Tips for Printing on Organic Cotton

by Wendy Croxford

in Design Tips & Ideas

28 Jul 2016  | 1 Comment

Organic cotton T-shirts are not only increasingly popular with consumers for their eco-friendly origins, they’re also super comfortable to wear. Screen printing on organic cotton requires a few special considerations, so here are a few tips from our professionals.

Find good quality cotton to print on

Organic cotton is generally very soft and pliable as well as being an absorbent natural fibre, however there are differences in quality as with any fabric. If you’re screen printing on organic cotton, look for smooth, flat fabric with an even consistency. You might choose unbleached organic cotton, or a style that’s been coloured with natural or organic approved dye. Whatever your choice, a good foundation helps to achieve a good printing result.

Use water-based organic approved ink

Whether you’re choosing organic cotton for its environmental benefit or just for its softness, water based inks can provide the optimal finish for your print. Permaset’s Permatone range has been granted approval by the Soil Association in the UK and will not contradict the ethical and environmental advantages of your organic cotton choice. Permaset Permatone ink is free of all CFCS or HCFCS, PVC, aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic solvent and phthalate plasticisers, which is not only safer for the end user but also for the printer themselves. Plus, as it’s water based you won’t need to use harmful additives or cleaners. The range also produces a super soft result, complementing the well-known comfort of organic cotton.

Consider colour retention

Screen printers once had to make a choice between strong, lasting colour and environmental and safety considerations, as solvent-free inks typically lost their vibrancy faster than with plastisol inks. Fortunately there are now Permaset options that provide both enduring colour intensity and safe handling, thanks to our unique polymer formulation.

Technical tips for water based inks

When the time comes to screen print with water based inks on organic cotton, consider these tips:

  • Be aware that water based inks dry faster. Flooding your screen immediately after printing helps to stop the ink drying in between prints. A spray bottle can also be used to add mist to the screen in between prints, especially while getting used to the inks.
  • Avoid ink sitting on the screen too long and wash the ink out of the screen as soon as you are finished using it.
  • Rather than applying a large amount of ink at once, apply small amounts of water based ink regularly.

With the right base fabric, the correct organic approved inks and the correct techniques, you’ll get a flawless result with your organic cotton screen printing. For ink that prints beautifully on cotton, silk and artificial fabrics with long-lasting results, contact Permaset or explore our full range of rich, vibrant water based inks.


2-colour design printed onto organic cotton t-shirts by Julz Marulina @paw.print.bear using Permaset eco-friendly inks.




Permaprint does not contain ozone depleting chemicals such as CFCS or HCFCS. It is also formulated free of aromatic hydrocarbons. Permaprint premium is free of volatile organic solvent and does not contain PVC resin or Phthalate plasticiser