How to Care for Decorated Apparel

It’s that awkward moment when your customer asks you how to care for the apparel you decorated with a heat transfer. You gulp a sip of water in an effort to compose your thoughts. What are you going to say? Don’t worry. We’re going to give you the scoop on proper laundering (see what we did there?).

First and foremost, Follow the Label

Although it’s an obvious place to start, most people forget to remind the customer to follow the instructions on the label. For instance, the garment may say “do not iron.” More often than not, it’s because the fabric is heat sensitive. Given that, recommending washing in cold water is a safe bet.

Hanging dry is always best, but let’s face it…real life often doesn’t allow for that.

If your customer must use a dryer, suggest that they do so on a low tumble dry. It might take a little longer, but it will help preserve the integrity of not only the garment itself, but also the transfer.

Don’t Dry Clean

Dry clean. It sounds so gentle, doesn’t it? Don’t get fooled! Dry cleaning solvents will break down the adhesives in both heat transfers and heat transfer vinyls.

Don’t Use Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners are going to dull your shine! That is, they create a cloudy film on the surface of screen print ink (which is what the majority of our transfers are made out of). Yikes.

Add to that the fact that it takes away one of the major benefits of materials with cotton in them – absorbency. This is why it’s often recommended that you don’t use fabric softener on your towels (or if you do, do so infrequently).

Don’t Use Oxy

A lot of people don’t realize that the primary ingredient in oxygenated laundry products is solidified hydrogen peroxide. While it’s incredibly effective at removing stains and even killing some germs, have you ever spilled hydrogen peroxide on your clothes? Just like bleach, it can remove the pigment. That’s exactly the effect it’s going to have on a decorated garment.

Don’t Iron Over Transfers or Decals

This one is pretty straight-forward. While heat is applied to the transfer to release it from the transfer paper (always with a professional heat press – NEVER with an iron), the transfer itself isn’t designed to take that kind of heat directly.

If it’s necessary to get wrinkles out, it’s time to go old school.

The garment can be hung in a bathroom with the shower running to steam the wrinkles out. Alternatively, you can use a garment steamer – moving quickly across the garment and not hovering too long over the decorated areas. Lastly, as a last resort, throw it in dryer with a damp washcloth (if the item can be put in a dryer, of course) for a few minutes.

Don’t Make a Guarantee

You’re proud of your work and you know you used the best products available. When a customer asks, “how long will this last,” it’s tempting to throw out a number of washes. It feels like the right thing to do.

Resist that urge.

The reality is that while our transfers are tested beyond the 50 wash typical life cycle of consumer garment, the reality is that none of us have any idea how that customer is going to treat the item. If you must reassure them, it’s best to talk in terms of the testing done on the materials used.

Tell Them to Stop Yelling at Their Kids

We’ve all had a little talk with our kids when they pull their shirts over their heads and throw it into the dirty pile on their floor. Sure, the talk about actually making it to the hamper should still take place, but the fact that the shirt ends up in the pile inside out isn’t such a bad thing. Not only can it help the decoration last longer, but it can help dark garments from fading more quickly.

When garments are in the wash, they rub up against one another. By keeping the item turned inside out, you’ll reduce the abrasion factor.

There you have it. We hope you this gives you some ideas of how to answer when your customer asks you how to care for decorated apparel.

P.S. Did you know we offer all of our customers wholesale pricing on the most popular apparel in the business? Check it out: wholesale apparel from Transfer Express.

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