A Citra Solv Transfer onto Fabric (A Tutorial)


Did you know that you can do a Citra Solv transfer onto fabric? And it won’t wash out? Citra Solv is a citrus solvent that is used as a natural, powerful degreaser but it great for art projects! You can find it at natural food stores….I found mine at Clark’s.

I used an old Johnny Cash drawing from one of my art journals and did a transfer onto  baseball raglan tee for Boo:


First I took some sprayed a light adhesive layer onto a piece of heavy cardboard (don’t use corrugated cardboard or you’ll have lines in your transfer) to use as an insert into my shirt:

(more after the jump)

Next I took a laser printout of my image and placed it face down onto my shirt:

This is really important: the image must be printed on a copy machine or laser printer because the transfer only works with dry toner (i.e. not inkjet ink). I’ve found that certain copy machines and laser printers work better than others. I have a Brother HL-5370DW laser printer and the Brother toner cartridges I use work perfectly. Make sure to test out a couple copy machines and laser printers before you make a ton of copies and do your final transfer. Home laser printers and older copy machines seem to work better than brand new ones.


I dampened a paper towel with Citra Solv and rubbed it onto the back of the paper….you won’t need much and if you dampen it too much your image may bleed:


The paper looks like this once the Citra Solv is applied:


I used a pair of scissors and carefully rubbed the back of the paper to help the image transfer:


I usually carefully lift a corner to check the transfer and once I’m satisfied that the image has transferred I pull off the paper:


The Citra Solv will evaporate completely to leave a perfect image behind! The toner from the laser printer/photo copier will not wash away (unless you were to wash the shirt in Citra Solv!)


The effect will differ on different types of fabric. The shirt for Boo was a thick ribbed textured cotton which made the transfer slightly lighter. The transfer below was onto a thin (men’s undershirt) type cotton and it was super dark and perfect…..you’ll have to do some experimenting to get it just right!


Have fun!


Updated: I’ve had some questions about washing these items. I hand wash my transfers with a mild detergent.  I think some results vary with types of toner too.  Make sure to test your toner on a test piece of fabric before washing.  I’ve found that any stain boosting detergent will be too harsh on the image and cause it to fade.



    • says

      I pinned it too. I love the idea, especially since I only have an older laser printer and can’t do any ink-jet transfers. I love it! thanks for sharing.

  1. says

    That’s fantastic! Gotta love Johnny Cash!!! I’d love to make a Jimi Hendrix one for my partner :)
    I’m off to see if I can find this stuff here in Australia!
    Thanks for sharing :o)

  2. Wendy says

    Love it! Is Citrasolv a US product… I love all your Citrasolv projects but haven’t heard of it before, will have to see if I can find it online.

    • Wendy P says

      Go to the Citra Solv site, there is a tool under the Where to buy tab that will show you which stores in your zip code carry it!! Hope this helps!! :)

  3. Nicole L. says

    How in the world do you even think of these things?! This could be my favorite thing I have seen lately! Thanks for sharing all your awesome ideas.

  4. Kristy says

    Maybe I missed it, but is this just regular printer paper with the laser printer? we just got a laser printer and I am so excited to get try some fun things with. and this looks quick and easy. Also do you heat set the design? or just air dry and second it is washable, right??

  5. Shelly says

    Where would one find an old laser printer to use for these projects. Going to kinko’s is so far out of my way :)

  6. Wendy P says

    I just found a store in my area that sells CitraSolv! Yay! The CitraSolv website has a tool under the where to buy tab, that identifies the stores closest to your zip code that sell the stuff! It’s an easy way to find it! I can’t wait to make some shirts!!!

  7. says

    THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! I have been racking my brain for a cool way to get Johnny cash on a shirt for our son, Cashton!!! I am SOOOOO doing this!
    You rock, Ashley!

  8. says

    Help! Is there something extra needed to help set the image? I tried this method on two shirts and was so excited about them. However, when I washed them, the images did not stay very well, and in one case almost disappeared. I’m putting the image on a onesie and I wanted to make sure to wash it before giving the gift to my brother. I’m wondering if maybe why it didn’t stay was i didn’t let it sit out and dry long enough first?

  9. Trish says

    Is it the “All Purpose Cleaning” Citrasolv that you are using, there are several on the site. How long do you let the shirt sit to dry before you wash it?

    Thank you for the great tut!!!

  10. says

    I have tried this and it wont work. I am using a laser printer I spray the adhesive on the board put a shirt over the board i dab some citrasolv on a napkin rub it on and i get nothing what am i doing wrong??? PLEASE help. I was hoping to use this technique for some Christmas gifts

    • Ashley says

      It is REALLY picky about the laser printer or copier. If nothing comes off then you need to try another laser printer. I’ve found that Brother brand works best for me and the older the machine the better usually!

    • Barbara Shelley says

      I just noticed you didn’t mention rubbing the image to transfer it. Did you do that? I have found that some laser printers don’t work at all or can take ten or twenty minutes of rubbing. The best and fastest tranfers were from the copy machine at the gas station and grocery stores! They took only a couple of minutes to finish!

  11. Audrey says

    I finally tried this and it worked AMAZINGLY! I showed my project to a friend, a pro-seamstress and fabric guru, and she told me that if you steam the fabric a couple hours after you Citra Solv it, it will be set forever.

  12. RP says

    I’m getting a “stain” of citra solv halo-ing my image- will this go away?
    Am I not waiting long enough, using too much citra solv?

    Also, any tips on getting darker images? Mine aren’t near as dark as yours!

    Awesome tutorial! We just got an HP, alas Brother toner works the LEAST well for electronics transfers!


  13. says

    Hey there! – I’m getting ready to post my pillow made with the Citra Solv method. I learned so much from your tutorial and would love to link to it for instructions on how to make the fabric transfer But only if that is okay with you.
    Quote on my drop cloth pillow is “The trouble with trouble is it starts out as fun…”
    Love your blog!

  14. says

    thanks! Love this ingenious idea. Will try it when I get a hold of a citra solv counterpart. Do you, by any means, know another product same as citra solv? Its not available here in the Philippines. :(

  15. Angie says

    I would love to transfer parts of poetry my Dad wrote to my mom, my siblings and me in his own handwriting, onto those leather cuff bracelets you made. He passed away but these would be a great keepsakes. How do I photocopy but reverse the handwriting? I know how to do it on the computer but I don’t think it can be done on a copier.