How To Remove Vinyl From Shirts

At one point, most of us will have gone through a phase of collecting vinyl transfer shirts. They were probably band tees, or from your favorite TV show, and they had the coolest designs on them… when you were a teen.

Now? The vinyl look is out, and you’ve come to realize that nothing matches the simplicity and style of the pain tee.

Are you going to throw away all those tees and spend more money on creating a new collection? No! You can simply remove the vinyl.

You read that right – you can remove the vinyl from old tees and give them a new lease of life. There’s no need to throw away all your old faves.

Instead, you can try out some methods mentioned in this article and get rid of that tacky vinyl! You won’t have to be embarrassed of your old tee collection and hide them away anymore.

You’re welcome in advance!

How To Remove Vinyl From Shirts

Removing Vinyl From Fabric

So, there are eight amazing methods you can try out to get rid of unwanted vinyl on your shirts. You might be wondering how you’ve managed to live your whole life not knowing this, but don’t worry!

Even the most experienced people have some secrets to learn.

Some of these methods were even a surprise to us, so don’t feel bad! Unless you’ve had a lot of experience with vinyl tees, there’s no reason for you to even be aware of most of these methods.

New or not, these methods work well to get that old vinyl off your tee, and they’re all worth a try to find out which is your favorite! Got some old tees that need a face lift? Let’s get started.

Some Info About Vinyl

Before we can get into the method for removing vinyl, let’s get an understanding of what vinyl actually is. Vinyl is essentially plastic that has been coated with pigment.

It’s usually used as a backing for fabric, like clothing, and it’s often found in things like posters, stickers, and other items. A lot of vinyl has been used for clothing, such as jackets, hats, and shirts.

Because of this, there’s probably a lot of unwanted clothing sitting around with outdated logos all over them.

The problem with vinyl is that it sticks to everything. If you want to take off the vinyl, you’ll have to do it carefully because you don’t want to damage the surface underneath.

This means you should only use methods that won’t harm the material beneath. Lucky for you, we’ve got some great methods that you can try out when you get the courage to face your old tee collection.

Method 1 – Iron it Out!

What you need:

  • Cotton shirt with vinyl
  • An iron
  • Non-wax coated paper
  • A towel 
  • Ironing board
Method 1 – Iron it Out!

Ironing out the vinyl transfer works really well for cottons, so this is a must-try! To get rid of your unwanted vinyl using an iron, all you need to do is as follows:

1) First, make sure you have a clean shirt. Don’t forget to wash it first!

2) Get a towel and place it inside the shirt.

3) Next, lay the shirt flat on your ironing board. Make sure the vinyl is facing up.

4) Turn the iron on. Make sure it’s on the highest heat it can go to.

5) Get a piece of paper that will be big enough to cover the whole vinyl decal on your shirt. Printer paper, or even a brown paper bag, will work well for this. Just make sure that your paper does not have a waxy coating (e.g., wrapping paper)

5) Place the paper over the vinyl.

6) Place the hot iron on top of the paper. Press down on the vinyl area for around 30 seconds. Make sure you move the iron to cover every area of vinyl.

7) After 30 seconds, peel the paper away from the short. Do this very carefully as it might be hot in some areas. The vinyl should adhere to the paper from the heat, and will just peel off!

8) Repeat the process if necessary. There’s a chance that there will be some vinyl left on the short, but repeating the process will get rid of it.

This method is perfect if you just want to remove the vinyl without damaging the shirt itself. It’s also pretty easy to do, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting it done.

However, there are a few problems with this method. Although it does work well for cotton, it doesn’t always work on polyester/nylon t-shirts.

So make sure you check before trying it out! Also, the size of the logo matters, so if it’s too large, the vinyl will come off more easily. 

Method 2 – Try A Hair Dryer

What you need:

  • Cotton shirt with vinyl
  • A hair dryer
  • Tweezers
  • A towel or cardboard
  • Ironing board
Method 2 – Try A Hair Dryer

Next, you can try the hair dryer method! When I say “hair dryer”, I mean the kind that blows air and heats it up. These are commonly available at beauty salons and most drugstores.

They’re small, handheld devices that blow warm air onto your head to dry your hair. Using one of these is fairly simple.

Again, this method works best on cotton fabrics rather than polyester. You need to make sure that you follow these steps:

1) First, make sure you have a clean shirt. 

2) Get a towel and place it inside the shirt. You can also get some cardboard and stick it in the shirt, but a towel is recommended.

3) Place your shirt on your ironing board flat. Make sure that vinyl is facing up.

4) Turn on your hair dryer. Put it on its highest setting.

5) Hover the hair dryer over the vinyl. Move it around and get it as close as you can to the vinyl, but do not allow it to actually touch it. 

6) Do this for around 30 seconds. This allows the vinyl to separate from the cotton.

7) After around 30 seconds have passed, use your pair of tweezers and peel up the vinyl.

8) You will need to repeat the process until you have lifted all the vinyl off the shirt. This may take some time, but the results are worth it!

Method 3 – The Dryer

What you need:

  • Shirt with vinyl
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer
  • Something to scrape off excess (such as a butter knife)
Method 3 – The Dryer

Using a dryer to get rid of vinyl only really works when the vinyl is freshly applied. This means that it won’t work for all your old tees you’ve hidden away.

Instead, consider using this method if you ever try to apply vinyl to your own clothing! Any mistakes you make can quickly be reversed using your dryer.

You can also use your dryer to try to get rid of any residue left over from using another method on this list!

All you need to do is as follows:

1) Wash your shirt with vinyl

2) Add it to the dryer. Put it on a hot setting

3) Wait for the dryer to finish

4) Use a butter knife or similar object to scrape off the vinyl. Be careful not to use anything that can damage the fabric itself.  

Method 4 – Petroleum Jelly Works!

What you need:

  • Shirt with vinyl
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Laundry detergent
  • Cardboard
Method 4 – Petroleum Jelly Works!

This method doesn’t have the safe efficiency as some other ones mentioned here, but it has its place! It requires a little more elbow grease compared to most others, and works best as a follow-up to get rid of the unpleasant residue.

After trying another method to get rid of the logo, use this one for the final touches!

To use petroleum jelly to get rid of vinyl residue, you need to:

 1) Get your shirt with vinyl residue and turn it inside out.

2) Get your piece of cardboard and place it inside the shirt. Fold it so that the fabric is slightly stretched.

3) Lay the short flat on a table

4) Get your petroleum jelly and scoop out around a tablespoon. 

5) Using your hand, rub the jelly over the area where the vinyl was. Use circular motions to do this.

6) Add a couple of drops of laundry detergent and rub it over the petroleum jelly.

7) After combining the two ingredients and rubbing, you should start to see the vinyl adhesive beginning to clump up.

8) Rinse the petroleum jelly, detergent, and adhesive away using hot water.

9) You may need to repeat the above steps until you no longer see any adhesive stuck to the back area of the vinyl logo.

Make sure that you wash your shirt as soon as you’re done. The petroleum jelly will leave a patch of oil on the fabric, which could cause problems later on down the line.

Also, don’t forget to check the front side of the garment before doing anything else. If there’s too much oil on the surface, then you’ll have to remove the sticky substance first.

Otherwise, you might end up ruining the material in the long term.

Method 5 – Rubbing Alcohol Works Like A Charm!

What you need:

  • Shirt with vinyl
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Tweezers
  • Sink or bucket
Method 5 – Rubbing Alcohol Works Like A Charm!

Rubbing alcohol is used to clean a number of things around the house, including vinyl in your clothes! If you have sensitive skin, it might be worth wearing some gloves while handling rubbing alcohol, just to be safe.

This method is super simple and easy to do, but it does require a lot of rubbing alcohol! To follow this method, all you need to do is:

1) Find a suitable sink or bucket to use

2) Get your shirt with vinyl and turn it inside out. Ensure that the back of the vinyl faces you.

3) Keep the shirt over the sink or bucket

4) Pout your rubbing alcohol over the back of the vinyl. Soak the fabric thoroughly.

5) Using your hands, wiggle, pull, and squeeze the fabric. You should be making the same movement you would if you were washing it. Doing this will loosen the vinyl from the fabric.

6) Once the vinyl looks like it has loosened, turn it the right side out.

7) Use tweezers or a similar object to pull up the edges of the vinyl design and pry it loose. 

8) If you can’t get the vinyl off the fabric cleanly, you may have to scrape it off carefully. This will take some time, but the end result is worth it. 

9) If things are taking too long, you can soak the fabric in rubbing alcohol again. Once you have done this, pick and scrape more vinyl off.

10) Once the vinyl is off, use cool water to rinse the shirt. 

11) There will probably be vinyl residue left over. This is the perfect time to use petroleum jelly!

This method can be a little time-consuming, but it doesn’t use any strong chemicals and there are no horrible fumes.

It’s a great method to try out if you happen to have rubbing alcohol lying around the house, like most people do. If you want to use something a little stronger, the next method is for you! 

Method 6 – Commercial Vinyl Cleaner

What you need:

  • Shirt with vinyl
  • Commercial vinyl cleaner 
  • Tweezers

Commercial vinyl cleaner is a product that is designed specifically to clean vinyl off clothing.

It’s not an everyday household item, but it will work wonders! It has strong chemicals, so you should wear protective gloves, and maybe even goggles when working with it.

Likewise, it’s simple to use, but every brand will have their preferred method of use. However, the below method should work for the majority, if not all brands:

1) Find a suitable sink or bucket to use

2) Get your shirt with vinyl and turn it inside out. Ensure that the back of the vinyl faces you.

3) Keep the shirt over the sink or bucket

4) Add a few drops of the commercial vinyl cleaner to the back of the vinyl on your shirt.

5) Turn the shirt the right way so that you can see the vinyl logo.

6) Pinch the fabric on both sides of the vinyl with your fingertips. You will want to tug and tighten the fabric, then loosen it again. Doing this allows the fibers beneath the vinyl to start to loosen, so it can be removed.

7) When the vinyl looks like it could be removed, get your tweezers and pry the edge of the logo off.

8) Pull the vinyl design off. It should come off in large pieces. If you’re lucky, the whole thing will come off in one piece.

9) There will probably be vinyl residue left on the fabric. You can either wash it or use the petroleum jelly method to get rid of it, then wash it.

Commercial vinyl removers work by dissolving the adhesive backing and allowing the vinyl to fall away. They also contain other chemicals that make them less safe compared to many home cleaners.

Wearing gloves is a must for this product, as is working in a well-ventilated area. The fumes can be hazardous and a lot to deal with if you work in an enclosed space.

Again, these cleaners aren’t for everyone. Some people may be allergic to certain chemicals in these products, while others may find the scent or color unpleasant. 

Before using a commercial vinyl cleaner, always make sure that you read the small print and the full instructions given.

While the above method should work for most cleaners, there may be some that have different guidelines. It’s always best to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.

Method 7 – What About Acetone?

What you need:

  • Shirt with vinyl
  • Acetone
  • Tweezers
Method 7 – What About Acetone?

Acetone is another option for removing vinyl from shirts. It works very similar to Method 5, however acetone is much more powerful than rubbing alcohol.

It will make peeling off the vinyl super easy, and is pretty safe to work with. If you aren’t sure where you can get acetone, you can find it in nail polish remover!

To use acetone to remove vinyl, just follow the steps outlined below. They are exactly the same as the rubbing alcohol, so it’s really simple!

1) Find a suitable sink or bucket to use

2) Get your shirt with vinyl and turn it inside out. Ensure that the back of the vinyl faces you.

3) Keep the shirt over the sink or bucket

4) Pour your acetone over the back of the vinyl. Soak the fabric thoroughly.

5) Using your hands, wiggle, pull, and squeeze the fabric. You should be making the same movement you would if you were washing it. Doing this will loosen the vinyl from the fabric.

6) Once the vinyl looks like it has loosened, turn it the right side out.

7) Use tweezers or a similar object to pull up the edges of the vinyl design and pry it loose. 

8) If you can’t get the vinyl off the fabric cleanly, you may have to scrape it off carefully. This will take some time, but the end result is worth it. 

9) If things are taking too long, you can soak the fabric in acetone again. Once you have done this, pick and scrape more vinyl off.

10) Once the vinyl is off, use cool water to rinse the shirt. 

11) There will probably be vinyl residue left over. This is the perfect time to use the petroleum jelly!

Method 8 – Give Goo Gone a Try

What you need:

  • Shirt with vinyl
  • Goo Gone
  • Tweezers
Method 8 – Give Goo Gone a Try

Goo Gone is a product that contains some strong, toxic chemicals. Because of this, you definitely need to take safety precautions when you decide to use this.

Wear protective gloves, and even goggles to protect yourself. It’s a pretty cheap product that can be found in most places, so it’s accessible and great on a budget.

Before working with this, make sure that you have a well ventilated area to work in. The fumes of this can be hazardous, and it is not recommended to be in an enclosed space when working with it.

The method for using this product is pretty similar to commercial vinyl cleaner, with a few minor differences.

To use Goo Gone to get rid of unwanted vinyl, follow the steps outlined below:

1) Get a plastic sheet to cover your workspace. You can also use a large plastic trash bag or a plastic tablecloth.

2) Get your vinyl shirt and turn it inside out.

3) Spray the back of the vinyl logo with some Goo Gone.

4) Turn the shirt the right way out. Do this very carefully so that the substance doesn’t go anywhere else. 

5) Spray more Goo Gone on top of the vinyl itself.

6) Allow the Goo Gone to sit on the vinyl for around 30 seconds.

7) Once this time has passed, get your tweezers and start pulling up the edges of the vinyl. If you don’t have tweezers, you can use a similar kind of instrument, like a knife.

Work very carefully so that you don’t damage the fabric itself.

8) Try to pull the vinyl off the shirt very carefully. You might be able to pull it off in one big piece, or several smaller chunks.

9) If the vinyl is firmly stuck to the fabric, spray on some more Goo Gone and wait another 30 seconds. 

10) After 30 seconds, start trying to peel it off again.

11) Once all the vinyl has been removed from the fabric, rinse it with clean water. 

12) Place the rinsed item of clothing in the washing machine. You will need to get rid of the chemicals and any pieces of residue stuck to the fabric. If there is a lot of visible residue, you can use petroleum jelly to get rid of it. Be sure to wash it after using petroleum jelly, too!  

Which Method Is Easiest?

Commercial vinyl cleaner is probably the easiest way to remove unwanted vinyl from fabrics, but it contains some heavy chemicals.

It works by dissolving the adhesive, allowing you to peel the vinyl away easily.

Other cleaning methods similar to it, like the one with rubbing alcohol, acetone, or Goo Gone can work well, but they don’t give a result as clean as the commercial cleaner.

The second-best method would definitely be the ironing one. This one works for fabrics that are not synthetic, though.

That means that polyester fabrics won’t work, only ones like cotton. It’s a super easy method, and it’s clean, too!

There isn’t any awkward scraping, but instead the vinyl gets stuck to a piece of paper to simply be thrown away. 

The easiest method will depend on your own personal preferences. Not only that, but the type of fabric you need to get vinyl off.

Any method you use will not be perfect, and there’s a good chance that there will always be at least some residue left behind.

Of course, there are ways to get rid of the residue, but this is just to say that any method you choose will probably have an extra step after the main one.

You can either wash the clothing to get rid of residue, or use petroleum jelly. Whichever works for you!

Can You Remove Glitter Vinyl The Same Way?

When it comes to glitter vinyl, you can still remove it pretty easily! This vinyl is typically thicker, which actually makes it easier to remove.

The best method for removing glitter vinyl is the iron or hair dryer method. These will get rid of the bulk of it, but still may leave a little. 

You can use acetone or another similar choice to get rid of anything that remains. You could also simply toss the clothing in the washing machine and see how that goes!

Washers do a lot of the work for us when it comes to vinyl and residue, so don’t forget to take advantage of it when you can.

The Art of Removing Heat Transfer Vinyl From Cotton

Heat transfer vinyl is something that many people want to get off their clothes. It’s usually found on t-shirts and sweatshirts, but it can sometimes appear on other items as well.

While heat transfer vinyl is removable, it can be difficult to do so without damaging the garment. 

Before you decide how you need to get rid of your vinyl, you need to make sure that your item of clothing is actually cotton!

There are so many fabrics out there, and plenty of mixes, that if you aren’t careful, you might end up ruining your favorite shirt. 

If you’re unsure whether your item of clothing is made of cotton, then you should check the label. If it says “100% cotton” anywhere on the label, then you know what you’re dealing with.

Otherwise, you’ll need to take a look online. A quick search through Google will show you all kinds of different websites that offer advice about removing heat transfer vinyl from cotton.

If the label says that it is a cotton mix, you might need to use a different method to avoid damaging the fabric. 

If you do have 100% cotton clothing, using the iron method is your best bet. It’s quick and simple, and you don’t have to handle any awful chemicals.

As long as you are careful with the heat of the iron itself, you will be fine! You might want to gradually increase the temperature of the iron.

Extreme heats from the get-go can cause some damage to the fabric, and no one wants burn marks on their shirts! 

Vinyl Residue

Petroleum jelly is your best friend for stubborn vinyl residue. If you are ever faced with some residue that just won’t come off with the rest of it, rub petroleum jelly on it!

This method is outlined above, so if you need to use it, just scroll up!

Final Thoughts

There are lots of ways to remove vinyl from clothing. Some of them are better than others, but they all work! Just remember that each method has its pros and cons, and you need to pick the right one for your needs.

There are methods you can use for any type of fabric, so always check to see which one you’re dealing with. Whether it’s cotton or a mix, read the label before you jump in the deep end.

Hopefully this post was helpful to you, and you now know how to get rid of vinyl! You can finally get those shirts out again and wear them with pride. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Easy To Remove Vinyl From Clothing?

Yes, it is very easy to remove vinyl from most types of clothing. You can use several methods, and they’re all outlined here!

Can You Use A Washing Machine To Get Vinyl Off Clothing?

You can use a washing machine or washer to help with the removal of vinyl, but it isn’t a great method on its own.

You should try out some other methods mentioned here. Washers are often used as a final step to help get rid of any residue, but not to remove the vinyl itself.

What Is Heat Transfer Vinyl?

Heat transfer vinyl is basically an image printed onto a piece of paper (or sometimes a plastic sheet) and transferred onto clothing. The vinyl comes in a variety of patterns, colors, and sizes.

Once the pattern is applied to the cloth, it cannot be removed without destroying the fabric without using a suitable method. Heat transfer vinyl can also be found on baby clothes, shower curtains, towels, etc…

Can Petroleum Jelly Be Used To Remove Vinyl From Clothing?

Petroleum jelly is a go-to product when trying to remove vinyl residue from clothing because it works well for many fabrics.

Petroleum jelly is not very good at removing large pieces of vinyl like other methods are, but it’s fantastic for the stubborn residue that gets left behind.

What Do You Need To Remove Vinyl From Shirts?

Depending on the method you pick, you may need acetone commercial vinyl cleaner, rubbing alcohol, an iron, or a hair dryer. Click here to get the methods for all these!

Are There Any Common Mistakes People Make When Removing Vinyl From Clothing?

The biggest mistake many people make is thinking that they can remove vinyl by putting an iron directly over the vinyl.

That doesn’t work, and will only ruin whatever shirt you’re working on. Always test out your iron on a small area first to ensure no damage is done.

Another mistake is applying too much pressure while pressing. Be gentle, and press slowly.

What Is The Difference Between Vinyl Cleaning Chemicals And Vinyl Remover Solutions?

Vinyl cleaning chemicals are designed to clean the surface of vinyl, whereas vinyl removers are designed to dissolve the vinyl. 

What Happens If I Don’t Take My Time Removing Vinyl From Clothing? Will The Garment Come Apart?

If you rush through the process, the chances are high that the garment will rip. If you have enough patience, the odds of success increase dramatically.

Take your time. This is a tedious process. Don’t expect to finish this task within 10 minutes. It takes several hours to properly complete.

Can You Use An Iron To Remove Vinyl From Fabrics That Are Not Cotton?

No, you should not use an iron to remove vinyl from non-cotton fabrics. This is because the heat from an iron would cause the vinyl to melt and fuse to the fabric.

What Is The Fastest Way To Get Vinyl Off Fabric?

Using a commercial vinyl cleaner or the iron method is the best way to get vinyl off fabric. Only use irons with cottons, though. 

Amanda Brown

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