Can you use an Iron for Sublimation Transfers | A Surprising Disclosure

Gone are the days to transfer an image or a design on the substrate using a heat press. Behold! The most trouble-free procedure involves the usage of a standard household iron. Not only is it easy to get the hang of, but it is available in every home. I know you might be thinking “But how can you use an iron for sublimation transfers?” well worry not! Because I have tried sublimating using iron and it was quite a phenomenal experience.

Can You Use an Iron for Sublimation Transfers

Will using an iron provide the same outcome as a heat press? Well obviously not! Using a household item for sublimating should be your last resort. Because the designs that will be printed won’t be of crisp quality. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use iron for this purpose. If done correctly, you’ll get your desired results. But, if you don’t have anything to transfer your design, then it is time for you to go nuts with the iron!

Can You Use an Iron for Sublimation Transfers:

Yes, it is possible to use iron for sublimation but there is a huge risk of the design not being completely transferred due to pressure inefficiency and variability in temperature.

Can You Use an Iron for Sublimation Transfers

The fact that you’re likely to have a messed-up design with tolerable quality is not entirely true. I have seen some people using a household iron to sublimate their tees and they’ve pulled off quite decent results. So it all really clubs down to how you really use a regular iron to transfer designs correctly.

What Do You Need To Get Sublimating?

Well! The first and foremost thing to start the whole process of sublimation printing is to gather the required tools. The items that I think are necessary for sublimation transfers are:

A good ol’ trusty regular iron:

Of course, if you’re looking forward to sublimating by using an iron, then how are you going to do it without one. You can use any household iron you can find, here I am using a Rowenta DW5080 Focus Steam Iron for sublimation transfers.

The prime reason behind opting for this iron is that it glides pretty smoothly across the fabric. Not only that, it heats up way faster as compared to other regular irons. Therefore, I go all the way in and heat it up to its full temperature in order to transfer the design onto the substrate in the right way.

A reliable sublimation printer:

Okay! You have got the iron to solve the transfer problem but how and where are you going to get those designs from? For that, you’re probably going to need a sublimation printer.

reliable sublimation printer

I highly prefer to get your hands on Sawgrass SG500 as soon as possible. The 600×600 dpi resolution is one of the main causes why I myself have got the SG500. Not only that, but the printer also offers vibrant results as expected.

Heat resistant tape:

In order to keep your design fixed in its intended place. Especially when it comes to holding the design on t-shirts. You’re definitely going to need to own heat-resistant tape.


I’m a huge fan of Siser Heat Resistant Tape as it works like a charm in keeping the image in its place during the heat transfer process. In my opinion, this heat-resistant tape is ideal when dealing with the sliding and shifting of fabric while sublimating.

Protective mat for heat transfer:

Every sublimation enthusiast is aware of the fact of how extremely important it is to keep your workstation as protected as possible at the time of sublimating. For this, I highly recommend you to get a protective mat as well.

Protective mat for heat transfer

In my case, I got myself a 100% silicone protective mat by Artesprix. The mat is capable of withstanding temperatures as high as 400°F. What’s more? This protective mat is able to take in dye at the time of sublimation transfers. All thanks to the silicone construction of the mat.

Sublimation protective papers:

Protective papers are a necessity when the matter of subject is sublimation printing. The sublimation protective papers ensure the perfect transfer of the design or ink onto the substrate.

Sublimation protective papers

I suggest the people to go with protective papers manufactured by Artesprix as it is also my all-time favorite protective paper too. The ability of the papers of being reused if no ink splashes on them are one of the most awesome features unquestionably.

Let’s Get Sublimating With A Regular Iron:

Now that you have got everything on hand that you require for sublimation transfers. It is time that we dive deeper into the mystery of how can one use a household iron for imprinting designs. So let’s get ready and let’s get sublimating.

Step #1 – Getting Started:

First of all, what you must do is preheat the substrate. In my case, I am putting the design on a black t-shirt. I am of the opinion that if you warm up the substrate beforehand, you’re most likely to have the fine results that you desire.

Getting Started

Step #2 – Positioning:

The second part of the process is to place the design facing the shirt. Since I can’t help my OCD and like to do everything with utmost perfection, I use heat-resistant tape to keep the image fixated on the substrate. Once the image is perfectly aligned, it is time to heat things up (Literally!).


Step #3 – The 60 Second Rule:

For optimal outcome, keep the pressure evenly applied on the entire substrate. Along with that,  I believe that it is necessary to keep the iron on for about 60 seconds. Anything greater than that might ruin the design. Likewise, the image will not properly transfer on the substrate if the iron is kept for less than 60 seconds.

The 60 Second Rule

Step #4 – The Cooldown:

CONGRATULATIONS! The difficult part is done. Now all you have to do is wait and be patient. Allow the substrate to cool off before removing the image. Keep in mind that the design will certainly not transfer if the image is pulled out. So you have to make sure that the substrate has fully cooled down.

Additional Tips:

In order to get the outcome that you require. Take into account the following factors so that the entire operation of sublimation can take place without any hassle:

The Cooldown
  1. Make sure that the flat surface of the iron is squeaky clean and free of any dust particles.
  2. I highly propose using premium-quality sublimation paper for the transfer of the design. I like to use A-SUB sublimation paper for picture-perfect sublimation transfer.
  3. Avoid using steam at the time of sublimating. In my experience, the steam has done nothing except make the design worse.

Wrapping Things Up:

There still exist some people that utterly oppose the usage of a regular iron for sublimation. I, on the other hand, would beg to differ. The reason here is that transferring awesome-looking designs with the help of a household iron is a literal piece of cake. It is quick, easy, and at the same time quite affordable.

When all the steps mentioned above in this article are followed in the right manner, you will probably be left shocked by the excellent results of using an iron for sublimating. After going through this piece of writing, I strongly believe that even you can give a comprehensive answer when someone asks “Can you use an iron for sublimation transfers?”.


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