Posted By Ahijoy On April 01, 2023
How To Remove Iron-On Vinyl?
Everything has a lifespan after which it becomes imperative to replace or discard it. The same goes for iron-on vinyl. There can be many reasons why you would want to remove it from your fabric. It might be cracking up and unsightly, or you simply don’t like the design anymore. If you think it is time to take it out, do not fret. Here’s how you can do it easily without any hassle.
How Iron-On Vinyl Works?
Iron-on vinyl is one of the most amazing and innovative products in the world! It is a technique used to add graphics or images onto a fabric using a heat source. It makes it easier to personalize your clothes and make them more fashionable and trendy than ever before. When heat is applied to a customized vinyl design, it is completely transferred on your substrate.
Iron-on vinyl is thin and flexible and is backed by a heat activated adhesive. It can be cut into a design using a vinyl cutter, and then the excess vinyl is weeded away, leaving only the desired design on the backing. To apply, preheat your iron to the appropriate temperature for the type of vinyl you are using. Check the manufacturer's instructions for recommended settings.
Place the fabric on a flat, heat-resistant surface and preheat it with the iron for a few seconds to remove any moisture and wrinkles. Place the vinyl design where you want it on the fabric. Cover it with a piece of parchment paper or a Teflon sheet. Press it firmly with iron for 15-20 seconds, applying even pressure and moving the iron in a back-and-forth motion. Gently peel off the carrier sheet from the vinyl, starting at one corner and pulling slowly.
Iron-on vinyl can be used to create a variety of designs on fabric, including text, logos, and images. It is a great way to customize clothing and accessories, and can be a fun and creative activity for crafters of all skill levels. The best thing is that this process is not permanent, so you can remove it from your clothing with ease by simply choosing one of the methods listed below.
Method 1: Using Chemical Solvents
There are chemical solvents available in the market that work best to remove iron-on vinyl, for example AlbaChem VLR. Here’s how you can use these:
- Put the fabric in the dryer and put the dryer on high heat to loosen the adhesive a little.
- Turn your shirt inside out. Then locate the area where the transfer is on the other side of the shirt. (You could only see the back side of the transfer). It also feels a bit stiffer.
- Try the solvent on a little section of the garment that is discreet to be sure that the chemical will not damage it in any manner.
- Apply the solvent generously to the area of the clothing that has the transfer on the opposite side. The solvent is supposed to seep through the cloth and release the glue between the garment and the design.
- Once the solvent is applied, stretch the fabric as this allows the solvent to enter the glue and soak into the fabric. You may add extra solvent after stretching.
- When you see that the design is detaching from the edges, remove the transfer using a pair of tweezers. If the solvent was effective, you could remove the transfer off the fabric easily. You can also apply heat with a hair dryer to help it come off. You will be able to pull off large portions of the design until it is completely removed.
- After you have removed the iron-on vinyl design, you may notice some glue residue on the fabric. You can either use rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover like Goo Gone to get rid of it. But before applying any of it you will have to test it on a hidden part of the fabric to be sure it doesn’t affect it adversely.
- Wash the clothing on its own. Washing it with other clothes may enable the solvent to harm them. To avoid bodily contact with the solvent, wash the item thoroughly with additional detergent before usage.
Method 2: Using Rubbing Alcohol
If you are not comfortable with harsh chemicals available in the market for removing iron-on vinyl, you can opt for rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover (acetone). It is a safer choice and can be used on delicate fabrics without any apprehensions. Here’s how you should apply it:
- Follow the instructions mentioned in the first two points of method 1. Put the fabric in the dryer and then turn it inside out to locate the area where the iron-on design is.
- Test an area of the garment to be sure that the alcohol will not damage it in any way. Once satisfied, hold the garment over a sink and pour rubbing alcohol on the entire decal. It should soak it completely.
- Stretch the garment to let alcohol seep in completely and loosen the adhesive of the vinyl.
- Turn the shirt right side out and try to take off vinyl from any loose edge. If the vinyl does not lift away easily, you can use a knife or scissors to scrape it away. This might be time consuming since rubbing alcohol is not harsh and may take long to work. You can soak the area again with it if you feel the need. Be patient when working and you will be able to remove the decal soon.
- Once it is done, rinse the shirt in cold water. If you see any vinyl residue, you can use petroleum jelly to take it off.
Method 3: Using A Hair Dryer
This method works best for fabrics that can withstand high heat such as cotton. Here’s what you can do:
- Place the clothing flat on a surface. Ensure that the surface you are using is not heat sensitive.
- Insert a towel into the shirt. This is to avoid harm to the opposite side. If the towel is too soft use a piece of cardboard or extremely thin plywood instead.
- Examine the garment's care instructions. Heating the garment above the prescribed temperature may cause material damage.
- Heat the design using a hairdryer on high heat. This may heat the glue sufficiently to make it flexible and removable.
- Peel off the transfer with a tweezer. Scrape a sharp knife along the edge of the iron-on transfer to pry it up once it has been loosened by the heat.
- Scrape off any adhesive residue. You can also use rubbing alcohol, Goo Gone or petroleum jelly for this purpose.
- After you've removed the adhesive, wash the item. Make this a habit if you use a chemical to eliminate remaining residue, since chemicals can irritate or hurt your skin.
Method 4: Using Steam
Steaming the iron-on decal out of your shirt is also a very easy method. Follow instruction in points 1-3 of method 3 then place a damp cloth on top of the transfer and iron it. This will create steam which helps to loosen the glue on the reverse of the transfer making it malleable. Try to pry the decal off with a tweezer or scrape it off with a knife. If it is still difficult to remove, steam it again.
Method 5: Using Household Iron
This method also involves heat to be applied with a household dry iron. But before you delve into it, make sure your garment can bear high heat from the iron and will not burn easily. Below are the steps to be followed:
- Lay the clothing flat on an ironing board. Make sure that the iron-on transfer is facing upwards.
- Insert a towel into the shirt.
- Examine the garment's care instructions. This approach uses direct heat and is more likely to damage the clothing than other ways.
- Warm up your iron to a high temperature so it can loosen the adhesive.
- Place parchment paper on top of the vinyl design. The vinyl transfer will effectively melt and stick to the parchment paper, and by removing the parchment paper, you can pull the letters away from the shirt.
- Apply the iron in quick strokes. Once you see a loose corner. It will continue to peel off. Repeat the process until the vinyl is completely removed.
- Another way to apply heat with iron is to put it on the hottest temperature setting. Pull the shirt over the iron with the decal on its hot plate. Pull the shirt tight against it. The heat will loosen the adhesive and you will see the edges slightly coming off.
- Scrape off the vinyl with a scissors or knife holding the shirt taut against the iron all the while. This method is best used for 100% cotton shirts.
- Remove any residue and wash your garment.
Method 6: Using Goo Gone
Using Goo Gone is an effective and quick method of removing iron-on vinyl from the fabric but it might not be the safest as it can cause damage or discoloration to the material. Plus it is a hash chemical so you need to work in a well ventilated area. It is also recommended to wear eye and hand protection. Here’s what you need to do:
- Cover your table with plastic. You can either use a plastic table cloth or a garbage bag.
- Turn the shirt inside out and spray Goo Gone on the backside of the decal.
- Let it sit for 30 seconds and work with the adhesive.
- Once you see the decal starting to come off, use a knife to remove it completely.
- Wash the garment to remove the chemical and residue.
Method 7: Using Petroleum Jelly
This is the most commonly available product that you can use to remove iron-on vinyl, however it may not be that effective. Here’s what you can do:
- Turn the shirt inside out and place it on a flat surface.
- Place cardboard inside the shirt. It is good to take one that is a bit bigger in size, it will make the shirt flat and stretch it a bit too.
- Apply petroleum jelly generously on the backside of the decal in circular motions.
- Pour some liquid laundry detergent and rub it with the petroleum jelly.
- This is a time consuming process but soon you will see the adhesive breaking in clumps. Rinse it away with warm water and repeat the process until all the adhesive is removed.
- With tweezers, remove the iron-on vinyl from the front and immediately wash the shirt or fabric as petroleum jelly is greasy.
How To Remove Leftover Bits Of Iron-On Vinyl?
After you have employed your chosen method of removing iron-on vinyl, if you still see stubborn bits of it clinging to the fabric you can use your washing machine dryer to remove them. Put the garment in the dryer at hot settings and run it. Once the shirt is dry, you will be able to remove any remaining bits of vinyl.
How To Remove Glitter Iron-On Vinyl?
Glitter iron-on vinyl is different from other vinyl films as it has a raised texture and is slightly thicker. The ideal way to remove it from your shirt is to apply heat, specifically through hair dryer or household iron. When heat is applied to its adhesive side, it easily peels away from the front in chunks as the bond becomes weak. Once all the glitter vinyl is removed, you can use acetone (nail polish remover) or rubbing alcohol to clean the residue. Wash the shirt afterwards to remove any bits and the chemical.
Reasons For Removing Iron-On Vinyl From The Garment
There are several reasons why someone might want to remove iron-on vinyl from a shirt:
- You do not want the design or wording on the vinyl anymore: Over time, a person's style or preferences may change, and they may no longer want the design or wording that is on the vinyl. You can always remove it and redesign the shirt or any other garment.
- The vinyl design is damaged, fading, cracking or peeling: Iron-on vinyl can become damaged over time or due to wear and tear, and may begin to peel off. If it has passed its prime, it will start fading as well. This can make the shirt look unkempt or unprofessional. The fabric might still be in good condition and you may want to redesign the garment, hence you will remove the old vinyl.
- The garment is being repurposed: You may want to reuse the garment, for example if it is a shirt, you may convert it into a soft decoration piece, such as turning it into a quilt or a pillowcase or using it for a different project, and the iron-on vinyl may need to be removed to achieve the desired look or result.
- The garment is no longer in your use and is being donated: If you have gotten bored with the shirt or any other garment, you may want to remove any personalization, such as iron-on vinyl, to make it more versatile and appealing to the recipient. Not everyone might like or want the design that you have applied to your shirt.
- You have made a mistake while designing: We are all humans and might make mistakes. If you have made one while applying iron-on vinyl on your garment, you might want to remove that part from the design and reapply the corrected version.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have presented different ways to remove iron-on vinyl from fabrics. You can do so using heat-based methods or chemical solvents that dissolve the adhesive backing. Choose the one that is the best according to the type of fabric you have. Using an iron, hairdryer, or washing machine dryer on a high heat setting will loosen the adhesive at the back and allow you to peel and scrape away the vinyl. This works best for cotton. Likewise, using a commercial product, rubbing alcohol and acetone will also dissolve the adhesive and let you remove the vinyl. You might try this on polyester.
Cotton and polyester fabric can react differently to vinyl removal methods. For this reason, you should always test a small area of the shirt first before attempting to remove the vinyl decal.