How To Care For Heat Transfer Vinyl- Free Printable

How To Care For HTV

So you’ve made all these fun, customized shirts with Heat Transfer Vinyl and now you are asking yourself, “How do I care for Heat Transfer Vinyl “? “Can the shirts I make be washed? ” Can the shirts with HTV be put in the dryer?”  Confusing right? Don’t worry; I am here to answer all those questions for you!

First, let me walk you through a fun project on how to create a design with more than one color of HTV, then I’ll share how to care for your heat transfer vinyl creations so they last. Let’s get to it.


Supplies Needed:

ImPRESSED Vinyl™ Assorted Color Bundle
-Cutting Machine (I used a Silhouette Cameo)
-Weeding Hook or Craft Tweezers
-Iron or Heat Press
-Blank Garment


Step One: Prepare Design In Software

Open your software program (I used Silhouette Studio) and design your image or import one. I chose a baseball image from the Online Silhouette Design Store and knew my kids would love it.

Since I am using two different colors of heat transfer vinyl, I need to separate the baseball into two parts. Right-click and select ungroup.


I like to add fill color so I know which part of the design gets cut out with each color. Select the threads of the baseball, go to the fill color window and add some red.



Now we have two parts of the baseball; the white ball and the red threads. Since we are using heat transfer vinyl, we always need to mirror our image. Right click and select Flip Horizontally.



Size your design to fit onto the t-shirt; then we are ready to cut!


Step Two: Cut Out HTV Design

After mirroring the baseball design, place your heat transfer vinyl onto the cutting mat with the shiny side down. If you’re cutting more than one color and using small pieces, you can put both colors onto the mat!


Go to the cut settings window and select the material we will be cutting. Our imPRESSED Vinyl works great with the Heat Transfer, Smooth setting. Remember to adjust your blade if you aren’t using the auto blade feature on the Silhouette Cameo 3.



Time to load your mat into the machine and let it get to work!



Step Three: Weed Each Piece Of Vinyl

After both the white and red parts have been cut, it’s time to weed. Begin by peeling away a corner of the vinyl and leaving the cut-out design. For small designs, a weeding hook or craft tweezers work well.



Continue until both parts of the baseball design have been weeded.


Step Four: Press HTV Onto Blank Garment

Heat your home iron to cotton settings with no steam. For a heat press, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Iron out the wrinkles of the t-shirt, so you have a flat area.


Place the first part of the baseball design onto the shirt. You can move it around as much as you’d like until heat is added.


Next, place your Teflon sheet (included in the color bundle) over the design and press for 15-20 seconds in each area.


Allow the design to cool for at least 1 minute, then slowly peel the clear carrier sheet away. If any part of the vinyl starts to lift, place the clear carrier sheet and Teflon sheet back down and press for a little longer.



Repeat for the other part of the design, cool, then lift off carrier sheet.


One way to know if you “got a good press”, is to look for fabric lines. You want to see the texture of the shirt through the vinyl like in the picture below.

And now your custom shirt is complete! I know my kids will love this one. When working with heat transfer vinyl, the options are truly limitless on what you can customize!


Once your masterpiece is complete, you may be wondering how you should care for your HTV to keep it looking its best?  Below are a few tips:


  • Machine wash in COLD water. HTV is a thin piece of plastic with adhesive on one side that melts into the cloth, so we don’t want to re-melt the vinyl by putting it in super hot water. Cold or warm water works best.

  • Do NOT use bleach or fabric softener.

  • Do NOT dry clean. Dry cleaning services use certain chemicals that can cause your design to either melt or peel. Using your home washing machine is best.

  • Tumble dry on low heat. As mentioned, since HTV is a thin plastic, you don’t want to re-melt the vinyl by putting it in a hot dryer.

  • Do NOT iron your design. Iron inside out if needed. If your clothing item has wrinkles that need to be smoothed out, turn the garment inside out so the direct heat of the iron won’t melt your heat transfer material.

One question I get asked a lot is if it is necessary to turn shirts inside out prior to washing. Some people say you should. In my experience, I don’t think it is necessary, especially if you are using cold water.


Whether you sell your creations or make them for gifts, it is always a good idea to make sure you let customers, friends or family know how to properly care for their heat transfer vinyl creations so that they last. We love the idea of adding a fun tag to your shirts. Since you have enough to do, we created a free printable file for you to use. Click on image to download.


How to care for HTV


If you are a business owner, you could even add your logo or contact information on the backside.

Looking for more HTV tips? Click here to check out our troubleshooting post for lots of great answers to common HTV problems.

Happy Crafting!

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