So you want to know what sorts of fabrics you can heat press onto? You’ve been thinking of trying your hand at heat pressing or maybe you’ve been heat pressing for a little while and are just looking for a few ideas of other materials that you can heat press onto.
The most popular fabrics to heat press onto are cotton, polyester and cotton & polyester blends. However, these aren’t your only options! You can also heat press onto neoprene, lycra and nylon too. We’ve also added 2 bonus materials (that aren’t fabrics) to keep things spicy so make sure you read to the bottom to find out what they are!
The truth is, you can heat press on the majority of fabrics; both natural and synthetic materials! However, not all fabrics were created equal, so you need to ensure you heat press using the correct temperatures and pressing durations.
Here’s a quick peek at the different materials and their associated heats and pressing times!
- TEMPERATURE = 380F
- DURATION = 15 seconds
- TEMPERATURE = 270F
- DURATION = 10 seconds
- COTTON POLYESTER BLEND
- TEMPERATURE = 270F – 380F
- DURATION = 10 – 15 seconds
- MOUSEPADS (NEOPRENE)
- TEMPERATURE = 400F
- DURATION = 40 seconds
- TEMPERATURE = 280F
- DURATION = 5 seconds
- TEMPERATURE = 275F
- DURATION = 3 x 5 seconds
- TEMPERATURE = 400F
- DURATION = 6-8 minutes
- TEMPERATURE = 330F
- DURATION = 10-15 seconds
Without further ado, let’s dive a little deeper into the different fabrics you can heat press.
This is probably the most common printable fabric to start with. You can snag yourself some pretty cheap cotton t-shirts in bulk if you wanted to try your hand at a few heat presses – just so you don’t ruin anything expensive as you’re getting the hang of it.
T-shirts aren’t the only thing that is commonly made from Cotton. You can give a few more cotton items of clothing a go such as socks and underwear too!
We’ve found that the ideal temperature for heat pressing onto cotton is around the 380 Fahrenheit mark (approximately 190 degrees Celcius) and the duration of the press is around 15 seconds.
Of course, this may vary a little depending on the machine, the consistency of the heat across the heat plate, the thickness of the design and the material.
We recommend using these transfer instructions as a starting point and finding your perfect settings through trial and error.
COTTON TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS:
- Temperature = 380 Fahrenheit (190 Celcius); and
- Duration = about 15 seconds.
Polyester is another very common fabric and one this is popular to heat press onto. Unlike Cotton, polyester fabrics are synthetic materials and so need to be treated very differently.
In addition to this, it’s widely thought that heat pressing on cotton is much easier the heat pressing on polyester so maybe master cotton before trying your hand with polyester.
With a wide variety of uses, you can find polyester in most clothing – this includes:
- Loungewear; and
Another great thing about polyester is that it’s a fabric that is mass-produced and therefore should be relatively cheap to pick up!
You’ll need to be mindful that Polyester can also be quite stretchy and so the materials you use to heat press onto polyester need to be able to withstand the stretching!
We’ve found the best heat for polyester to be temperatures lower than 300 Fahrenheit – try starting with 270, to begin with (approximately 130 Celcius).
We recommend starting with a press duration of 10 seconds and adjusting accordingly as you gain more experience with different cuts of the material.
POLYESTER TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS:
- Temperature = 270 Fahrenheit (130 Celcius); and
- Duration = about 10 seconds.
Cotton Polyester Blend
Nowadays, you’ll find that quite a lot of clothing is a blend of cotton and polyester. This is mainly because cotton is much tougher (can be heated at much higher temperature settings) and polyester fabrics are very easy to create – it’s essentially the best of both worlds!
That being said, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer for how you should heat press onto cotton polyester fabrics. This is because you can get different ratios of blend – i.e. you could have 50/50 cotton poly blends or you could have 30/70 cotton poly blends.
Depending on the ratio of cotton to polyester in the fabric, you’ll need to use different temperature settings when heat pressing your designs onto them.
By using the cotton transfer instructions and the polyester transfer instructions, we know that cotton fabrics require more heat whilst polyester fabrics require less heat – this means that if you’ve got a blend that is rich in cotton, start with a temperature closer to the cotton transfer instructions.
On the other hand, if you’ve got a blend that is rich in polyester, start with a temperature closer to the polyester transfer instructions!
COTTON POLYESTER BLEND TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS:
- Temperature = 270F – 380F (depending on blend); and
- Duration = 10-15 seconds (trial and error with different blends).
This is another tricky one that requires sublimation rather than conventional heat pressing. You’ll need to ensure you have a heat press that can handle the higher temperatures.
Mousepads are made of rubber covered with a neoprene layer – it will usually be the neoprene layer you’ll be pressing your designs onto.
Our recommendation with sublimation onto mousepads is to use heat of approximately 400 Fahrenheit (200 Celcius). You’ll want to only press for around 40 seconds with firm pressure – but don’t be too heavy-handed.
MOUSEPADS TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS:
- Temperature = 400F; and
- Duration = 40 seconds.
This is a tricky material to try and heat press onto as it’s a fabric that is woven out of synthetic material and so is at risk of melting. The key here is to ensure you don’t overheat the material otherwise you could have a big problem on your hands!
However, this being said – if you can get it right, Lycra is a great option for your heat-pressing arsenal as you can put your own stamp on workout clothing and ‘Ath-leisure’ gear which is super hot right now. This is how the likes of Gymshark got started!
The best temperature to press lycra/spandex is around the 280 Fahrenheit mark (135 Celcius). You don’t want to apply this level of heat for too long so we found that 5 seconds is the sweet spot in terms of duration.
LYCRA/SPANDEX TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS:
- Temperature = 280F; and
- Duration = 5 seconds.
To round off our list of fabrics that you can heat press onto, we finish with Nylon. Nylon is a super versatile fabric made from superheating carbon-based chemicals found in petroleum and coal in a highly pressurized environment.
Nylon can be used to make a whole host of clothing such as swimwear, activewear and even hosiery! Ever wanted to brand your own swimwear? Here’s how you do it!
This material is another tricky one to heat press onto. As it’s created using heat, the heat press can potentially scorch the nylon and ruin your clothing. The key is to press a couple of times at short intervals and at a relatively low temperature.
We’ve found the best temperature to be around 275 Fahrenheit (135 Celcius) and try pressing at 5 second intervals for around 3 times.
NYLON TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS:
- Temperature = 275F; and
- Duration = 5 seconds (3 times).
We’ve discussed the top fabrics to heat press onto, however, we’re feeling kind so we’ve got 2 bonus materials that you can heat press onto if you’re feeling adventurous.
Try these out once you’ve mastered heat pressing onto the above fabrics!
Ceramics are a completely different beast when comparing heat pressing times and temperatures to fabrics such as cotton and polyester. With these fabrics, you typically heat the materials between 10 and 15 seconds – however with ceramics, these durations go into the minutes!
There are so many different ceramics objects that you can press onto – these include:
- Mugs; and
- various other items of crockery.
As you can imagine, ceramics come in all different shapes and sizes so you need to ensure the heat press you have has the capability to heat press onto the shapes and sizes that you desire.
It’s no mystery that a mug is a completely different shape than a plate!
Additionally, pressing on ceramic isn’t as straightforward as pressing onto a t-shirt. You have to sublimate ceramics.
If you’re not sure what sublimate is – it’s essentially where you heat the transfer ink to the point where it ingrains itself to the object. This differs from your traditional heat pressing as this only attaches your designs to fabrics rather than ingraining.
Not all heat presses can achieve the temperatures needed for sublimation so ensure you have a suitable machine before trying it!
Our recommendation for ceramics is to press using heat of around 400 Fahrenheit (200 Celcius) for between 6 to 8 minutes. Make sure you don’t press too hard, a light pressure will do the trick.
As always, please use this as a starting point and not gospel – it will vary slightly depending on the machine you use and the object you’re pressing onto and so you will need to find the sweet spot that is just right for you!
CERAMICS TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS:
- Temperature = 400F; and
- Duration = 6-8 minutes.
Glass is a great option to heat press as you can get some really slick designs – however, you need to be super careful as glass can become extremely fragile when heated.
We’ve found that the best temperature and pressure to heat press glass is at approximately 330 Fahrenheit (165 Celcius) and ensure you don’t apply ANY pressure. This is due to the fragility of the glass.
As with fabrics, there isn’t an exact science and so the temperature and pressure are just a starting point for you to find the best settings through trial and error for you and your heat press.
Depending on the type of vinyl you press onto the glass, the duration can vary between 10 and 15 seconds so we’d suggest trying 10 and adding more if needed.
Potential glass products to test out could include:
- Champagne flutes; and
- the list goes on!
GLASS TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS:
- Temperature = 330 F; and
- Duration = 10-15 seconds.
There are so many different fabrics out there that you can heat press vinyl onto. However, you need to be super careful around the temperatures you use and the durations you press for.
This is because some fabrics need to be pressed for a lot longer at a higher temperature (such as Cotton) and those fabrics that are made using heat, are much more delicate to heat and need a lower temperature and a shorter duration.
Be sure to take the recommended transfer instructions as a starting point and not as the solution. The perfect temperature & duration combination will vary depending on the thickness of fabric, size of design and make of heat press so you’ll need to use a bit of trial and error to find your sweet spot.