Can You Use Removable Vinyl on Shirts?

Can you use removable vinyl on shirts

Screenshot image from TeckWrap Craft Instagram page

From the word itself, removable vinyl is an easily removable material that doesn’t leave any residue behind. Removable vinyl is great for a temporary application, and it cannot withstand washing. Removable vinyl is best for wall decals, stencils, and indoor signs.

For example, you can use removable vinyl in decorating the wall of your home. You can easily beautify your home with removable vinyl without going through the tedious task of repainting the wall once you plan to remove the vinyl.

You may use removable vinyl on shirts when you plan to use the shirt once. For example, you may use removable vinyl on a T-shirt for a one-day family reunion. In addition, you may use removable vinyl when you need a promotional shirt for your kid’s sports team and even for a family picture.

Quality removable vinyl, once applied correctly, can be removed for up to two years. In addition, it would not leave any vinyl residue. If you want lasting and durable vinyl for your shirts, use Heat Transfer Vinyl instead.  

What Is Adhesive Vinyl?

adhesive vinyl

Image from Specialty vinyl from TeckWrap Craft

Adhesive vinyl is the fastest and easiest vinyl for several craft projects. Adhesive vinyl is a thin, flexible material with a pressure-sensitive adhesive cuttable in any design.

Adhesive vinyl is also known as sticker vinyl. It is called sticker vinyl, for it works quickly as a paper sticker. Adhesive vinyl has a sticky side and a design side.

The sticky side is the side that comes into contact with the surface and has a protective paper backing. Finally, the design side can be glossy, matte, glittery, or metallic.

Using adhesive vinyl on shirts is possible; however, don’t expect the vinyl to last very long. You can only use adhesive vinyl on shirts for short-term decals. It is best to use a different vinyl for garments.  

Adhesive vinyl is best on surfaces that are smooth and hard. Adhesive vinyl is great to use for many crafting projects. You can buy adhesive vinyl in rolls or individual sheets.

Individual adhesive sheets can fit readily in most full-size cutting machines like Cricut and Silhouette.

When Is Adhesive Vinyl Used?

Adhesive vinyl works best on hard, smooth, and non-porous surfaces. For example, you can use adhesive vinyl on mirrors, ceramic mugs, walls, windows, and glass.

There are two basic types of adhesive vinyl. These are permanent adhesive vinyl and removable indoor vinyl. The notable differences between these types are their stickiness, durability, and length of time they can stick to a surface.

In addition, permanent vinyl has a higher tact capacity than removable indoor vinyl and can withstand washing.  

Permanent Adhesive Vinyl

permanent adhesive vinyl

Permanent vinyl image from TeckWrap Craft Instagram Page

Crafty persons enjoy putting custom vinyl on most of their stuff. However, mugs or tumblers are favorites for most crafters to beatify. Placing decorative vinyl on mugs or tumblers is easy, especially with complete tools and materials.

Permanent adhesive vinyl is also called permanent outdoor vinyl or outdoor adhesive vinyl. It is advisable to use materials you want to decorate permanently.

For example, you use permanent vinyl for outdoor signs, stainless steel, or car decals.

Permanent vinyl is recommended for regularly used materials that are prone to frequent washing as long as you use a sealer for them like Mod Podge sealer. That being said, permanent adhesive vinyl is waterproof, but best to be used with a sealer to make it dishwasher-safe. 

As for the microwave, permanent vinyl is made of PVC, which makes it NOT recommended for the microwave as it may give off toxic fumes.

If you want your vinyl decals to last for a long time, it is advisable to use premium permanent vinyl. This is great for materials exposed to varying weather conditions, such as outdoor signs and mailboxes.

Permanent outdoor vinyl comes in an assortment of colors and patterns.

permanent premium vinyl

TeckWrap Craft tumbler creations

Removable Adhesive Vinyl

Permanent vinyl and removable vinyl have different purposes. But, they also share specific similar capabilities. Aside from being adhesives, both removable vinyl and permanent vinyl by nature are waterproof materials.

However, despite being waterproof, removable vinyl is expected to peel off sooner when exposed to frequent washing than permanent vinyl.

You can use removable vinyl for indoor labeling signs, wall decals, or a stencil over painted wood or when painting a wall. It can also serve as a stencil for glass etching and doing seasonal projects.

Removable vinyl or indoor adhesive vinyl is excellent for temporary decals. It is used best for materials that will not be exposed to wear and tear or seasonal decorations. Removable vinyl can last 1-3 years when used indoors.

This type of vinyl is suitable for low-impact items such as mirror ornaments and household decors. It can easily be removed which is why it is good for indoors, or for stencil use..

However, suppose you are a beginner or doing a trial project. In that case, it is advisable to use removable vinyl to see how the result will look before deciding to use permanent vinyl.

You may no longer need a transfer tape when using removable vinyl. However, transfer tape can come in handy when working on a design with spaces or intricate details. Before transferring your vinyl, make sure that the surface is clean and dry.

Removable vinyl may adhere better and easier if the wood has been sanded and coated with paint or a clear coat. As soon as the vinyl sticks to the wooden surface, you can reinforce its stickiness by spraying a clear coat over it.

Removable vinyl on wood will have a glossy finish and will look sticker-like.  

vinyl on wood

Vinyl on wood sign Screenshot from TeckWrap Craft

When to Use Removable Vinyl?

Removable vinyl is often of matte finishing. It is available in an assortment of colors, styles, and patterns. Removable vinyl also comes in a glitter or metallic look.  Here are some projects that you can do using removable vinyl:

  • Wall decals
  • Mug art
  • Restaurant signage
  • Nail art sticker
  • Party decorations, backdrops, or labels
  • Window graphics
  • Wood signage or labels
  • Book cover
  • Scrapbooking
  • Furniture decal
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Wording for foil balloons
  • Bathroom signage
  • Labels for kitchen drawers
removable vinyl on Christmas ornaments of seasonal decors

Image from TeckWrap Craft adhesive vinyl on Christmas ornaments

vinyl on balloon

Metallic TeckWrap Craft vinyl on balloon 

The great thing about removable vinyl is that you can easily change the decal without worrying about the damage it can leave on the surface. For example, you often change the wall decal to a particular theme or season if you own a shop.

You can use removable vinyl to spice up your wall or window to show participation in celebrating special happenings like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or New Year. So it is about time you stock up on removable vinyl!

When Is Adhesive Vinyl Used for Fabrics?

Adhesive vinyl may not be the best choice for fabric design. Still, you can use adhesive vinyl in creating temporary shirt designs. The vinyl can easily be removed from any fabric and will not leave any damage or residue. The fabric will look good as new.

Adhesive vinyl works well as a stencil for design creation on fabric surfaces using fabric paint and pens. Using an adhesive vinyl stencil can stick securely on the fabric, not causing it to bleed through. In addition, it can easily lift when the design is filled.

vinyl on shirts

Screenshot from TeckWrap Craft Instagram page

What Are the Alternatives for Adhesive Vinyl on Fabrics?

You can choose from three alternatives when making a design for your shirt. These alternatives are Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV), infusible ink, and sublimation printing. These alternatives work better with fabrics.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

When deciding which vinyl to use for your shirts, heat transfer vinyl is the way to go. Heat transfer vinyl is commonly used for shirt and fabric design. In addition, Heat Transfer Vinyl is used for lasting effects on clothing, hats, canvas, blankets, and bags.

Heat transfer vinyl is also called Iron-on vinyl, t-shirt vinyl, or HTV. It is a heat-activated adhesive. Heat transfer vinyl uses heat and pressure to stick onto surfaces like fabrics and wood. Iron-on vinyl is available in various finishes and colors. You can use Heat Transfer Vinyl for the following garments:

  • T-shirts
  • Swimsuits
  • Canvas tote bags
  • Sweatpants and sweatshirts
  • Baby onesies
  • Placemats
  • Hats and caps
  • Towels
can you use vinyl on other fabrics


vinyl on baby's clothes

Screenshot image from TeckWrap Craft Instagram page

Unlike adhesive vinyl, Heat Transfer Vinyl doesn’t have a sticky side. Instead, it has a transparent plastic carrier sheet covering the vinyl. The opposite side is the adhesive side. This side is not sticky or tacky when touched. This is the side of the vinyl for cutting.

The stickiness of Heat Transfer Vinyl is only activated when heat is applied to it. An iron or heat press can be used to activate the heat of a heat transfer vinyl.

Types of Heat Transfer Vinyl

You don't have to worry, for all iron-on vinyl works well on fabrics and can withstand heat. In addition, there is Heat Transfer Vinyl that is best for particular materials. So the only thing you have to worry about is your design's overall look and feel.

When the design you want to put on fabric is made of small pieces, it is advisable to use holographic and metallic vinyl. These two types of vinyl are stiffer, making managing the small vinyl pieces easier. However, if you plan to use stretchable fabric or athletic fabrics, it is best to use stretch vinyl.

holographic vinyl

Holographic and metallic vinyl available at TeckWrap Craft

Temperature and Time

If you've been sticking the vinyl to your shirt and it doesn't seem to stick well, there are factors to consider. The two factors in consideration are temperature and time.

If you consider the temperature, you have to determine the right temperature for the specific material you are using. Different surfaces and materials require varying temperature levels to heat the vinyl. The use of heat allows the vinyl and the fabric to bond together more securely than a sticker.

For time consideration, you have to determine how long to adhere the material with the vinyl. Are you doing it for too long or too short a time? If you are giving the vinyl heat for a short time, the vinyl will not stick well.

On the other hand, if you are heating the heat-activated vinyl too long, you may end up burning the adhesive.

Aside from heat, enough and even pressure is also needed for the vinyl to better attach onto the fabric. A heat press machine helps the vinyl to seal onto the fabric firmly. A heat press is a machine that is best for shirt design or fabric design making.

Working with Heat Transfer Vinyl and its application can be tricky. You may encounter problems with flaking and cracking. Despite these problems, HTV has proven to be durable and can withstand harsh conditions for an extended period of time.

Infusible Ink

Instructional video on how to use infusible Ink on T-shirts

infusible ink on shirts

YouTube Source: How to Make a T-shirt Using Cricut’s infusible ink transfer sheets by Katieree

Infusible ink is also an excellent option for making designs on your t-shirts. However, using infusible ink is a different process with HTV. In HTV, the design and the fabric are bonded together through heat and pressure.

On the one hand, infusible ink infuses ink into the material itself. This means that the ink design and the shirt become one. On the other hand, the use of infusible ink in decorating t-shirts is dying the fibers of the shirt where the design is to be placed.  

Infusible ink similarly works like other vinyl sheets that you can insert in a digital die cutting machine. However, infusible ink sheets are sheets made of dried ink that are infused onto t-shirts using heat after the design is cut. Infusible ink sheets came in various designs and colors.

Sublimation Printing

Both infusible ink and sublimation printing have similar techniques. Both use a method where the design's permanent dye stick onto the fabric. So what is the difference between these two? The difference lies in how the ink is delivered onto the fabric.

For sublimation printing, a printer is used with special ink. Unlike infusible ink sheets that require a cutting machine, sublimation printing, on the other hand, uses sublimation ink.

With the use of sublimation ink, your design infuses the fabric. You will also need a sublimation paper for projects that will go through the process of sublimation.

There are several advantages when choosing the sublimation method for t-shirt design printing.

First, using sublimation gives you a big room for design flexibility. You won't feel limited when choosing colors for the sublimation paper, for there are various shades you can choose from.

Another advantage of sublimation printing is that weeding is no longer necessary in removing excess vinyl. The design will only adhere to the garment in areas where it is printed.

Sublimation printing and infusible ink are durable and permanent methods of creating shirt designs. They may differ in how the initial design is created, but the application method is the same.

sublimation printing

Image of a shirt design using the sublimation method

Image by Perky Apparel from Wikimedia Commons

Tips and Advice on Adhesive Vinyl Use

As soon as your vinyl adheres to the material, such as mugs or tumblers, let it sit for at least 48 hours before washing it. If you can let the vinyl sit longer than 48 hours, that would be better. Do not wash the mug right away to ensure that the vinyl decal stays in place.

When you plan to use adhesive vinyl on a wooden surface, the trick is to use a hairdryer or heat gun. Applying hot air on the vinyl helps it to conform to the uneven wooden surface better. Instead of using a squeegee, you can opt to use a tennis ball to rub the vinyl on the wooden surface while exposing it to heat.

Aside from transfer tape, you can use alternatives such as contact paper, adhesive liner, or painter's tape. However, if you have access to the craft transfer tape, it is still advisable to use it instead of alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Removable Vinyl on Fabric?

Yes, you can use removable vinyl as a sticker on fabric but don't expect it to last long. HTV, infusible ink, and sublimation printing are still the recommended methods to use on fabrics. These methods give lasting and durable results on materials.

Can Removable Vinyl Be Made Iron On?

No, a removable vinyl cannot be exposed to a heat press. This makes removable vinyl an excellent option for fabrics, especially on t-shirts.

Will Removable Vinyl Stay On?

Removable vinyl will not stay on materials that are deemed permanent and are exposed to frequent washing. Therefore, it is advisable not to use removable vinyl on tumblers or mugs, for these are frequently washed items. Instead, use permanent vinyl to ensure that your design will last longer.    

Summing It All Up

can you use removable vinyl on shirts?

Choices of vinyl available at TeckWrap Craft

There is so much craft vinyl in the market. Different types of vinyl have a different purposes. Do not feel confused or overwhelmed on which vinyl is best to use for your craft project.

The fantastic thing about removable vinyl is that you can easily remove it if you find yourself changing your mind. It only works best on specific surfaces and projects.

Removable adhesive vinyl may not be the best choice for t-shirt designs. However, removable vinyl has a lot of practical applications for other materials. Heat transfer vinyl, infusible ink, and sublimation printing are reliable techniques for t-shirt design creations.

If you are excited to design your first t-shirt, look into Teckwrap Craft's collection of heat transfer vinyl. There are several exciting colors, patterns, and finishes to choose from, making your design fun.

You can also check out Teckwrap Craft's removable vinyl collection to give you inspiration for your next craft project!

1 comment

  • I was trying to use your Teckwrap Adhesive Craft vinyl pinks sheets. I had chosen a open Disney Minnie mouse design , using three colours. I weeded all three cuts ok, however it doesn’t matter what sort of transfer tape I use, I cannot layer then, I cannot add either of the 2nd or 3rd cut to my first, I cannot remove them from the tape. What would I be doing that’s incorrect please?.
    I was trying to make one of your 26oz drink container
    Also I note, in the pouche with the pink shades there is yellowed backed backing paper, whay is tha used for please.
    It doesn’t say.
    I would appreciate your feed back please.
    I am new to Cricut making.

    - Sue McCormick

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