How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last – For Shirt, Mug, And Fabric

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How Long Does Sublimation Ink Last - For Shirt, Mug, and Fabric

Do you want a print on a T-shirt, mug, or paper? If so, then you must have an idea about how long sublimation ink lasts on these rigid surfaces. Generally speaking, sublimation ink lasts as long as you store it properly and avoid direct sun exposure. 

The average lifespan of a closed bottle of sublimation ink is 2 years. Still, some factors affect the lifespan of ink and result in fading—for instance, quality of ink, light exposure, substrate material, brand, and environmental condition. 

However, by following proper storage, and maintenance techniques, we can enhance the average lifespan of the ink. 

We divide this article about “How long does sublimation ink last” into various sections involving factors affecting average lifespan, how we know that sublimation ink deteriorates, the life duration of the different sublimation ink— shelf life, and the life span of third-party ink.

Before discussing the lifespan, let’s discuss factors first.  

Factors Affecting the Longevity of the Sublimation Ink

How long a sublimation ink lasts or a print stays on your favourite shirt depends upon several factors. With an increasing demand for state-of-the-art digital printing, various manufacturing companies have introduced their inks. Therefore, it matters to know about factors like brand and quality. 

Light Exposure

Direct sunlight and heat affect the ink’s vibrancy and reduce lifespan. Therefore, store them in a dry place away from light, like a garage, attic room, and cellar.  

Quality of Print

Whether you print for personal collection or resale purposes, the quality of the print plays a fundamental role in deciding how long sublimation ink lasts. 

Colour Vibrancy and Designing

The choice of color and design also contribute to fading on an ink. The bright color stays longer as compared to the lighter one. 

Substrate Material

Use color-fast substrate materials, which means when exposed to heat, light does not fade and maintains the vibrancy even after years. 

Quality and Brand

High-quality ink has a longer life and more vibrancy than lower one. Even branding plays a crucial role in longevity. For instance, the lifespan of Sawgrass, Epson, or Mimaki sublimation ink is 2 years as these inks have more colour vibrancy and consistency. 

Environmental Factors

Various environmental factors directly affect the lifespan of an ink. Always store your ink in a cool, dry place at a stable temperature and humidity level. 

For instance : 


Storing the ink at 70 degrees keeps it safe and enhances its life. 


Humidity results in the reduction of lifespan. 

Note: It also matters greatly whether a bottle is open or closed. A closed bottle has an average lifespan of 2 years, but as soon as you open it, it reduces to one year. 

The Lifespan of Sublimation Ink 

The average lifespan of the sublimation ink varies from each other. The general lifespan of a covered or closed sublimation ink is 2 years. However, the estimated data may vary slightly depending on usage and environmental factors. 

Let’s find the various lifespan of different sublimation ink by well-recognized brands. 

Shelf Life of Sublimation Ink

Different inks’ shelf life varies depending on the temperature they are kept. Most of the ink keeps at 70 degrees in closed bottles. So if it is a closed or sealed bottle, the average shelf life is two years.

Let’s find out how does sublimation ink last at 70 degree


The shelf life of the sublimation ink of Epson is two years. At the same time, the open Epson cartridges can print for up to six months without fading or blurring. 


The expected shelf life of Sawgrass sublimation ink is two years. The open Sawgrass cartridges can print for up to six months without clogging. 

The Lifespan of Third-Party Sublimation Ink

Various brands in the market sell sublimation ink formulated for Epson and Sawgrass. They sell their products in the form of bottles. Some well-known third-party sublimation inks are: 

Cosmos Sublimation Ink

Cosmos is a well-recognized brand that sells ink formulated for Epson printers. However, they sell ink in the form of bottles, not cartridges. So if you store them in a cool, dry place, their shelf life is 9-12 months, whether the bottle is open or closed. 

Hippo Sublimation Ink

Hippo is also a well-recognized third-party sublimation ink with a shelf life of 2 years of a sealed bottle. At the same time, the unsealed bottle has only a shelf life of 1 year. 

Cobra Sublimation Ink

In recent years, a popular third-party sublimation ink has a shelf life of 18 months if it remains in a closed bottle. However, the open bottle has 1 year of shelf life. 

The Lifespan of Sublimation Ink on Mug

The expected lifespan of sublimation ink on poly-coated mugs is 4 years. If they wash with proper care. But if you rub them with a sponge or use hot water, the print fades away quickly. 

The Lifespan of Sublimation Ink on Paper

Which type of paper you use can decide the lifespan of the sublimation ink. The infusible ink sheet can help to stay in the ink for 2 years. 

The Lifespan of Sublimation Ink on Cotton

Unfortunately, the average lifespan of sublimation ink on cotton is less than on polyester fabric. The ink easily fades away with a single wash. So you can use an alternative method like Siser Easysubli. 

The Lifespan of Sublimation Ink on Tumblers

The expected lifespan of sublimation ink on poly-coated tumblers is 4 years. If they wash with proper care. However, the non-poly coated tumblers have a shorter lifespan. 

The Lifespan of Sublimation Ink Cartridge 

Ink cartridges can last for 2 years if they remain closed. But once it opens, you can only use it for 6 months. 

How to Enhance the Lifespan of Sublimation Ink? 

Do you want your favourite t-shirt or mug to stay as vibrant as the first day of printing? Well, this is not a big deal. By following simple preventive measures, you can save your products from fading.

Keep these points in your mind.

  • Keep your ink and products in normal spaces like a garage, attic room, or cellar, as they are dry and cool.
  • Always cover your ink bottle. As dirt also results in fading the vibrancy. 
  • Never use duplicate or low-quality paper. Use high-quality printing paper. 
  • Always use-by date. 
  • Use good quality printers.
  • Avoid direct light and heat exposure.
  • Use ink from well-recognized brands like Sawgrass, Epson, and Mimaki.
  • It properly stored the equipment used in printing.
  • Well-maintained all pieces of equipment that help in printing. 

How to Know that the Sublimation Ink Deteriorates? 

If you don’t take care of anything, it starts demolishing and fading. In the same way, if you don’t take care of your sublimation ink, it starts deteriorating. But how to come to know that your sublimation ink ends? 

Let’s find out. 

Colour starts Fading

The Ink must be vibrant and bright whether you want to print on polyester or cotton fiber. If the bottle remains unsealed and there is direct sunlight exposure, it starts fading. After that, the color also starts fading if you use detergents, bleach, or soap. 


The quality of the image is disturbed. It prints blurry designs or printing. 


As we know, each sublimation ink has a shelf life. If we leave this ink in a printer, it causes clogging of the head or nozzle. 


With the increasing trend of T-shirt digital printing, one emerging concern is how long sublimation ink lasts and how to keep it from fading to maintain its original vibrancy. Several factors affect the actual lifespan of ink, like temperature, light, or type of ink. However, the average lifespan of sublimation ink is 2 years if the bottle or cartridge remains sealed, but as soon as you remove the seal, the lifespan falls between six months to one year.

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