If you can’t sew or can’t be bothered to sew, iron-on patches are a fantastic way to personalize clothing or apparel like bags or sports equipment. It’ll take less than a minute of your time to accessorize!
However, while quick and convenient, iron-on patches only last if you apply them properly and use them with care. And how long do they last? Let’s get into it below.
How Long Do Iron-On Patches Last on Clothes?
An iron-on patch’s longevity depends on several factors, including the backing the patch has, how well the patch is applied, the fabric, and how frequently the item or garment runs through a washing machine.
On average, iron-on patches last between two and three years with good care. An iron-on adhesive-backed patch lasts for a shorter time of six to twelve months, taking more of a wear-and-tear punch.
Depending on the item you want to accessorize, a sew-on patch may be the better option.
What Affects the Lifespan of an Iron-On Patch?
A Secure Application
An iron-on patch will not create a secure bond with the garment or fabric if the iron is not hot enough. Preheat your iron to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and leave for about five minutes to ensure the iron is at the right temperature.
Iron-on patches have a layer of glue on the reverse side, which activates when the hot iron is applied. If the iron is too cool, the adhesive may still adhere, but the overall security of the patch could be affected. In other words: it won’t go the distance.
Luckily, it’s easy to know the difference between the front and reverse sides of the patch. The side with the glue will appear cloudy, tacky, or filmy compared to the front.
If the patch back is clear of any other layers and you can see the embroidery, this is not an iron-on patch.
It’s crucial to protect the patch and the fabric it’s being added to during the application process. Use a small linen or cotton cloth between the iron and the patch. A handkerchief or pillowcase will do, or you could use parchment paper.
The back of the patch must be free of any dirt, fibers, fuzz, or loose hair.
Your hot iron needs to be held firmly in place for around 30-45 seconds to allow the glue to liquefy or the plastic backing to melt, depending on your patch type.
You may encounter difficulty if the garment’s care tag suggests a lower temperature than 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While sometimes they suggest lower temperatures due to safety, you may worry that a cooler iron won’t encourage the patch to stick firm.
If you heed their advice and use a cooler temperature, leave the iron in place long enough for the adhesive to melt and fuse with the fabric. Use the iron tip and start from the middle of the patch to secure it and work outwards.
Once finished, remove the iron and let the fabric and patch cool down. After about ten minutes, lift the fabric vertically to see if there are any spots where the patch hasn’t fully fused with the material. If so, repeat the process in those areas.
Likewise, don’t be tempted to use the steam setting on your iron, as the moisture could interfere with the quality of the bond. Always ensure the iron’s surface is scrupulously clean before you start.
The Quality of the Patch
Quality patches may cost more at checkout, but they last longer and look bright and vibrant even with regular washing.
Check out customer reviews on authentic sites to ensure you’re receiving a quality patch! If others endorse longevity and durability, that’s an excellent place to start.
The Material the Patch is Applied To
Some fabrics are more suitable than others for iron-on patches – they offer a better blank canvas. By creating a better immediate bond, the patch can last much longer.
Suitable materials for iron-on patches are cotton, linen, or wool, which can all tolerate higher heat. Silk, leather, and heat-sensitive synthetics like polyester are not so good and won’t respond well to a hot iron – even with the protection of a cotton cloth.
The Type of Patch
Always carefully read the manufacturer’s guidelines for application, as there are many different types and styles of patches. Follow their recommendations for the correct temperature and pressure.
Be aware that too much heat and pressure can have an adverse reaction and shorten the life of any patch on a garment. It’s certainly a balancing act!
Heat Transfer Vinyl patches (HTV) offer good longevity. Their adhesive is activated via the hot iron, and these patches are durable even with frequent washing. HTV patches are popular on jackets, bags, and outdoor equipment as they withstand UV frequencies well.
Alternatively, regular iron-on patches come from embroidered fabric. With the correct application and proper care, these may last years!
Simple iron-on adhesive-backed patches have heat-activated glue on the reverse side of a fabric patch. They’ve got a clear advantage over the alternatives: they’re easy to remove if required and rarely leave a mark on the fabric. Not bad!
How To Prolong the Lifespan of Your Iron-On Patches
- Use the best-quality patches.
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before applying the patch, and follow the recommended guidelines.
- Protect the patch from burning or scorching using a linen cloth or parchment paper.
- Minimize your garment’s washing frequency and air dry rather than tumble dry – if possible. Handwashing is preferable to machine washing.
- Wash the item at the lowest possible temperature; hot water loosens the adhesive, which will ultimately weaken over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Iron-On Patches Work?
Most iron-on patches work properly and stay in place for an average of 25 washes before they start to loosen and detach. This is usually plenty for bags or jackets but may not work for more frequent wash clothing like jeans. Dry cleaning the item is another option to prolong the life of the patch.
If you’re looking for iron-on patches, check out our high-quality work at The/Studio. We offer custom iron-on patches with an impressively long lifespan in designs and colors limited only by your imagination.
The process is quick and straightforward, and we provide all kinds of features and embellishments to ensure your patches stand out in the crowd. Contact us today to find out more!