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The Art of Screen Reclaiming | Techniques for Perfect Results Every Time

Screen Reclaiming Best Practices | Tips for Cleaner, Longer-Lasting Screens

Screen reclaiming is a critical step in the screen printing process, ensuring the longevity and reusability of screens. Properly reclaimed screens provide consistent results and save costs in the long run. In this guide, we will walk you through the detailed steps to consistently reclaim screens, helping you maintain high-quality prints while optimizing your workflow.

Essential Steps to Consistently Reclaim Screens

1. Preparing the Work Area

Creating an efficient work area is the first step towards effective screen reclaiming. A well-organized space ensures safety and enhances productivity.

Key Points:

  • Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation to disperse fumes from chemicals.
  • Lighting: Good lighting helps identify stains and emulsion residues.
  • Tools and Equipment: Have all necessary tools within reach, including pressure washers, scrub brushes, and reclaiming chemicals.

2. Removing Excess Ink

Before reclaiming, it is crucial to remove as much ink as possible from the screen to facilitate the cleaning process.


  • Scraping: Use a squeegee or spatula to scrape off excess ink.
  • Ink Degradent: Apply an ink degradent solution to break down remaining ink. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.
  • Rinse: Rinse the screen thoroughly with a pressure washer to remove all ink residues.

3. Emulsion Removal

The next step involves removing the emulsion from the screen mesh. This step is critical to prepare the screen for a new stencil.


  • Apply Emulsion Remover: Liberally apply an emulsion remover solution to both sides of the screen.
  • Brush: Use a stiff nylon brush to scrub the emulsion remover into the screen.
  • Wait: Allow the chemical to work for the recommended time as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Pressure Wash: Use a high-pressure washer to thoroughly clean the emulsion off the screen.

4. Degreasing the Screen

Degreasing is essential to eliminate any contaminants that could affect the adhesion of new emulsion.


  • Apply Degreaser: Evenly apply a degreasing solution to both sides of the screen.
  • Scrub: Gently scrub with a soft brush to ensure thorough cleaning.
  • Rinse: Rinse the screen with water, making sure all traces of the degreaser are removed.
  • Dry: Allow the screen to dry completely in a dust-free environment.

Tips for Effective Screen Reclaiming

Use Quality Chemicals

Investing in high-quality reclaiming chemicals is crucial for efficient and thorough cleaning of screens. Low-quality chemicals may leave residues, damage the mesh, or require multiple applications, which can be time-consuming and costly in the long run. High-quality chemicals are formulated to break down ink and emulsion more effectively, ensuring that your screens are completely clean and ready for reuse.

Eco-Friendly Options

Consider using eco-friendly chemicals that are less harmful to the environment and safer for workers. These products often contain biodegradable ingredients and are free from harsh solvents. Eco-friendly reclaiming chemicals not only contribute to a safer working environment but also reduce your ecological footprint, aligning your business with sustainable practices.

Maintain Equipment

Proper maintenance of your reclaiming equipment is essential for ensuring long-term performance and efficiency. Equipment like pressure washers and brushes undergo significant wear and tear during the reclaiming process. Regular maintenance can prevent breakdowns and extend the life of your tools.

Pressure Washers

  • Check for Leaks: Inspect hoses and connections regularly to ensure there are no leaks.
  • Clean Filters: Maintain clean filters to ensure optimal water flow and pressure.
  • Inspect Nozzles: Replace worn or damaged nozzles to maintain effective pressure.


  • Clean After Use: Rinse brushes thoroughly after each use to remove chemical residues and ink particles.
  • Store Properly: Store brushes in a dry place to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Replace Worn Brushes: Regularly inspect brushes for wear and replace them when bristles become frayed.

Safety First

Handling reclaiming chemicals requires strict adherence to safety protocols to protect workers from potential hazards. Always prioritize safety by using appropriate protective gear and ensuring a safe working environment.

Protective Gear

  • Gloves: Use chemical-resistant gloves to protect your hands from corrosive substances.
  • Goggles: Wear safety goggles to shield your eyes from splashes and fumes.
  • Aprons and Respirators: Consider using aprons to protect your clothing and respirators to avoid inhaling harmful fumes, especially in poorly ventilated areas.


Ensure your reclaiming area is well-ventilated to disperse fumes from chemicals. Use exhaust fans or open windows to improve air circulation. Proper ventilation reduces the risk of respiratory issues and creates a safer working environment.

Consistency is Key

Consistency in your reclaiming routine is vital for maintaining the quality of your screens and ensuring a smooth printing process. A well-defined, regular reclaiming schedule helps in identifying any issues early and prevents the build-up of residues that can compromise screen performance.

Routine Development

  • Set Schedules: Establish a regular schedule for reclaiming screens, whether daily, weekly, or based on usage.
  • Standard Procedures: Develop and document standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each step of the reclaiming process. This ensures all team members follow the same protocols, resulting in uniform quality.
  • Training: Provide regular training to employees on the reclaiming process and safety protocols. Well-trained staff are more likely to adhere to procedures and maintain high standards.

Monitoring and Feedback

  • Inspection: Regularly inspect screens after reclaiming to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and ready for reuse.
  • Feedback Loop: Create a feedback loop where employees can report issues or suggest improvements. This helps in continuously refining the reclaiming process and addressing any problems promptly.


Mastering the screen reclaiming process is essential for any screen printing operation. By following these detailed steps, you can ensure your screens are clean, free of residues, and ready for reuse. A well-reclaimed screen contributes to better print quality, cost savings, and a more efficient workflow. Remember, investing time and effort in reclaiming screens pays off by enhancing the overall quality of your screen printing projects.

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