Jerseys adorned with vinyl letters and numbers are popular items of clothing for sports teams and casual wear. If you want to try a refashioning project by removing numbers from jerseys or perhaps want to replace the lettering with new characters, it's usually possible with the right techniques and tools. Some vinyl lettering is easier to remove than others, and the task does require patience and care. However, the results can be very successful and can give new life to an old jersey.
Apply Heat to Remove Jersey Lettering
To remove jersey lettering and numbering, you need an iron, ironing board, press cloth (any piece of plain cotton fabric), a nonserrated knife (which could be a craft or kitchen knife) and a pair of tweezers. The basic method is to apply heat to the lettering with an iron, which softens its adhesive enough that you can pull off the vinyl with your fingers and tweezers.
Before setting up, check the care label on your jersey to determine the appropriate iron heat setting. Cotton jerseys can handle the highest heat on an iron, but polyester and cotton-polyester blends usually require a lower heat. Only turn the iron up to the highest recommended heat on the label; otherwise, you might damage the jersey.
Soak the press cloth with water and ring it out so that the cloth is damp but not dripping. Working in one area at a time, arrange the press cloth over the front of the vinyl letters or numbers and then press the area firmly with the hot iron until the pressed part of the cloth is dry. Turn the jersey inside out so that you can press the fabric on the underside of the letters or numbers for about 30 seconds in the same manner. (On this side, you don't need the press cloth.)
Pull Off the Vinyl Lettering
As soon as you've pressed both sides of the first area of lettering, while the vinyl and jersey are still hot, try to pull the vinyl up and off the jersey fabric at one edge. You can do this with your fingers or the tweezers or a combination of both. With the first part of the lettering raised off the fabric, start to scrape the inner part of the vinyl with the knife to loosen it, pulling it up with your fingers or tweezers as you work. Be firm but take care not to damage the fabric with the knife.
After completing one area, repeat the ironing, pulling and scraping process on the next adjacent area and keep working in this way until all the vinyl is removed. Sometimes, removing numbers from jerseys is easy, and the whole number or letter comes off in one piece without too much trouble. However, it can also be a tedious task, with the vinyl coming off in small pieces.
Tackle Any Adhesive Residue
After removing vinyl letters and numbers from a jersey, you will probably see some sticky residue left behind on the fabric. To remove this, soak the affected part of the jersey with rubbing alcohol or an adhesive remover, such as Goo Gone or WD-40. Let the product soak in for about 10 minutes and then gently but firmly rub away the residue with a soft cloth or sponge. It should come off the fabric, and the jersey should clean up nicely with regular laundering, but you might need a second application of the product.