Washing and Care Tips for Heat Transfer Vinyl

Whether you produce heat transfer vinyl (HTV) products for personal reasons or as part of a business, the proper care and cleaning of these items is extremely important. Heat transfer vinyl will last for many years with fantastic quality if it’s properly cared for, and all this requires is a few simple areas of attention.

At Spandex, we’re proud to not only offer a wide selection of heat transfer vinyl products and accessories for use on everything from shirts and jerseys to bags and numerous other items, we also offer clients basic expertise on the care and upkeep of all such products. Sticking mostly to the fabric realm within HTV applications, here are some of our most basic tips on washing and other forms of care to ensure that your heat transfer vinyl items last for years without any issues (while certain specific HTV items may have slightly different care directions, these are generally applicable for most types).

Leave for At Least 24 Hours After HTV Pressing

If your heat transfer vinyl products have only recently been pressed within the last 24 hours, they should not be washed or placed into any kind of washing machine. This will cause the HTV to shift, stretch or otherwise move around on the base garment and ruin your work. Instead, allow for at least 24 hours after pressing before you wash the garment.

This will allow for a “curing” process to take place which makes sure that your HTV provides the best possible adhesion to the base garment. In addition, we typically recommend waiting at least 24 hours, and maybe closer to 48 hours, before wearing any kind of heat transfer vinyl item to allow for a full curing process to take place.

Keeping in mind that this is a personal or business decision, it’s also a good idea not to toss any items into the wash right after pressing them unless you’re going to hand-wash them. That said, if your HTV has been properly applied and you wish to hand wash it, we recommend using a gentle soap and warm water as the combination of these two factors will help ensure that your HTV lasts as long as possible.

No Dry Cleaning

Simply put, there is no situation where heat transfer vinyl should be placed into a dry cleaning machine. Furthermore, we recommend not allowing heat transfer vinyl items to touch dry clean only items as the fabric chemicals used in this process could potentially react with and damage your HTV (which may cause it to crack or peel off).

Dry cleaning involves a ton of chemicals that may be harmful to heat transfer vinyl. In addition, the extreme levels of heat used in this process will cause the inks in your HTV to fade quickly over time.

Washing and Drying Inside Out

When using a washing machine and dryer for any of your heat transfer vinyl products, we strongly recommend placing the items inside out before washing and drying. Doing this will help prevent excessive damage to your work as it prevents any specific areas from being caught by the machine itself.

This is recommended not just for the initial wash, but also for any wash/dry cycle that you may use afterwards. The reason for this is that the vinyl will become more pliable within your washing machine if it’s turned inside out, making sure that your product gets washed thoroughly and also allowing any specific areas of concern to stretch evenly during the process.

Cold or Warm Water

Generally speaking, the temperature of any water used while washing your heat transfer vinyl products should never get above 178 degrees Fahrenheit — and you should usually keep temperature well below that. Doing so will keep your HTV safe from damage or distortion, though different materials have different specific needs with regards to this matter.

If you’re looking for the safest choice when washing heat transfer vinyl products, cold water is generally always best. However, it’s also worth noting that some types of fabrics may not react well to colder wash settings in a washing machine, so for this specific reason you may wish to use a slightly warmer setting when dealing with certain HTV products.

If water temperature is too high, it will risk weakening the adhesive of the vinyl as well as potentially causing the backing to dissolve and peel away from your base garment. This will result in a loss of adhesion, which is obviously quite problematic for any HTV product.

Use Mild Detergent

Always utilize a mild detergent that is specifically designed for use with heat transfer vinyl products. This will ensure that your HTV gets thoroughly cleaned while also ensuring that the fabric chemicals don’t react negatively to the materials used in making your product.

Do not overload your machine when washing any type of HTV item, as this prevents the garment from being properly rinsed clean. Additionally, don’t allow your vinyl products to sit for extended periods of time in water as this may cause the adhesive backing to soften further and peel away from the product itself.

Low to Normal Dryer Settings

Most HTV applications can be dried on low to normal dryer settings, but we definitely recommend following the individual dryer instructions for each type of HTV. Some may need to be hung to air dry.

For more on how to properly wash and care for your heat transfer vinyl products, or to learn about any of our HTV products, car window tint or other quality products, speak to the staff at Spandex today.



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