by | Sep 27, 2021 | Crafting, Z

Last Updated: Oct 30, 2021 @ 4:33 pm.

What is the best heat press? To find out, we did a deep dive into the world of heat presses—we asked the heat press enthusiasts among our readers for their favorites. Then we took these suggestions and did another 7 hours of research, interviewing folks with a heat press side hustle for their insights. Here are the heat presses we think are best.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. To keep things independent, we don't take money or freebies from brands we review! Our work is 100% reader-supported!


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Best for Heat Transfer Vinyl Projects

Compact and portable
We liked this heat press to do small batches of custom t-shirts. Super simple to use. This model has higher heat temps compared to earlier version. Love it!
$119.00

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Best for Heat Transfer Vinyl Projects: Cricut EasyPress 2

Let’s talk the best heat presses!

When we interviewed folks who love doing heat press projects, we quickly realized there are two camps of heat press enthusiasts: those who like doing small, heat transfer vinyl (HTV) projects, and those who use a heat press machine for a side hustle, doing medium and large size projects.

Those smaller HTV projects might be a handful of t-shirts or perhaps a custom tote bag. Or pillow. 

For these folks, we think there is a clear winner: the Cricut Easy Press 2.

Many heat press machines are large and bulky—and obviously not very portable.

If you want to do small projects and prefer a more compact, portable heat press, the Cricut’s Easy Press 2 is a solid pick.

Cricut is a tried and true brand when it comes to crafting . . . we liked their die cutting machines when we did an article on that subject. Their small heat press also impressed us.

What We Liked

• Simple to use.

• Great for small batches of t-shirts. Also makes custom tote bags and pillows. 

• Works up to 400 degrees.

• Portable!

• Small footprint.

• Quickly heats up in under 2 minutes.

What Needs Work

• A  bit pricey for somewhat limited uses.

• Teflon sheets are an additional cost. This is included with other machines we researched—but extra here. (FYI: Teflon sheets are used to keep t-shirt fabric from burning).

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Best Budget-Friendly

Easy to use
Loved this heat press, which includes a raft of accessories to do items like hats, mugs and more. Also nice: two Teflon sheets included. Easy to clean.
$184.99

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Best Budget Friendly: Slendor Heat Press 5 in 1

One reason heat press side hustles have become so popular lately is the prices for heat press machines have come down in recent years. Yet we still see many models that cost a car payment! You don’t have to go broke to get started with a heat press: the Slendor Heat Press 5 in 1 is a reader favorite and offers good bang for the buck. Here’s why:

What We Liked

 Easy to learn.

• Includes accessories to make hats, mugs (two sizes) and more.

• Great for heat transfer vinyl.

• Digital controls.

• Pressure adjustment knob.

• Includes two teflon sheets.

What Needs Work

• Instructions could be easier to understand.

• Smaller size platen. At 12 x 15 inches, this platen is smaller than some folks like—especially if you are doing larger designs on t-shirts. In that case, a 15 x 15 inch heat press might be a better bet. For that, see our last pick.

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Best Swing Arm Heat Press

Easy to use
Loved the overall design and build quality of this heat press—yes, the arm swings 360 degrees, letting you more easily see the results of your hard work. Also nice: digital LED controls.
$199.99

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Best Swing Arm Heat Press: Weanas Heat Press Machine 12” x 15”

Most heat press machines have a clamshell design—the plates open and close and that’s about it. However, heat press enthusiasts who use their machine as a side hustle often recommend a model with a swing arm. Why? A swing-arm heat press lets you see your project more easily (to view the results, to confirm placement on the plates, etc.). 

What We Liked

• Easy to assemble.

• Swing arm has 360 degree rotation.

• Easy to use.

• LED digital controls.

• Pressure adjustment knob works well. 

What Needs Work

• No instructions? We see a few user reports that the machine arrived without instructions. However, we think it is easy enough to figure out (and there are plenty of online tutorials to help as well).

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Best 15" x 15" Heat Press

Great for beginners
If you want to do larger t-shirt designs, this is the heat press we would recommend. Easy to use and fast to heat up, the temperature settings are quite accurate.
$199.99

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Best 15″ x 15″ Heat Press: RoyalPress 15” x 15” Color LED Industrial-Quality Digital Sublimation Heat Transfer Machine

Most heat press machines for beginners have a 12″ by 15″ size plate—that’s great for most projects. But if you want to do larger designs (think jackets, tote bags), then a 15″ x 15″ might be a better bet. After looking at several models and asking our readers for their suggestions, we decided RoyalPress’ Color LED heat press is the best bet for most folks.

What We Liked

• Easy to use.

• Heats up fast.

• Great for larger size projects.

• Temperatures up to 350 degrees.

• Adjustable heat pressure knob works well.

What Needs Work

• A bit pricey.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do extensive research, evaluating products with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability. When we purchase a product for hands-on testing, we do so with our own money. 

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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