How To Laminate Cards, ID’s, Photos, (anything) with an Iron!

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Tempted to buy a laminating machine? Well, now you don’t have to! Here’s how to laminate recipe cards, ID’s, and more simply using an iron, laminating pouches, and a t-shirt:

  • Grab an old t-shirt
  • Turn the iron on the cotton setting
  • Using a laminating pouch (buy some for as low as $5.04 for 20-ct here), place the item you want to laminate in it
  • Place the pouch inside the t-shirt (so it’s in between two layers of cotton)
  • Press firmly for 30 seconds over the area where the pouch is
  • Let cool and remove. Víola!


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  • Wayne

    The time it takes to heat up the iron (the iron is a high consumer of electricity) and purchase the laminating pouches is not worth it. Buy the laminating machine.

    • Vanessa

      You have got to be kidding. Do you have an iron from the 1950s or something? Seriously, I have a $20 iron from walmart and it takes mere seconds to heat up to the highest setting. Besides an iron uses about 1000W per hour when it is actually on (who spends an hour ironing anything anyway?). Most modern irons heat up to a certain temperature and then shut off and turn back on when needed, like a thermostat. So even when you’re ironing the iron is not always “on”. Hair dryers, toasters, microwaves use about 1000W or more per hour as well (when they are in use). By your logic we shouldn’t use those either.

      • Jeremy

        I don’t agree with Wayne about the laminating machine saving money or time over the iron, but I just wanted to mention that your comparison of irons to hair dryers and microwaves doesn’t really make much sense, as they are all used for different purposes and for different amounts of time. Most people actually do recognize a hair dryer as a high-energy appliance… in fact, in the time it would time my wife to dry her hair (~15 minutes), she would have used enough energy to power the computer I’m using to write this comment for six whole hours. Which do you think is more “worth it?” And while it is true that microwaves range between 700 and 1200W, they are usually also only used for a fraction of the time of a hair dryer or an iron (I don’t know if you know anyone with an office job, but it actually does take me a little less than an hour to iron two weeks worth of work shirts) and are also much more efficient than their counterparts– the stovetop and the oven (unless of course you wanted to use a sun oven or a compact jet-type stove like the bioLite!)– because it takes so much less time to cook in a microwave. No one is saying you “shouldn’t use” any of these appliances, especially because some of them don’t have greener alternatives yet (you could save a little bit of energy by using a portable garment steamer instead of an iron, but not much), but it couldn’t hurt to be a little bit more aware of the actual energy use of your appliances and what the alternatives are. I understand some people don’t care about their carbon footprint or if their energy bill is a little higher, but seeing how this is a site about being frugal, I think it’s worth a mention that my wife and I are now only paying a fifth of what we did a few years ago for our energy bill since we started really studying our energy usage and seeing what we could cut out or replace with alternatives. So anyway, while I don’t believe Wayne’s analysis of what is more efficient/inexpensive in the case of the iron vs. the laminating machine is correct, I also don’t think that generally energy saving appliances like microwaves and toasters should be lumped in with what most will agree are huge energy wasters like irons and hair dryers. I know it’s easy to say, eh, they’re all around 1000W give or take a couple hundred, what’s the difference? But if you really start to think about it and do the math, there is a huge difference, and a lot of energy/money to be saved.

        • rachel

          as my energy bill is extremely high, i would love to find out some more information from you, as to what you found out and what tips can you give me in order to save some energy. thanks, Rachel.

        • CEG

          The electricity costs and efficiency of an iron over a laminating machine might be an issue. But certainly Wayne should realize that you need to buy laminating pouches regardless of whether you purchase a personal laminator or use the iron.

          If you are comparing the iron to a professional intense school sized one, you might also be a bit closer in energy use too.

          I think most of us are considering personal laminators – which are the kind that require the pouches.

          This is actually a great solution for me. I teach on a reserve and am limited for space. So bringing up one appliance that functions as two is preferable. (Especially since the board covers my hydro)

    • Randall

      Really? Laminating machines run 30 to 158 bucks, Irons run 18 to 30 bucks (I did find an Iron for $74 but who would buy it? Not me). I would not use a laminating machine more than a few times, I have in fact used my iron many times over the course of the 25 years I have owned it. Not sure how long a laminating machine lasts but I doubt it is as durable as an iron. I have an antique cast iron Iron which would not take any electricity to use and since I use wood heat would not cost me any extra to heat up. Your fancy laminator would only melt if I attempted to heat it up in the same fashion. I think I will stick to my Iron.

      • Mindy

        I have a $90 iron because I sew and do a lot of other ironing, and it was a small luxury that I could afford. That being said, I HAVE an iron so I am going to try this instead of purchasing a machine that has to heat up as well before it can be used. 🙂

        • Linda

          Im a artist, quilter and a sewer and would never buy a $90 iron. Im laminating tally cards I made on the computer for my bridge and pinochle groups. CHEAP CHEAP way to laminate with my iron. They look professional. Going to make book markers and laminate those as well for my book club:) People LOVE home/hand made items.

    • Bandie Rawr

      You still have to purchase the laminating pouches either way, and if you already have an iron you might as well use it. As for energy consuming- 30 seconds you will have this iron on, 30 seconds… I understand if you want to buy the laminating machine still- but don’t use pathetic excuses why.

    • James Roy gray

      Wayne, anything that produces heat is a high consumer of electricity.
      A laminating machine produces heat therefore it is a high consumer of electricity.
      If you have a laminating machine, use it. Otherwise use an iron.
      Either way you are a high consumer of electricity for 3 minutes.

  • Rachel

    You have to buy the pouches for the machine anyways and Laminator machines jam easily, I wouldn’t recommend buying them since after two jams, the machine is garbage. If the shirt works, its the best buy.

    • Angel

      These comments are hilarious. But I’ve had my laminating machine ($25 purchase at Target) for over 2years and I’ve never had it jam. I don’t think that is very common since in my line of work every other teacher I know has had nothing but great things to say about their laminator.

      I thought I would check this out to see if it would be helpful. It might be great for me on some of my items that didn’t bind correctly the first time, but as one that laminates EVERYTHING this is too much trouble and would equal many hours of ironing! Lol

  • Melissa

    I already have an iron and a t-shirt, so all I have to purchase is the pouches and, as far as the energy is concerned, I will plan to laminate at the same time as I have items to iron.

    • Jennifer

      No way, they are too thin and aren’t made for this application. If you want to avoid the purchase of laminating pouches, use clear packing tape, it works quite well. Not as pretty, but it does work. Clear contact paper works, too, but clear packing tape works better.

    • Leatisha

      Maddie, I just did and it works! I used a fold over sandwich baggy (because that’s what I had on hand) but I would use a ziplock freezer bag in the future
      cling wrap would be too thin
      you can also use clear sheet protectors

    • Mindy

      At school, we used clear contact paper when the laminator was down or out of film. It is not as easy to see through, but it is thicker and more durable. Cheaper too!

  • Chris

    If you’re only laminating once in a while there’s no need to purchase a laminating machine. Wayne is obviously a laminating salesman! Lol…….

    • Denise

      Love this idea!!! I always wanted to purchase a laminating machine, but will now just get out my dusty Iron!!! ( Sorry Wayne)…lol

  • Courtney B

    Next time the hubby needs his shirt ironed for church I will let him know how much electricity that will take and maybe I can get out of it HAHAHA Seriously?!?! I love this idea! Definite $$$ saver!

  • ramya

    super cool idea, just very handy to use the iron, i have been looking for a cheap laminatory and couldnt find one.Thanks for your tip. Found you from pinterest.

    • Silvina

      Wait a minute…I just got a laminating machine at Costco for 20 dollars… it is not that expensive to get a home one (it is not as heavy duty as an office one, but I have already laminated more that 50 things and it’s working great. Plus it came with 50 pouches…)

  • Dana

    I promise I’m not a friend of Wayne, but rather than buying the expensive pouches, I just take my laminating jobs to our local copy shop. It costs about $1 to laminate a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet…you can do a lot of labels for a pretty reasonable price!

    • Beatriz

      Dana, good option, but are you sure you don’t work at your local copy shop? By the way, you should figure gas and time into the $1 equation. haha, I just couldn’t help myself. It seems to me that all methods are good depending on the project. If you need a professional job, and will be laminating a lot, the laminator machine is probably best, a professional job for once in a while, the local copy shop, if you’re just tackling a laminating project at home once in a while, then the iron is a great idea, the tape and contact paper can be good with projects for kids. I guess it’s all relative.

      • HappyReader

        Beatriz, You just put that in the best perspective for the whole page. It makes me laugh when people are negative or want to say something else is cheaper/better; As you said it all depends on the project besides the blogger here just found something she thought would be useful to others and put it up for us to see she really didn’t need analytic thoughts about electricity and cost savings….it works for her. Anywho – Thanks Beatriz and oh yeah I like the idea by the way. I’m super cheapo so I’d probably just use my clear tape upstairs.

      • Kerrie

        Beatriz u make the most sense. A laminating machine is a unitasker so even if you get one that isn’t expensive, if you only use it rarely you aren’t really getting your money’s worth and that’s a waste (should we also calculate the area of your home it takes up to store and what else you could be storing there instead as a cost?? jk!). At least with an iron you are turning that iron into a multitasker and getting your money’s worth. And sometimes DIY isn’t always the best option either, like you said it’s all relative 🙂

  • Celia

    As a grandmother I find this just a wonderful tool to use to laminate all my grandson’s drawing to preserve forever!! Hell with the costs of gas, electricity, this is suppose to be fun!! Take a breath and get with it!

  • Stacey

    Or you could just buy the do-it-yourselflaminate sheets at Wal-Mart. For a quick laminating job and they are pretty inexpensive, like $3.00 for a pack. This is a cool trick too!

  • tiff

    I’d like to try this. I was surprised that Office Depot will laminate pages for you for fairly cheap too. We made bookmarks (with kid pics them) and took them to Office Depot to laminate. They put several on one sheet and I think it was about $1.00 per sheet. And nice, thick, stiff laminate too.

  • Tab

    The directions are to “Place the pouch inside the t-shirt (so it’s in between two layers of cotton)”
    Is it necessary to have the shirt on top of and also underneath the pouch?
    Or should the two layers of shirts be between the iron and the pouch?

    • Shannon

      I would assume that it is a good idea to put the pouch between the 2 layers of shirt so that it doesn’t adhere to the surface that you are ironing on.

  • linda

    I find it interesting that not one person mentions the need to store yet another item in their home. I am trying to get rid of stuff, not accumulate more.

    • Becky H

      I hear that! I’m in the process of PURGING, I don’t need to accumulate anything else that I’ll only use twice! I’m working on a project for my son’s birthday party in May and I need a cricut machine, but I’m going to rent/borrow one instead of buy my own, cause II’ll probably never use it again, and even if I do need one again in the future, I’ll just rent/borrow again, even if it would have been cheaper to buy my own, I won’t have to store the thing!

  • Tanya

    In the interest of being frugal, I’m wondering just how many items you’d have to laminate with an iron to make the electric bill higher than the cost of a laminating machine? Both ways require the laminating sheets, so that’s a break even deal. But if the electric to run the iron to laminate one sheet costs X, then how many X’s would it take to add up to the cost of a laminating machine. (I hope that makes sense!) Seems to me you’d really have to laminate a lot to make the iron a more expensive alternative. And if you really want to get technical about a carbon footprint…how much more energy was used to produce, package, and ship that laminating machine, plus the energy used to advertise it and by the store selling it and by you driving to go get one….not to mention what happens to it all when it’s trash… than you would use if you used the iron you already own? I’m thinking you’d have to be laminating all day long to make the iron a more expensive/consumptive alternative.

  • Judith

    ok…note the two dissenting views…are men!~ says it all…they are clueless when it comes to saving money & time…sorry fellas…women have it on the clever, time saving, money protecting view on this one~

  • Charlene

    Ah haaa – thats what that iron is for. Been wondering. Had one for years and never used it for anything. Thanks for the tip.

  • Chandi

    Here’s my thought process…TIME is MONEY…and in all the time it took everyone to argue and rant about saving money, they’ve wasted even more. But what an entertaining way to start my day (by reading throuhg all this…well worth my “time”) LOL

  • Katie

    I think this is a great idea. I actually own a laminating machine (incredible deal last year on Amazon). For those concerned about energy wasted heating up the iron, do you realize that it takes less time for an iron to heat up than a laminating machine? Mine is a standard machine that can do letter size sheets, but since I make my own holiday decorations I was looking in to buying one that could handle bigger sizes like scrapbook paper. Happy to know there are other options. Thanks for the post.

  • Diana Llauget

    It was nice to read a post that was not hateful and nasty, it was fun to read and at times funny. This is how it should be give and take you guys should be commended for doing a good job and the fellowship I see on this blog should be seen . thanks

  • andrea mathews

    Are we serious right now? This is a tip posted by a blogger who I am guessing we all subscribe to because we like her. If you do not like the tip then basically just don’t do it. If you don’t have something productive to contribute to the conversation then maybe you should remain quiet.

  • Nancy Marsh

    Its a great idea..not to be rude..but if i laminate something with an iron, i wont be leaving the iron on all day. So how can that use up a ton of electricity?

    • Trinity

      How do you know he has one? Wife that is, he may be a very lonely boring person with nothing to do but contradict people.

  • Andrej

    Great idea. Just one caveat, iron or laminator, leave a window open as the plastics off-gas. Also, if you really want to save time and money, laminate as you iron – i.e. iron actual laundry.

  • Jennie

    I just tried this and it worked great in small areas. However if you plan on laminating full pages the laminating, material does bubble. I tried many times thinking I didn’t allow enough time on each area. The bubbling occurred each time. It seems as though the material begins to warp when there is heat nearby. This would work wonderfully for small cards or items that would fit completely under the iron.

  • de

    I wonder if a full page would bubble for people with craft irons. They don’t have steam holes, the plate is flat and smooth. And maybe if it was carefully ironed from the fold toward the open side, to push out the air.

  • Dorothy Skoland

    I just laminate with the regular film that the school uses on the rolls. Many times the school throws away the end of the roll when they need to change to a new roll. I place film over the paper, place between the t-shirt…

  • jan jones

    I have tried this, placing the pouch between 2 pieces of cardstock. It did bubble a little, but this was not an important professional document, so it didn’t matter. I will try the t shirt, however. Maybe it will work better.

  • KC

    I have got to say that the comments have kept me reading and laughing out loud! I am all for multi-tasking items I ALREADY HAVE at home. I detest “most” one-purpose-only items and am always looking for ways to expand usage, thrift and be creative!

  • samantha carey

    Unless you are a laminating fanatic, the iron method is the best way. Who really laminates enough stuff to actually buy the laminating machine? I think I’ve laminated maybe ZERO things in my life time lol.

  • April

    Since i only use the energy I need everyday (electricity) I do not own a laminating machine, nor do I need to laminate anything at the moment, haven’t used an iron in months….I just wasted an hour of my time reading this article and using energy to run my laptop.JK, I love this blog, funny article and comments! TY BUDGET SAVVY DIVA FOR THE TIP AND LAUGH, YOU ROCK!

  • Cindy

    OMG!!! This is one of THE funniest things I have ever read! It started out as a quick tip and ended up talking about electricity usage, Amazon, Ebay, office supply stores, laminating pouch substitutes, buying/borrowing/storing equipment, driving and using gas, etc…. This cracked me up!! 🙂

    • TQ

      This exact meeting of the minds and random exchange of interconnected ideas is exactly why I love the Internet. 🙂 I know I would have walked away, shaking my head, long before now if this were occurring in real life with every topic but it sure is a hoot to read.

  • Heather

    Love the comments!! I understand Wayne because that is how my husband thinks. I don’t think there will be a huge difference in the electric bill, so I would do it when he’s not home. I’ve actually done packing tape and it worked well. I too, don’t use the i-word around here 😉

  • Deij

    If you need a lot laminated at once you might want to go to your local elementary/high school or college or public library. I went to a small school but they had that large older roller machine that you feed the pages to be laminated into.. I laminated about 100 sheets of paper and they only charged a couple bucks.

  • Rena

    Last time I used an iron was about 15 years ago, and I used it to squish a scorpion on the wall of my laundry room in Arizona. Instead of ironing, I spritz water on a wrinkled shirt, shake it out, and hang it on the shower rod to dry.

  • Kat

    I’d never thought of this, and after my kids tried to laminate food……. and stuffed the machine, I would not buy another, so this idea is priceless!

  • Cindy

    Buy a roll of clear contact paper for a buck from the Dollar Store….cut two sheets….place your item inside and it is laminated….you can’t get any cheaper… perfectly!

  • Val

    I’m a little late to the party, and this thought may have already been echoed above, but I just wanted to chime in. This idea is a *GREAT* money-saver if you already have an iron and do not yet have a laminator. I believe that is the entire idea of the suggestion. Those who never plan to iron, don’t own an iron, and yet plan to laminate in the future, then go ahead and buy an inexpensive laminator. I think that pretty much sums it up! Thanks for the idea! I have both an iron and old t-shirts, just need some laminating sheets. Thanks!

  • Karen K

    Wayne must sell laminating machines. My thought is, as often as I find the need to laminate something it’s just not cost effective to buy a laminating machine if my iron will do the trick. In the past 10 years I have only had to laminate luggage tags one time. I do need to make a new set so I will definite give the iron idea a try!

  • Kathy

    Just wanted to say, I think this is a great idea. Don’t buy a laminating machine if your not going to use it often. I have one I paid 25.00 for it. I’ve had it for about 3 years and use it all the time, for cards, kids projects, homemade birthday decorations, and recently to protect some very old photos that were starting to deteriorate. That made it priceless. Also it has never jamed on me. I buy the full sheets of film so that I can put several items on to one page. Just remember to leave a space between each item so when you cut them apart they are still sealed.

  • Elina

    I just wanted to say that I tried the iron trick this morning. I only needed to laminate a few postcards so I was dreading having to buy a machine -not to mention my house is already too cluttered with all kinds of gadgets and craft stuff. I put two postcards per pouch and it worked better than I expected. I got 10 laminating sheets by Polaroid for £1 at Poundland.
    Thank you!

  • Sharon

    I love finding new ideas, tips, tricks, hints. I will try laminating with an iron again using some of the methods mentioned. My previous attempts were not successful.
    I laminate often enough so I do own a machine. I love it and it has served me very well for many, many years.
    Iron or machine, use what works best for your needs. : )

  • Judy

    As a person who is frugal and tries to be “green”, I will make the pledge to schedule my ironing and laminating at the same time so that i don’t have to heat up my iron more often than necessary.

    Also, I don’t iron or laminate anything, so my schedule is still open for pretty much anything else!

    Thanks for the laughs today 🙂

  • TQ

    Now I’m itching to laminate something for the home. I usually only get a business card laminated fro a luggage tag. (A business trade show give-away that actually has a purpose.)

  • Becky

    Ok, so I have an iron but rarely use it to iron clothes. Isn’t that what the dryer is for?

    I’m thinking of getting a laminator anyway. The cat could use a good laminating.

  • Linda

    Im a artist, quilter and a sewer and would never buy a $90 iron. Im laminating tally cards I made on the computer for my bridge and pinochle groups. CHEAP CHEAP way to laminate with my iron. They look professional. Going to make book markers and laminate those as well for my book club:) People LOVE home/hand made items.

  • Christine

    I, for one, appreciate the tip from the Diva!!! I did not know you could laminate with an iron. I usually go to my local office supply store to have it done, but there have been times when I needed something quickly and didn’t have the time to go to the store. I will be purchasing some different sized pouches and doing it myself!!! Thanks for sharing Diva!!!

  • Kristen S

    I think this is a nifty idea. And what is wrong with people and their negative rude remarks. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. There’s no need to be rude. Move on.

  • Marilyn

    Why buy ANYTHING? take it to Kinkos, Office Depot, other places and have it laminated-costs less than a laminating machine or an iron. Get it done on one of your trips doing errands, saves on gas.

  • Jessie Oler

    This is a great idea.

    I’m assuming Wayne works for Acme Laminating Company with Wiley Coyote…

  • Sarah

    Does this really work? I need stuff laminated, but don’t want to buy the machine. I already have the iron that I don’t use often & an old t – shirt. I don’t mind spending money on the laminating pouches…so did anyone try this????

  • vonn

    This is a fantastic idea for laminating display pictures that are bigger than A3. I put two A3 laminating sheets on an A2 poster and there we have it without a trip to the xerox shop to pay through the nose for it

  • Cat

    Great idea. Someone gave me a very small laminating machine ages ago and it’s about to bite the dust. Going to try this out for sure. Love using things for other purposes. Oh, and to whom it may concern……..the earth’s not going to melt because I used an iron for a couple minutes. People are getting ridiculous and the politically correct junk bites my butt too. Chill already!

  • Niko

    I think the pros and cons should be access on an individual basis. In my situation I would choose an iron over a laminator. I have access to an iron, ironing sheets and free laminating paper. I live in a small space and like to have multi purpose tools, I want to laminate leaves (some are too big and may jam a personal laminator), do not have the money to buy and potentially replace a laminator and won’t be using the laminator much. However somebody who laminates things frequently would probably be better off purchasing a laminator as ironing will take longer.