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4 Reasons to Not Prewash Apparel Before Applying Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) in Your Craft Business

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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.

4 Reasons to Not Prewash Apparel Before Applying Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) in Your Craft Business -

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.

Cricut says:


Siser says:

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?

K. Willsey

Tuesday 17th of May 2022

Hi! I'm so glad I found your blog post. I've never heard of a manufacturer suggesting to prewash before pressing but actually saw today where they suggested doing so and that's what led me to do my own research and I ended up on this post!

I saw where you said to share if someone has come across this so wanted to share what I found!

It's on the heat transfer warehouse's website when trying to buy Siser Easyweed.

"We highly recommend that you wash and dry your garments prior to pressing your design. This will also allow the adhesive to better penetrate the garment."


Christine, Cutting for Business

Friday 24th of June 2022

Thanks, Kaylie - appreciate it!

Sue Fenich

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

Thank you!!! This is the first time I’ve made t-shirts for my club and I was concerned about giving people something that wouldn’t last.

Christine, Cutting for Business

Thursday 15th of April 2021

Happy to help!

Christine, Cutting for Business

Saturday 18th of May 2019

Interesting. I can't imagine why they would recommend it - when major vinyl manufacturers don't.

Kristen McClelland

Tuesday 26th of March 2019

I actually have a question related to this. I prewashed a shirt I was pressing for myself and noticed the HTV didn't go on as nicely as it does when I do it on a new shirt. Can the detergent affect the pressing?

Christine, Cutting for Business

Saturday 18th of May 2019

Absolutely. Detergents and fabric softeners/dryer sheets can affect heat transfer materials.


Tuesday 26th of March 2019

Christine...It was brought to my attention in a Silhouette Beginners Group that Cricut HTV does say to Pre-Wash before applying. While I know most of us who sell do use Siser Brand, there are some that use Cricut Brand HTV.

Christine, Cutting for Business

Saturday 18th of May 2019

Yes. I did see that and acknowledged it above. I reached out to Cricut for clarification and all they did was copy and paste what their website said.