the shirt, box up the shirts and when the customer takes them out, they find a ghostly image on the tails of the shirts.

The ghastly ghost image

The ghastly ghost image

Frog print and his ghost

Frog print and his ghost

This is quite a mystery and a damn disaster. Check out the photos of the frog print, the ghost frog, and both together.

Low bleed ink for 50/50′s often has peroxide in it and this peroxide when hot basically “bleaches” any other parts of the shirt that the image touches.


It is tempting to use low bleed ink on everything because you want the busy (or frankly, sometimes dumb) folks in your shop to not even possibly forget to use low bleed ink when you print 50/50’s. However, this use of 50/50 ink on everything can lead to disaster.

Low bleed ink for 50/50’s often has peroxide in it and this peroxide when hot basically “bleaches” any other parts of the shirt that the image touches. So that means when stacking them at the end of the dryer the front hits the back, and if you box them hot, the front hits the tail of the shirt on top of it. Both lead to a deadly ghost image as the ink image permanently bleaches the fabric with a hazy dull mirror image of itself.

I could be wrong but it seems like it cheap ink does this more, they must use more peroxide or fillers. It also seems to happen more often on garment dyed shirts, so watch out.

How to fix this right
Use a good cotton white ink, we use Rutland’s EH9072 Cott on White for all printing on cotton. It will give you a slightly smoother print than a low bleed white and will not ghost.

Proper froggie print

Proper froggie print

For a non ghosting low bleed white we use M39000 Retro White that can be used for cotton or poly/cotton fabrics, so if you are printing 100% cotton shirts and 50/50 sweats on the same run you don’t have to change out your ink.

Poor man’s fix: you can also set up a million fans  stack the shirts all over the place and cool off the shirts before stacking them. This is a desperate move (you are printing at night and don’t have any other ink) or a dumb move (time is money too, don’t cheap out on buying the ink.)

Next ArticleGood Times at ISS Long Beach 2014