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  • Writer's pictureJoey Gibson

Water-Based vs Plastisol Ink for Screen Printed Tees

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

When it comes to branded merchandise, the decisions that are made in production can have a major impact on the final product. For example, choice of ink for a custom t-shirt can have a larger impact than one would expect. The two most common choices of ink for screen printing are Water-Based and Plastisol Ink. Both are very useful and can add unique elements to any custom apparel.

Water-Based Ink

Known for creating unique textures and being soft to the touch, water-based ink is great for

breathable, textured screen printing.

What is Water-Based Ink?

Water-based ink is an ink that absorbs into the fabric as opposed to being deposited

on top. When heated to it’s correct temperature, the water base evaporates and leaves

the ink pigments that have dyed the fabric. This ink leaves a mark that has dissolved into

the shirt compared to the plastic deposit of plastisol.

How does it work?

Water-Based ink appears as dyed fabric when all is finished. The fabric is breathable and soft

to the touch. Though all inks have their eco-issues, water-based ink uses very little plastic thus making it more eco-friendly then most other inks.



Though water-based ink uses some chemicals, it hardly has any plastic. Using water-based

ink is an easy way to cut down plastic use.


The lighter and dyed-fabric nature of this ink allows more air to flow through the fabric.


Water-Based ink dissolves into the fabric only leaving the soft texture of the fabric.


Higher Cost

Due to the unique look and texture, water-based ink typically runs a little higher than

most plastisol inks.