Direct To Garment Printing, Industry Tips, Uncategorized

Why does my t-shirt have burn marks and smells like vinegar?


Pre-treat stain on a T-shirtHave you ever received a direct to garment printed T-shirt that looks like it has burn marks and smells like vinegar?

Do not worry because this is the process of direct to garment printing.Direct to Garment Pretreat Stains

If your shirt smells like vinegar it most likely was printed using a Kornit direct to garment printer.  Kornit printers use a water-based ink that it’s eco-friendly and is safe  for youth and adults.

The vinegar mixture is used as a pre-treat which is sprayed down by the printer that allows the ink to float above the shirt fabric.   If you didn’t use a vinegar pretreat when we spray down the colored ink it would sink into the fabric of the T-shirt and look like a vintage print with muted colors.   The vinegar pretreat is 100% water-based eco-friendly and will wash out in the washing machine on your first wash so don’t worry about the smell.

Remember you’re helping to save the environment from toxic chemicals by using the vinegar pre-treat unlike traditional screen print that uses carcinogen producing inks.

The burn marks are not burn marks, they are actually pre-treat marks.   The marks are a reaction when the pre-treat hits the color of  the T-shirt fabric.   Generally the pretreat  marks will not show up on your standard colors such as a black, gray, white, and navy T-shirts.   The most problematic T-shirt colors that will produce the pre-treat strangers are gold, red and light blue.  Believe it or not that the country of origin also determines if the shirt will get pre-treat stains or not.   Every T-shirt factory around the world uses a different chemical combination of the inks which may vary and cause the pre-treat marks. It is possible to have a red T-shirt that was produced in Honduras and another red T-shirt that was produced in Guatemala. The Honduras T-shirt will print without a pre-treat stains and the Guatemala will have pretreat stains. Remember don’t worry about the  pretreat stains they all wash out in the wash.

Direct to garment printing is a new technology and advancing monthly so eventually the pre-treat stains and the vinegar smell will disappear as technology advances.

I hope this answers some of your concerns about pre-treat stains in the vinegar smell coming off the Kornit direct to garment printers.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!