Vinyl is often applied to many dishes such as mugs or plates. While vinyl can make a dish look more interesting or make it more unique to you, it isn’t the most durable of substances. Is vinyl safe to microwave?
Heat transfer vinyl and temporary adhesive vinyl are not microwave safe, but permanent adhesive vinyl is usually microwave safe, but shouldn’t be microwaved for more than 2 minutes. The same rules apply to vinyl in the dishwasher as in the microwave.
There are some important differences between the different types of vinyl and how they can handle being microwaved. It is good to be informed about these differences before you attempt to put your mug, plate, or another dish in the microwave with your food.
Heat Transfer Vinyl
There are two main types of vinyl that are stuck to dishes or other items: heat transfer vinyl and adhesive vinyl. Heat transfer vinyl is a type of vinyl that is stuck on using heat. Rather than being inherently sticky, heat transfer vinyl is exposed to heat and will attach itself to the item it is being applied to. Individuals using heat transfer vinyl for their personal crafts usually use an iron to stick the heat transfer vinyl onto various items.
Heat transfer vinyl is more commonly used on clothing or fabrics rather than dishes. It is easier to put heat transfer vinyl on something soft and pliable. However, heat transfer vinyl can still be used on dishes. Heat transfer vinyl does not have a paperback, but rather it has one side that has a plastic sheet and another side that is matte. Heat transfer vinyl tends to be stiffer than adhesive vinyl.
Since heat transfer vinyl is stuck onto a dish using heat, applying heat to heat transfer vinyl can make it peel off. The heat can make the heat transfer vinyl lose its adhesive properties. Though it may not completely peel off depending on how long it is microwaved, it will usually cause bubbles to start appearing on the vinyl, which can ruin the way it looks on your dish.
It is best to avoid microwaving a dish with heat transfer vinyl. You can heat up food or drink using a different dish; putting hot water in a mug with heat transfer vinyl should be safe. However, try not to put hot food directly on the vinyl because the vinyl may become hot enough to start loosening.
The second type of vinyl is adhesive vinyl. Adhesive vinyl does not need to be exposed to heat to stick to an object. Instead, adhesive vinyl essentially acts as a sticker. They are usually cut, peeled up from their paper backing, and stuck carefully onto the object.
Adhesive vinyl is the type of vinyl that is most likely to be used on your dishes. It works better on dishes than heat transfer vinyl does, though heat transfer vinyl works better on fabrics than adhesive vinyl. Adhesive vinyl is the type of vinyl that has a paperback on one side; the vinyl underneath the paperback is sticky, unlike heat transfer vinyl, which does not have an adhesive until heat is applied.
There are two types of adhesive vinyl: temporary and permanent. The differences between the two generally come down to their basic uses and their adhesive properties.
Temporary adhesive vinyl is the type that is most commonly used for DIY vinyl dishes. Temporary adhesive vinyl is matte on the side that isn’t covered with the paperback, though the design may vary. Temporary vinyl is generally meant for indoor use, and it isn’t meant to last more than a few years depending on how often the dish or other object is used. It is less adhesive, so it won’t stick as long.
The heat from a microwave can weaken the adhesive of the temporary adhesive vinyl. Though a mug with temporary adhesive vinyl may be able to survive a short zap, the vinyl won’t stay on long. It’s best to avoid microwaving a dish with vinyl. Just like with heat transfer vinyl, if you don’t put hot food or liquid directly on the vinyl, you should be able to use the dish to hold hot food if it isn’t put in the microwave.
The other type of adhesive vinyl is permanent adhesive vinyl. Permanent vinyl may be used in manufactured dishes with vinyl, but usually homemade projects are made with temporary vinyl. Permanent adhesive vinyl tends to be meant for outdoor use. Furniture or decorations on the outside of a house take a lot more abuse from the weather than indoor projects, so permanent adhesive vinyl needs to be a lot more durable.
Permanent adhesive vinyl has a stronger adhesive than temporary adhesive vinyl, so it lasts longer. In fact, trying to peel off permanent adhesive vinyl will often result in damage to the wall, furniture, or item that it is applied to.
Permanent adhesive vinyl can survive the microwave. Since it is more durable, than temporary adhesive vinyl and is harder to simply peel off, it can usually stand heat better. However, it is important not to microwave a dish with permanent adhesive vinyl for too long. If the dish is microwaved for more than a couple of minutes, the vinyl will start to peel off. It is best to avoid microwaving it at all, but it will survive just fine for 1-2 minutes. Using the dish to hold hot food or liquid should be perfectly safe when the dish has permanent adhesive vinyl.
Overall, many dishes that are covered in vinyl are relatively microwave-safe, but it is better to simply not put them in the microwave, just in case. After all, you don’t want your favorite mug to deteriorate in appearance simply because you decided to put it in the microwave a few times.
If you covered dishes in vinyl, avoid putting them in the microwave to preserve their appearance and ensure that you can eat food off of them safely.