Keeping Your Heat Press Clean

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If you’re a heat printer, your heat press is your businesses lifeline. It’s the one piece of equipment needed to create durable, professional decorated apparel. Since equipment doesn’t last forever, even when they’re the best in the industry, its important to keep your heat press well cared for. Over time, you will run into situations where your heat press needs cleaned because some ink or adhesive found it’s way to the top of your platen. Maybe you accidentally placed a screen printed transfer upside-down and now have a big mess of plastisol ink on the top of your platen, or you may have attempted to heat print polypropylene bag at too high of a temperature resulting in a melted mess of plastic.

Let’s all admit that at one time or another, whether being because someone was talking to you, the phone rang or it just happened, a plastisol transfer heat printed…upside down. It makes your stomach drop as soon as you realize what you did, and sometimes even before the press opens you shake your head in disbelief. The transfer is stuck to the top platen with ink melted to the top not to the shirt.

No matter the situation, there are ways to clean your heat press and keep your heat press clean of dirt, debris, adhesive and of course, ink.

Luckily for those with a Hotronix heat press there are no worries! Just like your non-stick coated cooking pans at home for easy cleaning, Hotronix coats all of the heat presses with a non-stick material to make cleaning a cinch.


This transfer was accidentally placed upside-down causing a big mess of plastisol ink on the top platen.

This transfer was accidentally placed upside-down causing a big mess of plastisol ink on the top platen as well as ghost images from previous applications.

Keep it Clean Tip #1

Act quickly.

So you pressed your plastisol heat transfer upside-down. It’s time to go to work! Once you have ink on your top platen, ongoing exposure to high heat will cause the ink to cook and make it difficult to remove.

Keep it Clean Tip #2

Turn down the heat!

It’s difficult enough to stop your production to clean the heat press, let alone when the heat press is still at a whopping 350-400 degrees. Turn off your heat press to allow it to cool before cleaning. It doesn’t need to be completely cold, and sometimes it being warm helps keep the ink or adhesive pliable and easier to remove.

*Wear heat proof hand protection when attempting to clean your heat press when still warm

Use a soft cloth, like a t-shirt, and non-abrasive cleaner to wipe down the top platen.

Use a soft cloth, like a t-shirt, and non-abrasive cleaner to wipe down the top platen.

Keep it Clean Tip #3

Be gentle. Use a soft cloth (like a t-shirt) and a gentle cleanser like a mechanics non-abrasive hand cleaner, a household iron cleaner, or mild soap and water.

With the press still warm you can just wipe the ink away with a thick dry cloth. Remember the press is still hot so use caution! Wipe the platen until there is no more ink residue. Once it is wiped clean we suggest using a scrap garment to press to make sure all the ink is gone before pressing new garments.

If you have a Hotronix® heat press, your upper platen is coated with a non-stick coating like your cooking pots and pans at home. Using an abrasive cleaning pad, or a cleaning solution with grit can cause that coating to be rubbed off or scratched. Scratches in the non-stick coating will cause pressure and temperature issues resulting in your transfer not adhering to the fabric properly.

To prevent scratches in your upper platen, avoid zippers, buttons or anything with a sharp edge. Use interchangable platens if needed to allow these obstructions to drape off of the heat press when applying your transfer.

For those without a Hotronix® model heat press first wipe off any ink that you can with a dry cloth. There are also cleaners that you can purchase at your local hardware store such as GoJo® or types of iron cleaners. Make sure though you purchase a cleaner that is non-porous or abrasive.

Keep it Clean Tip #4

Prevent a mess before it starts!

While there will always be a time where a mess on your top platen happens, the best way to to keep your heat press clean is to prevent a mistake before it happens.

Screen printed transfers are on their own release paper acting as a cover sheet. No additional cover sheets are needed, however if you do need to use one, use a paper cover sheet provided by Transfer Express.

Avoid thick non-stick cover sheets and Quick Slip Top Platen Covers when using screen printed transfers. While these may be great for applying other types of heat transfers and keeping your top platen clean, the cover adds another layer between the heat and the transfer. The cover will absorb some of the heat that is supposed to be directed towards the transfer resulting in a under-applied decoration.

A Quick Slip LOWER Platen Cover is great at keeping the bottom silicon pad clean and helps prevent the pad from wearing down in the corners from repeated loading and unloading of garments.

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Follow the instructions given with your order. Applying a transfer at a temperature higher than what is recommended could cause a mess. Avoid this by following the temperature instructions given with your order.

A majority of mistakes causing a messy platen come from a distracted heat press operator. Try to set aside time to heat print when you are less likely to be interrupted. Also pay close attention to the transfer you’re applying, not only is it possible to place it facing ink-side up, it’s also more of a possibility that you’ll press the design upside-down or in the wrong position.

We hope these tips help keep your heat press top platen in tip-top shape! What cleaning advice do you have for keeping your heat press spotless?