Can You Iron On Permanent Vinyl?


Glitter Vinyl Decal
Glitter Vinyl Decal
Image from TeckWrap Craft Instagram Page


Permanent vinyl or adhesive vinyl is not the best vinyl choice for fabric surfaces or garments. But the question is, “Can you iron on permanent vinyl?” Yes, you can iron on permanent vinyl. You can use a regular iron or heat press on permanent vinyl to fabrics.

Fabrics with permanent vinyl decals can last for 5-15 years depending on brand quality and effectiveness of the application. Though, many crafters would encourage you to use heat transfer vinyl instead of using permanent vinyl. HTV is thin, durable, and stretchable which makes it ideal to use on fabrics.

To form a better understanding of this preference by most crafters, you must understand the difference between adhesive vinyl and heat transfer vinyl. These are the two types of craft vinyl. Each vinyl type has its own set of characteristics making it different from one another.

Keep reading to know more about what permanent vinyl is and the procedure of using it on fabrics. Below is a more detailed discussion on the two types of craft vinyl:

Adhesive Vinyl

Adhesive vinyl is also called sticker vinyl and is a pressure-sensitive adhesive. This thin flexible material can easily be cut into any design and can be smoothly applied to smooth, non-porous, and hard surfaces. Adhesive vinyl has a paper backing and is sticky when peeled off.

Like other vinyl, adhesive vinyl is available in a wide variety of styles and colors. These can also be used in a variety of ways. TeckWrap Craft manufactures different styles, patterns, and colors of adhesive vinyl. Here are some of them:

  • Reflective adhesive vinyl
  • Opal adhesive vinyl
  • Shimmer adhesive vinyl
  • Mirror chrome adhesive vinyl
  • Satin brush adhesive vinyl
  • Glitter brush adhesive vinyl
  • Pearlescent opal adhesive vinyl
  • Textured metallic adhesive vinyl
  • Holographic adhesive vinyl
  • Rainbow stripes adhesive vinyl
  • Heat color changing adhesive vinyl

It has two subtypes  - permanent adhesive vinyl and removable adhesive vinyl. Permanent adhesive vinyl can be used for an outdoor permanent application while removable vinyl is best used for temporary indoor applications. Permanent adhesive vinyl often has a glossy finish while removable vinyl has a matte finish.

Permanent Adhesive Vinyl

Permanent adhesive vinyl is durable and permanent. This vinyl will not fade its color easily nor will it peel or crack off. This sticker vinyl is ideal for outdoor signs. With this adhesive vinyl, you can make outdoor signs, car decals, car windows decals, or window decals.

This can also be used to decorate mugs, water bottles, or any item that can withstand washing or placed in a dishwasher. Most permanent vinyl have a permanent adhesive and are glossy but some have a matte finish. Decals made from permanent vinyl can be damaged due to abrasions and exposure to acidic materials.

It is possible to remove permanent vinyl.  However, it may leave damage to your wall. To understand permanent adhesive vinyl better, you can read this blog article on what permanent vinyl is used for.

Removable Adhesive Vinyl

This type of vinyl is meant for temporary and indoor applications only. It can be used as a stencil, indoor sign or labels, and wall decals. If you are a beginner, it is advisable to work using removable vinyl to address minimal mistakes.

Self-Adhesive Vinyl

Self-adhesive vinyl is a thin, flexible, and versatile material with a sticky backing. It can be used to create amazing and attention-grabbing signs and logos either for home use or commercial use.

Self-adhesive vinyl is commonly used for both indoor and outdoor advertising materials. This is also a great material to use as decorations on walls, windows, and other home or office fixtures.        

Can You Iron On Permanent Vinyl
Image from TeckWrap Craft Instagram Page

Heat Transfer Vinyl

Heat transfer vinyl is also called iron-on vinyl, t-shirt vinyl, or simply HTV. This type of vinyl is a similar material to adhesive vinyl without the sticky side. It has a heat-activated adhesive which is best applied on fabrics or surfaces that have the capability to tolerate high temperatures. The heat applied can come from an iron or heat press.

Heat transfer vinyl comes in different styles, patterns, and colors. There are certain types of HTVs that are best applied on certain fabric surfaces or for certain designs. For instance, holographic vinyl and metallic vinyl are best on intricate or small designs. Stretch vinyl is best used for knits and athletic garments.

Here are some of the available HTV on sale at the TeckWrap Craft website:

  • Puff HTV
  • Patterned HTV
  • Chameleon HTV
  • Galaxy HTV
  • Glitter HTV
  • Reflective HTV
  • Holographic HTV
  • Buffalo plaid HTV
  • Colorful camouflage HTV
  • Soft metallic HTV
  • Colorful splash HTV
  • Animal print HTV
  • Mirror chrome HTV
  • Color changing HTV

Iron on vinyl doesn't come with a paper backing. It has a clear plastic carrier sheet covering the vinyl instead. You can be resourceful and use the carrier sheet as a transfer paper for adhesive vinyl. The other side has the adhesive which is not sticky when touched. This side becomes sticky only when exposed to heat. This is the side to cut the vinyl on.

Heat transfer vinyl is a thin, stretchable, and soft material that is ideal to be used in a t-shirt. If you are looking for a wholesaler who can provide quality and reasonably priced vinyl and crafting accessories, you should definitely go for TeckWrap Craft! TeckWrap Craft offers various styles and colors of HTV to excite you each time.

Adhesive Vinyl vs Heat Transfer Vinyl

There is so much information about craft vinyl and you may find yourself feeling confused and overwhelmed about which is best for your project. Here are two basic rules to make decision-making easier for you:

Rule 1: Apply adhesive vinyl to surfaces that are smooth and hard. You can use adhesive vinyl on mugs, water bottles, glasses, tumblers, mirrors, walls, and many more. On the other hand, use heat transfer vinyl for soft surfaces that can withstand heat such as t-shirts, bags, hats, aprons, pouches, tote bags, pillowcases, and a lot more.

Rule 2: When working with a wooden surface, adhesive vinyl and heat transfer vinyl can be used. However, heat transfer vinyl is best on wood surfaces because it is easier to apply, looks thinner, and the application seems paint-like which is a preferred output.

Uses of Adhesive Vinyl

Most adhesive vinyl brands are sold in sizes that are compatible with most cutting machines. These are sold in rolls or vinyl sheet. You would need to cut the design you have made with a cutting machine. After cutting, you need to weed excess vinyl using a weeding tool.

After cutting and weeding, you need to remove the paper backing or carrier sheet of the adhesive vinyl. If you have a complicated or intricate design, you may do reverse weeding where your transfer tape will play a very crucial role.

Before applying vinyl on a surface, it should be clean and dry. You can clean it using rubbing alcohol. Vinyl works best when it is placed on clean surfaces. You can use permanent vinyl when you are certain that your project is for outdoor and long-term use.

Another important question is whether you can iron on permanent vinyl on fabrics. Adhesive vinyl is a versatile and useful craft vinyl but it is not meant to be ironed on ideally. It is only great to be used as stencils.

A stencil can be used if you want to use fabric paint or paint pens on t-shirts or other garments. Adhesive vinyl is preferred to be used as a stencil because it sticks. Therefore, the paint or ink will not bleed through and is easily removed when you have filled up the design.

Aside from using it as a stencil, adhesive vinyl can be used to decorate shirts that are meant to be used once either as a costume or for special holidays. Removable adhesive vinyl can easily be detached without leaving a sticky residue on the T-shirt.

Alternative Options for Adhesive Vinyl on Shirts

You can iron on permanent vinyl on shirts or fabrics. You can use a regular iron or heat press but never a steam iron. Prior to application, avoid touching the sticky side of the vinyl to avoid leaving dirt or oil on the sticky layer.

As soon as your permanent vinyl decal is ready, position it on the fabric and cover it with a press cloth. The press cloth will serve as the protective layer so the vinyl won't burn easily. You don't want to leave the iron over the vinyl decal for too long because this can certainly ruin your project.

However, If you are working on fabric projects, adhesive vinyl or permanent vinyl may not be your best bet. The better alternative options are heat transfer vinyl, infusible ink, or sublimation which uses heat to activate the adhesive. Another alternative is screen printing.

Screen printing uses glue or binders to bind the colorant in the screen printing paste. If you are using a removable adhesive vinyl, you can use this to position the T-shirt or fabric on the machine to be screen printed.

For the purpose of this article, a more detailed discussion will be allotted for heat transfer vinyl. Brief details on infusible ink and sublimation printing will also be discussed.

An iron or heat press is used to make heat transfer vinyl adhere to fabric surfaces. Just like other regular vinyl, heat transfer vinyl also undergoes design cutting and weeding. Though HTV designs need to be mirrored before cutting.

TeckWrap Craft offers superior quality heat transfer vinyl that can last on any fabric for years. Though over time, you can expect to see some flaking or cracking of vinyl which is normal if the garment has been used and washed over and over again.

Infusible Ink and Sublimation Printing

sublimation printing
Using sublimation printing and TeckWrap Craft Sublimation Paper
Image from TeckWrap Craft Website

These two methods require permanently dyeing the design onto the fabric’s fibers to decorate a t-shirt or any garment. The difference lies in the method of how the ink is delivered to the fabric. These methods are both durable and permanent ways of decorating t-shirts.

Infusible ink is similar to how regular vinyl works in terms of using a cutting machine and weeding. Sheets of dried infusible ink are infused into the fabric when heat is applied. Sublimation requires a printer with sublimation ink and sublimation paper. A regular inkjet printer can be converted into a sublimation printer.

Infusible ink can be limiting for you only have limited options with color and design. With sublimation, however, the design options are unlimited. You can easily print the design with varying colors and shades. Weeding is unnecessary for sublimation printing.

Making Vinyl Shirts With Cricut Design Space

Cricut Design Space makes designing vinyl decals easier and faster. When working with heat transfer vinyl, do not forget to mirror the image before you begin the cutting process. Prepare your cutting machine like Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore Air 2 and load your vinyl into the cutting machine.

Weeding is necessary after the cutting process. Before you begin the transfer process, make sure that you have a clean surface. HTV works best when the t-shirt is clean and dry. A heat press is more convenient to use because it can evenly apply heat and pressure to the vinyl.

If it is your first time using a heat press, it is best that you go through the manufacturers instructions. You may also refer to this blog article guide on the current temperature setting for the heat press. HTV that is applied on clothing correctly will simply stick well and can last for a long time.

Position the decal on the t-shirt plastic side facing up. Place a Teflon sheet between the T-shirt and heat press. Press by applying medium pressure for roughly 8-12 seconds. You have to check whether your HTV is a warm peel or a cold peel for this will be your basis as to when you can remove the carrier sheet.

Steps in Removing Vinyl

When removing vinyl most especially car decals, you may want to remove it using the least toxic or evasive method possible. You can first try removing vinyl by using a liquid car wash or car polish. Apply a generous amount over the vinyl and wait for it to soften and come off.

You may also try using a nail polish remover. Place a dab of nail polish remover on a cotton swab. You first need to check whether the polish remover can discolor your T-shirt by rubbing it on the inside seam.

If it does, try other methods. If it doesn't, gradually apply the nail polish and rub the vinyl off. You need to immediately wash your shirt as soon as you are done to remove traces of nail polish remover.

If these methods don’t work, you can try to apply a thin layer of bug and tar removers, Goo Gone, or kerosene. When using these products do take extra precautions because these are flammable substances. You can also expect Goo gone to leave an oily stain on your shirt when you use it.

For removing vinyl, you can try using a hairdryer. You can gradually peel off the vinyl using a knife or tweezers. If you have an iron around, you can remove vinyl faster by simply covering the decal completely with wax paper. Press the decal with iron for 5-10 seconds. When you peel the wax paper, the decal should come with it.

Another way would be to throw your t-shirt on the clothes dryer and set it on high mode for 20 minutes. Shirts with HTV are not recommended to be placed inside a dryer for the vinyl will peel off. So doing this method could definitely remove the vinyl on your shirt.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can you use heat on permanent vinyl?

Yes, you can apply heat on permanent vinyl. You can use an iron or heat press to make the vinyl adhere to your surface of choice. However, you must not expose the vinyl to heat for too long because this may cause irreparable damage to your vinyl and surface.

  1. Is Cricut permanent vinyl iron on?

You cannot iron on Cricut permanent vinyl. Cricut permanent vinyl is permanent and is ideal for outdoor projects that can withstand changes in weather conditions. This type of vinyl is water resistant. Applying permanent vinyl on a surface only requires the use of transfer tape and not heat.

  1. Can you make shirts with permanent vinyl?

As a shirt decal, permanent vinyl is not recommended to be used. You can use it as a stencil to apply fabric paint on shirts. If you want to use it, it can stick to the shirt but it will not last long. Permanent vinyl is best applied on smooth and hard surfaces and not on fabrics, shirts, or other types of clothing.         

Image by @prettylittlemakesuk from TeckWrap Craft Instagram Page

Final Thoughts

Permanent vinyl may not be ideal to use on fabrics.  Most crafters would initially grab a heat transfer vinyl instead of permanent vinyl. However, you can iron on permanent vinyl on t-shirts. You can also use permanent vinyl as a stencil.

There are several ways to create more durable and long-lasting shirt decals. Aside from heat transfer vinyl, you can try screen printing, infusible ink, and sublimation printing. If you want to know more about adhesive vinyl, its use, and its application, you can read this blog article on using premium vinyl on shirts.


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