For consumers, keeping receipt paper for small purchases may not make a lot of sense. For business owners, on the other hand, filing sales receipts can save tons of money and time down the road.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a consumer, holding onto receipt paper is vital for reasons other than taxes: claim rebates, protection against unauthorized charges, extended warranty, or item returns. But as you know, texts on receipt paper fade. And when they do, it could mean a problem, particularly if it involves the taxman. (If you want to know how to keep receipt paper from fading, check this article.)
Why Receipt Paper Fade?
Receipts are typically printed on thermal paper, a chemically coated paper that produces text and images when heat is applied to its surface. Since this kind of paper is susceptible to heat and UV light, extended exposure to these elements will ultimately cause gradual fading. If you are in the mood for experimenting, place a receipt that you don’t need under a hot iron for about 10 seconds. The heat from the iron will change the color of the paper to black. Oil and humidity are also factors to blame.
Now if you’re wondering why the use of thermal paper is so widespread despite this massive disadvantage, it’s because they are very low cost and the equipment used to print it is low maintenance since it doesn’t need ink or ribbon cartridges.
But, don’t worry. Even if your thermal receipts fade, there are ways you can restore them.
How to Restore Faded Receipts?
Restoring a faded thermal paper is quite simple. Here are 3 ways to do so.
1. Scan and digitally restore it.
Assuming that the paper’s surface is still white (not yellowish, brownish or blackish), scan the receipt just as you would a colored photo. Open the image in a photo editing software, like Adobe Photoshop, and make a negative of it by adjusting certain image settings. You should find these options in the tools provided in the software.
2. Apply heat to it.
If you’re no Photoshop genius, you can try restoring it the old-fashioned way: by gently applying heat to the thermal paper.
Set your hairdryer on medium and then blow hot air directly towards the receipt until the text becomes visible. You can also heat the receipt using a light bulb if you don’t own a hairdryer.
Regardless of the heat source, never try to apply heat on the front as this will cause the whole thing to turn black. Keep the source of heat a few inches away from the BACK of the receipt and make sure to pay close attention to whether the heat is reaching the faded paper or not.
Also, you may want to wash your hands or wear protective gloves before handling the receipts. As mentioned, water and oil (the natural oil produced by the skin included) can contribute to fading. With oily or sweaty hands, you might get distorted text and images, rendering your efforts to restore the faded receipts useless.
3. A great mobile APP to recover the faded receipt paper.
The easiest way is to capture a photo of the receipt using the Paperistic app. Choose ‘Readable’ or ‘Monochrome’ filter to adjust the color levels and darken the text to make it legible. Paperistic always stores the original photo as-is, so that the image isn’t tied to one filter (That is, filters can be changed on the fly). The app is free for Android and iPhone users.
Have you tried restoring old thermal receipt paper with these methods? What other methods do you know? Share them in the comments. And if you want to get the long-life thermal paper roll products, Panda Paper Roll’s thermal paper roll products would be always your first choice.
Are the instructions above the same for “preserving” the receipts?
Emma if you’re just “viewing”, self explanatory!
My receipt was very wrinkled and I’ve ironed it and it turned black.
It’s a very expensive item receipt that I need for exchanging the item, what can I do?
It seems to be impossible to restore it because you have ironed the receipt.
put ice on receipt
Maria the same thing ! Did you find a way to fix this?
If it was purchased with a credit card they may find it with the card and still be able to return the item.
I tried your heat method. From 3″ away, then 2″ away and then with the heat right in front of the receipt and then right in back of the receipt. It did blacken the receipt when I got to close but that made all the faded numbers very easy to see.
Very easy way to store receipt for a long time as i do, apply highlighter as we do to highlight something on a paper, it will apply a thin coating on the receipt and it never fade.
This is a great idea….thank you for that info……
Thank you for your valuable answer. This is a greate help. (06.01.2022)
Does this really work with a highlighter
Do these recovery methods only work with thermal paper? What about a photo mat with handwritten notes from people using different kinds of pens?
A totally random question I’ve lived with for years… I just wanted to iron out my crumpled receipts to scan them and BOOM 💥 Now I have Black nicely ironed faded receipts… Thank you for your solutions… I feel much smarter now… can’t wait for the opportunity to impress someone with this randomly gained knowledge… Much appreciated
You’re OK, guys. The second way of your explanation is the easiest way to recover those faded characters on the receipts. –To Emma– do not put the faded receipt too close to the heat source, especially if it is an open flame source. It may flame up.
Some receipts won’t reappear. So, as a precaution, write important information, like the store name, date, cashier, amount, and the item. The store that issued that receipt will be able to find the original in its database.