Picture of Fabric Printing with Citra-Solv
Any photograph, image or design that looks good in black and white is a great candidate for printing with Citra-Solv. It's permanent, can be washed in the washer, takes about 2 minutes to do and it's cheap and easy. Once you start printing it's hard to stop because the possibilities are pretty endless.

Step 1: What you need:

Picture of What you need:

1. Citra-Solv. They have an incredible website with product info, art stuff, order info, go here. If you live in the States you can find it at just about any Whole Foods. But save yourself a trip and go to their website if you live far from town. There are great ideas there that I didn't know about until after I wrote this 'ible.
2. Small shallow bowl
3. Cheap 1" or larger paint brush
4. Fabric you want to print on (this should be the smoothest fabric you can find - usually that means a tight weave, but experiment - if you don't have a lot of detail such as a photo you can use a looser
weave fabric.
5. An iron
6. Access to a copier that uses toner (most do, like a Xerox or Cannon etc.) This means a copier that ONLY prints in black.
7. Newspaper or something to protect your dining room table if need be
8. A big spoon, wooden or metal
9. Some pins
10. Images you want to print

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Would you be able to transfer images from a newspaper? Do you think the ink be suitable?

This is a great idea and I wanted to try it. I got a toner printer and printed the image but when I tried to transfer it no ink was trying to come off :( Do you have any suggestions?

Ninzerbean (author)  hannah.herron.5075 months ago
This method is for copies - not prints. Your COPIER must use carbon based toner. Not your printer. Sorry I am late in answering your question, there was a bug with notifications but it is fixed now.
ZuzanaK6 months ago

I compared the transfer I got from Citra-Solv + spoon (nothing transferred) and the transfer achieved by using a Walnut Hollow tool (about 1/2 the toner transferred). I also tested combining the two (with multiple fans blowing away the fumes), but it only made the image blurrier. I recommend the Walnut Hollow tool, but this could just be due to the copier I am using, of course. Someone suggested that the paper used to print makes a difference as well, and some papers lose all the toner to the fabric.

Ninzerbean (author)  ZuzanaK6 months ago
I think that the subject of which copier to use has been discussed at length. It's not about the tool you use obviously as you can see in the photos. The copier that uses toner is key. Printers do not usually work. Cheap copies that only copy in black and white. The paper does not matter.
I understand that your method works for some copiers. I mentioned the heat-transfer method so that those who cannot find a copier that works for Citra-Solv could use heat instead.
Ninzerbean (author)  ZuzanaK6 months ago

But this is an 'ible on transferring images to fabric with Citra-Solve. If you want to write one on using something else then you should. Your comments, though well intentioned don't really make sense here. I thought your reference to a walnut hollow tool was something made from a hollow walnut. Even now that I understand the transfer tool was heated the comment still has nothing to do with this 'ible.

I'm sorry you were not able to transfer images with Citra-Solve. Possibly your copies were at fault. If you or others cannot find a copier that transfers clear, wash-safe, bleach-safe images to fabric using Citra-Solve then keep looking for a copier that will make copies that work with this method. Don't give up just because you are using copies from the wrong type of copier. Don't settle for anything that is blurred either.

txgraveseeker6 months ago

Thank you for sharing. I wonder if this could be done on a wood box? Have you tried other surfaces?

Ninzerbean (author)  txgraveseeker6 months ago
I don't see why not. Try it and post a pic. I have not tried other surfaces.
ricardosf7 months ago

What I have to do to make the printings work?

I had printed some images in a regular printing machine, I tried it 4 hours after having the printing images, and didn't worked!

Can you help me?

Ninzerbean (author)  ricardosf7 months ago
Printed images won't work because the toner is not carbon toner. You must use COPIES. And you must make sure the copies are made on a copier the uses carbon based toner. There is a lot of information about the difference between prints and copies and all of that in the comment section.
satoko687 months ago
As far as I know, this stuff is made from d-limonene, which I actually buy in bulk from a supplier to make cleaners. It's not expensive & it's safe to work with providing a person doesn't do anything stupid with it like drink it, and it smells very strongly of oranges since it's made from orange peels. It's used as an industrial solvent, amongst other things like skin & hair care products, so that tells you it's incredibly effective & useful. I'll be testing this out using my pure d-limonene for this project after getting some of my other half's photography photocopied at an office supply store. It'll be interesting to see what happens! Thanks very much!
Ninzerbean (author)  satoko687 months ago
Read the MSDS on d-limonene before you start - you should not be using it without a respirator. Just because it is made with oranges it is still a solvent that will cause nerve damage if you are exposed to it in an unsafe way for too long. Artists are exposed to many chemicals and should take many precautions. Think about your quality of life in 10 years.

Also, read a lot of the comments, there have been problems with people not getting copies that are carbon based. The copier that you use must be carbon toner based one. The comments will explain it all. Good luck and be sure to post what you make.
clewis219 months ago

I love this technique but don't use it because I am very chemically sensitive and don't like the smell.

Xamu9 months ago

Is there a functional difference (in terms of this project) between Citra-Solv and Goo-Gone?

Both appear to be citrus based solvents.

Ninzerbean (author)  Xamu9 months ago
Yes, they do seem the same-ish, but I don't think they are the same. Though of course they both might work. The Citra-Solv folks are really wonderful and they have a lot of artist related stuff on their website and I am sure they could answer your question.
alcurb9 months ago

Very cool. I want to try it.

I found the MSDS (material safety data sheet) for Citra Solv. In an nutshell, it is mostly safe as long as you don't drink it. On skin it is irritating, so you probably don't want to wash your hands with it.

Here's the MSDS:


jlambert9 months ago

Very good instructible and I am planning to try my hand at it. But you have me completely confused. One place you refer to transfering the INK, the another you say to use copier with TONER . Which is it ? The capitals are not meant to be shouting, just emphasis. Thanks .

Ninzerbean (author)  jlambert9 months ago
Thank you for pointing this out. I wrote this 'ible years and years ago, and a nice person at Instructables has honored me by re-featuring it. But there always was a lot of confusion on toners and ink and carbon and ink so I will try to edit the 'ible but in the mean time I used the word ink when I meant the toner ink.

Still confused? Well it will only get worse if you can't find an old copier that uses toner, carbon based toner. My old Canon PC491 copier is still running great and Canon still makes the toner for it. Perhaps by calling their service dept they could help you with which machines use toner and which don't. There is such a variety of toner and yes, inks that will work with this project. Some folks had great luck with printers for some reason. Who knows. The point for me is that the images do not wash out. Please wear a respirator.

Go through the comments, that will help.
hendrosutono9 months ago
I used to do image transfer using gasoline. The one with high octane.
It can transfer not only image from copier, it can also transfer image from news papers, tabloids dan some magazine.
The whole process is same...
sazure1 year ago

Citra-Solv using the aromatic oil of orange is toxic (as ALL aromatics are) due to the chemical compounds found in all plants (some more then others). Oops didn't mean to italicize - (artist/biochemisty and arts/chemistry, Masters Health field and used intensive therapies, including Gerson to recover from end stage chemical injury - building fire where illegal renovations occurred (solvent and toxic based products with no ventilation or OSHA standards, and in college art courses with inadequate ventilation). It was in his books (therapies) from way back that the aromatics can harm those with compromised immune, detox enzyme, liver detox systems (et al) all systems.

Since these same toxic based compounds are used in most common household and commercial products (perfumes most all in America made from petroleum, fabric softeners so on) once injured (cell phenomena of anesthesia - these compounds both anesthetize and sensitize) meaning injure to the point where it takes only a little amount to do more and more damage. (not that one is "sensitive").

Great book "Artists Beware" and see Dr. Grace Ziem.

So has the author mentions VENT and protect. That is why.

That said it is certainly less (much less) toxic then the synthetic based products.
Ninzerbean (author)  sazure1 year ago
Thank you ever so for your valuable input, I hope everyone reads and follows what you wrote. The Gerson institute is one that my mother tells everyone who will listen about. Mostly people don't listen though.
Your welcome - I paid a heavy price and am glad you did not mind my posting a reply as regarding it's safety (low low income and lost job so on and live like "boy in bubble"). That said - that's life! (and I learned much due to this "alternative" path. But it really amazes me when I see Youtube tutorials where no one takes safety precautions!
A tad Off Topic -

Re: Gerson - I saw it first hand when - 30 years prior (lived in Oregon) my friend's grandmother (one of Gerson's highlighted cases) had end stage liver cancer (and luckily no radiation or chemo) with rigidity setting in (dying). Recovered fully to live near to very late age. One could wipe away the castor oil pack (over liver area) and see the brown (broken down tumor) ooze out.

I later found (in NYC) Dr. Majid Ali - who asked what I was doing (and many other things - studied Eastern and other modalities "on the way down") and he has done brilliant research on castor oil, as well I wanted to do Oxygen therapies (IV of H2O2 - native to our cells and other forms of Oxygen) and when NYC passed a medical freedom act - we could and I finally started to turn around (was very nearly dead).

Rockefella way back when (family) owned chemical consortium's and started the AMA (American Medical Association) and made and still does (entities - corporations and Government bodies) huge efforts to destroy plant based holistic therapies to support pharmaceuticals. No real freedom of choice as Gerson (a Genius) discovered.
lainey3102 years ago
HELP, I have a samsung color lazer multi format printer, lazer

I printed out a page from graphic fairy, bought the citra solv did everything you did and got nothing/

what am I doing wrong

Ninzerbean (author)  lainey3102 years ago
It's a printer, not a copier - your Samsung - you say so yourself. Please read the comments, you will find a lot of information there about the difference between copiers and printers and inks, toners, carbon based toners etc. I do not know what a graphic fairy is, is it is a place you went and had your printed image copied and if you asked them if they were using a color copier or a simple black and white one?
sorry graphic fairy is a web site that you could print images off ofon your computer, so your saying that a printer could not be used for this project, could you tell me if I take a copy of the print to a printing place would they make one that will work, Thanks for your help, Idid read alot ofthe comments but
I guess Im still not understanding,
Ninzerbean (author)  lainey3102 years ago
If you go to the Citra Solv website there is a lot of new information about printing that was not there when I wrote this 'ible, of special interest to you would be this section.
Ninzerbean (author)  lainey3102 years ago
Sorry to put you off like this but you really must read all of the comments to get the best understanding,otherwise I'm repeating myself.
Light_Lab3 years ago
Are you sure you need the Citra-Solv? I have been doing this for years by just ironing the paper with a really hot iron. I mostly use laser printer printouts but they are made by exactly the same process as modern thermal photocopiers.
I am thinking that the Citra-Solv is just acting as a heat transfer medium because you get about the same amount of transfer as I do when I don't pre-chill the paper.
Here briefly is my best method (but I have had success with variations):
(1) Chill your print paper overnight in the fridge (wrap in plastic to avoid condensation).
(2) Print a mirror image of your design out on a B&W or colour laser printer while the paper is still cold.
(3) Re-chill the paper and take it out of the fridge just before ironing.
(4) The iron has to be very hot, it should yellow paper slightly, Make sure the steam setting is off and there is no water in the iron. (And old iron kept for the purpose is best.)
(5) Place the design toner side down onto the fabric on a good flat ironing board and make sure the fabric is flat (pre-iron if needed).
(6) Iron until your patience is gone or the paper goes yellow. At times I have sprayed the paper with water from a mister to try to increase heat transfer.
(7) If you are really lucky the paper will be stuck to the fabric by the fused toner and you will have to wash it off with water. That usually gives the best result. Other times it just falls off dry, that usually means some of the toner will be still stuck to the paper.
can i chill multiple papers in the fridge or freezer in one plastic bag before ironing??? was going to attempt your process today! i am very excited because it will hopefully produce a crisp print especially with thin straight lines. :-)
Hi viv664, Sorry to take so long to reply, been a bit ill and trying to make up for lost time.
You should be able to chill multiple sheets together but I have never tried it. Keep in mind that paper is a good insulator and chilling will take longer to get right to the middle of the stack.
Ninzerbean (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
Wow, that sounds great, I assume it it then washable too? Thank you for sharing!
They do fade a bit with washing. This is never a bold full contrast result but sort of rustic so if that is what you are after a bit of fading is OK. I did a black design on a handkerchief about 10 years ago; it has been used and washed hundreds of times and the design is very faded but still visible.
I have been thinking lately that one experiment I haven't tried is to iron from the fabric side. The melted toner should move toward the heat by fluid absorption. Next time!
Ninzerbean (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
Well that is the difference then, I guess the Cirtra-Solv 'melts' the toner during the transfer and because it is plastic it wont fade or wash out. I think your process is only transferring the ink from the image instead of actually embedding the toner into the fabric. Why not write up an 'ible on your technique - I'm sure it would be very popular, I know I would enjoy seeing it.
Are you saying that the Citra-Solv prints don't fade with washing at all? How many times have you washed them? When I say "They do fade a bit with washing." I mean they start to look a little less intense after about 2 or 3 years of typical washing.
I guess I could do an Instructable on it, what would be cool would be to do a proper comparison of several methods to see what works best. I am not sure if I can get Citra-Solv here in Oz though.
Ninzerbean (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
No they don't fade at all with washing - I show that in the 'ible. Even bleach does not effect them - see photos in 'ible. Yes it would be great to see comparables! There is a link to the Citra-Solv site in the 'ibel so you can see if you can get it in Oz - where ever Oz may be. Are you like a munchkin or a witch or Toto or something? I think you can only get the stuff in the real world though. When I use this technique it gets run though so much stuff, like over-dying, bleaching, re-dying and such that even though when it is all finished I usually use the fabric in a quilt, I am not afraid that any more washing will fade it, though a typical quilt only gets washed as much as the cat lies on it and makes it worth washing.

We cold even print the same image - your way and my way and then wash however many times you want and post the results with photos.
Oz = Australia, locals pronounce it Oz-trail-ya so Oz has become a standard in emails and SMS's. Even though I don't drink, there is a lot of beer drunk here and I imagine broom riding witches, dancing scarecrows and munchkins are seen quite often. i{^_^}
As far as the bleach goes; toner colours are predominately pigments not dyes so very resistant to bleach and sunlight; particularly the black. Fused toner is more likely to be lost from fabric by extensive mechanical agitation ie as the fabric fibres wear away. Hence most of my articles that have faded eg the handkerchief, is so threadbare now I would say it is just about had it's day. I really only keep it because it was my first experiment with toner.
I will definitely try to get some Citra-Solv. Actually I should really get serious and checkout exactly what polymer is used for the toner binder and see what appropriate solvents I can find around the lab.
I have to tell you though the "chill trick" pretty well leaves very little toner on the paper when I get it perfect. I suspect that any solvent will only make the lines more diffuse. This would be good for photos but perhaps not as good for text and logos.
Comparing results for the same image is a great idea, I am buried in projects at the moment though, I will take this up thoroughly as soon as I get time.
Ninzerbean (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
I think being that you are so far away (and in the real world) is only the more reason we should try this. We can do a collaborative 'ible, it's pretty easy, we can PM each other to set up the private stats to start it. I am as busy as you are but when the mood strikes you just PM me with an image you want to try and we can go from there. I can send you some fabric samples so we are both working with the same 'ground'.

When we are done we can post a link from this 'ible to our 'ible.
d1ndian4 years ago
Can we use a laser printer???
Ninzerbean (author)  d1ndian4 years ago
No you can't, you must use a carbon based toner COPIER, not a printer. For a better explanation of why, read through the comments.
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