How to Get Vinyl Lettering Off of a T-Shirt

by Sage Young

T-shirt lettering can show off your personality, but sometimes you want to change your look.

Michael Greenberg/Digital Vision/Getty Images

T-shirts are a fashion mainstay, with pop culture quotes and logos seen every day on men, women and children. But if you want to remove the lettering on a piece of clothing altogether, the process is easy to do at home.

Removing Vinyl Lettering With A Solvent

Use a solvent to chemically loosen the vinyl from the fabric.

Step 1:

Put the t-shirt in the dryer for a few minutes on the highest heat available. Turn the t-shirt inside out, and then locate the area behind the design you want to remove.

Step 2:

Either purchase a solution made specifically to remove vinyl from clothing, or try a solvent you already have in your home, such as rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover or adhesive remover. Use a soaked cotton ball or cloth to spot-test the solvent on a small, hidden area of the garment to confirm that it won't damage it. Then fill a spray bottle with the solvent and soak the area behind the transfer.

Step 3:

Use your hands to stretch and work the fabric so that the solvent soaks in and the vinyl begins to loosen. Turn the shirt right side out and attempt to remove the vinyl with your fingers. If it doesn't appear to be budging, repeat the previous step and soak the shirt with more solution. You may need to use tweezers or a knife to scrape off any remaining bits. Test rubbing alcohol on the garment first, and then use it to remove any adhesive residue.

Step 4:

Wash the t-shirt right away to remove the solvent so it doesn't come into contact with your skin. Put the t-shirt in the washer by itself because the solvent could bleed onto other clothing.

Removing Vinyl Lettering With An Iron

The heat of an iron will re-transfer the vinyl onto a sheet of wax paper.

Step 1:

Set up an ironing board and plug in an iron. Set the heat to medium. Pull the garment onto the ironing board with the vinyl facing up. If you're using a different kind of hard surface, lay a towel inside the shirt.

Step 2:

Place a piece of wax paper on top of the vinyl lettering. Place the iron on top of the wax paper. Hold it there for no longer than 10 seconds, to avoid burning the fabric. The vinyl should have transferred to the wax paper. If it hasn't, try placing the iron on the paper for an additional five to 10 seconds.

Warnings

  • If using a knife to scrape off the vinyl, take care to scrape away from your body, not towards it. Be careful not to cut through the fabric with the knife.

Tips

  • When using the iron method on a large vinyl transfer, start at the corner with the iron and slowly work your way across the whole area.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Greenberg/Digital Vision/Getty Images

About the Author

Sage is a Film and TV Writer for Bustle and a freelance recapper for Entertainment Weekly. She also shares her ongoing love affair with pop culture and fandom culture on her personal entertainment blog, Head Over Feels.