Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Additionally, I may get commissions for purchases made through other affiliate links in this post.
To prewash or not to prewash before you apply heat transfer vinyl (HTV)… that is the question.
If you are making and selling shirts or other apparel in your Silhouette or Cricut craft business, you may receive conflicting advice. I hear this is often disputed in the sewing world, too.
I say no prewashing apparel before embellishing it.
Below, I’ve listed my four reasons.
Table of Contents
4 Reasons to Not Prewash Apparel Before Applying Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)
After Washing, Shirts Become Used – Not New
Shirts that have been washed feel different than shirts that haven’t been washed. Customers expect a brand new item when purchasing. Similarly, prewashing can lead to shrinking.
Most Manufacturers Don’t Recommend It
Most manufacturers note that there is no reason to prewash a shirt before applying heat transfer vinyl (HTV) to it.
The only manufacturer that recommends prewashing your garment is Cricut. And honestly, I have no idea why they have this recommendation. They elude in the screenshot below to not getting a strong adhesion if not washed. Honestly, if your heat transfer material is not sticking, you have either a temperature, time, or pressure issue.
Customers May Have Allergies or Sensitivities
Many people are allergic or sensitive to dyes and fragrances. Even if you opt to use a fragrance free or dye free detergent, you can not guarantee your customer won’t have an allergic reaction. To prevent these issues, skip prewashing.
It’s Time Consuming
I don’t know about you, but I have enough laundry to do with 4 kids, a husband, and a few dogs. Honestly, the last thing I need is more laundry.
While I recommend you don’t prewash, I do recommend you pre-press. Pre-pressing (which means to iron or use your heat press on your blank before you apply the heat transfer vinyl design) removes wrinkles and moisture and shrinks the material.
Pre-pressing is recommended for most materials.
Tell me in the comments: Do you pre wash apparel before embellishing?
Since 2015, Christine Schinagl has been helping crafters start and run craft businesses through her blog, Cutting for Business. As a Silhouette and Cricut crafter herself, she has a unique take on what works and what doesn’t work in the craft business world. She also teaches a course on creating digital SVG designs, available at How to Design SVGs.