How to Wash Vinyl Shirts?

Vinyl printing works well for tents, awnings, boat covers, and other applications, especially when combined with other materials. The fabric’s flexibility and durability make it an excellent choice for your specialty fabric product needs.

So it is not surprising that vinyl printed customized t-shirts are quite popular these days. Because anybody can do this at home as it is an easy process.

A vinyl printed shirt needs some special care while washing. It ensures the print lasts long and the outlook stays the same. Vinyl print lasts approximately 45-55 washes according to experts. A rough wash can cause your vinyl to peel off from your shirt.

So you should know the proper handling of a vinyl printed garment.

How to Wash Vinyl Shirts?

In this article, I will tell you about the caring process of heat transfer vinyl shirts.

What vinyl is and its properties?

Before getting into the part where I tell you what can ruin your adhesive vinyl, you should first know what vinyl is and its properties. It will help you understand more about vinyl printed fabric handling.

Vinyl: Vinyl is a synthetic material. So clearly it’s not derived from nature. In labs, they combine ethylene and regular chlorine that is found in salt. Then a plastic-type material is formed that is polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It’s often called vinyl.

There are primarily two types of vinyl. They’re both made of vinyl that won’t wear off.

Vinyl Adhesive

Adhesive vinyl is a thin, flexible, self-adhesive material (think durable sticker) used to make wall and window decorations as well as commercial signage. It’s long-lasting and waterproof.

Adhesive vinyl is a kind of vinyl where you can find glue. The vinyl adhesive is cut with a Cricut easy press machine. The vinyl should be facing up, and the paper carrier sheet should be facing down. Then you print your image on t-shirts with transfer tape and heat.

Heat Press Vinyl

HTV stands for heat transfer vinyl. the vinyl is not adhesive, heat is applied to print it onto the is called fusing. Heat transfer vinyl necessitates the use of a heat press or iron.

After that, you prepare your design for printing by mirroring it. You must flip it over and use it on your clothes. Get rid of the carrier sheet. When ironing corners of vinyl print, be very cautious because if the heat isn’t applied properly, it can tear off.

Heat transfer vinyl or HTV is the most popular way to transfer vinyl onto garments. You can heat transfer 100% cotton or 100% polyester fabrics.

Vinyl Properties

  • Moisture and Humidity: Vinyl has good resistance properties to moisture and humidity.
  • Durability: It survives approximately 50-60 washes. So you can say it’s durable. But you have to handle vinyl printed shirts properly.
  • Printing Range: You can print designs that contain more than two or three colors. It gives you a wide range of design selections.
  • Cleanness: Heat press vinyl is the cleanest of all printing as the ink doesn’t spill in this heat transfer process.

How to Wash Vinyl Shirts: Washing Technique

How to wash my vinyl printed shirt? It is a frequently asked question about vinyl printing. As you know enough about vinyl, Now is the time for you to know more about washing vinyl printed fabric.

  • Set the vinyl: Before taking your heat transfer vinyl garment for washing give it time to set properly. It takes almost 20-24hours to set on the garment that you printed. The adhesive that was activated by heat needs to cool down untouched otherwise it will crack easily while washing.
  • Soaping: Now use cool water to wet your shirt. And lightly rub soap over your printed garment. Don’t be harsh.
  • Cleaning dirt: Now the dirty area or spotted area should be cleaned. You can use soft brushes to wash them. Rub the brush over the dirty area and it should be clean. Don’t overdo anything cause it can harm your vinyl-printed garments.
  • Finishing: After you are done rubbing, use cool water again to clean all the soap from your printed shirt. Rinse it properly and be sure the water is not too hot. You can use a washing machine for vinyl washing. If you put your vinyl fabric with other fabric in the same settings, it can come out ok.

But the matter is to make it long-lasting and this will surely decrease the life of your product.

While using a washing machine, you should be concerned about two things. You should not use hot water. It will make the vinyl adhesive come off.

The spin of the machine should be set low. And you should not keep your garment inside the machine longer than needed.

However, hand washing is the best way to wash vinyl printed shirts. It will give the shirt a long life and the look of the product will be the same after several washes.

Caution: Avoid using aggressive cleaning agents and solvents. Wipe down the material using soft, non-abrasive cloths. for a very stubborn stain, try a mixture of 10% bleach and 90% water. (Remember to test this mixture on your fabric in an inconspicuous location to see whether it discolors or affects it. If this occurs, discontinue the use of the blend and seek a vinyl-specific cleaning solution).

Before storing your vinyl product, make sure it has been cleaned down and is completely dry.

Infographics of 10 Tips for Washing Shirts with HTV

10 Tips for Washing Shirts with HTV and What to do? what not to do?

1. Don’t use Hot water

Adhesive vinyl is heat-sensitive that’s why heat transfer is possible for vinyl. So it is clear it will react with the hot water and eventually start to come off. don’t use hot water while washing.

Try to use cold water for washing your vinyl shirt. It will help your design put on the garment for a long period. At least 60-70washes.

2. Using a Washing machine

You can use a washing machine for vinyl washing. But you should not keep it inside the machine more than you need.

If you put your vinyl fabric with other fabric in the same settings, it can come out ok. But the matter is to make it long-lasting and this will surely decrease the life of your product.

3. Setting Dry temperature

Drying is another important process for your vinyl shirt to last long. After a careful wash, you don’t want your design to come off just after applying heat while drying.

If you dry these vinyl shirts directly under the sun for a long time it can eat off your vinyl designs.

To avoid this you must hang dry your garment at low heat. Dry your vinyl printed shirt at low heat.

4. Try not to use Brush

Cleaning vinyl with brushes to be specific carbon fiber brushes are prevalent, but they aren’t required.

Using a brush with heavy pressure will damage the vinyl, so you’re better off using a non-corrosive, non-abrasive cleaning with a microfiber cloth.

5. Always dry Inside-out

When you are washing a garment the surface will have a lot of contacts. So the abrasion can harm your heat-press vinyl print. Turning it inside out will solve this problem.

You can give the vinyl a layer of security during the wash by flipping the shirts inside out. So turn your garment inside out while washing or drying.

6. Don’t Chlorine bleach

As we know vinyl is derived from chlorine bleach, it is putting your heat transfer vinyl fabric into a bleach solution that is a killer for your printed t-shirts.

Bleach will react with the vinyl design and it will cause the design to fade quickly and cracks can be seen.

7. Avoid Dry cleaning

When you dry clean a garment you use various chemicals and apply high heat. Because it’s the way. The chemicals that are used and high heat are not very ideal for HTV. So dry cleaning should be avoided for vinyl printing products.

8. Fabric softener

Using any kind of fabric softener can cause great harm to your vinyl printed design. The chemicals you used for fabric softening will chemically react with vinyl. And the adhesive vinyl can be melted.

9. Try inside out Ironing

If you have to iron a vinyl printed shirt after washing you have to ensure you don’t set a high heat setting for your Cricut iron and turn the printed side inside. You should use medium temperature.

While using a household iron, keep the temperature mild. High heat will melt vinyl adhesive easily.

10. Use mild liquid washer

Okay now you must focus cause this is a huge factor of vinyl printing garments washing. Should you use detergent or not? Actually, these washing agents are not compulsory you can say. But if you have some on your shelf you can use them for better cleaning.

However detergent contains some chemicals that are very harmful to your garment that have vinyl print on it. But you can use mild detergents which don’t contain any green elements.

Because washing powder with green elements is pretty harsh and this harshness can ruin your vinyl print totally.

Or washing soaps also can be used. Wherever you use remember one thing you can’t use any harsh cleaning powder or soaps.

Use a liquid cleaner that will help the vinyl to stick the garment.


The vinyl of your vinyl printed garment will not peel off that easily if you follow the caring and washing instructions properly. Your vinyl printed will last 55-60 washes on average. But with proper care, it will last longer.

Recall in mind everything related to washing vinyl care and use them properly to have a long-lasting gorgeous heat transfer vinyl garment. Besides, you have a peel of problems if you don’t put the right heat and temperature in the heat transfer vinyl design.

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