Choosing the Right Iron-On Transfer Paper

Epson iron-on transfer paper

Photo from Epson

Designing your own illustrations for eventual iron-on transfer to a T-shirt or other garment is a lot of fun. To get the best results, you must follow the manufacturer's guidance and use the right transfer paper.

Using Iron-On Transfer Paper

The process to use create and apply your iron-on transfer is simple. You create your design in your favorite software. You purchase iron-on transfer paper designed specifically for this purpose and load it into your home printer to print the design. Once printed, you position the transfer paper on a T-shirt or other garment, apply heat with an iron, and pull off the transfer. If all has gone well, you can admire your ready-to-wear design.

Buy the Right Transfer Paper

Most iron-on transfer paper is made for inkjet printers, but some are available for laser printers. Buying the transfer paper meant for your type of printer is important. They are not interchangeable, and ignoring manufacturers' recommendations can be disastrous.

Using iron-on transfer paper made for inkjet printers in a laser printer can result in a hefty repair bill or even the need to replace the printer. The heat a laser printer generates can cause inkjet transfer paper to melt all over the inside of the printer. Check the box or label carefully to be sure you are getting inkjet transfer paper for your inkjet printer or laser transfer paper for your laser printer.

Most transfer papers are for white and light-colored fabrics. However, iron-on transfer papers also come in a version specifically for dark-colored T-shirts. For best results, buy the transfer paper specifically designed for the color of fabric you're using.

The many brands of iron-on transfer paper products available include these available from


  • Test: Do a test print on regular paper of the image you're transferring. This way, you can be sure that the image's size and color are what you want and that your printer settings and paper size are correct.
  • Launder: Wash, dry, and iron the fabric so that it's preshrunk and free of wrinkles to ensuring a smooth, even transfer.
  • Trim: To minimize the area that has the plastic feel of the transfer, trim as close to the design as possible before you apply the transfer paper to the fabric.
  • Peel: While many transfer papers need to be peeled off soon after ironing, this risks scorched fingertips. Look for transfers with cool-peel backing papers that allow you to wait until after the transfer cools.