Citrasolv Transfer Tutorial


Oh my goodness.  I mean it, oh my goodness.  You all need to stop what you are doing right now and run over to City Market (or another natural food store) and buy yourselves some Citrasolv.  It’s a natural household cleaner that has found new friends as an image transfer solution!  Since I am making all my Christmas gifts this year (see previous Rope Basket Tutorial), I have been on the hunt for cheap, easy projects that look like I labored intensively over them.  Here it is, people, here it is.  I am unstoppable.  I’ve been transferring images to pillows, shirts, dish towels, and onesies.  I’m high on orangy fumes and there is nothing that is safe from my new found addiction.

Ok, enough of that nonsense, let me tell you how to do it.

Citrasolv Transfer

Here is what you will need:

*Fabric to print on
*Photocopy of an image. This is very important: it must be a toner copy, not inkjet.  Don’t use Staples, their machines don’t work even though they say they are toner.  I got my copies at the UPS Store.
*Cotton balls or paint brush
*Sturdy spoon

In all it’s glory:

Before you start, make sure you have a very firm work area under your fabric.  It makes a huge difference in the completed transfer.  I used an ironing board and added a thin cloth napkin on top so the Citrasolv wouldn’t soak the board cover.

Step 1: Lay the image face down on the fabric.  Tape it in place so it will not shift. I found this to be an important step, I like to hinge mine so I can check it to make sure it transferred well.

Step 2: Use your brush or cotton ball with just a little citrasolv, and paint over the back of the image.

Step 3: Burnish with the back of the spoon.  I experimented with this and it works best when you apply a good bit of pressure.  The images are meant to have a faded, vintage look, but they will come out too light if you don’t apply enough pressure.

Step 4: Remove the paper and let dry for a few minutes.  These hold up in the washer, I tested it, amazing.

Here are some of my completed projects.

Kitchen towels:
Ready to get started? Check out The Graphics Fairy for tons of free vintage images.  Happy transferring!
*If you found us through Pinterest, we are so glad you are here! Here are some other great DIY tutorials for you to check out:


  1. Hi. I love this idea. I purchased the cotton towels, ordered the solution on Amazon, went to the UPS store to get my toner copies.

    Laid everything out just right. Painted the solution on. Rubbed like a crazy person. I got nothin’! I thought maybe I misunderstood the directions and I was working on the wrong side – still nothin’! What do you think I am doing wrong? I’ll take all suggestions and hints!

    My kitchen smells nice.

  2. I would love too follow you! I haven’t been able to find a natural food store in my surrounding area!
    Please sign me up to your Facebook so i can get into the awesome craft projects that you do!
    Thank you!

  3. City Market – I know you’re in Colorado! I grew up in CO but live in VA. Do you know what other cleaners work if we live on the East Coast? And I have a HP Office Pro printer. Will that work?

    • Hi Cara! Thanks for the comment. I’m actually in Vermont and I know that people as far as Georgia have been able to find citrasolv in their natural foods stores. You can also order it online. There is a comment above that says that gin works too-wow! From what I understand, the office pro won’t work as it uses ink and not toner. I would suggest hitting up your local office supply stores and printing a copy to test.

  4. use a low heat toner printer. Hp for instance is adjustable under properties. Too high of heat will not allow the transfer to occur.

  5. i tried this- followed all of your directions carefully and was so disappointed because parts of my copy started smearing when the citrasolv came in contact with it, other areas did not transfer well at all even though I pressed down hard with the spoon – I made two UPS TONER copies so I don’t know what I did wrong

  6. I just tried this three times with pics of hand written family recipes and it was an epic fail. None are legible and in some cases the liquid caused the ink to bleed. I’m beyond frustrated. I had intended to do this as a mother’s day gift for my mom.

  7. I found this “experiment” so fascinating. Reminds me of silly putty and the newspaper comics in my youth. Glad I found this, but wondering where to buy the Citrasolv stuff.

  8. Ive used this method many times, and yes, all copiers are NOT the same. I used UPS store by my house and they worked great, I think they use a Ricoh. I went to UPS store by my work, the copies DID NOT work. Their copier was different. I was told they are franchises and can have different equipment. Also my Fred Meyer OLD copier you put money in worked. I also use painters drop cloth mostly for my transfers. So much fun!

  9. So sorry for the delayed response! Nan, I got them very inexpensively at Wal-mart. I believe they came to around $1 each. They are flour sack towels.

    Fanny, no, you don’t need to iron the fabric afterwards. And, I’m not sure what it is about Citrasolv that preserves the transfer so well. I don’t know of other solutions that work the same way.

    Gwen, that is cool that you know that about the iron oxide. Actually, I had some sheets printed at a store where they insisted they used toner, but it didn’t work. I wonder if some toner is made without iron oxide?

    Thanks for the comments!

  10. I love your tutorial! I also love the tea towels you used and have been looking for them online, but have yet to find them. Would you share where you got yours? Thanks so much for your great tutorial!

  11. I’ve read some projects about images transferring, but this looks the easiest one. I’ll try soon. I’ve two questions: Can I use something different to Citrasolv? There is no need to iron the fabric after the transferring? Thank you very much.

  12. Cool technique. I’m pretty sure it’s the iron oxide that creates the print. So if anyone is looking for toner for their machine makes sure it contains that.
    I somewhat use this technique of my pottery. I use decal paper, and it burns away in the kiln, leaving the iron oxide from the toner burnt into my clay.
    I wonder if soaking in vinegar will preserve it better.

  13. This is great! By the way, I live in Middlebury, VT. Small world; I found you on Pinterest. I was wondering if you’d tried it with a color copy, or are those all inkjets? Thank you so much for the idea. I will be trying it out soon.

    • Hi Barbara! It is a small world, I love Middlebury! I do think there are color toner printers out there, but I haven’t seen the citrasolv transfer done with them. I also ran into a problem with a couple of machines that were supposedly toner, but didn’t work for the transfer. The ones that did work were truly the old model machines in the shipping stores. Hope it turns out great, it is such a fun project!

  14. Hi there,

    I’ve just discovered this project and I love it. I’m looking at doing this with our invitations. I’m wondering if there is a trick to having it print the right way rather than backwards once the image is layed down on the material.

    Any tips would help, maybe there is just something i”m missing in the steps, but this is my first thought.



    • Hi Sheri! So, if you have an image with letters or other icons, you will need to first print a reverse image. You may be able to do this on your computer before you print it. Otherwise, the store that you use to make your toner copies may have a copier that can first copy a reverse image. Before I realized that my husband could do it from the computer, I took my image to staples and they had a copier that did reverse images. I hope that makes sense, let me know if you ave any questions!

    • Avory, I’m sorry I missed your question! It will fade just a tad the first time it is washed. But then I have had no trouble with it continuing to fade on cotton and cotton blend fabrics. Make sure you are burnishing on a hard surface so it comes through darker. I also started repeating the process before taking up the paper. I brush the citrasolv on once, then burnish, then brush a little more on and burnish again. Hope that helps!


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