Generally speaking, yes. Iron-on vinyl will be permanent. Although you can remove it by reactivating (and therefor loosening) the adhesive with heat, any design will most likely leave adhesive residue behind on your project. As such, it’s important to remember that you generally get one shot at applying your iron-on designs (but don’t worry, it’s actually easier than you might think!)
Is Iron-On Washable?
Again…generally speaking…yes. Iron-on vinyl is designed to endure machine washing. Over time and after many washes, you may notice your iron-on designs start to crack or peel. While iron-on products are getting better and better, the only way to get truly washable, permanent designs without cracking or peeling is with Infusible Ink.
What’s the Difference Between Iron-On Vinyl and Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)?
Absolutely nothing! Iron-On Vinyl and Heat Transfer Vinyl (also referred to as HTV) are exactly the same product. Different manufacturers (e.g., Cricut, Sisser, etc) simply refer to this product by different names; and while each brand’s product may slightly vary, any tutorials, tips, and tricks you see for one will apply to the other.
Why Use Iron-On Vinyl Instead of Adhesive Vinyl?
Although standard adhesive vinyl and iron-on vinyl may look identical on finished products, the primary reason you’d choose the iron-on version is if you’re working with fabric. Although standard vinyl might stick to fabric temporarily, the best way to add custom designs to t-shirts, onesies, pillows, gift bags, etc is to do so via heat application. Specifically, iron-on vinyl will adhere better, withstand machine washing, and be more permanent than its sticky counterpart.
What Can You Put Iron-On (HTV) On?
The primary use for iron-on vinyl is fabric; and that includes all varieties such as cotton, polyester, blends, mesh, neoprene, silk, leather, felt, and wool.
You can also put iron-on onto non-fabric surfaces such as wood, canvas, corkboard, cardstock and poster board (although the application methods might differ slightly).
Understanding the Dull & Glossy Sides of Iron-On Vinyl (HTV)
Before I dive into specifics for cutting and applying iron-on, I want to briefly chat about the “anatomy” of iron-on vinyl (HTV). Because although it looks, feels, and (mostly) cuts just like standard vinyl, there is one really important difference you need to fully understand.
Take a look at the heat transfer vinyl below (or better yet, pull out a roll of your own and take a look). You will quickly notice that one side is super shiny/glossy and the other side is rather dull. Our instincts tell us that the glossy side is the top and the dull side is the bottom…which is technically accurate, but not precisely as you think.
- The dull side of the iron-on vinyl (HTV) is indeed the back of your design. It is the side coated with the heat-activated adhesive, which eventually goes down onto your base.
- The glossy side is the front of your HTV, but it’s covered in a clear/glossy plastic sheet usually called the carrier sheet or liner. This liner is what allows you to transfer and position your designs just right.
To cut out any design from heat transfer vinyl, you will place the shiny side DOWN onto your cut mat (yep, opposite of what you would normally do!) so that the dull side is facing up. You then will cut into the back of the iron-on vinyl and leave the liner layer 100% in tact.
I realize this might not be crystal clear right now, but you’ll understand once we do a sample project!