How to Sublimate a Mug Without a Mug Press – Easy 6 Steps

Are you looking to add some personality to your coffee mugs or gift someone a custom-designed mug who doesn’t have access to a mug press?

While a mug press is the most popular tool for sublimating mugs, you can also sublimate mugs without one. However, not everyone can access a mug press or the budget to invest in one. But worry not, as there are several methods you can use to sublimate a mug without a mug press.

In this article, we will show you how to sublimate a mug without a mug press using materials you can easily find at home.

Understanding Sublimation

Before we dive into the alternative methods, let’s quickly go over the concept of sublimation. Sublimation is a process where a solid directly converts into a gas without passing through the liquid state. In sublimation printing, the ink is first printed on a special transfer paper and then transferred onto the object’s surface through heat and pressure.

What is a Mug Press?

A mug press is a machine designed to print designs onto mugs. The process involves wrapping a sublimation transfer paper around a mug, using heat and pressure of the mug press to transfer the design onto the mug.

Can You Sublimate a Mug Without a Mug Press?

Yes, it is possible to sublimate a mug without a mug press. However, you will need to use a different method, such as an oven, air fryer, and circuit machine.

It’s important to note that sublimating a mug without a mug press can be more challenging and requires some additional equipment, such as heat-resistant tape, protective gloves, and glasses. Additionally, the results may not be as consistent as using a mug press.

Materials Needed to Sublimate a Mug without a Mug Press

To sublimate a mug without a mug press, you will need the following materials:

Mug: The first thing you will need is a mug to sublimate. Choosing a mug made of ceramic or another material that can withstand the oven’s heat is essential. The mug should also have a smooth surface, free of bumps or ridges.

Sublimation paper: You will also need a specially coated sublimation paper to accept sublimation ink. It is essential to use high-quality sublimation paper to ensure that your image transfers properly.

Heat-resistant tape: The heat-resistant tape holds the sublimation paper on the mug. This tape is designed to withstand the oven’s high temperatures and will not melt or leave residue on the mug.

Heat-resistant gloves: Using heat-resistant gloves to protect your hands from the oven’s heat is essential when handling the mug. These gloves are specially designed to withstand high temperatures and will prevent burns.

Oven: You will need an oven to sublimate the mug. It is essential to choose an oven with a temperature range of 400-450°F, as this is needed for sublimation.

Oven mitts: In addition to heat-resistant gloves, you will need oven mitts to handle the hot mug and protect your hands.

How to Sublimate a Mug Without a Mug Press

Sublimation is a popular way to personalize mugs with custom designs, but not everyone can access a mug press. Fortunately, you can still sublimate a mug using an oven. Here are the steps to sublimate a mug without a mug press using an oven:

Step # 1: Choose Your Mug

You’ll need to choose the right mug for sublimation when sublimating a mug without a mug press. The mug should have a coating on it that is specifically designed for sublimation printing. You can purchase mugs coated for sublimation or apply the layer using a spray.

Step # 2: Print the Design

Once you’ve designed your mug, it’s time to print it on sublimation paper. Make sure to use sublimation ink and sublimation paper, as regular ink and paper won’t work. Print the design mirrored, following the instructions on your printer and software.

Step # 3: Wrap the Mug

After printing the design, it’s time to wrap the mug with the sublimation paper. Cut the paper according to the size of your mug and wrap it tightly around it. Secure it with heat-resistant tape, ensuring the design faces the mug.

Step # 4: Preheat the Oven

Preheat your convection oven to 400°F (204°C). While the oven is preheating, put on your heat-resistant gloves. Once the oven is preheated, it’s time to bake the mug. Place the wrapped mug on the baking tray and put it in the oven.

Step # 5: Cool and Unwrap the Mug

After baking, remove the mug from the oven using heat-resistant gloves. Let it cool for a few minutes before unwrapping it. Be careful when unwrapping the mug, as it will still be hot.

Step # 6: Enjoy your Sublimated Mug

Once you’ve unwrapped the mug, you’ll see the beautiful design transferred onto it. Let it cool down completely before using or washing it. Congratulations, you’ve successfully sublimated a mug without a mug press!

Tips for Sublimating a Mug without a Mug Press

Sublimating a mug without a mug press can be challenging, but it is possible with the right tools and techniques. Here are some tips that can help you sublimate a mug without a mug press:

  • Choose the right mug: You’ll first need a mug suitable for sublimation. Make sure it has a coating that’s compatible with sublimation ink. Look for a mug with a polymer coating or a material that can withstand high heat, such as ceramic or glass. You can find such mugs at most craft stores or online.
  • Use a mug wrap: A mug wrap is a piece of silicone that fits snugly around the mug, allowing the transfer paper to adhere to the mug. You can wrap the transfer paper around the mug and secure it with heat-resistant tape.
  • Use a convection oven: A convection oven is a great alternative to a mug press. Preheat your oven to 400°F, place the wrapped mug on a baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes. You can also use a toaster oven if you don’t have access to a full-size oven.
  • Use a heat gun: A heat gun can apply heat directly to the transfer paper. Hold the heat gun about 2 inches from the paper and move it around in a circular motion. Be careful not to burn the paper or the mug.
  • Use the right paper: Use a sublimation paper designed explicitly for mugs. Regular printer paper or copy paper will not work.
  • Practice and patience: Sublimating a mug without a mug press may take some practice to get it right. Be patient and keep trying until you get the desired results.

With these tips, you can sublimate a mug without a mug press. Remember to follow all safety precautions when using an oven or toaster oven to sublimate a mug. Wear heat-resistant gloves and keep a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case.

How To Sublimate A Mug With Cricut Mug Press?

Sublimating a mug with a Cricut Mug Press is a fun and creative way to personalize mugs with unique designs. Let’s dive into the step-by-step process of sublimating a mug with Cricut Mug Press. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Prepare the Design

The first step is to create the design you want to sublimate onto the mug. You can use any design software to create the design but mirror the image horizontally before printing it.

2. Print the Design

Once you have your design ready, print it onto sublimation paper using a sublimation printer and ink. Use high-quality sublimation ink and paper to achieve the best results.

3. Transfer Your Image onto the Mug

Once your image is printed, it is time to transfer it onto the mug. Cut out your design and use heat-resistant tape to secure it onto the mug. Then, put the mug inside the Cricut Mug Press and close the lid.

4. Start the Sublimation Process

Press the power button on the Cricut Mug Press to turn it on. The press will automatically detect the mug, and adjust the temperature and time settings accordingly. Wait for the press to finish its cycle; the mug will be ready once it is done.

5. Remove the Mug and Peel off the Transfer Paper

Carefully remove the mug from the press, using heat-resistant gloves to protect your hands. Then, peel off the transfer paper to reveal your design.

6. Enjoy Your Customized Mug

Your customized mug is now ready to use or gift to a loved one.

How to Sublimate a Mug in an Air Fryer?

Sublimation is a printing process where the ink is heat-pressed onto a specially coated material, such as a mug, to create a long-lasting and vibrant image. And yes, you can sublimate a mug in an air fryer! Here’s how:

  • First, you must purchase sublimation paper, ink, and a mug with a sublimation coating. You can find these items at a craft store or online.
  • Print your design on the sublimation paper using sublimation ink. Remember to mirror your design before printing so it appears correctly when transferred to the mug.
  • Place the sublimation paper face on the mug, and secure it with heat-resistant tape.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400°F (204°C) for 5 minutes.
  • Once preheated, place the mug in an air fryer, ensuring it’s not touching the sides.
  • Set the timer for 6-7 minutes and let the air fryer do its thing.
  • Once the timer goes off, remove the mug from the air fryer, and remove sublimation paper and tape.
  • Allow the mug to cool completely before handling.

That’s it! You now have a personalized mug perfect for gifting or keeping for yourself. Remember always to follow safety precautions when using any heat-related equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of mug can I use for sublimation?

You can use any mug that has a polymer coating suitable for sublimation. Ceramic mugs with a polymer coating work best. 

How do I transfer the design onto the mug?

Print your design onto sublimation paper using sublimation ink. Wrap the sublimation paper around the mug, secure it with heat-resistant tape, and place it in the oven.

Can I wash the mug after sublimation?

Yes, the sublimation ink is permanent and will not wash off. The mug is also safe to use in the dishwasher and microwave.


Sublimating a mug without a mug press is a great way to create personalized mugs. While it may require more effort than using a mug press, the results can still be excellent if done correctly. Following the steps outlined in this article and remembering the tips and tricks, you can easily sublimate a mug without a mug press.

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