Remove, Replace and Recycle Your Emblems

Save money by extending the life of an emblem or uniform

By Randy Carr, Contributing Writer

Embroidered emblems using color-fast, polyester threads and emblem fabric are designed to withstand industrial laundering. Patches like these are also removable. Photo courtesy of World Emblem

January 17, 2023

Emblems are a great way to add a logo, mascot, name or other identifying graphic to a wide range of apparel. For the budget conscious, emblems are also significantly cheaper than direct embroidery. They’re also more versatile, since unlike most decorating methods, such as screen printing, heat transfers or direct embroidery, you can remove a heat-applied or sewn emblem and replace it as well.

This last feature can be handy when an employee leaves the company, and you want to replace the embroidered name patch on a particular garment with another. Companies may also change their name or want to update their logos without replacing all their existing uniforms. Then again, maybe a uniform gets damaged or you want to replace it, and you don’t want to pay for new patches.

Finally, for jobs such as car mechanics, landscaping and restaurant work, uniforms may get dirty and need to be replaced, but the emblems are still fine. In all these instances, whether it has been sewn on or heat sealed, it is both cost effective and makes sense to remove an old emblem and replace or adhere it to another article of clothing.

Embroidered Patch Removal

For an embroidered patch, it is simple, especially if you have the right tools for cutting stitches, like a pair of sharp, straight-tip scissors, a seam ripper or an embroidery eraser. An embroidery eraser looks like a beard trimmer but is specifically designed for cutting thread. The advantage of using a seam ripper is you do not have to worry about cutting the fabric.

Turn the garment inside out and cut away the threads. Once the stitches are cut, you can use a pair of tweezers or duct tape to pull away any loose threads. Good lighting and a magnifying glass will make the job easier still.

Heat Seal Patch Removal

There are two methods for removing a heat-applied patch. The simplest is putting the garment on a commercial heat press and reheating it to the temperature at which it was originally applied. Test an edge to see if it has softened sufficiently and use a pair of tweezers to gently pull it off.

Embroidered patch and shirt

Save the cost of creating a new emblem by removing and then reapplying an old one to a new piece of apparel using an adhesive strip positioned in between the garment and the patch. Photo courtesy of World Emblem

The second method involves using a commercial adhesive remover. Make sure it is safe for fabrics, though, before setting to work in earnest by testing it on an inconspicuous area to see what happens.

If it does not discolor or damage the fabric, turn the garment inside out and pour or spray the remover over the fabric behind the patch. Rub the remover into the fabric with your hand or a rag and then wait a minute or two before testing to see if it’s possible to start peeling it off.

Removing Residue

There are several ways of dealing with leftover adhesive. The easiest is to simply use some more adhesive remover, letting it soak in and/or rubbing it in, perhaps with the help of  a toothbrush.

Once you have removed any visible signs of glue, pour a little liquid detergent on the spot and wash as usual. After washing, inspect the spot. Even if it’s gone, it’s generally a good idea to soak the spot with detergent one more time and give it another wash. If you are still seeing residue, simply repeat the process until it’s gone.

Another, even easier means of hiding any remaining adhesive  you might find is to simply cover it up with a piece of heat-sealable fabric. This kind of fabric comes in a range of stock colors and sizes. Custom colors and sizes are available as well. Simply apply the patch and the garment is ready for a new emblem. Common colors include black, white, blue and charcoal.

Reapplying An Emblem

When it comes to sewing an old emblem back on or sewing a new emblem on an old piece of apparel, the process is no different than when sewing a brand-new emblem on a brand-new hat or shirt. However, removing a heat-applied emblem and then reapplying it to a new garment, requires a fresh layer of adhesive.

Adhesive strips for applying patches and emblems

Adhesive heat strips provide and excellent means of attaches patches and embroidered emblems. strip positioned. Photo courtesy of World Emblem

To do so, you might want to try using adhesive heat strips. These consist of a polyurethane adhesive applied to a carrier sheet pre-cut into stock sizes. The strips apply at between 300°F and 320°F for 20 seconds. The bond of the reapplied emblem will be as strong and durable as the original.

Using these techniques, you can easily avoid the cost of buying a new uniform or having new patches made. Recycling your existing garments without any loss in the look or quality of the garments is good for the environment as well! 


Randy Carr is the CEO of World Emblem, Hollywood, Florida, a company his father founded in 1993. World Emblem supplies of a wide range of emblems and patches with multiple manufacturing facilities in the United States as well as in Mexico and Canada. You can reach Randy Carr at rcarr@worldemblem.com or visit the web site at worldemblem.com.