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How to Print T-Shirts at Home With Iron?

Often, we love to customize things according to our needs but getting items customized from other people is not only expensive, it takes a lot of time to reach you. From the actual designing part to the final execution, there are a lot of things that go into making the perfect printed t-shirts.

But, wouldn’t it be amazing if you get to do the same yourself? Sounds like a pretty great option, right? Well, to be fair, the process is very simple, all you need to take care of are the ingredients needed and the process involved. That is all there to it.

Here, we will discuss every last detail that you likely need to know about the DIY printed t-shirts that you can make in the comfort of your own home with a few standard items and an iron.

How to Print T-shirts at Home Using Iron and Transfer Paper

Learning how to print and personalize your t-shirts with drawings, photos, typography, and other images is easy. Using an iron and transfer paper, you can print an image or text on a variety of fabrics in just a few minutes – you wouldn’t even need a special printer. Plus the instructions are easy to follow.

Whether you are customizing your t-shirts, making t-shirts you can sell or trying to create a personalized gift for your loved one, using transfer paper is amongst the easiest ways to add a design to an article of clothing. Most DIY-ers find iron on transfer an accessible option since it is budget-friendly – especially if you only need to print a few t-shirts.

Supplies you need:

  1. A pack of transfer paper: Transfer papers are used to transfer designs onto fabrics – when purchasing transfer paper, choose the pack that suits the fabric you are customizing
  2. A blank t-shirt: Customizing a t-shirt that has already been printed on can be messy – to create a clean and clear print, use a blank t-shirt
  3. A design: It is essential to decide on the design before starting your project – your design could be anything from a poem to your favorite photo
  4. An iron: Having an iron is fundamental to the printing process since it helps you permanently print the design onto the fabric
  5. An ironing board: For your iron on transfer to come out perfectly, you should place the t-shirt on an ironing board or any other flat surface like a table
  6. Scissors: You need a pair of scissors to trim the edges of the transfer paper – ironing over blank transfer paper can form a narrow margin around the print on your t-shirt
  7. A printer: After deciding on a design, you would need a printer for printing designs on the transfer paper

How-to-do: Step-by-step

Step 1: Choose a design

Any logo, photo, typography, or drawing can potentially be used to customize a variety of garments including t-shirts – there is no limit to what design you could use. You could even create your own images and designs – this is an ideal way to add your character to the piece of clothing.

A complex design would look even better than boxed-shaped designs, but they would require more precise and challenging cutting. Before choosing an extravagant design, it would be best to first figure out whether you could cut it out.

The design you choose should be on your computer; if not, you would have to upload it. If it is a physical photo or design, you can either scan it or take a picture of it and send it to the computer then the printer.

Step 2: Purchase the transfer paper

Transfer paper can be bought at office supply, craft, and stationery stores. They are often available in two types. One type transfers onto pastels and whites while the other transfers onto other colors and dark fabrics.

Transfer paper usually has the exact dimensions of printer paper. However, if you prefer a bigger size, you should first make sure your printer will be able to handle the size you want.

Step 3: Create mirror images for light-coloured t-shirts

Unlike the transfer paper used for darker shirts, the transfer paper used to design light-colored fabrics usually creates a mirror image. To get the results you want, you would have to mirror or reverse the image before printing.

Your printer should offer an option to reverse the image, or you can edit it on your computer before printing. Always test the mirror image by printing it on printer paper or plain paper before printing it onto a t-shirt.

Step 4: Print the design

If you only want to iron a portion of the design, you should crop the image before printing it. To make sure the image fits on the transfer paper click “preview”.

If it is too big, you could reduce the size of the image on your computer or select “fit to scale” on your printer’s menu. If the dimensions of your image aren’t equal, choose “landscape” on your printing options.

Check whether the transfer paper has a right and wrong side. One side might have a logo or be slightly different in opacity or color than the other. To avoid printing your design on the wrong side, make sure you read the instructions included on the transfer paper package.

Step 5: Cut out the image

Before ironing your design onto your t-shirt, you should cut around the image, making sure that no blank transfer paper is left. The excess paper will cast a shadow or create narrow margin around your design in the shape of the transfer paper on your t-shirt. If you can not get a clean cut by using your scissors, then you should consider using an Exacto knite to get a clean cut of the edges before ironing.

Step 6: Choose and cover the surface

If you do not have an ironing board, you can use a table or a hard surface that is flat and can withstand heat. This helps guarantee that you do not interfere with the print or damage the surface. Use a cotton cloth or garment to cover the surface to protect the t-shirt and surface further.

Step 7: Iron on your design

Transfer paper usually comes with ironing instructions. In case there are none, set the iron heat settings to “high” or cotton setting, turn of the steam setting or set it for dry heat, and drain the water inside to ensure it does not produce any steam. After that:

  • Give the iron time to heat up
  • Iron the t-shirt to smooth out the crises before applying the design. Ironing the fabric guarantees that crises don’t form on the print
  • Place dark transfer paper face up and light transfer paper face down on the fabric
  • Make sure the image is straight and in the proper position – this makes it easy to keep the edges rounded while ironing
  • Firmly press the iron onto the t-shirt – use your whole hand to apply firm pressure and move it across the garment in a circular motion. When ironing, make sure you iron directly over the design
  • The transfer paper should have instructions on how long you should iron. Generally, it should take anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes
  • Try to keep the iron steady to make sure the entire image is getting constant heat and to keep the edges rounded

Step 8: Let it cool

Put your clothes iron on low heat or turn it offemove the garment from the heating area and let the image cool for a few minutes. After letting the garment cool to room temperature, peel off the transfer paper.

How to Print T-shirts At Home Using Iron Without Transfer Paper

With several options for printing images on t-shirts, most people are more likely to opt for transfer paper when customizing any garment. Printing with transfer paper is amongst the easiest ways to print graphic designs onto a t-shirt. It might seem that with the variety of t-shirt printing options, a lot of people are not particularly invested in learning how to print t-shirts without transfer paper.

However, it is possible to iron on designs and images on t-shirts at home without transfer paper. In fact, you can take plain paper and paint a design on it or use physical images such as photos and still achieve the desired results.

Supplies you need:

  1. A design: If you are planning on printing a t-shirt, you should first start by deciding on a design
  2. A printer: If your design is stored on your computer, print it out on your printer to get a physical image
  3. Plastic wrap: This will act as a protective layer over your design or physical photo
  4. Parchment paper or backing paper: After wrapping the image in plastic, you will have to place parchment paper or backing paper over it before proceeding
  5. A blank t-shirt: It is advisable to print designs onto a blank t-shirt for better results

How-to-do: Step-by-step

Step 1: Choose a design and print It

First, you would need to choose a design. It can be a meme, a quote from your favorite book, a picture of an actor, a cartoon character, a cut out from a magazine, or even your own design. Once you have made your choice, you should scan the physical image and send it to your computer and print it on your printer.

Before printing the image, consider resizing it so that it will fit on the t-shirt. If you do not have a printer, you can use the physical image.

Step 2: Wrap the image in plastic wrap

After printing your design, wrap the image in plastic wrap, making sure to fold over the excess plastic wrap at the back of the image.

Step 3: Prepare your supplies

Place your well-ironed t-shirt on a flat, heat resistant surface or table, then place the image face-down on the backside of the garment to avoid printing a mirror image. After making sure it is precisely where you want it, cover the surface with parchment paper.

Step 4: Iron on the image

Set your iron temperature to “high” or cotton setting, turn off the steam setting and give it a few minutes to heat up. Firmly iron over the image, making sure the image gets enough heat. Apply firm pressure to your clothes iron and iron directly over the corners – ironing the image evenly guarantees that the image’s edges don’t peel.

Step 5: Let it cool

After you are done ironing, remove the shirt from heating area and allow it to cool to room temperature, then peel off the parchment paper. Your iron on transfer is complete!

Care & Maintenance Tips After Printing T-shirts Using an Iron

Turn Your T-shirts Inside out Before Putting them in the Washing Machine

Exposing your printed t-shirt to direct contact with other garments may cause them to peel. Turning them inside out before putting them in the washing machine can help maintain the print. Apart from ensuring the print is durable, it can prevent the print from fading and instead retain its original, fresh color.

Wash Your T-shirts With Cold Water

If you are washing your printed t-shirts by hand, it is best to wash them in cold water. Washing them in hot or warm water can wear out the print causing it to fade and peel with every wash. Besides, washing a garment in hot water would make the garment itself lose its original color exceptionally fast.

Avoid Using Fabric Softeners and Bleach

When it comes to washing a printed t-shirt, regular detergent will get the job done, leaving your t-shirt fresh and clean. Using bleach and other strong detergents such as fabric softeners to wash a printed t-shirt can cause extensive and irreversible damage to the prints on your t-shirt. Using a mild detergent will help maintain the quality of the print on your t-shirt.

Forgo the Use of Dryers

Although dryers are great for saving time, they can cause a lot of damage to printed t-shirts. This is because heat is terrible for prints; putting your printed t-shirts in a dryer will make them peel and fade. For this reason, it is best just to hang dry your t-shirt the old fashion way.


1. What can I use instead of iron for heat transfer?

Using an iron for heat transfer can be convenient since an iron is a common household appliance. However, instead of an iron, you can use a heat press machine for heat transfer gets the job done better since heat press machines are designed explicitly for HTV applications.

2. What can I use instead of heat transfer tape?

VinylEase transfer tape, Frisco craft transfer tape, duck brand adhesive liner, scotch painter’s tape, contact paper, scotch masking tape, and frog tape are all great substitutes for heat transfer tape. However, duck brand adhesive liner is the best heat transfer tape alternative.

3. How do you keep t-shirt prints from peeling?

Ultimately, the best way to keep t-shirt prints from peeling would be to flip the t-shirt inside out before washing either by hand or washing machine. Using cold water and avoiding harsh detergents can also go a long way in preserving t-shirt prints.

4. Can you use a regular printer to print iron on transfers?

You could use just about any printer for iron on transfer. However, if you want quality iron on transfer, you should use an inkjet printer. An inkjet printer has a higher resolution and at least six ink colors, so it is guaranteed to give you markedly better results.


Whether you are trying to add a little essence to your t-shirts, customize t-shirts for your organization, create a unique gift, designing garments with the intent to sell or just looking for a DIY project, printing a t-shirt at home with an iron is the easiest and most inexpensive way to print your t-shirts.

Iron on transfer designs can prove to be just as good as those of specialized, expensive equipment used by professional printing companies. Besides, there is no harm in getting creative and finding new ways to utilize both your skills and ideas.

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