Graphic tees are incredible, and I don’t just say that as the owner of a clothing brand. They’re wearable art. Every graphic t-shirt is unique and tells a story. Unfortunately, just like other clothing items, graphic tees don’t last forever.
Your shirt will eventually become worn and faded, graphics with crack, and it won’t fit the way it did when you first purchased it. If not properly cared for, graphic tees may only last a few washes depending on how they were manufactured.
We want to help you keep your t-shirts in great condition for as long as possible, no matter if you purchased them from El Manor Ave or another business.
This article will explain how to care for your graphic t-shirts.
Why take care of your graphic tees?
While t-shirts aren’t usually an expensive item to replace, it’s important to take care of them and extend their life. Longer-lasting clothing uses less waste (less energy to produce another shirt, less water, less transportation costs, etc). This helps with sustainable practices, but it also allows you to keep your favorite shirts for much longer, saving you a little money in the long run.
Old t-shirts can also be really cool to have, as they bring back good memories. For example, I have an old Jimi Hendrix t-shirt that I’ve worn since 2009-2010. It still looks good, and it’s fun to see all of the photos over the years where I’ve worn the same shirt.
Read your shirt labels/tags
Before we get into our tips, be sure to reference the label on your specific graphic t-shirts, as every shirt is made differently. This will tell you what fabric your shirt is and if there are any special washing instructions for that particular blend.
If you have one of our shirts, we print our washing instructions on the inside neck of the shirt (no more itchy, annoying tags). We want our shirts to last for as long as possible, so we specifically made our instructions stricter than they really need to be.
Printing methods vary
Beyond the fabric, there are many different graphic tee printing methods available. While every graphic tee will eventually wear out and fade, the amount of time can depend on the quality of the print itself.
I’ve purchased printed shirts that crack after 4-5 washes. I’ve also owned some that have lasted for a decade or more.
Screen prints generally last longer than other types of printing methods, but recent advances to direct-to-garment digital printing have made them a contender.
That being said, the tips below will help you extend the lifespan of most t-shirts (and other clothing items for that matter).
Wash your graphic tees inside-out
To prevent your graphic tees from fading or the graphics from cracking or peeling, wash your garments inside-out. This allows the inside of your printed t shirt to wear-down instead of the outside. It can also help with cleaning sweat or deodorant stains, so you’re welcome.
Only wash like-colors together
This applies to all clothing items, not just graphic tees. We know that separating colors can be a pain, and most people don’t do this step. However, if you really want your tees to last forever this step is essential. It’s even recommended to wash your clothing with like materials, such as cotton shirts with other cotton shirts.
At the very least, be sure to separate your white items from everything else to avoid turning your whites a different shade (cue the Friends episode where Rachel turns all her whites pink).
Wash your graphic t-shirts in cold water
Did you know that you usually don’t need to use hot or warm water when you do laundry? Cold water cleans your clothes just fine, saves energy, and helps reduce fading or shrinking. It also keeps the prints in good shape, as the heat can break down the material.
Don’t use bleach
Never use bleach on a graphic t-shirt! The chemicals in bleach (and fabric softener, too) can break down the print. Always use mild detergent. If you get a stain on your shirt, apply stain remover to only the affected area.
Using a dryer is probably the best way to ruin your favorite t-shirt. Dryers are amazing because they make life easier, but they destroy your clothes. The heat causes your clothes to shrink, your prints to crack and peel, and the fibers to wear down.
If you want to keep your tees looking new for months or years to come, hang them to dry. This can be done indoors or outdoors on a clothesline. El Manor Ave co-founder Justin chooses to hang dry his graphic tees, which has kept them in perfect condition.
If you decide to dry your clothes outside, avoid direct sunlight as this can also cause your shirts to fade and the print to crack.
Tumble dry low if you MUST
If you really don’t want to hang your graphic tees to dry, you can use a dryer. I know what you’re thinking. “But Chase, didn’t you just say not to dry them?” Most t-shirts can safely be dried on a low setting, but it will still reduce the lifespan of the shirt compared to line drying.
Drying most t-shirts also won’t immediately damage the shirt, but depending on the quality of the print it might. El Manor Ave shirts are made to be tumble dried on low. In fact, I usually dry my El Manor shirts on high, and they’ve held up for the few months that we’ve been open. However, I don’t recommend the practice because it will shorten the lifespan of the material.
Don’t iron graphic tees
By now you’re probably seeing a trend: Heat is bad for graphic tees. Avoid ironing your graphic tees at all costs. If you really need to iron them, try to do it inside-out on a low setting to reduce the amount of damage.
Always hang or fold your clothes
Finally, once your t-shirts are clean and dry, be sure to store them properly. This means keeping them away from direct sunlight, preferably in a dark environment like a closet or wardrobe. Always hang your shirts or fold them neatly. Otherwise, your shirts will get wrinkles.
I hope these tips for keeping your graphic tees looking new were helpful. By following the tips in this article, you’ll extend the life of your favorite shirts, saving the environment and your wallet.
If you’re looking for highly-durable graphic t-shirts, you’ve come to the right place. El Manor Ave has many unique graphic shirts available at affordable prices. All of our tees are printed in Utah by a professional screen printing and DTG company that does work for some of the largest entertainment companies and sports franchises in the United States.
About El Manor Ave
El Manor Ave is an online clothing brand based out of Utah. Established in 2021, we specialize in affordable, high-quality apparel grounded in reality.