Nothing can beat a heat press machine when it comes to heat transfer vinyl. However, good heat press machines are expensive and they also need some getting used to. Although there are some disadvantages, you can use a household iron for heat transferring vinyl especially if you are not a regular crafter and need something for small designs.
I tested 8 top-rated household irons for HTV. I have shortlisted the top 5 performers to make it easy for you to select.
5 best irons for heat press vinyl
Rowenta Professional DW5280 1725-Watts Steam Iron
The sleek design and mix of colors make this iron both modern and eye-catching. It reminds me of a high-performance yacht or a fighter jet.
The base is made of stainless steel with a mirror finish and features more holes than I care to count. The cord also features a nice stress relief for easy maneuvering around without getting tangled up.
The temp dial is large and easy to read. There are two large buttons on top for the water and steam.
The ergonomic design of the iron makes it glide easily and evenly over the material with ease. It’s also easy to fill and clean and carries a compact size for working in small, tight spaces.
By far, this is the best iron we have for heat transfers. I used it to heat transfer vinyl to shirts, hats, and pillows and it performed excellently.
The only disadvantage I found is that the buttons are sometimes hard to press. After using the iron for 15 minutes, my thumb began to feel sore from pressing on them. Moreover, the lightweight body means a lack of pressure. I had to press it hard to get the HTV done.
Panasonic NI-WL600 Cordless, Portable 1500W Steam/Dry Iron
My wife is a quilter and a mom of two, so she probably uses irons more often than the average person.
The first thing she liked was the cordless design of this Panasonic iron. Being a quilter she usually needs to iron big pieces of fabric at once, so it can be very frustrating when the cord gets in her way. This iron can go anywhere, so it’s perfect!
If you’ve never owned a cordless, you need to put it back on the charger every so often, just like your regular iron. So the same principle goes for cordless, you just have to remember to plug it in when it’s running low.
It’s a pretty hot iron and in my opinion, it’s on par with the Oliso 1600. I have used both before.
It’s both lightweight and has a low weight even when it’s filled with water.
I love that the iron comes with a case. Secondly, I’m pleased with the lid – it does an excellent job of keeping dust off and is super easy to replace.
I used it for heat transferring designs to socks, shoes, and gloves, it did the job perfectly.
The steam holes are a disadvantage, though. They decrease the pressure. If you have different materials that require specific temperatures and pressure, you are going to struggle.
Maytag Digital Smart Fill Steam Iron & Vertical Steamer
I’ve been using my new Maytag steamer for a while now and I’m so happy with my purchase. I like how easy to store it is, the easy pressing of the handle, and that it comes with many great features.
This is quite easy to use because it has a stand-by light that lets you know when it’s ready for you to start working, and it usually takes 60 seconds before it’s hot enough.
It steams my clothes beautifully and quickly, and even when I make little kitten whisker wrinkles in shirts, the iron steams them right out.
I used it for heat-pressing vinyl on shirts. The first few tries went wrong. Since I didn’t know the exact temp. After a bit of struggle, the medium settings worked for me.
I’m not giving the product a 5-star rating because:
It is hard for me to identify the temperature control knob of this ironing machine because it is right next to the handle.
The handle on this iron has the steam preference gauge a bit too close to where I have to grip the handle and it bumps right up on my hand. It’s really difficult for me to get a good grip and I have a small hand.
I have only used it 4 times. There are a few stains on it that I will try the Self Clean function on. That said, I do like this iron for iron on transfers and would likely recommend it to anyone looking for a good steam iron.
Oliso M2 Mini Project Steam Iron with Solemate
The Oliso M2 is one of the most expensive on their list, but it’s also the best and worth every penny.
This iron is eye-catching and pleasant to use, with an easy-to-grip handle that makes it feel comfortable in your hand.
This iron has a substantial weight to get the Heat transferring vinyl done while being quite light to handle. It heats quickly and remains on standby.
There’s an optional travel case available for purchase separately which makes it perfect to take with you when traveling or if you enjoy going to quilting classes or other events.
I haven’t used the steam feature as I didn’t need it for my HTV projects.
Unfortunately, the off switch on this iron doesn’t work as well as you might like. A Quilter friend also told me that she’s nervous to leave it on her board while it’s turned on when she has kids around.
One way to solve this was by placing a second silicone pot holder beneath the provided resting mat. I know that it may not be necessary, but it was an easy way to get some peace of mind.
I am a DIY lover and as such, I am constantly at my ironing board. So, easy use is critical to me and so is getting a good press that makes my blocks their accurate best. I replaced my Rowena travel iron with the Oliso and it’s one of the best heat pressing decisions I made.
PurSteam World’s Best Steamers Professional Grade 1700W Steam Iron
This iron is great. It has enough weight to do the job well but is not too heavy that you can’t use it for long periods. The soleplate is smooth and glides smoothly over cloth – it’s a very efficient machine!
About this iron, I had a concern that the temperature selector is located under the handle – meaning it is easily hit. However, I am happy to report that I haven’t hit it once in all my time using this Sur Stream iron.
I would usually skim through manuals, but I had the time to read PurStream’s manual and I’m glad that I did. The “Advice for Good Ironing” section was really helpful and can help you iron a variety of fabrics like silks, cotton, and satin. As a result, I was able to heat press small designs on my Silk shirt and satin jacket.
I’m used to using heat presses, and I’m glad that the automatic cut-off feature is available because I don’t want a huge electric bill.
With this iron, you can go from 0-315°F in as little as 2 minutes. This means you can make any piece of vinyl into sublimation in less than 2 minutes!
This iron is the best iron for heat press vinyl, holds up well to being used daily, and costs considerably less than other brands I’ve tried. I would recommend it!
Tips for htv using iron
- Cut the vinyl to size using a sharp blade.
- Place an ironing board, or something similar, on top of the vinyl to distribute heat onto the entire vinyl surface.
- Cover vinyl with a towel or a piece of cloth to protect it from the heat.
- Press iron on the vinyl for about 20 seconds, then move it and press it in another spot for another 20 seconds.
- Keep repeating this process until you have pressed the entire vinyl surface.
- Make sure the vinyl has no wrinkles or creases
- Position the vinyl on the shirt and press the iron down, making sure the vinyl adheres to itself.
- Do not press the iron too hard or you will risk ironing through the shirt
- Wait for the iron to reach the designated temperature before applying it to the vinyl.