For many of us, what we wear defines and reflects our personality, mood, and attitude. Attractive vinyl printing on t-shirts not only enlivens a dull piece of clothing, but helps us make bold fashion statements, send across messages, show love/ support for favorite sports team or rock band.
However, if you are in the fashion industry or you love using DIY heat transfer vinyls to revamp your plain t-shirts, things may wrong. At times, you may get bored with the same artwork printed in the tee and wish to remove or replace it with something better.
Many people wonder whether it is possible to remove vinyl print or not. If yes – how to remove vinyl print from a t-shirt? If this sounds you then read on to find the several methods in which you can unstuck or get rid of the vinyl artwork on your t-shirt.
5 Methods To Remove Vinyl Print From A T-Shirt
1: With the help of a household iron
This is one of the most common and easiest ways to unstuck vinyl print (letters or artwork) pressed on your tee. You simply need a household iron to apply heat to loosen the adhesive and weaken the prints to get them out easily. You will need these items:
- Ironing board
- Wax paper
- Towel or rag
Prepare the t-shirt that you need to work on by laying it flat on the iron board with the design part facing upwards. Those who don’t have an ironing board can spread a towel on a solid and plain surface such as a counter or table.
Put a small towel or rag inside the t-shirt, just beneath the area that has the vinyl art you wish to get rid of. This is an important step to ensure that the other side of the tee does not get damaged. Turn on the household iron and let it get hot enough (we suggest heating to max. temperature to get the job done).
Please make sure you read the care instructions of the clothing before using a very hot iron on it. While it’s good to get the iron as hot as possible, this may not be suitable for t-shirts made from polyester material. Too much heat can damage a few fabrics so double-check before you proceed.
When in doubt and care instruction not available, we suggest that you start with medium heat to test its impact on the fabric. If it fares well, slowly increase the heat to adjust to the perfect temperature for your t-shirt material.
Before bringing the hot iron in contact with the vinyl letters or art, we suggest that you lay wax paper over the printed area. As the vinyl transfer melts under extreme heat, they stick to the wax paper and as you peel it off, the printed letters or art also come off easily.
Always start from the corner of the design and work towards the other end. Make sure you move the hot iron over the design in quick strokes and when you see the edges coming off, move it to cover the entire design so that they come off together. Repeat the steps until all the letters or design work come off the tee.
After you successfully remove the vinyl print from your tee, there might be some adhesive residue left behind. Use a good quality adhesive remover like Goo Gone or some rubbing alcohol to get rid of the adhesive and get a neat look. Wash your t-shirt as normal and there’ be no traces of vinyl print.
Method 2: Using The Hairdryer
Those who do not have an iron or prefer not using one on delicate fabric may consider the hairdryer method. To unstick vinyl printing on your t-shirt, you will need the following items:
- Working board (an iron board will also do)
- Towel or thick paper
- Sharp knife
Place the thick paper or towel beneath the vinyl print so that the other side of the t-shirt does not get damaged. Start by plugging in your hairdryer and set it to the maximum temperature. Blow the hot air to the print until the printed material gets heated up.
Please note that this method requires some patience and the hairdryer should be a good quality that can run on a high setting for a long time. The vinyl print will take some time to give in and start peeling off, so make sure you give it the time it needs.
When the printed material starts loosening up, keep the hair dryer down and use a sharp knife or a pair of tweezers to peel out the vinyl. Start from the edge of the design and once you successfully remove one side, peeling the other side should get easier.
If you are working on a large segment of printed material, we suggest that you consider heating one part of the vinyl print at a time, so that you can scrape it out while it’s still hot. After all the vinyl is removed, there may be some adhesive residue left behind. Remove it with goo gone or rub alcohol to take it off.
Method 3: With Rubbing Alcohol
If your fabric is too delicate and you fear that ironing or heating with a hairdryer may damage the fabric, you may consider other alternatives such as using rubbing alcohol. As you are using a chemical solvent in this case, and not heating the material, you don’t have to worry about the garment melting away. For this method you will need:
- Rubbing alcohol
- A working board
- A towel
- Sharp knife or scraper
Once you have assembled all the above items. It’s time to get started. Place the t-shirt on a flat surface or a working board, turn the tee inside out to ensure that the vinyl transfer is at the back of the side facing upwards.
Take the rubbing alcohol and liberally apply it over the area that features the vinyl print on the other side. The chemical solvent will permeate through the fabric and weaken the adhesive or bond that attaches the vinyl and fabric together.
Stretch or wriggle the fabric slightly to let the solvent seep into the adhesive in order to weaken it. Before applying the solvent directly on the fabric, do a small patch test in a small area to ensure that the chemical does not damage the tee.
Let the solvent sit on the vinyl print for a few minutes and then try to peel. If the solvent works well, the vinyl transfer should come off the garment easily. You may use a sharp knife or a pair of tweezers to help in the peeling process.
To further aid in the method, you can use heat from the hairdryer to further weaken the adhesive. After the vinyl print is removed, you may use an adhesive remover of your choice to get rid of the sticky residue remains.
Important tip – When you use rubbing alcohol to remove the vinyl print from a t-shirt, make sure you wash the garment separately. This prevents any damage to other clothes due to the solvent chemicals soaked in the fabric.
Method 4: Use A Washing Machine’s Dryer
If the iron method does not work or you are worried about damaging the fabric, we suggest that you throw the tee in the washing machine dryer. Run the dryer on high setting for approximately 20 minutes to produce enough heat to weaken the adhesive.
As the bond between the vinyl print and fabric become loose, it becomes easier to peel away the softened letters or art. When you take the t-shirt pout of the dryer, use your fingers or a pair of tweezers to peel off the letters.
The time taken to remove the decal may depend on the number of letters, size of the design, and the speed at which you work. Repeat the process a few times until you remove all the vinyl art.
Method 5: Try Using Benzine/ Acetone Or Nail polish Remover
If you have a decal that won’t budget despite your efforts, you may consider using benzene, acetone, or a nail polish remover. First, dab a piece of cotton swab in acetone or benzene solution. If you don’t have any, consider using nail polish remover instead.
After you soak the cotton with the solution, rub it on the inside of seams to let the solution get into the adhesive and weaken it. Let the solution sit there for a few minutes to further loosen the bond and then use your fingers or a scraper to remove the vinyl print.
Before you try this method, do a small patch test by rubbing nail polish remover on the inside seam to make sure it does not discolor the fabric. If not, you can start by dabbing one letter one part of the vinyl art at a time with remover and then use an old towel to rub off the vinyl.
To get more professional and precise results, you may use this Heat Transfer Vinyl Remover to get rid of the vinyl letters or designs from your tee. When you are done, wash the tee to remove any traces of the solvent. Here’s a video to that shows you how to use it.
Tips To Help You Get Rid Of Vinyl Print From Tee
- As the use of iron or hairdryer involves treating the print with a lot of heat, we suggest that you check your garment care instructions to avoid any damages to the fabric.
- If you are using a chemical solvent, we suggest that you first do a small patch test by rubbing the chemical or solvent inside the seams of the garment. If you see signs of damage, stop immediately or else continue.
- After the vinyl is removed completely, make sure you fully wash the t-shirt as per the specific directions for fabric before reapplying vinyl on it. If you have used chemicals, always wash separately.
- Removing vinyl from the t-shirt is easy but it’s a time taking process so don’t try to hurry up or else you may end up damaging the fabric, Be patient and go slow so that the vinyl print comes out smoothly and the tee is reusable.
What if there are pesky vinyl residues after using the above methods
If you see ugly vinyl residues after using one of the above methods, take some petroleum jelly and rub it on the area to loosen the adhesive. Now, take some detergent and rub it over the spot to get rid of the residues.
How long should you wait before reapplying vinyl
If you have used any type of chemical to remove the vinyl print on your t-shirt, we suggest that you wait for at least 24 hours. Wash the tee and air dry to remove the solvent traces completely before you reapply vinyl press on the fabric.
Is a hairdryer the same as a heat gun
They look alike and both function similarly. Powered by motor-driven fans, they release hot air over the target to loosen the adhesive. However, a heat gun is capable of achieving a temperature of 140F at high settings. So, if you have a heat gun at home, it can do a better job than a hairdryer but make sure the t-shirt fabric is capable of withstanding the high heat.
How to remove vinyl sticker form a backpack
We suggest that you use a blow-dryer for a minute or two to heat up the adhesive. You will need to be patient and exposure the sticker to high heat until it gives in and starts coming off the edges. Now use a sharp knife or a pair of tweezers to peel off the sticker. The time required to do this will depend upon the size of the sticker.