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How To Remove Vinyl From A T-Shirt

By Shirtspace | Dec 26, 2019 |  Updated Jan 07, 2022

If you are in the world of clothing decoration, your main actions are steps that allow you to add things to t-shirts. Screen printers and garment creators alike strive to make cool designs by adding ink, vinyl, and other materials to t-shirts. What they create is their own piece of art. 

But like with all other types of art, mistakes are sometimes made in garment decorating. Ink can smudge or it may not cure all the way, designs blend together, and vinyl doesn’t go on correctly. One of the blessings of vinyl that ink doesn’t have is that vinyl can be removed. By removing the vinyl from the t-shirt, you can save the shirt and start over. 

Removing vinyl may seem tricky, but it really isn’t! Keep reading to find out exactly to remove vinyl from t-shirts.  

What is Vinyl?

Vinyl is a man-made plastic that is used in screen printing, auto part manufacturing, and much more. It is one of the most versatile types of plastic. The vinyl used in garment decoration is thin and is used to create designs on all different types of clothing. In most cases, heat transfer vinyl is used to create cool designs on tees. 

When is Vinyl Used on a T-shirt?

Vinyl is used on t-shirts in a variety of different situations. Most commonly, vinyl is used when you want to add a little extra bling to a shirt or don’t want to go through the whole screen printing process. Vinyl is a quick way to get a shirt decorated when you have a simple design. Because it is so simple, vinyl is the go-to for people who are short on time.  It can be used for pictures, wording, sports numbers, and more. It is a simple and effective way to create an awesome piece! 

How to Add Vinyl to a T-Shirt

Adding heat transfer vinyl to a t-shirt is relatively easy. You need to: 

•    Come up with your design. 

•    Create your design. You can do this either by hand or by designing on computer design.

•    Transfer your design to the vinyl by either printing it or hand-drawing it.

•    Cut out your design on the vinyl with an Exacto knife.

•    Use a heat source (like an iron or heat press) to transfer the vinyl onto the t-shirt. 

If you want a lengthier how to, you can check one out here

Why Would You Want to Remove Vinyl From a T-shirt?  

No one wants to mess up their designs on t-shirts, but it does happen. And even though it sucks, sometimes you have to start over. Thankfully with Vinyl, you can remove it from the t-shirt and use the t-shirt again. That is not something that is possible when you are using ink! So if you mess up while adding Vinyl to a t-shirt, take the time to remove it. 

Materials Needed to Remove Vinyl 

Removing vinyl from a t-shirt is pretty simple! You just need a few handy tools. Make sure to have these items on hand: 

•    Exacto knife

•    Tweezers

•    Rubbing alcohol

•    Iron 

How to Remove Vinyl From A T-Shirt

Step one

Get your work station set up before trying to remove the vinyl. This will save you time in the long run. Lay your t-shirt out and place the Exacto knife, tweezers, and rubbing alcohol to the side of it. Plugin your iron and give it time to heat up. Make sure to check and see what material your shirt is and turn your iron onto the setting that corresponds with the type of heat the material needs. Some types of fabric can melt if you heat it up too much. 

Step Two

Open your shirt up and place it over the iron. The iron should be directly on the shirt where the backside of the vinyl lays. 

Step Three

Tighten the shirt around the iron so it makes it easier to pull the vinyl off. You can tie the shirt off with a hair tie or a rubber band. 

Step Four

Run your Exacto knife or tweezers over the vinyl on the t-shirt. The vinyl will start to pick up and pull off the shirt. It is going to come off in small sections at a time, so be patient. In a lot of cases, the vinyl will start to stick to the tool you are using. Using the alcohol to clean off your tools and then continue rubbing the vinyl off the shirt. 

What if the Steps Above Don’t Work? 

Most of the time, the above steps will do the trick to get all of the vinyl off of your t-shirt. In some cases, you may have some vinyl that is still stuck to the shirt. Not to worry though! We have an easy way for you to remove the rest of that pesky vinyl. 

If you have some residue left from the vinyl on the t-shirt, break out the petroleum jelly. Rub the petroleum jelly over the vinyl to loosen it. Then grab a t-shirt detergent and rub it over the same spot. Hand wash the mixture off of the shirt and the vinyl will be gone. 

What Do I Do When the Vinyl is Fully Removed? 

Once the vinyl is removed, you should fully wash the t-shirt. Follow the directions for that specific fabric and then allow the t-shirt to fully dry before reapplying vinyl or printing on it. 

Remember to be Patient 

While removing vinyl from t-shirts is relatively easy, it can take a bit of time. Be patient and stick with it because the vinyl will come off the shirt and then the shirt can be reused. No one likes to throw away a perfectly good tee! 

Get the Perfect Shirts for Vinyl Transfers  

While we don’t sell vinyl here at ShirtSpace, we do sell the perfect t-shirts to transfer vinyl onto! From cotton tees to tri-blends, and more, we’ve got you covered! If you have any questions on what shirt is right for your needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We are happy to help get you started.


F - Apr 06, 2021

All I do is heat from behind with a low to medium iron, gently peel with a scissor edge.

S&s - Dec 24, 2020

I did the steps above and got the vinyl off but it left a film where the old vinyl was how do I remove it

Tiara - Dec 12, 2020

I'm having the same issue as JoAnn! It's a nice jacket but I didnt like the lettering so I tried this method, but there is still a layer of fabric glue or whatever was used.

JoAnn - Nov 17, 2020

Hi I had to remove vinyl from a t-shirt however there was still a layer left on the shirt. How do I get that layer off.

ShirtSpace - Jan 30, 2020

Hi Barbara! We've only had experience removing vinyl using the steps we outlined above, but after doing a search online it looks like there's a product made by AlbaChem that looks pretty popular. Whatever you choose to do, we wish you the best of luck!

Barbara - Jan 30, 2020

What is the name of the "vinyl remover"? where can I purchase this "vinyl remover"

Rahn - Jan 28, 2020

I think it's easier to just buy vinyl remover. It only takes a few minutes & there's little mess

Rahn - Jan 28, 2020

Not sure that works but I use vinyl remover. It's faster and works for most types of vinyl by just squirting on, stretching the garment then peeling off the vinyl.

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