How to Wash Iron-on Transfers

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild laundry detergent

  • Cold water

  • Washing machine, sink or bathtub

Iron-on transfers create interesting or personalized clothing and textile home decor items. However, without the proper care during laundering, these items can start to crack, fade and peel over time. Keep iron-on transfers in good condition by following very specific yet simple laundering instructions. If the item is intended as a gift, pass along the care instructions to the recipient, to ensure the longevity of the piece. Though hand-washing is always preferred, follow instructions below for the washing machine method.

Step 1

Turn the item inside that the transfer is on the inside of the garment.

Step 2

Set the washing machine to a gentle or delicate cycle, using cold water. Wash items with iron-on transfers alone or with only a few other delicate or similar, light colored items. Leave out heavy knits or jeans, which might damage the transfer. Avoid washing dark colors with light colors, as reds and blues may bleed onto the lighter material or onto the transfer.

Step 3

Take the item out of the washer immediately when the final cycle completes and hang it up to air dry or lay it flat. Do not place an item with an iron-on transfer in the dryer, because the heat will damage the transfer.


Before applying a transfer, prewash and dry any material the transfer will be ironed onto. This will keep the garment from shrinking later and causing the transfer to peel away. If the transfer is on a quilt, pillow or item that can't be turned inside out, it might be best to handwash the item in a sink or tub of cold water, depending on the size, using a mild detergent. Never use bleach on iron-on transfers and don't allow the item to soak in the water. Pre-treat stains to avoid repetetive washings.


Avoid using hot water when washing pieces with iron-on transfers, as it may cause the transfer to heat, shrink and then expand as it cools. Over time, this heating and cooling can weaken the transfer and it will begin to crack and peel. Too much heat can also cause the image to melt a bit.

references & resources

Lori Soard

Lori Soard has been a writer since 1995, covering a variety of topics for local newspapers and magazines such as "Woman's World." For five years, she served as a site editor for a large online information portal. Soard is also the author of several published books, both fiction and nonfiction.