How to Heat Press a Mug – A Step-by-Step Guideline

There are many reasons why you would want to design your own mugs. With the correct sublimation paper and a mug heat press machine, you can design any mug, water bottle, or travel mug that you’d like with virtually anything you can think of. Check out our Step-by-Step Guideline about How to Heat Press a Mug?

Make mugs for use especially at Christmas or as a gift to honor a couple that just got married with their new name – a mug press is a crafter’s best friend, and it can turn them into a business owner too if they want to be. They can make mugs for businesses to promote their company, and they can make mugs for grandparents to show off the grandkids. The possibilities are endless.

Do You Need a Horizontal or Vertical Heat Press?

With a vertical heat press, the item you wish to apply the graphics to will only go down as far as the bottom of the press, so if you wanted to apply the graphics higher, you wouldn’t be able to. With a horizontal heat press, you can place the item anywhere within the heat press provided that the surface you are placing the graphics on and that the press will be pressing down on is flat.

  • Think mainly about whether you will be working with just traditional coffee mugs or things that are taller as well.
  • You may want to consider cost as a potential factor in whether you get a horizontal or vertical mug press, at least at first until you can upgrade.

Do You Have the Correct Sublimation Paper?

You can get many graphics that are already made and ready to go right onto the coffee mug, travel mug, or water bottle. However, you can also buy blank sublimation paper and print on it using your own printer at home (provided you are using the correct sublimation paper with the correct inkjet printer) and create any design you’d like. This is great for companies who want to use graphics from their own graphic designers or even crafters who are great with computers as well.

  • This would be the perfect time to learn how to use a program like PhotoShop to make great designs for mugs and water bottles to print out yourself if you aren’t already familiar with the program. Another great free alternative is Photopea.
  • Make sure that even if you have the correct printer, you are using the correct ink. Some printers have different ink for use with regular printing and for use with photo printing. Consult the manufacturer of the printer or the brand of the sublimation paper to see which you should be using.

How Long & How Firm Should You Press?

This is a very important question to ask and it’s different for every machine so it’s important to study the instructions that come with your machine very carefully. Make yourself a cheat sheet if you have to so that you can quickly remember how many seconds and how firm to press for each type of item, what it’s made out of it, and what type of graphics.

  • Some instructions will already have a cheat sheet made for you. Don’t lose it!
  • Just like microwaves and ovens, mug heat presses will each be unique in their heating so it may take some time to get to know how your particular machine heats up, applies graphics, and cools down.

Other Considerations:

  • Be sure that the products you are trying to apply graphics to are heat safe, meaning they are meant for hot liquids in the first place. Otherwise, they may crack or shatter if they are glass or ceramic, or they may melt if they are metal or plastic.
  • Every machine should have a temperature control and you will need to follow this to allow the machine to cool down after every use. It will heat up during the process of a press and it needs to be back down to the idle temp before going on to the next application.

Here’s a video tutorial about How to heatpress a Mug

Let’s take a look at the whole process with an Infographic

How to heatpress a mug

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you heat press vinyl on mugs?

The type of vinyl that is used for mugs often gets referred to as HTV or Heat Transfer Vinyl as its full denomination. You’ll need a heat press that’s capable of printing vinyl on mugs, obviously. Place the mug with the handle up inside the special slot on the heat press and set the temperature as described on the heat transfer vinyl’s package instructions. Once the timer goes off, remove the mug from the press and let it cool slightly before attempting to peel off the clear carrier sheet. The mugs get very hot so this could take a few minutes.

Why is my mug heat press smoking?

This usually happens to machines that are old and extremely used. However, most of the time there’s no need to panic. It might just need a little cleansing. It can become dirty with starches from t-shirts, or with a general build up of dirt from use with transfer papers or heat transfer vinyl backing. Simply clean the heat press according to the instructions found in the user manual and then try printing again. If the heat press continues to emanate smoke, it might be time to send it into service or get a new one.

Is heat transfer vinyl dishwasher-safe?

Generally speaking, we haven’t found any heat transfer vinyl that is officially stated as being dishwasher-safe. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to clean it inside a dishwasher once or twice. Fair warning, though, as most vinyl can come off depending on the temperature and pressure fluctuations of your dishwasher, even if it is slated as waterproof. That’s why we don’t recommend putting an HVT mug inside a dishwasher. Proceed at your own risk. We are not responsible if you choose to put your mug inside a dishwasher only to then find out that it was ruined during the process.

Final Verdict:

So now that you know about mug heat presses and how to create your own designs on mugs, how do you get a heat press and start crafting? Well, here are a few products you may want to consider:

  • Mug Master Pro: This machine can tackle just about any kind of drinkware you can ever want to heat press, making it one of the most versatile heat presses on the market.
  • MPress Digital Sublimation Mug Cup Heat Press Machine: This machine has great reviews and is a great price for someone just starting out who wants to get into the hobby.
  • Sublimation Heat Transfer Paper: Get those designs on some mugs, travel mugs, water bottles, and more with that sublimation paper!

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