I freely admit that although I’m a very organized person, I’m not necessarily a neat one. As my creative juices get going I sometimes rush through projects to get to the end result. Or I take so long in the designing portion (which I find more fun), the actual “doing” portion is less intriguing so I don’t pay as much attention to it. I say all that to explain why I very much needed to clean my heat press recently. A clean heat press is essential for clean projects.
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The mess I started with
I love playing with textile foil, particularly the distressed technique I shared in this post. I was using it recently on a t-shirt and, in my hurry to get it done in time for the movie premier I was going to wear it to, I accidentally had a piece upside down when I went to press it. Yes, it absolutely DOES make a difference. And for some reason right at that time I forgot to cover my project with either my teflon sheet or parchment paper when I pressed. So, I ended up with foil on the top platen of my heat press. See all the pretty shiny silver???
I figured it would at some point get onto another project I was doing and make a mess. So, it needed to come off. But how? I knew it was important to be gentle so I didn’t ruin the teflon coating.
What to use?
First, I tried just plain soap and water without turning the power on. No luck. I turned it on and gradually moved the temperature up. Still no luck. That was all the time I had that day, so I left the mess to deal with later.
In the meantime, I went to teach at the All Things Silhouette Conference. I was chatting with Jared Barbosa of Heat Press Nation and realized I should ask him what I should do. He kindly shared some tips with me and sent me a product called Ez-Off.
Jared gave me this product to try for free but I did not receive any other compensation. I’m showing you the process step by step with my first use of the product.
Jared gave me these directions:
You’ll want to let your press heat up to about 200°F degrees. Then squirt a decent amount onto a clean rag or microfiber cloth. Work the EZ-OFF into the heating element and start cleaning it a small section at a time. Continue until all the foreign material has been cleaned off. Once it’s all removed, you can get a damp rag and give one final pass on the heating element to make sure there’s no cleaning solution left on the surface. This will get hot, so be sure to use some work gloves and multiple rags if necessary.
As a precaution, I would also suggest using it in a well ventilated area.
Here we go. I heated my heat press to 200° as instructed. You need to protect your hands from the heat, so I used an old oven mitt. I tossed it afterward, as I didn’t want it to come into contact with food any longer. You could also use work gloves.
While the product seemed to remove some scorch marks, I didn’t see much foil coming off.
I turned the heat up to 225°. I began to see it working. It takes a really good amount of elbow grease. You can see the upper left is getting cleaner.
And you can see on my rag some of what was coming off:
I experimented with higher temperatures, but it didn’t seem to make a difference and the product starting emitting smoke from the press. So, I went back down to 225°. I also realized pretty quickly the glob I showed in the photo above was not nearly generous enough.
My clean heat press
I kept going over and over it until all the gunk was off.
WOW! That’s a HUGE difference!
I then rubbed the whole press down with a clean, damp cloth. I did that both while it was hot and after it had cooled down. Then I did a few tests on a scrap tshirt I keep around, just to make sure there was nothing left on the platen.
I was worried at first, but after testing with different temperatures and keeping after it I got my press squeaky clean. You have to be generous with how much you squeeze onto the rag. I used most of the tube, but at around $10 it’s much cheaper than a new heat press.
It took a pretty good amount of time, because I had a big mess on mine. I’ve also discovered the hard way that if you press textile foil upside down, the plastic coating is what gets into the fabric and it’s REALLY hard to get off, even with an HTV remover. So plain HTV may be easier to remove from your press. The key is just to keep at it, even if it doesn’t seem to be working — it takes longer than you might think.
I’m very pleased with this product and my nice clean heat press.
What else could I use it for?
I wondered if I could also use the product to clean my pressing pillows. Several years ago I made quite a few custom football jerseys when my son was playing college ball. Because the jerseys have ventilation holes in the fabric, the HTV adhesive went through the holes onto the pressing pillows.
I had already tried unsuccessfully to remove it with an HTV remover product. I pressed the pillows for a few seconds to soften the adhesive. It did get better, but again takes elbow grease and repetition.
Likewise, my teflon sheet I use on my heat press was getting messy. That was very easy to clean with the EZ-Off.
You can also use it on your home iron. I did have another friend tell me that she uses an iron cleaner from the fabric store on her heat press. Just make sure it’s one that’s compatible with a teflon coating.