Can I Print on Fabric With an Inkjet Printer? – (Guide)

Last Updated on August 5, 2023

Can I Print on Fabric With an Inkjet Printer? Printing your own fabric designs can be a fantastic way to add a personal touch to your sewing projects. Whether you want to create custom fabrics with your own artwork or favorite images, here we will guide you through the process of printing on fabric using an inkjet printer.

Can I Print on Fabric With an Inkjet Printer
Image Source: Professor Pincushion, Canva

Can I print on fabric with an inkjet printer?

Yes, you can print on fabric with an inkjet printer. To do so, choose the right printer, either one with fabric-specific settings or a standard inkjet. Pre-treat the fabric with a commercial sheet or by using a pre-treat product. Then, prepare your image on a computer, print on the fabric, and apply post-printing treatments like a vinegar bath to enhance durability.

For further preservation, use mild detergents and consider adding fusible vinyl or decoupage sealer to the fabric.

So, How do you use an inkjet printer on fabric?

There are some important considerations and steps to follow to ensure successful fabric printing:

Step 1: Determine Your Fabric Printing Needs

Decide whether you want a fabric with a single image or if you’re looking for custom prints. Consider companies like Spoonflower that specialize in printing on different fabric types for custom prints. Keep in mind that professional printing services can be pricey. Alternatively, you can print it yourself for a lower cost, but you’ll be limited to smaller fabric quantities.

Step 2: Choose the Right Inkjet Printer

Choose the Right Inkjet Printer
Image Source: Professor Pincushion

To achieve the best results, you’ll need an inkjet printer. Some printers have specific settings for printing on fabric and use water-resistant ink, but a standard inkjet printer with regular ink can still work.

Step 3: Address the Image Washing or Fading Issue

The biggest challenge with printing on fabric is the potential for the image to wash away or fade over time. You have two options to prevent this: use pretreated fabric sheets or pre-treat the fabric yourself.

Option 1: Using Commercial Printable Fabric Sheets or Rolls

Using Commercial Printable Fabric Sheets or Rolls
Image Source: Professor Pincushion

You can find pre-treated fabric sheets or rolls in fabric stores or online. Cotton is the most common variety, but silk and twill are also available. These fabrics are ready to print on, saving you the hassle of pre-treatment.

Option 2: Pre-treating the Fabric Yourself

Pre-treating the Fabric Yourself
Image Source: Professor Pincushion

To pre-treat your own fabric, follow these steps:

  • Soak a piece of cotton fabric in a pre-treat product (e.g., Bubble Jet Set 2000) for about fifteen minutes and then line-dry it.
  • Cut a piece of freezer paper larger than a standard sheet of paper. The shiny side of the paper should face the fabric. Press the freezer paper onto the fabric using a hot iron, ensuring it sticks firmly.

Trim the fabric with freezer paper to the exact size of a sheet of paper that fits your printer. Neatly cut edges reduce the likelihood of fabric fibers getting inside the printer.

Step 4: Prepare Your Image

Prepare Your Image
Image Source: Professor Pincushion

On your computer, place your image into a word processing document or a similar program. Print the image on regular printer paper first to ensure the margins are correct and don’t cut off any parts of the image.

Step 5: Print on the Fabric

Print on the Fabric
Image Source: Professor Pincushion

When you’re ready to print on the fabric, follow these steps:

  • Place the fabric sheet in the printer tray or automatic feeder, ensuring it is oriented correctly (e.g., fabric side down).
  • On your computer, select the best printing options and choose a thicker or higher-quality paper setting for optimal results.

Print only one fabric sheet at a time.

Step 6: Post-Printing Treatment

Post-Printing Treatment
Image Source: Professor Pincushion

After printing, let the fabric sit for a few minutes before carefully removing the freezer paper. You can reuse the freezer paper for future fabric printing projects.

Next, let the printed fabric dry for some time. After it has dried, treat it again using a Bubble Jet rinse or a vinegar bath. This will remove any excess ink and make the fabric washable.

Step 7: Preserve Your Printed Fabric

Preserve Your Printed Fabric
Image Source: Professor Pincushion

While pre-treated fabric and post-printing treatment reduce fading, the fabric may still experience some fading with multiple washings. To preserve the image, consider these additional steps:

  • Use a mild detergent when washing the fabric or for projects that won’t require frequent washing.

Alternatively, cover the printed fabric with fusible vinyl or decoupage sealer. This will make the fabric stiff but will better preserve the image, making it suitable for crafts or bags.

Can you print directly on fabric with an inkjet printer?

No, you cannot print directly on fabric with a regular inkjet printer. Inkjet printers are designed to print on paper, and printing directly onto fabric would cause the fabric to jam inside the printer and damage the printer’s internal components.

To print on fabric with an inkjet printer, you must follow the process of pre-treating the fabric or using pre-treated fabric sheets or rolls. Pre-treatment involves preparing the fabric to receive the ink to adhere properly and not wash away or fade easily.

Can any printer print on fabric?

No, not all printers can print on fabric effectively. While printing on fabric using laser printers is possible, inkjet printers are generally recommended for fabric printing. This preference is due to the bonding properties of the ink and toner.

Inkjet printers are more suitable for fabric printing because the ink is designed to bond well with fabric fibers. This ensures that the colors adhere properly to the fabric and are less likely to rub off easily. On the other hand, toner used in laser printers does not bond as effectively to fabric, leading to potential issues with color retention and durability.

Is inkjet printing on fabric permanent?

Yes, inkjet printing on fabric can be made permanent through proper pre-treatment using products like Bubble Jet-set. Pre-treating the fabric with this liquid solution before printing helps the ink adhere more effectively to the fabric fibers, making the prints permanent and washable.

Does inkjet ink wash out of fabric?

Yes, inkjet ink on fabric can wash out, especially if the fabric needs to be properly pre-treated or if regular ink is used without any special fabric printing settings. If you have printed on fabric using an inkjet printer, it is essential to handle the fabric carefully to avoid washing out the ink.

Can you make t-shirts with an inkjet printer?

Yes, you can make t-shirts with an inkjet printer using heat transfer paper. For T-shirt printing, you don’t necessarily need a special printer. An inkjet printer can do the job if you use the appropriate heat transfer paper.


Printing on fabric with an inkjet printer opens up endless possibilities for creating personalized sewing projects. Whether you choose pre-treated fabric sheets or pre-treat the fabric yourself, following these steps will help you achieve vibrant and long-lasting fabric prints that add a unique touch to your creations. Happy sewing!

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