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Experiment: Washing Vinyl in the Dishwasher

That’s an important jar.  It holds our coffee beans!

I’d been wondering how indoor vinyl would turn out after being washed and dried in a dishwasher.  I’m not talking about outdoor vinyl, that stuff can go through a car wash and be fine (however direct heat can be a different issue).  I’m talking about the indoor vinyl like Oracal 631 .  So, I did this little experiment.

First, I cut this heart out of vinyl using my Gypsy and Gypsy Wanderings.

I stuck it to the plastic “important coffee bean jar”.  I didn’t get all of the vinyl down perfectly and didn’t bother fixing it.  (There are easy ways to fix this problem and I teach you all about them in my Cricut Vinylology DVD.)

Come on people, it’s just oil from the coffee beans!

I assumed since those parts didn’t stick down well, they would allow water to get under the vinyl and maybe make the image come off completely.

I stuck it in the dishwasher…top shelf.  I ran the wash on a regular hot cycle.

Again, that’s just oil from the coffee beans and some bean parts stuck to it.  That’s  a green Tupperware bowl to the left and a large Tervis Tumbler to the right.

So, after the wash I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out!

As you can see, the vinyl DID pull up a bit and it now has a lot of bubbles under it.  It’s certainly NOT laying flat.

I got to work gently rubbing the vinyl back down onto the coffee jar.  It worked pretty well.  I also used a kitchen towel to help aid in the flattening of the image.  It needed to have some water absorbed and also needed a softer touch at times.

The circles on either side indicate the original places where the vinyl didn’t get applied perfectly.  The middle place is one I missed when I was squeezing out the water.  Those squiggly lines are where the vinyl did lay down flat but now it’s not the same texture as the rest of the vinyl.

Overall, what I learned is that you CAN wash vinyl in the top rack of your dishwasher.  Your results will be best when you’ve got the image or lettering applied as flatly as possible, without bubbles or wrinkles. You might want to turn the dishwasher heat to OFF.  I suggest using outdoor vinyl (like Oracal 651) for projects that need to get wet.  If you’re going to use indoor vinyl, you should hand wash your item for best results.

I hope this was helpful! Here’s a link to a pool float I decorated with indoor vinyl during the summer. You’ll see that after a day at the pool (and after a ton of kids jumped on it) the vinyl had seen it’s better moments.

Well, at least my coffee is ready for Valentine’s Day!  Now to fix those bubbles!

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  1. very cute article… i was hoping you were going to show us that we could re-use the vinyl after etching… lol!

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