How to Remove Adhesive From Embroidered Patches

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You can remove adhesive from embroidered patches.
Image Credit: Tooga/Photodisc/GettyImages

To remove iron-on patches, use the same method you used to apply them: heat. This might not always work perfectly, but there are other solutions and tricks to try.

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How Iron On Patches Work

Iron-on patches have heat-activated adhesive backings. You put the patch on the clothing, embroidery side up with the backing onto the fabric. Heat an iron and apply it back and forth over the patch until the adhesive bonds to the material. Some iron-on patches are made to cover up holes in fabrics and are ironed from the inside out.

These patches normally stick best to cotton and denim. If the fabric contains plastic, this can melt when it comes into contact with a hot iron. Experts advise testing the clothing or item first with the iron, and try a small, inconspicuous area.

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Iron-on transfers are different than patches because they are images made with transfer inks and backed by transfer paper. These are often seen on t-shirts and can also be done at home. Though these images are printed on fabrics, there are ways to remove these, as well.

Removing an Iron-On Patch

There are several ways to remove iron-on patches. Experts recommend using an iron on its hottest setting. Hold down the iron firmly on the patch for 15 seconds and do not use the steam function. Remove the iron and try lifting up a side of the patch, but be careful since the fabric and patch can be hot. The safest way to do this is to use a pair of tongs, tweezers or pliers; you can also wear heat-proof gloves. If the patch is not loose enough, repeat the 15-second ironing process until it loosens.

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A second method uses acetone, but this substance can ruin fabrics. Test it on a hidden area of the fabric first to make sure. If the fabric is not damaged, wet a cotton ball with acetone. Then, work it around the patch's edges until the adhesive loosens. See if you can lift off the patch but do it gently and use more acetone if needed. You can use acetone to remove any residual glue marks as well.

Removing Iron-on Transfers

Sometimes iron-on transfers start to fleck off as they age, and you may be able to remove most of an image with a dull-edged knife. Another remedy (for t-shirts) requires you to use a bath towel, waxed paper, an iron, a plastic knife, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. This process takes a little time, but it usually works well.

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Lay the bath towel down on a flat surface and put the shirt on it with the design side up. Cover the image completely with waxed paper. Set the iron on the high cotton setting and work it back and forth over the image. The print should start melting onto the wax paper.

Slowly remove the wax paper and use the plastic knife to pick off the image. If it hasn't all come off, turn the shirt inside out and put it back on the towel. Saturate a cotton ball in the alcohol and coat the fabric that is behind the image. Let it rest for about 30 seconds, turn it right side out and use the knife to pick at the image again. Not all images will come off completely, but you can repeat the process a few times to see if it works.

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