Using a domestic iron with HTV (Heat transfer vinyl)


Using a domestic iron with Heat Transfer Vinyl

Iron on HTV

All of our HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) ranges are iron-on friendly, including our Transfer Doodles and Pre weeded transfers too.

Our most common enquiry is; ‘Can I use my Iron on HTV?’ Hopefully this article will answer that question for you. The short answer is YES but please refer to the iron on timings on the application guides found here for each individual Vinyl.

So how do I use my iron?

Time, temperature and pressure are all extremely important factors when applying HTV, so do check all of these factors are correct for each vinyl you use.

Time – If your pressing time is too long or too short it will cause HTV to peel away from your garment. If all the conditions required are correctly met, you would only need to press once, extra repressing for a 2nd  / 3rd time  and or from Front and Back  should NOT be required and doing this will cause issues with your HTV adhering and causing it to fail.

Temperature – There is no temperature setting that suits all vinyl. Please check our application guides on the website, https://www.gmcrafts.co.uk/product-guides-media/  to ensure you are pressing at the recommended temperature for the vinyl you are using. If you are using a domestic iron – most settings will be around the cotton setting (not quite the highest setting depending upon your iron)  and have your steam function turned off. Do not press onto Granite or stone surfaces as these will absorb the heat from your iron.

Pressure – This issue is encountered more when using an iron. The pressure is only regulated by how much pressure you manually apply using the above items during the application process.  You need to be pushing down super hard, on a firm flat surface, with both hands and combined with the top half of your body weight, to imitate the same pressure that would be achieved with a regular heavy duty heat press. Your hands are likely to shake from the pressure needed.

Do not use an ironing board if pressing with an iron, this is just not a firm/strong enough surface to be able to apply the pressure and may result in the ironing board collapsing (this demonstrates the pressure you should be applying). If you are on a table for instance, the pressure being applied will be like you are trying to push your iron through the table itself and come out the other side!). Good surfaces to use will be a solid table, kitchen worktop or a hard floor.

What prevents a good pressure being applied?

If you do not have a firm flat surface you will not achieve the ideal pressing conditions. If you have clothing seams i.e. neckline, arm and side seams, bag seams, buttons, zippers, collars, bag handles etc, these are all sitting slightly higher than your HTV decal and will prevent the heated part of your  iron from making it’s first point of contact with the vinyl.  This commonly occurs on babies and small children’s clothing.

To overcome this problem you can either purchase or make your own Teflon pressing pillows, use some squares of felt, pieces of firm dense foam or cut down some tea-towels into assorted sizes (with seams cut off). Use these and place directly underneath the area as padding where your HTV design is, thus raising the vinyl decal a few mm’s higher than the seams are. Make sure this padding is nice and flat. By doing this, the heated surface of your  iron will make contact with the HTV decal first instead of the seams and will be able to apply the firm pressure much better.

The ‘Peeling process’ once pressed there are 3 cooling conditions, cool, warm or hot peel. Be sure to check the Application guide for the vinyl you are using.  Incorrectly peeled vinyl once pressed can ruin your design and cause the HTV to fail and likely come off in the laundry.

Waterproof clothing – A waterproof or fire retardant coating can be an issue when trying to apply HTV to it. It does not allow the vinyl to stick onto the fibres of the fabrics. It may be possible to remove some coatings by using some rubbing alcohol onto the area that you want to apply the design and leave this to completely dry. A pre-test is recommended.

Cover sheets

It is important to use a cover-sheet when preheating – always use one during preheating of light coloured garments; it is optional when preheating darker garments. A cover sheet needs to be larger than the surface area of the item / garment you are preheating and cover the entire Iron area. This will protect your garment from any accidental marks that may occur from something on the plate base (bit of vinyl / ink etc) from a previous application that could mark your garment.

Cover-sheets over your design when pressing – As HTV comes on it’s own carrier sheet, which is left in place until the pressing process has been completed, the carrier sheet can act as your cover-sheet as nothing is exposed in your design that would then stick to your iron base, so additional cover is not necessarily required unless layering (read below). However, a cover-sheet covering the entire platen of your iron is a good idea and habit to get into when using white or light garments, to ensure no accidental marks are transferred onto your garment and ruining it.

Cover-sheets need to be used to protect heat sensitive fabric.  There are a few options you can use as a cover sheet from tracing paper, silicone paper, grease proof paper, baking parchment, crafts parchment paper or a piece of cotton sheeting.  These sheets are a good idea when heat pressing onto heat sensitive garments that can scorch or leave a temperature mark which appears as a deeper colour and often occurs on red and green materials. This deep colour will fade and disappear overnight and also when laundered. We do however recommend you do not use a Teflon sheet, Teflon sheets are a plastic type heat shield and non stick sheet that can be used in the oven repeatedly, and will deflect or reflect heat depending on thickness and weave, this gives an unpredictable result and can result in your vinyl not adhering or falling off in the wash.

Cover-sheets are necessary when applying multi layered designs, so you can protect the HTV layers that you have already pressed into place.

Cold Peel vinyl – always use a cover-sheet on ‘cold peel’ vinyl. This helps prevent a vacuum occurring during the cooling process. This will help prevent the HTV lifting from the garment before the HTV has had time to cool down to a cold peel state.

Cover-sheets for a different finish – Kraft Paper Cover Sheet v a Non-Stick Cover Sheet. If you re-press your finished transfer for just 2-3 seconds with a Kraft Paper sheet you will notice you will end up with more of a matt finish to the HTV.

Pressing – If your temperature, timings and pressure are all correct, your vinyl will adhere correctly first time with the recommended timings. There is no need to press both front and back, just on the front only is sufficient. You risk ‘overcooking’ the vinyl if you press more than once for the same amount of time. If it has not adhered after the recommended time, just give it only another 2-3 seconds, not the full time again (if using an  iron make sure to press even harder during this extra time).

Let’s also disperse the ‘Old wives tale’ about seeing the weave while we are here.  The weave or texture of the garment does NOT need to be visible in the HTV to indicate a good press and with some vinyl like Glitter / Flock it would be impossible due to the texture of those vinyls. Any visible adhesive lines showing around the edges, where you have squeezed the glue out indicates too much pressure has been applied and there is less adhesive under the vinyl for it to bond with your garment. This can be overcome by using slightly less pressure.

Ultra fine/thin sections of a design – these may not bond well to your garment. If a design is too thin there is simply not enough of an adhesive area for it to make a good bond with the material.

Is your Iron working properly? Sometimes the heating elements in a iron will go bad causing it not to heat up to the temperature that you set it to. It could also have hot and cold spots throughout the platen (the plate that gets hot). Invest in a temperature gun or some testing strips  to test the accuracy of the iron.


  • Set your iron to the Cotton setting and turn any steam function off. Use your iron on a firm surface like a table or the floor (ironing board is not recommended).
  • Press clothing to remove moisture and wrinkles.
  • Place the design carrier sheet side up and cover with a layer of Grease proof paper/ Baking Parchment or a silicone sheet. Pressing times depends on HTV being used. (time and temperature guides can be viewed on our website HERE)
  • Using both hands, keep the iron over the HTV for the recommended time, with some HTV vinyls, you may need to add an extra few seconds.
  • Do not move the iron around while pressing and ensure you are bearing down firmly on the HTV while avoiding any seams.
  • If covering a large area, press on one area and then move onto the next. (If you do have steam holes on the base, just move it slightly so that the heat gets to all areas equally).
  • If you press for too long you may melt the adhesive and if you don’t press for long enough or firmly enough, it may come off.
  • The key to a success is pressure – heat presses bear down and clamp the garment, so you need to be imitating this pressure.
  • The floor is a great for pressing onto, as you have more force to bear down with, but a sturdy work surface will suffice.
  • Check if it is a Cool, Warm or Hot Peel and peel the carrier sheet away accordingly.
  • If any vinyl looks like it has not stuck, recover with the carrier and cover sheet and re-press for a few more seconds HARDER.

Hopefully this guidance will help anyone who wants to use an Iron. We would love to see what you make!  Have you found our  You Tube channel yet? The video showing this and all of our other tutorials are  available on there, as well as exclusive demos, inspiration and more!  Join us on Facebook , Instagram or Tiktok or  send us an email to [email protected] we would love to hear from you!

G M Crafts