Cleaning Screens 101

Screen printing is a versatile printing technique known for its ability to produce high-quality prints on various surfaces. However, maintaining clean screens is crucial for achieving optimal results and prolonging the lifespan of your equipment. In this guide, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of cleaning a screen effectively.

Why Cleaning Your Screens Matters:

Before delving into the cleaning process, let’s understand why it’s essential to keep your screen printing screens clean:

  1. Print Quality: Clean screens ensure crisp and detailed prints by preventing ink build-up, smudges, and imperfections.
  2. Longevity of Equipment: Regular cleaning prevents ink residue from clogging mesh openings, which can lead to premature screen deterioration and the need for replacements or remeshing.
  3. Consistency: Maintaining clean screens ensures consistent ink deposition, resulting in uniform prints across multiple runs.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Screens:

  1. Prepare Your Workspace:
  • Start by setting up a clean and well-ventilated workspace. Ensure you are wearing the correct PPE – We recommend chemical gloves, face mask and protective eye wear.
  1. Remove Excess Ink:
  • Use a spatula or scraper to remove any excess ink from both sides of the screen. Scrape gently to avoid damaging the mesh.
  1. Rinse with Water and Screen Wash:
  • Take the screen to a sink or washout booth and rinse both sides thoroughly with water. Apply some screen wash to remove any access ink. A jet wash would make this job easier but a simple hose will work fine if you are limited on space.
  1. Apply emulsion remover:
  • Apply an emulsion remover to both sides of the screen. Use a soft brush or scrub pad to gently scrub the surface, paying extra attention to areas with stubborn ink or residue. Some emulsion removers require time to work, so always check the instructions. Never let the emulsion remover dry on your screen as this can cause tears in the mesh.
  1. Rinse:
  • Rinse again, Using your scrubbing brush or scrub pad to help loosen any stubborn emulsion. Ensure that all emulsion is thoroughly washed away.
  1. Apply a stain & haze remover:
  • You may have what is called a ‘ghost image’ still on your screen. You can use a stain remover the remove this. Again, They usually requires time to work, So read the instructions before Applying and never let it fully dry on the screen.
  1. Rinse:
  • Once the Stain and Haze remover has been on for the correct amount of time, Give the screen a final rinse with water to remove any remaining residue. Inspect the screen closely to ensure that it is completely clean. Repeat step 6 if needed.
  1. Apply a degreaser and final rinse:
  • Apply a degreaser to prep the mesh for the next print run. Rinse the degreaser off your screen, ensuring all residue is thoroughly removed.
  1. Dry your screen:
  •  Allow your screen to dry fully before recoating.


Additional Tips:

  • Regular Maintenance: Incorporate screen cleaning into your regular maintenance routine to prevent ink buildup and maintain print quality.
  • Use Quality Cleaning Products: Invest in high-quality screen cleaning solutions and degreasers to effectively remove ink and residue without damaging the mesh.
  • Inspect Screens Regularly: Periodically inspect screens for signs of damage, such as tears, holes, or stretched mesh. Replace damaged screens promptly to avoid compromising print quality.
  • Store Screens Properly: Store clean and dry screens in a dust-free environment to prevent contamination and preserve their integrity between uses.

By following these steps and incorporating screen cleaning into your printing workflow, you can ensure consistent print quality and prolong the lifespan of your screen printing screens. Regular maintenance and proper cleaning techniques are the keys to achieving optimal results and maximizing the efficiency of your screen printing operation.

Shop our full range of screen cleaning and reclaiming consumable here.

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