How to Clean Silkscreens


Silk screening is an artistic process of pressing a mesh material against an ink stencil to create images. The artist rolls a squeegee over the screen stencil, pushing ink or paint over the open parts of the stencil. Cleaning the stencil, whether it is made of silk or a synthetic material, is a two-step process. The first step is to use a solvent to remove residual ink from the screen. The second step involves a chlorine cleaning process to remove the remaining acetate compound that is part of the special ink required for silk screening. Both cleaning solutions are readily available at grocery stores and pharmacies. Commercial solvents that eliminate the need for two cleaning steps are also available.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Mineral spirits
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Rags, old towels

How to Clean Silkscreens

  • Apply a thin spray of mineral spirits to the screen and allow the spirits to dissolve the ink.

  • Rinse the screen with water.

  • Apply a 7 percent solution of chlorine (common household bleach) to the screen while still damp.

  • Allow the bleach to finish dissolving residual acetate from the screen.

  • Rinse the screen a second time and air dry or blot dry with old towels.

  • Consider buying an environmentally safe, one-step commercial silkscreen cleaner, which is available through art supply stores and online retailers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use cleaning products in a well-ventilated area.

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