Ask@DTGMerch #1 – Do I Have to Pretreat Every T-Shirt?

1 – Ask@DTGMerch #1 – Pretreatment on Everything?

We recently received a message from a follower who has a question about pretreatment for DTG printing: Do all t-shirts need to be pretreated before printing? Even light-coloured ones? Even white ones?

A simple question requires a simple answer: so… yes and no!

Yes, it is required if you want to print with white ink, there is no way around it. As you already know, DTG printing uses white ink. We have already created a separate video on this topic, you can watch the video here, (link to video).

With the white ink, you can print the underbase first and then the CMYK colors over it. Without the underbase, the colors just don’t show up and without the pretreatment, the white ink practically “disappears” into the fabric.


In addition to all the above, you will need a pretreatment if you are printing on lighter coloured garments where you don’t need an underbase but want highlights on them. 

Highlights are parts of the print that are lighter in colour than the t-shirt fabric colour. For example, if you want to print on a pastel green t-shirt, some darker parts of the design may need an underbase, but some lighter parts of the design may not. 

And highlights are made with white ink… so there you have it! 

But there’s more. Let’s keep going!

2 – If you’re not using white ink, pretreatment is optional. 

For example, you can take a white or a pastel t-shirt off the shelf, put it on the pallet of your machine and print the design on it. 

Cure it accordingly, and you have a nice, durable print.  A very simple process: print and cure. 

However, pretreatment has some advantages, even if you are only printing CMYK.

It can improve the vibrancy of your CMYK colours, the sharpness of the print, and even help improve wash fastness. And it can also prevent stubborn fibers from poking through the print!

For more information on how to apply pretreatment, check out our online DTG printing course. 

3 – To sum things up: 

Does every t-shirt need to be pretreated before printing? 

  • You NEED pretreatment when you are going to use white ink. 
  • You NEED pretreatment when you are printing the underbase.
  • If you are going to print highlights, YOU NEED pretreatment. 
  • You NEED pretreatment when you want vibrant colours.
  • It helps control the fibers on the t-shirt.
  • Lastly, pretreatment of each t-shirt, regardless of its colour, can lead to better washing results.

We’ve shared a few tips on pretreatment during the video! You can watch it at this link. (Link to video)

And that’s all for this little overview of Ask DTGMerch Video #1.

And remember, if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Post anything in the comment’s section of any video on our YouTube channel, or send your questions to

Until then, all the best, take care and be good!

The DTGMerch Team