How to Remove Ironed on Letters and Residual Glue

Updated
Categories Ironing
If you’ve outgrown the letters or damaged them in the wash, let’s remove them!

Whether you need to remove iron-on letters because of a change of style or because they got damaged — we can help. It’s very easy to add iron-on letters to your clothes, but it can be quite tricky to remove them.

We’ll teach you how to remove ironed on letters using three different methods: heat and steam, an iron and also, by using a chemical solvent.

How to Remove Ironed on Letters Using an Iron

Heat the iron to the advised setting for the garment. Put the iron inside the shirt with the back of the letters against the soleplate. Pull the shirt tight so the iron heats the letters. Use a sharp blade to peel off the letters. Use rubbing alcohol to remove residual glue afterwards. Wash as normal.


How to Remove Ironed on Letters From Clothing

We have three helpful methods for removing ironed on letters.

Using Heat and Steam

Supplies Needed

  • Towel or thin piece of plywood.
  • Ironing board or heat-resistant surface.
  • Hairdryer.
  • Garment steamer or steam iron.
  • Sharp knife.
  • Rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover.
  • Cloth.
  • Washing machine.

Step by Step Directions

  1. Check the garment’s care label to see if it can handle high heat. If it can’t, do not use this method. For example, polyester can melt when exposed to high heats (1).
  2. Lay the garment on a flat, heat-resistant surface such as an ironing board.
  3. Put a towel or a thin piece of plywood inside of the garment. This stops you from damaging the other side of the clothing.
  4. Aim the hairdryer at the letters using the hottest setting.
  5. Alternatively, you can use a steam iron to apply heat to the letters. To do this, put a wet towel over the letters. Turn the iron to the highest setting and iron over the letters. Both methods should heat the adhesive enough so the letters can be removed.
  6. Use the sharp knife to scrape off the letters. It should be loose enough to lift off with the help of your knife, but be patient!
  7. If you need to apply more heat, do that between scraping off the letters with the sharp knife.
  8. Once the majority of the ironed-on letters are removed, it’s time to tackle the residue. Dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol or an adhesive remover.
  9. Check the solution in an inconspicuous area of the garment first to be sure it doesn’t damage the garment.
  10. If safe to do so, rub the residual glue with the cloth until clean.
  11. Wash as normal in your machine.

Using an Iron

Supplies Needed

  • Dry iron (or steam iron with the water tank emptied).
  • Scissors or a sharp knife.
  • Rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover.
  • Cloth.
  • Washing machine.

Caution

Be careful with this method as your hands will be very close to the iron’s soleplate. We don’t want you getting burned!

Step by Step Directions

  1. Check the garment care label. Make sure it’s iron safe, and always stick to the recommended iron temperature to protect the fabric.
  2. Heat the iron up to the appropriate heat setting for the fabric.
  3. Thread the shirt over the top of your iron, so the iron is inside the shirt. The soleplate should be against the back of the lettering.
  4. Pull the shirt tight against the soleplate.
  5. Use the blade of your scissors or a sharp knife to slowly peel off the lettering as the garment heats. The hotter it gets, the easier it will be to remove. But it still requires some patience.
  6. Go letter by letter, moving the garment across the soleplate as you go.
  7. Dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover. Test it in an inconspicuous area of the garment to check that it doesn’t damage it.
  8. Use the cloth to gently rub the leftover glue off the garment.
  9. Put the garment in the washing machine and wash as normal.

Using Chemical Solvent (Or Nail Polish Remover)

Supplies Needed

  • A chemical solvent (specifically for removing ironed on letters, or nail polish remover).
  • Tumble dryer.
  • Spray bottle.
  • Old cloth.
  • Sharp knife.
  • Rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover.
  • Washing machine.

Step by Step Directions

  1. Put your garment in your tumble dryer at a high heat for a few minutes. This will heat the adhesive and hopefully make it easier to remove.
  2. Take the garment out of the dryer. Test your chemical solvent in an inconspicuous area of your garment first. Make sure that it doesn’t damage the fabric.
  3. If your solvent isn’t already in a spray bottle, pour it in. This makes it easier to apply the solvent to the letters.
  4. Spray the solvent over the letters. You don’t need a lot but do cover the entire lettering.
  5. Let it sit for a few minutes, depending on the packaging instructions.
  6. Stretch the fabric in different directions to help the solvent get into the fabric.
  7. Use an old cloth to rub the solvent into the fabric.
  8. The lettering will start to lift off. Keep using the cloth to peel off the lettering.
  9. Use for fingers or a sharp knife to peel off any stubborn bits.
  10. Dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover. After testing the solution in an inconspicuous area of the garment, go over the garment removing any glue residue.
  11. Wash the garment as normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Remove Iron-On Transfer Glue?

We have a couple of tips for removing transfer glue.

First, you can dampen a cloth in rubbing alcohol, acetone or adhesive remover. Gently rub the cloth into the garment, peeling off the glue as you go.

Another tip

Put the garment into a plastic bag. Stick it in the freezer and leave it overnight. The next morning, lay it flat on a hard surface. The freezer should have helped to make the glue hard and breakable. Use a spoon or butter knife to scrape off the transfer glue.

Can I Use WD-40 to Remove Ironed on Letters?

Yes — using WD40 can be an effective way for removing ironed on letters. We recommend removing residual glue at the end of the process.

  1. Spray the WD-40 onto the glue and use a sharp knife to peel off the remaining glue.
  2. Next, soak the area in dish soap to lift the grease away from the WD-40.
  3. Lastly, wash the garment normally in your washing machine.

How Do I Remove Vinyl Letters From a Jersey?

If you want to change jersey numbers or the name on the back of your jersey — or simply want to wear a plain jersey — we have tips to remove these letters!

  1. Use a hair dryer and apply heat to the letters.
  2. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to peel off the letters.
  3. Repeat until the letters are completely removed.
  4. Dampen a cloth in rubbing alcohol and test on an inconspicuous area of the garment. Make sure that it doesn’t damage the fabric.
  5. If safe to do so, use the damp cloth to rub at the leftover glue until it’s removed.
  6. Wash as normal.

How Can I Remove Iron-On Labels From Clothing?

If you buy a garment and the label is ironed on, you can still remove it. Follow these steps:

  1. Use a dry iron or empty the water reservoir on your steam iron.
  2. Heat the iron up to the highest heat the garment can handle. Check the care label for guidance.
  3. Put the garment on an ironing board, keeping the label face up. This might mean turning the garment inside out.
  4. Put a piece of parchment or wax paper over the label.
  5. Use your iron to move over the label, pressing hard and moving in circular motions.
  6. After about 20 seconds, take a pair of tweezers and lift the label up from the corner. If it comes up, continue lifting until it’s removed. If it doesn’t come up, apply more heat for another five seconds.
  7. Repeat the process until the label is removed.
  8. If there is any residue, dampen a cloth in rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover. Test in an inconspicuous area of the garment.
  9. If there is no damage, gently rub the glue with the cloth to remove.

Fresh Clothes

Now that you know how to remove iron-on letters, it’s like you have fresh, new clothes! You can do whatever you want with your new garment. Many people like to switch up their clothing letters from time to time. These methods work great for a change in style.

You can choose to remove letters using a hairdryer, a steam iron, a dry iron or a solvent. With one of these items hopefully in the house — you’re good to go!

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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