How to Read a Faded Receipt?

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There are a few tricks to reading faded receipts and we want to share them with you in this post. Reading faded receipts is usually a hard nut to crack for most people, but it’s not supposed to be. As you read on, you will learn how to make your faded receipts readable again.

How to read a faded receipt? You can read a faded receipt by restoring the faded thermal print with heat or making a digital copy. To restore faded thermal prints, you need to carefully apply heat to the faded thermal printed receipt. For instance, you can blow low-heat air from a hairdryer to the backside of the receipt from the distance of an arm’s length. Alternatively, you can scan the receipt or use a mobile app to make a digital copy of the faded receipt. Then, carefully manipulate the brightness and contrast settings until the faded prints become readable.  

There is so much to learn about reading faded receipts. As you read on, we will explain in details the different methods for reading faded thermal receipts. We will leave no stone unturned, and by the time you’re through reading, you will have no unanswered question about reading faded receipts.

How to read a faded receipt
Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

How To Restore Faded Thermal Receipts?

There are four simple ways to restore faded thermal prints. The first option is to blow low-heat air to the backside of the receipt from a hairdryer. Another option is to apply heat using a pressing iron. But for this, you must place a well-padded piece of cloth as a buffer between the pressing iron and the receipt. The third option is to scan the receipt and edit the photo’s contrast and brightness settings until the faded prints reappear. Finally, you can use special mobile apps like Paperistic or Tabscanner to restore faded receipts.

All of these four methods are potent and often work well. But it is always better to try the digital methods before attempting to use heat. This is because heat can potentially damage the receipt further and render it completely unreadable if care is not taken.

As you read on, we will explain each of these four methods.

Scan the Faded Receipt to Your Computer

Scanning faded receipts can help restore them digitally. To do this, scan the faded receipt just the way you would scan a colored print or photo. This will produce a digital image of the receipt on your computer. Open this image with Adobe Photoshop or any other good photo editor. Then tweak the contrast and brightness setting or simply use a filter to create a negative copy. This should make the faded print reappear again.

✅ Video – How to Darken a Faded Receipt in Photoshop: Using Adobe Photoshop

Your faded receipts can be transformed to brand new digital copies if you know how to darken them in Photoshop. In this video, you will see a demo of how you can darken faded receipts using Adobe Photoshop tools. Click paly to learn more.

Use Mobile Apps to Restore Faded Receipts

If you use an Android or Apple phone or tablet, you can download a free mobile App to restore you faded receipt. These apps work like mobile scanners with in-built photo editors. You can scan the receipt with these apps and adjust the image settings to make the faded prints readable again.

Paperistic App

You can scan your faded receipt with the Paperistic app. Then choose the ‘Monochrome’ or ‘Readable’ filter. This will automatically adjust brightness, contrast, and color levels of the image to make the text on it legible again. The good thing with Paperistic is that it always saves the original copy of the scanned image. So you can change the filter at will for better readability.


Another great mobile scanning app for restoring faded receipts is the Tabscanner app. Tabscanner not only scans and saves receipt images, but also records and extracts receipt contents. It also saves the receipt data online. You can also integrate this app seamlessly into several platforms without affecting the performance of your existing software.

Use a Handheld Hair Dryer

If you are not computer savvy and you don’t know how to use Photoshop or mobile apps, you can use the old-time method of the application. You can gently blow low-heat air to the faded receipts using a handheld hair dryer. Set the hair dryer on low or medium heat and direct the air to the backside of the receipt. You can gradually increase the heat level until the text is visible again.

Use a Pressing Iron

To restore a faded receipt using a pressing iron, you can place a thin towel (preferably non-fluffy) over the receipt. Then run a heated pressing iron over it. The heat coming from the pressing iron will make the faded ink reappear and become readable again.

Tips for Restoring Faded Thermal Prints

There are a few tips to bear in mind while restoring thermal print, especially if you are using heat. Firstly, you should never apply heat to the front surface of the thermal paper. Then make sure to handle the receipt paper with care. Avoid vigorous handling and exposure to sweat and other contaminants. What’s more, heat can damage the receipt beyond repair or restoration, so be careful with heat application.

You can find more details about each of these tips below:

Exhaust All Other Options Before Using Heat

Heat application should be your last option whenever possible. Try other methods before you attempt recovery by using heat. And even if you eventually have to use heat, cut a small section of the faded receipt and test your heat source on it to make sure you won’t end up damaging the receipt further.

Apply Heat TO The Backside Only

Regardless of what kind of heat source you’re using, heat should only be applied to the backside of the receipt. Remember that the thermal coat layer of the paper is on its front surface, so direct application of heat to that surface may turn the entire receipt black. This will, in turn, damage the receipt print further and may even render it permanently unreadable.

Apply Heat From A Safe Distance

Keep your heat source a few inches from the receipt if you are using a hairdryer or light bulb. The ideal distance is usually the length of an arm. It is safe for low to medium heat to reach faded receipts from that distance.

Wear Gloves

It’s better to put on protective gloves or wash your hands before you handle the receipts. Sweat and natural skin oil from your hand can damage the print further. If this happens, your efforts at restoring the faded prints will be futile, and the faded receipt will become utterly useless.

Why Do Receipts Fade?

The primary reason why receipts fade is that they are thermal prints. And no matter how long thermal prints last, they fade eventually. But then, exposure to sunlight and other sources of UV light, as well as heat make thermal prints, including receipts, fade faster. Aside from faded prints, extreme UV exposure also causes the discoloration of the entire receipt paper. What’s more, exposure to high humidity and other contaminants can affect the legibility of receipts.

That’s why you ought to handle receipts with great care and store them under appropriate conditions for them to last long. As you read on, we will show you how to prevent your receipts from fading.

How to Prevent Receipts from Fading

You can prevent your receipts from fading and keep them clear and legible for up to seven years if you store and handle them correctly. Here are a few recommendations to help you achieve this:

  • Don’t keep your receipts inside plastic sleeves. High humidity inside plastic sleeves will damage the thermal print.
  • Store receipts in cool, dark places where light and heat will not reach them.
  • Make a duplicate copy of your receipts. You can always refer to this even if the thermal receipt eventually fades.

Receipt Turned Black: Can It Be Restored?

You should only attempt receipt recovery if the paper is still white. Receipts that have turned yellow, brown, or black are difficult (if not impossible) to restore. Scanning hardly helps restore such receipts. And even heat applications have a small success rate. It is better to keep the receipts in proper conditions, so that even if the prints fade with time, the paper would not have discolored. That way, it’s easier to restore the faded print.

Related Questions

How Do You Preserve Receipt Paper?

If you want to preserve your original thermal receipt at all costs, you should keep it in a cool, dry place. There should be no pressure whatsoever on the thermal paper too. Pressure can accelerate the thermal activation process in the paper and reduce the image life.

You must be intentional about preserving your receipt papers if you want them to last long. If you don’t take intentional steps to store your receipt papers appropriately, they will fade quickly.

Why Is My Printing Coming Out Faded?

Your thermal receipts can come out faded if the printhead of your thermal printer is dirty or damaged. If the printhead is dirty, a simple process of cleaning the thermal printer will solve the problem. But if the thermal printhead is damaged, you would need to either replace it or buy a new printer. Low-density (or low-heat) settings on your thermal printer can also cause faded printing.

If you printing is coming out faded, you should check the settings first. If your settings are okay, then try cleaning your printer’s printhead. And if that does not solve the problem, you should get an expert to check the printer.

How Does Receipt Paper Work?

Receipt papers contain a layer of thermochromic (heat-sensitive) dye pigments. Upon contact with heat, these initially colorless pigments turn black. The printhead of thermal printers have pins that heat up during printing. These hot pins touch the paper in specific spots where imprints should be created. The receipt paper turns black on those spots and creates imprints.


It is possible to still read faded receipts. We have shared all the tricks and tips in the post. We hope you find them helpful for you as you attempt to restore your faded receipts.

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