How to Remove Iron-on Glue

by Kent Page McGroarty ; Updated September 28, 2017

An iron is one tool used for glue removal.

iron image by Eray Haciosmanoglu from

Iron-on decals come in all shapes and sizes, and are used as decorations on T-shirts and other items of clothes, including jeans. You may want to remove an old decal because either you've outgrown it or you want to affix a different decal to the garment. While decals themselves are generally easy to take off, the glue holding the decal to the garment is usually harder to remove. Luckily, there are several simple methods of removing iron-on glue, including using acetone or acetone nail polish remover, both of which can be used to deal with stubborn adhesive and hot glue residue.

Items you will need

  • Acetone or acetone nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls or soft cloths
  • Freezer
  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Cotton fabric
  • Ironing board
  • Iron

Acetone Method

Step 1

Test a small, non-visible area of the fabric to ensure that the acetone or acetone nail polish remover will not stain or otherwise damage the material. Dab a cotton ball soaked with acetone onto the fabric and allow the fabric to sit for a few minutes. Rinse the area with water when the test is complete.

Step 2

Dampen a cotton ball with acetone or nail polish remover and dab the cotton ball onto the glue.

Step 3

Blot the affected area with a clean cloth. The acetone will break down the glue, which the cloth will pick up. Continue applying acetone and blotting with the cloth until all of the glue is removed.

Cold Water Method

Step 1

Place the piece of clothing with the iron-on glue into the freezer. Leave the garment inside until the glue becomes cold and brittle.

Step 2

Remove the item from the freezer and quickly get to work scraping off the glue with either a dull knife (like a butter knife) or a spoon.

Step 3

Continue scraping until all of the glue is removed. Because the glue is frozen, it should pop off easily.

Iron Method

Step 1

Place a piece of cotton fabric flat onto an ironing board. Place the fabric with the decal glue residue glue-side down on top of the cotton fabric.

Step 2

Apply a hot iron, but do not use the steam function, to the item for 10 to 20 seconds. This will bind the cotton fabric to the glue. Remove the iron and peel the fabric from the iron-on. When you peel the fabric away, the glue will come away as well.

Step 3

Repeat until all of the glue has been transferred to the cotton fabric.


  • Brown paper bags, non-printed newspaper or wax paper can be substituted for the cotton cloth.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Kent Page McGroarty has worked as a writer since 2006, contributing numerous articles to various websites. She is a frequent contributor to the health and fitness sections of the online magazine EDGE Publications and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Saint Joseph's University.