Pretreat Machine vs Hand Sprayer for DTG Printing

Which is better for DTG Printing? Pretreat machine or the hand sprayer!

The biggest challenge in DTG printing is the pre-treatment step. Too much pretreatment solution or not enough can greatly affect the successful outcome of the image. Without pre-treatment, the garment will not absorb ink correctly. Therefore, the pre-treatment process is essential for a good DTG print.

There are two types of equipment to apply pre-treatment liquid onto t-shirts/garments. They are:

  • Hand Sprayer
  • Pretreatment Machine

Pretreat Machine vs. Hand Sprayer | Which is Better?

Let us discuss the pros and cons of each and choose the best for a DTG printing business.

Pretreatment Hand Sprayer:


1. Low Initial Cost:

Pretreatment hand spray will cost you around $200 to $300. A hand sprayer is a great choice for those who want to save money.

2. Lightweight and portable:

The average size of a hand sprayer is about 15.9 x 6.6 x 13.8 inches and weighs less than 2.2 lbs(1 kg). Therefore, it is lightweight and easy to carry to any place.

3. Small Production Requirement:

If you are not a big print shop or starting your business with a few productions, a hand sprayer is suitable for fewer print jobs.


1. Inconsistency:

One of the most common problems with a hand sprayer is inconsistency in applying pre-treatment liquid onto the garment. As it is done manually, you may not spray equally enough onto the entire print area. As a result, it causes bad DTG prints. Yet, if you are skilled enough to maintain consistency with a hand sprayer.

2. Over/Under spraying:

There are chances to apply too much or too little than the required amount of pretreatment liquid. It is liable to get your DTG prints ruined with the uneven application of the pretreatment, even in the areas where it isn’t required to print.

Moreover, the excess and needless application of the pretreatment liquid results in wastage and costly in the long run.

Automatic Pretreatment Machine:


1. Accuracy:

A pre-treatment machine offers more accuracy in regards to the pre-treatment solution laid down onto the garment. It does not over-spray or under-spray the liquid. Moreover, thirty grams of pretreatment solution per t-shirt is the recommended quantity. It lays down the exact amount of pre-treatment solution onto the garment. As a result, it saves your money in the long run.

2. Consistency:

With an automatic pretreatment machine, you get a consistent application of the liquid onto the entire print area. No areas left, no uneven spray application, which results in good DTG prints. As it is not a hand-held device, it saves time with no error.

3. Optimum use of Pretreatment Solution:

The spray operation occurs exactly within the required print area, leaving the area that is inessential. Further, the even application of the liquid prevents over-spray. You will waste less and spray. Collectively, it prevents wastage of the pretreatment solution and economical in the long run.

4. Sealed Unit:

As we know, pretreatment solutions are highly corrosive to metals. If you have any object, especially the printer nearby, that may be a trouble for you. Therefore, with a pretreatment machine,  the spraying operation happens inside a sealed unit. As a result, you don’t have to walk to another room to spray your garments to avoid getting pretreat mist into your printer.

5. Less Messy:

The automatic pretreatment machine is easy to operate with faster production. All the pretreatment operation is done automatically with no manual intervention. As a result, a machine saves time and keeps things consistent at a less messy process with less overspray.


1. High Initial Cost:

The initial cost of automatic pretreatment machines starts from $5000. It is not feasible to buy, especially for those who have a limited budget. No doubt, the machine is a lot better, but it is preferable to pretreat the shirts yourself and by hand at first.

2. Maintenance Costs:

Everything goes fine until the end of the warranty. And then the problems start a big time for you. Pump replacement, solenoid valves, tubes, and the list goes on. When you have things useful at one time, you have to pay the price for them.

3. Not easy to carry:

The average dimension of the pretreatment machine is 40 inches (Length) x 24 inches (Width) x 20 inches (Height) and weighs 218 lbs. Therefore, it large and heavy machine that is not portable.


Pretreatment consistency and accurate application of an optimum pretreat solution are important to obtain a perfect DTG pretreatment. The best dtg pretreatment machine gives you a major improvement and less messy printing quality because you should be able to get consistent pretreatment on the design area of the garment. Further, it reduces a great number of costs and labor with a pretreat machine. Therefore, pretreat machine is the best for pre-treatment operation in DTG printing.

In contrast, it isn’t easy to obtain even pretreatment with a hand sprayer. On the positive side, a hand sprayer is a money saver for those with a low budget, less production, or an alternative during the breakdown of the pretreating machine.

Written by Leandro Rivas

Leandro Rivas is a direct-to-garment printing expert with over 7 years of experience in the field. He has since become an expert in direct-to-garment printing, utilizing his creativity and technical expertise to create unique and eye-catching designs on a wide range of clothing items. He runs several t-shirt customization stores across California, where he works with clients to create custom designs that perfectly match their style and vision.

In addition to his work in the fashion industry, Leandro is also an active member of his community. He frequently volunteers at local schools and community centers, sharing his love of art and design with young people and inspiring them to pursue their passions.

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