Why Do Receipts Fade?

Receipts are an essential part of our daily lives, serving as proof of purchase and enabling us to track our expenses. However, it is not uncommon to find that over time, these receipts become illegible due to fading. But why do receipts fade? Let’s explore the reasons behind this phenomenon.

One of the primary causes of receipt fading is the use of thermal paper. Thermal paper is coated with a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). When heat is applied to the paper, the chemicals react and create an image. However, over time, exposure to light, heat, and humidity causes the paper to degrade, leading to fading.

Additionally, the quality of thermal paper can vary. Lower-quality paper tends to fade more quickly than higher-quality alternatives. The type of printer used also plays a role. Some printers use higher heat settings, resulting in faster fading, while others may use different chemicals that are more resistant to degradation.

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Another factor that contributes to receipt fading is exposure to light. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from both natural sunlight and artificial sources can cause the thermal paper to fade more rapidly. This is why you often see faded receipts left on car dashboards or near windows.

Furthermore, improper storage can accelerate receipt fading. Keeping receipts in wallets, purses, or pockets where they are exposed to heat and friction can speed up the degradation process. Moisture and humidity can also contribute to fading, so storing receipts in a cool, dry place is recommended.

In conclusion, receipts fade due to the use of thermal paper, exposure to light, heat, and humidity, as well as improper storage. While fading receipts can be frustrating, it is important to keep in mind that there are alternatives such as digital receipts or photographing important paper receipts to ensure they can be accessed when needed.


1. Can I prevent my receipts from fading?
Yes, you can minimize fading by storing receipts in a cool, dry place away from light and heat sources.

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2. How long do thermal paper receipts last before fading?
Receipts can start fading within a few months to a few years, depending on various factors such as paper quality and storage conditions.

3. Are digital receipts a better option?
Digital receipts are a great alternative as they eliminate the problem of fading and provide an organized way to track expenses.

4. Can I photocopy my receipts to preserve them?
Photocopying receipts can help preserve the information, but it may not be as reliable as digital receipts or proper storage.

5. Are all thermal papers equally prone to fading?
No, the quality of thermal paper can vary, and higher-quality paper tends to be more resistant to fading.

6. Can I protect my receipts with laminating?
Laminating thermal paper receipts is not recommended, as the heat used in the lamination process can darken and potentially damage the print.

7. Are there any specific storage containers for receipts?
While there are no specific storage containers for receipts, using folders, envelopes, or plastic sleeves can help protect them from light, heat, and friction.

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