A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning & Maintaining Your Heat Press for Optimal Performance


Any machine required for business operations makes it an integral component. The heat press is no different! Some maintenance along with regular cleaning will keep operations flowing.

Key Takeaways

How to remove transfer paper stuck to the platen

You’ve accidentally transferred sublimation ink to the platen (rather than the fabric). Use a pair of tweezers to remove the transfer paper safely. This reduces the chances of burning your fingers.

How to quickly clean off ink from the platen?

Order EZ Off Heat Press Platen Cleaner to the area with ink. It is a type of paste that, when hot, starts to sizzle. This unbinds the ink from the platen. Keep wiping with a rag until the ink and paste is removed.

Final cleaning touches

The heat press platen is awkward to reach. It’s likely you haven’t removed all the ink residue. Press an old unwanted garment with the heat press while hot. Any left over residue will be absorbed by the garment!

Making mistakes, such as printing the wrong way, leaves ink residue on the platen. Over pressing a synthetic garment leaves a gooey plastic mess behind. Or dirt might have built up which interferes with this machine’s performance!

Did you know a dirty heat press unit may cause prints to fade as much as 20% faster?

Either way, your heat press (along with the platen), needs cleaning as part of the maintenance process. But more importantly, it needs cleaning directly after accidents.

Post Content

    Keep your machine running smoothly and your designs at their best with our cleaning guide. This is where we’ll provide instructions on how to clean a heat press after a mishap. But first, let’s look at why cleaning your press is important!

    Why Cleaning Your Press Is Important

    Here’s what can happen if you fail to clean your pressing unit:

    • Decreased efficiency: Dirt, debris, and residue on the heating element and platen will reduce the heat transfer efficiency. This leads to uneven heating and longer pressing times.
    • Malfunctions: Dirt and debris will interfere with the moving parts of the machine. This causes them to stick and wear down more quickly.
    • Poor print quality: Dirt, debris, and residue can get transferred onto the print itself. This results in poor print quality.
    • Health hazards: Dirty heat presses can be a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and other harmful organisms. This poses a health hazards to the users.
    • Reduced lifespan: Neglecting regular cleaning and maintenance can lead to malfunctions, and permanent damage. This shortens the lifespan of the unit.

    When Should You Clean Your Heat Press?

    All equipment needs regular maintenance. This especially concerns heat presses which are sensitive. Anyone working with these units has to clean them for them to work optimally. This is especially the case for industry standard heat press machines.

    Disgruntled heat press user accidentally transfers ink onto the upper platen.
    Sometimes we have no luck and press things upside down. This crafter uses a solvent and towel to get the job done!

    Situations, where heat presses can get soiled and therefore need to be cleaned include:

    • When unintentionally pressing a transfer upside down, ink sticks to the platen.
    • When the heat is set too high, it melts the exposed fabric.
    • When the starch from clothing is removed and stays for some time in the press.
    • When you don’t wipe the heat press after applying cleaners.

    Materials needed for cleaning

    • Tweezers
    • Heatproof hand protection
    • Soft cotton cloth
    • Non-abrasive cleaner
    • Light sandpaper or cleaning solution with grit *
    • Abrasive cleaner *

    Tip: Only use these tools on non-Teflon platens. Abrasive materials rub off non-stick coatings. This will cause problems with the functionality of the heat press.

    Step-By-Step Cleaning Instructions

    Here are the steps to follow for cleaning your platen:

    Step 1: Timing is everything

    Be quick! Switch off the machine! Now remove the transfer paper immediately after it sticks to the top platen. This means you’ve placed your paper sublimation upside down and printed on the platen. 

    A pair of tweezers will help to pick the paper off while protecting your fingers.

    Step 2: Don’t let the press cool down too much!

    After turning off the machine, leave it to cool down a little until it’s warm. A little heat will make it easier to remove the ink, but still be sure to wear heat-proof hand protection.

    Step 3: Be gentle while cleaning

    Use a soft cloth (cotton-made) and some gentle non-abrasive cleanser. Mild soap like hand cleaner and water, or a rag with soapy water will do.

    It’s important to know before cleaning if your platen is Teflon coated. Teflon coatings are delicate and shouldn’t be scratched. This will affect the overall performance of your heat press.

    Wipe down a non-stick coated press gently to prevent scratches. Using abrasive cleaning pads can damage the coating, leading to pressure and temperature issues, and affecting heat transfer. If the press doesn’t have a non-stick coating, use light sandpaper or a cleaning solution with grit. Apply gentle pressure and repeat the cleaning process if necessary.

    Step 4: Do preliminary tests

    Test the press before starting a real print. Turn on the press and use a spare piece of clothing to check the platen for debris after the cleaning process. This prevents contamination during a print.

    Actual left over debris from a heat press that wasn't cleaned properly
    The amount of debris transferred from the platen onto a t-shirt due to insufficient cleaning 

    Step 5: Extend the life of your heat press

    After cleaning the platen, protect the press from future garment printing issues. Use transfers with a cover sheet or protective paper, add a lower platen protector, and periodically clean the press with a light iron cleaner solution.

    Watch this video: Cleaning A Heat Press [06 mins 08 secs]

    To save time, skip to timeline 00:38!

    Tips For Keeping The Heat Press Clean

    • Clean it regularly.
    • Hurry, clean it right after the mess occurs.
    • Always have a simple household iron cleaner.

    What to avoid

    • Pressing anything that melts in your heat press even if using a Teflon sheet.
    • Overexposing the fabric to high heat for a long time.
    • Zippers, buttons, and other sharp objects to prevent scratches on upper platen.
    • Cleaning Teflon-coated (non-stick) upper platen with abrasive cleaning pads.

    Preventative measures

    Knowing how to use your heat press machine will prevent unnecessary stresses and strains to your unit. The fewer accidents, the less scrubbing and cleaning is required. This will undoubtedly extend the life expectancy of your machine:

    • Always use a Teflon sheet.
    • Easy with the grit. Use a non-abrasive cleaner to avoid scratching the heater.
    • Wash your T-shirts, clothes, and any other material before using a press.
    • Use non-stick material.
    • Have EZ-Off Hot Iron Cleaner by your side. This tube product helps with scratches, scorches, and unknown residues.
    • Stop ongoing exposure of the transfer when you notice you made a mistake.


    Cleaning your heat press and not handle it roughly will prevent printing failure. It will also mean a longer lasting machine.

    However, sometimes we make mistakes and transfer the print on the platen. This requires immediate attention. But handling this incorrectly can cause more damage than good.

    Be sure to know if your machine’s upper platen surface is Teflon or not. Non-Teflon surfaces can be cleaned with a little grit. Whereas, Teflon surfaces require more care. Use a soft cloth to prevent scratching. Scratch the Teflon and you have a heat press that sticks to your fabrics like a magnet. It’s annoying!

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