How to Remove Iron on Patches?

Iron on patches are attached to fabric with a heat activated or fusible adhesive; while these patches are easy to apply they can be much more difficult to remove. Additionally, removed patches tend to leave behind unsightly glue residue and stains. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to remove iron-on patches.

  • Melt and Peel Method:

The idea is to melt the glue that has the patch holding on to the clothing. Check to see if your item can take the heat. Unless you added the patch yourself you will first need to make sure your item won’t be damaged by ironing it. Not all iron-on patches are actually applied with heat.

Pick a small inconspicuous part of the item not easily visible during normal use, place wax paper or a thin dish towel on top of the area and press down with a preheated iron on the small area you’re testing. Hold it for about 15 seconds, remove the iron and check for damage or discoloration on your item. If you are treating a delicate item make sure the iron is on the proper setting.

If you don’t have experience ironing this type of fabric then the adhesive remover method I explain below is probably a better idea.

Now cover the patch position your item so that the cloth part of the patch is exposed. Place either wax paper or a thin cloth towel directly over the patch. Make sure the covering is completely clean and free from any substance that could melt into the fabric of your item. Iron the patch by pre-heating your iron to its highest setting before use press your iron down on top of the paper cloth where the patch would be. Hold it there for about 15 seconds remove the iron and the covering from your item. If the glue does not appear to have softened apply the iron again keep adding heat until the adhesive melts. The heat from the iron should be enough to melt the glue and temporarily make it sticky.

Lift the edge of the patch up and peel it off of your item. Hold onto the item with one hand and peel with your other. You can use your fingers to do this but be cautious as the adhesive will be hot. If you are having trouble lifting up the first part of the patch, try using tweezers or a butter knife. Tweezers will be able to slide between the patch and your item and grip the patch well.

If you don’t have tweezers slip a butter knife between the patch and your item lift up to start the patch and remove the rest of it with your fingers if the patch is large you may have to make a few passes with the iron. Always peel off large patches section by section.

  • Adhesive Remover Method:

Purchase a fabric safe adhesive remover glue. Removers that are xylene or orange oil-based work well. Pick a liquid based product able to soak through the fabric. An adhesive remover that comes in a spray bottle will be much easier to work with for this purpose. Canon brands are good and rubbing alcohol can also be an effective alternative.

Always test your clothing. Even if the adhesive remover is advertised as fabric safe it is still possible that it may stain your particular item. You will need to test it out first before using the remover on the patch. Do this over a clean sink to avoid making a mess.

Find a small inconspicuous area on your item that is not easily visible during normal use. For example the inside back bottom edge of a hat or jacket would be good choice dab a small amount of adhesive remover on to this spot. Work the adhesive remover into the fabric using your fingers or a clean rag. Rinse off the adhesive remover and check for discoloration.

Expose the area underneath the patch. If your item is a t-shirt, a hat, or a pair of pants, turn it inside out. You will need to access the fabric that is bonded to the patch. If your item is a canvas bag simply lay it out flat upside down for apply your adhesive remover. Squirt or pour the glue remover generously on the back of the cloth. Use enough that it soaks through your item completely. Make sure you cover the whole area behind the patch. Work the remover into the fabric using either your fingers or a clean rag. Wait for about one minute for the remover to loosen the patch.

Peel off the patch the adhesive remover should successfully soften the glue making it sticky. The patch should now easily come off your item. Turn the item to right side out, hold it with one hand and grip the edge of the patch between the index finger and thumb of your other hand. Pull back to lift the edge of the patch up and off your item and work your way around the patch until it has been entirely peeled away.

Repeat on any stubborn areas if part of the patch is still stuck to your item try repeating the process focusing on the spots where the adhesive did not soften properly reapply the adhesive remover however many times it takes to completely remove the patch. However, if the glue remover you used has not softened the adhesive at all you will likely need to try a different one. If you don’t plan on keeping the patch, trim off what you’ve already peeled off with a pair of scissors, this will make it much easier to work with and keep the patch from sticking back on to your item.

  • Removing Residue:

Check for stains as the glue from your patch will likely leave a residue behind. If the area where your patch was, is now discolored, or sticky, you will need to take further action to make your item looking clean and like new again. If you used the adhesive remover method, launder your item first this may remove the adhesive completely on its own.

To apply adhesive remover directly to the residue squirt or pour more adhesive remover onto the patch, massage it and using your fingers or a clean rag. Allow it to work for approximately one minute. You can also make your own adhesive remover at home.

Just mix two parts baking soda with one part coconut oil and a few drops of orange essential oil. This all-natural adhesive remover works well at removing residue but not for removing the patch itself. It is a thick paste that is unable to easily soak through fabrics.

Launder your item as usual simply wash your item using whatever method you normally would. Do this as soon as possible to remove the solvent in case it may damage your item overtime if the item is machine wash safe go-ahead and throw it into your washing machine with a normal load of laundry.

Hands wash delicate items using cold or room temperature water with a small amount of detergent. If the glue seems especially stuck on try scrubbing it with a soft toothbrush after the adhesive remover has been worked in. Use some liquid laundry detergent directly to the residue patches.

If there is still some residue left after you’ve washed your item try repeating the process with more adhesive remover it may take a few tries to totally remove the stain. Do not place the item in the dryer until the stain has been completely removed doing so may set the stain and make it harder to clean.

You can use white vinegar for especially tough stains. White vinegar often works to loosen glue enough for water to rinse it away. Before soaking with white vinegar first try saturating the spot with white vinegar and wash as normal. This works well for delicate items with caked on glue from the iron on method.

If spot treatment doesn’t work, try soaking your item overnight. For white items you may use undiluted vinegar.

Dilute the vinegar in water using one cup of vinegar per gallon of water. While white vinegar is generally safe to use on clothing always be sure to do a patch test first.


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