How To Remove Heat Transfer Vinyl

There are a few situations we can get ourselves into that require a full vinyl removal from clothing. Many times, clothing designers will make a mistake when it comes to cutting or transferring vinyl to a t-shirt, bag, or another piece of fabric that they don’t notice until they see the finished product is all wrong! It is terrible to have to throw out a perfectly good item (but sometimes it's necessary). So what can you do to reverse the error and try again? Well, you can try your hand at the simple process of removing the heat vinyl transfer to have a fresh piece of clothing again. By saving fabrics from the trash in this way, companies can save a great deal of money on products. This guide will show you how to remove the vinyl completely so you can try again. 


Related: How To Use Heat Transfer Vinyl [Buyer's Guide]


What You Will Need To Remover Heat Transfer Vinyl 


Here are some of the items you will need to successfully remove heat transfer vinyl that is already pressed onto clothing: 


  1. A cutting tool: Depending on the job, it may be best to use a pair of scissors, a razor blade, or an X-Acto blade. 
  2. A pair of tweezers for plucking the vinyl 
  3. A clothes iron heated to the proper temperature 


Some optional items depending on the job: 


  1. A vinyl removal solution for removing sticky residues such as Goo Gone, Krud Kutter, or Sticky Out. (Our custom-made solution will work best). 
  2. A bottle of rubbing alcohol 


Once you have gathered all the items you need, it’s time to move on to the first step in heat transfer vinyl removal! 


Want the best materials and products for your custom clothing operation? Take a look at our selection of the highest quality materials available at Avance Vinyl, including vinyl remover. 

Step 1: Prepare Your Iron 


Get your clothes iron plugged in and ready to reheat the vinyl. You will want the iron at its hottest temperature, which is most often the cotton and linen setting on the dial. If you are trying to remove heat transfer vinyl from another fabric type, you may want to adjust the heat down. Google the ironing instructions that are safe for other fabrics like wool or polyester (these will generally be lower temperature, and your iron will most likely have a setting for them. 

Step 2: Drape the Shirt or Other Clothing Item Over The Iron 


Once your iron is heated to the proper setting, you will want to drape the article of clothing over the hot iron that is resting upright. Be very careful to watch your fingers when doing this! The iron surface should be under the vinyl graphic to heat and loosen the vinyl material. 

Step 3: Pull the Clothing Tightly over the Iron Plate


If you only have one piece of the graphic you wish to remove, place that area over the iron plate. If the whole graphic needs to be removed, you may have to work it around the plate and remove the vinyl little by little. 


Step 4: Use Your Cutting and Scraping Tool 


Use the tool you have chosen to begin scraping the heated vinyl off of the fabric. It will usually come off in chunks. Be careful not to cut the cotton or other material so you can use the product again. The vinyl should easily peel as it becomes increasingly heated with the iron. 

When you have loosened a large part of the vinyl with your scraping tool, you can use your tweezers to lift the vinyl off in larger chunks. You should use the tweezer and not your bare hands as you can get burned easily! If you are getting too close for comfort with your fingers, feel free to use a pair of leather gloves. 

Throughout the process of scraping and picking with the tweezers, use the rubbing alcohol to remove any residue from the tools. This will avoid any chance of the vinyl from inadvertently re-sticking to the shirt. 


Related: How To Buy the Right Heat Transfer Paper


A man wearing a Nike t-shirt


Step 5: When All Else Fails…


We mentioned that sometimes it’s not always an easy process to remove heat transfer vinyl. At times it may need some more love. When the vinyl doesn't peel correctly, you can apply vinyl remover or another adhesive remover to the area that still has residue. 

Make sure you remove the shirt from the iron and then apply the vinyl remover to the warm surface. A little goes a long way! Rub the vinyl remover in a circular motion until the residue begins to come up and clump together. 


When all the residue looks to be gone, hand wash the area where the vinyl was on the shirt with hot water and detergent. 


Step 6: Wash and Dry


After any residue is gone, you can wash the garment completely. Wash in a machine with the tag's recommended settings, and then air dry. Once the shirt or other piece of clothing is completely dry, you can inspect it for anything you missed. Make sure the clothing is dry and chemical-free before trying your heat transfer vinyl process over again. 

Are you looking for the best products for your clothing company? Shop the highest quality heat transfer vinyl, vinyl remover, and sublimation materials at Avance Vinyl. 


A man wearing a shirt with an orange logo


Sometimes a big mistake in heat vinyl transfer doesn’t have to cost us by throwing out a piece of clothing! Once you get the hang of things, removing the vinyl isn’t a difficult process. You may even pick up your own tips and tricks over time. However, it’s always best to triple-check your process when applying vinyl to ensure you don’t make a mistake! 


Related: Sublimation Printing: The Ultimate Guide

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