Your heat tape may be leaving marks after sublimation printing for a number of reasons. While sometimes the marks can be avoided, other times the only way is to do the printing again. 

So, what is the answer to the question- “Why is my heat tape leaving marks?

Your heat tape is leaving marks either because you are not using a good brand of heat tape or the incorrect type. It could also be because of incorrect temperature and time settings, or incorrect methods of applying. You can avoid this by choosing the time, temperature, and application methods correctly, or using the most suitable heat tape for your substrate. 

But that is not all, to know how to avoid getting these marks, and how to remove them, read through this article. 

4 Silly Reasons Behind Heat Tape Leaving Marks! [Solved]

There are a number of reasons why your heat tape is leaving marks. They are discussed in detail below.

Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks? Poor Quality Heat Tape:

The quality of the heat also determines if there will be marks on your fabric after sublimation printing. Generally, a lot of people use masking tape, but those that are not resistant to high temperatures will create a problem. 

The marks could be either because of the tape melting under high temperatures and sticking to your fabric, causing marks. Or, this could be because the adhesive is not working well on the tape resulting in it shifting during the process. 

Solution: Get yourself a Better Heat Tape

It is generally recommended to not use masking tapes but a proper heat tape for sublimation printing.  

However, if you choose the correct brand, masking tapes will also work without leaving stains or marks. Later in this article is a list of top brands recommended by users that are proven to not leave stains during and after sublimation.

Here is a table of the type of tape and the maximum temperature to heat they can withstand. This should give you a clear idea of which tape to use or not use, depending on the temperature that you are setting for printing. Also, the brands mentioned here are the top picks for users, so they are highly recommended. 

Product NameMaximum Recommended temperaturePrice
3M Painter’s Tape.425°- 500°FCheck Price on Amazon
EQUTY BAYMERS Heat Resistant Sublimation TapeN/ACheck Price on Amazon
Selizo Heat Tape536° FCheck Price on Amazon
PYD Life Tape480° FCheck Price on Amazon
Innosub Tape425° FCheck Price on Amazon

Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks? Incorrect Temperature and Time Settings:

In sublimation printing, physical factors like temperature and time for heating are extremely crucial. If you are applying too much heat, and for a long time, you might get marks on your t-shirt or mug despite using good quality heat tape. 

This is because, then, the tape may melt and leave tape or adhesive residues behind at extremely high temperatures. 

Solution: Get Temperature and Time Settings Right

To prevent burning or melting your heat tape and thus leaving residues, always make sure to use the correct settings for temperature and time, for the product that you are printing on. This will not only prevent tape marks but also other issues like your sublimation red being orange.

Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks? Incompatibility with Substrate:

Since the heat tape is responsible for keeping the sublimation transfer fixed on the substrate, the key factor to consider here is adhesion. 

The tape will be able to attach to the substrate depending on the properties of the surface of the substrate- how porous or smooth it is. Also, heat and their mutual tolerance to it determines if the tape and substrate are suitable for each other. 

Solution: Match the Tape with Substrate

Here is a list of the most common substrates for sublimation printing and the type of tape they require. You should use your heat tape witht the different substrates accordingly. 

Type of Substrate Type of Heat tape required
Synthetic fabric clothingVinyl Heat Tape
Natural fabric clothingPaper Tape
Ceramics/ Glass/ MetalsThermal Heat Tape

Shirts: For synthetic fabric shirts, vinyl tapes are recommended. This is because synthetic fabrics like polyester undergo high temperatures – 385° F to 400° F. Therefore, vinyl tapes having excellent insulation properties, will not easily conduct and transfer heat to the shirt. This also applies while sublimating on acrylic fabric. Thus, burn marks will not be created which can occur from other tapes.

For natural fabrics like cotton, paper tapes are recommended. This is because cotton retains moisture that during heat applied in sublimation creates steam. This causes the adhesive from tapes to not attach to the cotton fibers. Thus, a tape like paper tapes is needed that has very good adhesive properties. 

Ceramics, Glass, and Metals: These types of substrates have to be exposed to very high temperatures during sublimation printing, up to 392 F. Therefore, a heat tape with very high thermal resistant properties is needed, like a Thermal Heat Tape. 

Other than these, PYD Life Tape, Artesprix Tape, Innosub Tape, Siser Tape, Cricut Tape, and Conde Tape all are good for most substrates. They can be used on  mugs, metals, mousepads and t-shirts and do not leave any marks.   

Incorrect Application of Heat Tape:

For the different substrates, there are rules to follow on applying heat tape. Not applying them correctly will result in marks. For instance, if it overlaps at some point, it results in an uneven distribution of heat and pressure, thus creating marks. 

Solution: Following the correct method of applying heat tapes. 

For mugs, attach the transfer paper to the mug using the heat tapes on the top and bottom of the mug handle. Follow the image below and attach just as shown.

Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks
Source: Youtube

For t-shirts, attach the heat tape on the top and bottom of the transfer paper, as shown below.

Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks
Source: Amazon

For tumblers, take three short pieces of tape and attach the transfer paper to the tumbler. They should be placed horizontally in the middle, top and bottom along the height of the tumbler. Then place a long piece of tape along the seam of the tumbler, like shown below.

Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks
Source: Amazon

Additionally, for spotless results, you can use a protective sheet between your substrate and tape. This will prevent the tape from staining your substrate. Parchment paper or Teflon sheets can be used as protective sheets. 

How to Remove the Marks Caused by Heat Tape? Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks?

If you already have a stain of heat tape and need to get rid of it, here are a few tips you can follow. 

For transparent stains from the adhesive on tape, follow these tips.

Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks
Source : The Spruce

Synthetic Fabric:

  •  For polyester and other synthetic fabric t-shirts, you can use a cleaning solution to remove stains from heat tapes. 
  • To finish off cleaning you have to wash off the fabric with water.

Metals( Aluminum, Stainless Steel and Iron):

  • On the metal surface, pour warm water over the stained area and leave to rest. 
  • Rub off with a pad if the water doesn’t remove the stains by itself. 


  • For ceramic mugs you have to wash the stained area with ammonia infused soapy water.
  •  To finish, use clear water to rinse off. 

However, if the stain is in the form of yellow marks, it is not from the adhesive of the tape. The solution is then to use Vinyl Remover to remove the stain. If that does not work, you have to discard your product and try the sublimation printing again on a new one.

Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks
Source : Reddit

FAQs: Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks?

How To Remove Sticky Tape Residue Naturally?

You can remove sticker residue from plastic, glass or wood using peanut butter or mayonnaise or canola oil, or white vinegar, depending on the surface. You need to cover the residue with peanut butter the other fat alternatives mentioned and rub it off with a rag.Or, you can also cover the residue with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol and leave for five minutes, and then scrape the sticky residue off. 

What Is The Main Ingredient In Adhesive Remover?

The ingredients of an adhesive remover varies according to its type. It can be either citrus-based or soy-based or solvent-based remover. According to percentage, for citrus based remover, chlorine, for su-based remover soybean oil and for solvent based removers, xylene is the main ingredient. 

How Do You Remove Tape Without Leaving Residue?

For hard surfaces, like mugs or woodboards, you need to wet the tape with hot water to make it soft. If the tape is attached to paper, you can apply heat to it with a hairdryer to soften it. Then, you have to gently remove the tape from the surface using a butter knife. This way you will not leave a residue while taking the tape off.

Conclusion: Why Is My Heat Tape Leaving Marks?

We hope that answers your question “Why is my heat tape leaving marks?”. Therefore, we recommend you to choose your heat tape carefully and use it correctly to get best results.