How To Fix Wrinkled Transfer Prints

So you’ve received a new design you created for your store and you absolutely love the quality of the garment and the print when it showed up. You put the shirt on and wear it all weekend, because you are proud of what you created and you want to see what types of reactions you will get. People take notice and you get a few compliments over the wekend. Come Sunday night, the shirts definitely needs a wash, so you chuck it in with the next laundry load, as you think, “time for some wash testing.” As a brand owner, and an individual that cares about quality, you want to make sure this new shirt will last at least a decade and hold up to thousands of washes. Unfortunately, when you pull the shirt out of the hot dryer to let it cool, you notice that there are small wrinkles that have now appeared in what used to be an absolutely perfect print. Your heart sinks and you vow to never use transfer printing again for your designs. Sound familiar? If so, let’s not jump to conclusions just yet. Your transfer print is wrinkled, but not damaged.

Why can prints wrinkle in the first place?

While wrinkles in cloth and materials are typically caused by pressure being applied to the garment by creasing, twisting, or at pinch points, it’s not quite the same for prints. Wrinkles in transfer prints are typically caused because the garment you are washing has shrunk. Garments shrink because the material they are made from shrink when they are washed and heated. For the most part, natural fibers tend to have “memory” and will hold creases and shrink. On the other hand, man made fibers like polyester tend to shrink less and typically will not crease or wrinkle nearly as much as cotton and other natural fibers. On the other hand, transfer prints are made from a very thing durable plastic, which will not shrink. When the garment shrinks, but the print doesn’t a small wrinkle can appear.
The garment on the left is starting to show some minor wrinkles after about 5 washes on this polyester blend tank top. A quick 5 second press makes those wrinkles go bye bye.

Preventing wrinkles in prints

It is completely possible to reduce or stop wrinkles in prints entirely by simply following wash and care instructions that also reduce shrinking of garments. For example, always wash with cold water and always tumble dry low or hand dry. Now don’t get me wrong. We’d all love to have perfect shirts and wash every garment based on it’s wash and care instructions. However, the sad reality of most people’s daily lives is that we rush through the chores, and do our best to get everything done we need to in a day. In many cases, we just don’t have the time to follow wash and care instructions for every garment, or don’t have the space to hang dry every shirt. With that being said, if you do end up with some shrinkage and a wrinkled print, it’s still very easy to fix. If a transfer print wrinkles, does that mean that there is an issue with the print? Well, yes and no. Yes, no one wants to wear a wrinkled garment. But, no, the item is not permanently damaged, and the issue can easily be ironed out with basic garment maintenance routines.

How to fix wrinkled prints

The great news is that just like wrinkles in a shirt, you can simply iron our wrinkles in your transfer printed shirts. Follow these basic instructions to ensure you don’t damage the print or the garment. Remember, you want to iron the print, but you don’t want to put the iron in direct contact with the print itself.

Fixing wrinkles on T shirts

  1. Turn on your iron and set it to the highest possible heat with NO STEAM. You do not want to steam your print as the moisture can warp or permanently damage the print
  2. Turn your shirt inside out. You do not want to iron the print directly, it should be ironed through a piece of material that won’t be damaged by the heat. With a t shirt the easiest thing to do is iron the print through shirt itself.
  3. Lay the shirt on a flat stable surface that can take high heat (ironing board recommended).
  4. Gently iron the print for 5 – 15 seconds with moderate pressure.
  5. Inside out the shirt and check the print. Repeat steps 2 & 3 until the print is fully ironed and flat to the shirt.
  6. Enjoy the shirt for hundreds of wears to come.

Fixing wrinkles on hoodies and jackets

  1. Turn on your iron on to the highest heat possible with NO STEAM.
  2. Lay the garment flat on a sturdy, stable surface, like an ironing board, with the print facing up.
  3. Place a thin fabric over the print, like a sheet, bandana, or handkerchief. Any thin, single layer fabric works best. You can also use a single layer t shirt.
  4. Iron the print for 15 -30 seconds with moderate pressure through the thin layer.
  5. Stop ironing and remove the thin fabric, inspect the print.
  6. Repeat steps 3 -6 until your prints it perfect smooth.
  7. Enjoy your print for hundreds of wears to come.
transfer print wrinkle example with fix
Transfer prints can last a remarkably long time, with super simple maintenance.