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Heat Press Time and Temperature Guide with Chart

A heat press allows you to print designs on your apparel using three fundamental aspects: pressure, temperature, and time.

To achieve great results, it’s important you set the three aspects to the specified values before you start printing.

Remember, making a slight mistake with the settings can make you end up with a crooked design. In this heat press temperature guide, you will learn all the important aspects of heat press temperature.

Ultimate Heat Press Temperature Guide – Set the Temperature Properly

heat press time temperature guide

Picture your heat press machine as a new microwave oven, and the apparel you’re looking to print as frozen beans.

What do you do in such a case? You read the manual so as to know how to set the oven correctly, right?

Some heat press machine varieties offer you a wide temperature range, enabling you to adjust heat transfer efficiency for a broad array of fabrics, including those that are heat-sensitive.

Normally, heat press temperature settings run in conjunction with the time settings. Also, they vary from light-colored to dark-colored garments.

When printing light-colored garments, you can just set the temperature at around 350 °F for about 20 seconds.

For dark-colored ones, on the other hand, a temperature of around 320 °F for about 20 seconds would do just fine.

Of course, these values vary depending on a few other factors, most importantly, the kind of fabric you’re pressing. In the following section,

I have included information on the right temperature and time settings according to several factors.

Heat Press Temp for Polyester

When pressing fabrics made of polyester, it’s highly recommended that you stick to low temperatures. The perfect values for time and temperature are 270 °F for about 10 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Cotton

Cotton fabrics require a much higher temperature than polyester ones. Heat pressing at 380 °F for 15 seconds would deliver great results.

Heat Press Temp for Antique look

If you’d like the picture you’re printing to look faded or old, you can use these settings to achieve that: 350 °F for 10 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Full color

If you want to achieve a vivid, perfect design, consider using these settings: 300 °F for 10 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Stretch

Looking to press a garment with many stretches like swimwear? Set these settings: 330 °F for 15 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Glitter

If you’d like to achieve a textured design, consider these settings: 350 °F for 15 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Glow in the Dark

​So, you’d like to press a cool design that will glow in the dark when exposed to light? Try these settings: 300 °F for 12 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Basic Sweaters and T-Shirts

F​​​​or these, consider using: 370 °F for 10 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Resilient apparels

if your garment is stubborn and won’t allow you to print easily, try these settings: 330 °F for 15 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Metal-Like Finish

In case you’d like the image to appear metallic, use these settings: 320 °F for 10 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for High Definition

If the image you’re looking to print needs to be of extremely high quality with full color, use these settings: 305 °F for 5 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for White-Colored

When transferring an image to light-colored apparel, use these settings: 380 °F for around 30 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Dark-Colored

if you’re looking to transfer an image to a dark-colored garment, use these settings: 360 °F for 25 seconds.

Heat Press Temp for Reflective

Do you want to print a safety vest or any other reflective apparel? Consider these settings: 305 °F for 10 seconds.

Nowadays, most heat presses come with:

  • digital timers – to adjust the time.
  • temperature settings – making it easier for you to set them more accurately.
  • user manual – for detailed configuration.

If, however, you’re still unsure about the configurations, you could just purchase a heat press kit to help you set the values in an accurate manner.

Note that in most cases, the machine will come with a manual containing the directions of use.

These instructions include a time and temperature chart providing you with fine details about the right pressure, temperature, and time for different fabrics.

Be sure to observe and follow the chart. By following the user manual with the information contained in this heat press temperature guide, you have all the knowledge you need to operate your heat press machine like a pro.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.


  1. I have polo shirts to press a design on. The shirts are 50% polyester, 50% cotton. What temp and time do I use?

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