Not So Quick and Easy Custom T-Shirts!



Quarantine is long and hard. You might want to make a T-shirt to commemorate the occasion, like, “I Survived COVID-19” or “Restart 2020.” We decided to go with a Toner Buzz logo on a plain white T-shirt. We transferred the laser-printed image using acetone, the common component in nail polish remover.

We failed. Badly.

Supplies at the ready, we tried to make a Toner Buzz t-shirt with laser printouts and acetone.

It Looked Easy...

It looked easy on the Internet videos we saw. (The Haunted Hows used their laser printer to make inexpensive commemorative T-shirts that came out great!)

Simply print out a reverse image on your laser printer and line it up on a clean T-shirt. Then lather it up with acetone and rub it in. In theory, the acetone breaks the bond of the toner on the paper and soaks it into the fabric of the T-shirt. It looks quick and easy, but we encountered some troubles.

Faint colors, a suspicious yellow hue, and a wretched black stain make this image transfer experiment a messy fail.

Mounting Problems

The first problem was that the colors didn’t transfer very well. They were very faint. Plus they were runny with a yellow tint covering all of the colored areas of the T-shirt. In addition, the acetone left an awful ugly stain on the T-shirt. These failures continued on both the front and back of the T-shirt. Also we failed to line the logo up straight. Our bad. This T-shirt stinks!

The Washing Machine Test

As expected, this temporary t-shirt completely failed the washing machine test. We gave the shirt a cold wash and fluff dry, but the logo was all but gone. The only thing that remained was the ugly stain! Maybe we can shout it out. Better luck next time.

The Toner Buzz T-Shirt after a run through the washing machine...yuck!

What Went Wrong?

This method might work better if you started with a colored T-shirt, like light blue, red, or gray. Also, stick with black text and graphics. The vibrant Toner Buzz pinwheel dissolved into a smeary mess beneath the acetone, especially the yellow toner. The best thing about this method is that it’s easy and inexpensive so you can experiment without breaking the bank!

Happy quarantine! Stay safe! Stay healthy! 

Rob Errera

Rob Errera

Rob Errera is an award-winning journalist embedded in the world of printers and printing supplies. Rob has nearly two decades of experience writing about cutting edge technology, business trends, and the ever-evolving industry of printing.

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