Troubleshooting Heat Transfer Vinyl Sticking Issues

As anyone who has purchased such a product in the past is well aware, custom shirts or other items that come with a heat transfer vinyl design that doesn’t stick properly are simply no good. Heat transfer vinyl, or HTV, that comes off your garment far too easily, whether in its first wash or due to minimal contact or wear-and-tear, is a defect you should never accept — but it’s also one that’s somewhat easy to avoid if you know what you’re doing.

At Spandex, we’re proud to offer a huge variety of heat transfer vinyl (HTV) products, serving as a top heat transfer supplier for those utilizing this method for their shirts, bags, jerseys or a variety of other items. Not only do we offer the actual vinyl you need (in several different types and styles), we also offer various heat presses, tools and accessories to help you get the job done correctly.

And on top of all this, we assist clients who are having issues with their heat transfer vinyl setup. In particular, have your HTV designs been having issues with sticking to their garments? Here are some of the reasons this may be happening, plus what can be done about it.

Timing Errors

One of the most important parts of the heat transfer vinyl process is pressing the vinyl onto the garment for the correct amount of time. This is not only true in terms of pressing the vinyl down; it’s also important to make sure that you give the garment enough time to cool to the suggested hot, warm, or cool peel stage after it comes out of the press (otherwise you run the risk of the material pulling up when you try and remove it).

Pressing vinyl for too short a period, for instance, may not give the adhesive enough time to flow into the fibers of the material, resulting in the HTV not sticking well. It may also result in certain sections that haven’t had time to fully cool or set into the fabric after you removed it from the heat(possibly requiring another round under heat).

On the flip-side, pressing for too long is often just as bad. If you leave the HTV in the press for too long, you may find that it scorches the material you’re applying to, or melts the HTV and causes an unusable final product. If you have questions about how long to press your vinyl for, contact our pros for assistance.

Temperature Issues

Temperature is another major factor here, with excessive temperatures once again leading to risks of burning the material. Always check the manufacturer’s suggested time and temperature guidelines, as each product is unique, they require special time and temperature combinations to be successful.


In some cases, HTV products will require what’s known as a hot peel; others, however, need to cool off at room temperature before being peeled. Knowing which type you’re dealing with is the first step in ensuring that your HTV releases itself from its carrier and adheres to your garments properly.

In some cases, this may require carefully separating the two layers of materials by hand (which can be a very time-consuming process). In other cases, it might mean running your garment through the press again after the initial cooling period.


Pressure is also important, and is one area that highlights the importance of using a modern heat press. Some still use older iron or handheld craft presses for this job, but these typically don’t offer the kind of control that’s necessary to get professional-quality results.

You need to know not only how much pressure you’re using in terms of grams per square inch, but also which areas are getting pressed evenly. This is where computerized or digital heat presses come into play; they allow you to set your controls to make sure that everything is pressed evenly without having to monkey around with the machine at all.


Some types of HTV are able to be layered on top of one another, while others are not. It’s vital to pay attention to the description of the vinyl you’re using, as it’s important to know if you can use the specific HTV sheet with other materials.

Glitter vinyl, for instance, can be used as a top layer for multi-layer vinyl products — but not as a bottom layer. If you apply glitter as a base layer, then apply another HTV over it, you will only get about 5 washes before the top layer starts to peel away due to the textured finish of glitter.

If your product requires layering and you’re not sure about which materials should be placed on top of one another, contact our pros before attempting anything; they will know exactly how the material should be layered.

Fabric Type

Finally, certain fabric types may not be ideal for specific types of HTV. Spandex, nylon, leather and other tougher fabrics all typically require certain kinds of HTV, and you have to know your details to get this right; on the other hand, materials like polyester, cotton and blends will work with virtually all standard HTV products.

For more on how to avoid issues of vinyl not sticking to fabrics, or to learn about any of our heat transfer vinyl, or other products, speak to the staff at Spandex today.






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