How to Fix Scorched Polyester
Printing on polyester can be a difficult task for apparel decorators. Whether screen printing or heat printing, you run the risk of scorching the fabric. And everyone wants to know how to fix scorched polyester.
I think we’ve all been there at some point – scorching polyester. And it’s not a good feeling when you open your heat press and see the big scorch mark! 😱
But before we look at if scorched polyester can be fixed, first let’s look at what scorched polyester is and isn’t, and what causes it when it happens. Then, we’ll show you a cool little trick we found.
What is Scorched Polyester
Polyester is a synthetic fiber that has a lower melting or burning temperature.
Since heat printing uses higher temperature applications for some heat transfers, it can start to “scorch” the fabric.
Scorched polyester caused by high temperature application creates a sheen on the fabric that may not fade. The sheen will show up anywhere the heat press platen was pressed onto the garment, so it appears as a large box on the shirt, the size of the platen.
If a pad was used to raise the print area, then there will be scorched pressing marks in that area.
No matter the size, it can be pretty apparent at times when the apparel is worn, especially when the light hits it at different angles.
However, don’t confuse scorching with areas where moisture was removed from the shirt during pressing. Materials such as 100% cotton can hold quite a bit of moisture, and when heat pressed, the moisture is removed with the heat.
When the press opens, the apparel will appear darker in that area and sometimes can be confused with scorching.
But in this case, when this box is caused by the removal of moisture, the spot will disappear as the moisture returns to the shirt.
On the other hand, when polyester is scorched, it is not caused by a lack of moisture and the marks will not go away.
[Related Content: Is the Apparel You’re Heat Printing Ruined?]
So what happens when you do end up scorching polyester when you are heat printing? Is the apparel ruined or can it be fixed?
Preventing Scorched Polyester while Printing
It’s always best to be able to avoid the scorching in the first place rather than try to fix it afterwards.
My mom always quoted Ben Franklin and said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Using a proper transfer type can aid in preventing scorch marks to polyester.
Transfers that apply at lower temperatures will be best.
[Related Content: Dos and Don’ts of Heat Printing on Polyester]
For screen printed transfers, Elasti Prints® applies at 290°F.
For full color transfers, all of the options in the UltraColor® line also apply at 290°F, including UltraColor Pro and UltraColor Max for polyester.
You can always test a corner of the fabric on your particular shirts before ordering your transfers to know how high of a temperature you can go.
To test, start out at a lower temperature, such as 250°F, and press a small spot. If it didn’t scorch, then increase the temperature by 10° or so and press again. Repeat the process until your fabric scorches or you hit 290°F.
Some cheaper polyesters do scorch at lower temperatures, so we do also have CAD-PRINTZ® Express Prints which apply at an even lower temperature of 250°F.
Now preventing scorched polyester is best, but what happens when you’ve already scorched it. Can scorched fabric be fixed?
How do you get scorch marks out of polyester?
Fixing Scorched Polyester
Sometimes polyester can scorch even when you take precautions.
So can you fix melted polyester?
The answer here is yes and no.
If you search the internet for ways to fix burnt polyester, you’ll get a variety of chemicals and different ways to get scorch marks out of polyester, including methods like this:
Then put your right leg in and shake it all about. You do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around… 😆
But seriously, we have seen our fair share of “solutions” out on the market, and have tried several.
Unfortunately, we haven’t had any positive results to report back on yet.
We did find this way and HAD to try it out.
The Little Trick to Save Scorched Polyester
This is a way to save your scorched garments and still be able to deliver them to your customer without them being ruined.
And it doesn’t involve any chemicals.
While this method doesn’t really “fix” the scorched polyester, it does get rid of the hard press lines, and hide the scorching.
Take your household iron, or if you have a Cricut Easy Press Mini, and lightly press around the scorch edge lines in a circular motion.
The goal is to feather the edges and “smooth” them out. You don’t want to press too hard or iron into the larger scorched areas to make it worse.
You just want to make the edges of the scorching fade away. By doing this, you can really help take away the visibility of the scorching because the hard press lines are gone.
Watch this video to see how it’s done.
While this does seem to work, you won’t want to rely on this for a large run of shirts. This method is great for salvaging some mistakes on a couple of garments.
But we wouldn’t recommend this as part of your printing process for polyester.
We will always prefer to prevent the scorching in the first place.
But when you are caught in a bind, this method can save you and you can still salvage your shirts.
Accessories to Avoid While Heat Pressing
Some heat printers have tried using certain accessories to eliminate the hard-lined scorch marks. However, we don’t recommend certain accessories for screen printed transfers. These would include flexible application pads and pillows.
We don’t recommend using any of the flexible application pads with custom screen printed transfers as they do block so much heat. It’s hard to gauge how much heat is being blocked, so it’s nearly impossible to get to the right temperature to the transfer for proper application.
As for pillows, screen printed transfers need a firm surface for application and pillows don’t provide that firm surface.