Can You Sublimate on 50/50 – (Polyester-Cotton)

Last Updated on February 12, 2024

Teresia is back to address a burning question from my readers: can you sublimate on 50/50 polyester-cotton blends, and do they hold up in the wash? Here, we’ll dive into her experiment and the surprising results!

Today, I’m diving into the laundry room to address a burning question I’ve been receiving about the durability of the mommy-and-me sublimation sweatshirts I recently created using the Gildan Heavy 50/50 blend – that’s 50% polyester and 50% cotton. Many skeptics doubted their washability, so I put these shirts to the test.


  • Sublimation on 50/50 blends is possible and can produce durable results. While 100% polyester is ideal, 50/50 blends offer a more affordable option without sacrificing quality.
  • Wash and bleach resistance is impressive. Even with harsh treatment, the designs remained vibrant, making these sweatshirts perfect for active kids or messy situations.
  • Slight fading is possible, especially with red. Be mindful of this when choosing colors for your sublimation projects.
Discover insightful articles on sublimation techniques for hats, dark-colored fabrics, cotton materials, black t-shirts, Slate, Rayon and more!

Can you sublimate on 50/50?

Yes, sublimating on a 50/50 blend is possible. While not ideal, results are surprisingly durable, even withstanding bleach washes. Expect slight fading, especially on reds. So, experiment and have fun!

Join me as I walk you through the before, during, and after of a wash test, complete with a surprise lipstick stain and some trusty bleach.

The Wash Test

I have the Gildan Heavy 50/50 sweatshirts in my laundry room before the wash test. The shirts were subjected to a wash with bleach to tackle tough stains like lipstick and cantaloupe. The skepticism around these shirts’ washability and color retention prompted me to share the results with you.

I used basic bleach during the wash and tossed the shirts into the washing machine. The anticipation grew as the shirts went through the wash cycle with the bleach.

How to Sublimate 50% Polyester 50% Cotton?

Sublimating on a 50% cotton and 50% polyester blend, like the Gildan Heavy 50/50 shirts, requires careful preparation and execution. Here’s a simple guide to help you achieve successful sublimation on a 50/50 fabric:

Materials Needed

  • Gildan Heavy 50/50 Shirts: Choose the appropriate size and color for your project.
  • Sublimation Ink: Ensure you have sublimation-specific ink compatible with your printer.
  • Sublimation Paper: Use high-quality sublimation paper for transferring your designs.
  • Heat-Resistant Tape: Secure the sublimation paper onto the shirt to prevent any movement during the process.
  • Heat Press: A reliable heat press with even heat distribution is essential.
  • Protective Paper or Teflon Sheet: Place it between the heat press and your shirt to prevent any ink or residue from sticking to the press.

Step-by-Step Guide

Let’s begin with the step-by-step guide!

1. Design Your Artwork:

  • Create or choose your design using graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop or CorelDRAW.
  • Make sure your design is reversed (mirrored) before printing, as sublimation transfers in reverse.

2. Print Your Design:

3. Preheat Your Heat Press:

  • Set your heat press to the recommended temperature for sublimation (typically around 380-400°F or 193-204°C).

4. Prepare the Shirt:

  • Ensure the shirt is clean and free of wrinkles.
  • Place a piece of protective paper inside the shirt to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the back.

5. Position and Secure the Design:

  • Lay the shirt on the heat press.
  • Position the sublimation paper with the design facing down onto the shirt.
  • Use heat-resistant tape to secure the paper in place.

6. Pressing Process:

  • Close the heat press and apply even pressure.
  • Set the timer according to the recommended time for sublimation (usually around 40-60 seconds).

7. Post-Pressing:

  • Carefully remove the shirt from the heat press.
  • Peel off the sublimation paper while it’s still warm.

8. Final Touch:

  • Allow the shirt to cool completely before handling.
  • Gently stretch the fabric to minimize any potential cracking of the transferred design.

9. Wash and Care:

  • Wait at least 24 hours before washing to ensure the sublimation ink fully sets.
  • Wash the shirt in cold water and avoid using bleach or fabric softeners to prolong the vibrancy of the print.

50 Cotton 50 Polyester Sublimation Temperature and Time

So, What temperature do you sublimate on 50 50? The sublimation temperature for a 50% cotton and 50% polyester blend is typically around 385 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (196 to 204 degrees Celsius).

The recommended sublimation time is approximately 35 to 40 seconds. Follow the guidelines provided by your sublimation ink and paper manufacturer, as these may vary based on the brand and product specifications.

The Aftermath

After the wash, I examined the shirts closely in my closet. I compared the Gildan 50/50 Heavy Blend that had undergone multiple washes and sublimation with a new one to assess any signs of wear and tear.

The seasoned shirt showed some pilling, a common occurrence after numerous washes. However, the sublimation print remained vibrant and intact.

Next, I unveiled the shirts post-bleach wash. To my delight, the stains were completely gone, and the sublimation prints held up remarkably well. I demonstrated that sublimation allows for the bleach treatment of white shirts without compromising the design.

Drying and Final Assessment

The shirts were then tossed into the dryer without any special treatment, reflecting a realistic scenario customers might subject them to. The final result after drying was nothing short of impressive. The sublimation prints remained vibrant, with only slightly fading on the red portion, which is expected with red fabrics.


In conclusion, the Gildan Heavy 50/50 blend passed the wash test with flying colors (pun intended!). The sublimation prints withstood the wash with bleach and exhibited minimal fading. As a meticulous mompreneur, I would confidently sell these shirts, knowing they can endure regular wear and tear.

So, if you’ve been hesitant to try sublimation on 50/50 blends, fear not! This wash test proves that these shirts are washable and maintain their vibrant prints. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different blends, and remember, sublimation opens up endless possibilities for creating durable and stunning designs.