A Guide to Ironing
What You Need to Know
- Make sure you iron at the correct temperature; too cold and an iron won’t be effective, too hot and you run the risk of burning through your clothes.
- Keep the iron moving slowly and consistently at all times. Keeping an iron still can burn a hole through a garment.
- Only iron clean clothes as stains can be ironed into garments.
- Take your time when ironing; being too hasty can be counter-productive and can even cause you to burn your clothes.
- Ensure your ironing board and iron are kept in good condition; any dirty or damaged equipment may end up ruining your clothes.
- Always ensure your iron is properly turned off when it’s not in use.
- Consider buying an iron with an anti-scale feature if you live in a hard water area. This will prevent it from becoming damaged by limescale.
Get the Right Equipment
The key to ironing well is having the right equipment, and nothing is more important than the iron itself.
So, it pays to invest in a good quality iron from the start, going with a name you trust yet also doing your homework by consulting online review sites and consumer publications such as Which?
A wide range of regular steam irons are available, varying markedly in price, size and quality.
At the bottom end of the scale, entry-level irons tend to come with aluminium or stainless steel soleplates which, while affordable and relatively durable, can be prone to scratching, with this reducing glide.
More expensive irons, meanwhile, may be chrome-plated or come with durilium plates, making them more effective.
It’s also worth taking into consideration the steam flow rate of irons. This is marked in ‘grams per minute’, and the higher the value, the easier an iron will be able to tackle a range of fabrics.
Additionally, look into the size of the water tank built into an iron. The typical home iron boasts a 400ml tank, allowing for around 30 minutes of ironing before it needs filling up again, so consider looking for a bigger if you have to tackle big batches on a regular basis.
Alongside the iron itself, you’ll also need a good-quality ironing board. Again, it’s worth paying extra for one that’s of a good build and therefore likely to last.
As a general rule, Ariel advises that you always buy a tall ironing board so that you never have to bend over and risk straining your back. Additionally, consider getting an easily-adjustable board if you share ironing duties with someone else.
Choose Your Ironing Space Carefully
As well as choosing your iron and board carefully, it’s also a good idea to give some thought to where you do your ironing.
Choose a well-lit area, for example by a kitchen window, so that you can see what you’re doing, and make sure there’s plenty of space for you to manoeuvre uninhibited and that you’re near to a plug socket.
You may also want to make sure that there’s sufficient room to hang pieces of clothing you have just ironed, as having to place them over chairs or on banisters may make wrinkles come back.
You should always adjust the temperature of your iron according to the type of material you are ironing.
To make things easy for you, most clothing manufacturers provide guidelines for taking care of garments, with labels listing the correct temperature at which you need to iron them.
As a rule, acrylic fabrics, nylon or polyester should be ironed at a low heat, while cotton, linen and wool should be ironed with steam at a medium heat.
For extra-sensitive materials such as silk, it’s advisable to turn garments inside out and iron at a very low heat, preferably through a clean cotton towel.
Again, you should always check the label before you start ironing and, if in doubt, start at a low temperature.
Top Ironing Techniques
Garments should be ironed when they are still a little bit damp. If they’re too wet, they’re impossible to work with but if they’re completely dry, any creases will already be fixed-in.
So, to get started, plug in the iron and adjust the temperature accordingly. Leaving it on the side of the board until it is hot enough. Lay the garment you wish to iron out flat on your ironing board and make there are no folds or big wrinkles present before you get started.
Gently press onto the material, smoothing out the garment with one hand before going over it with the iron. Be sure to apply steam whenever necessary and always keep your iron moving so as to prevent a piece of clothing being burnt. Iron the area of material that is laid flat on your ironing board before adjusting the garment so that the rest can be tackled.
Use the tip of the iron to work your way around any buttons in order to ensure that as much of a garment as possible is wrinkle-free.
It’s a good idea when ironing to start with clothing that needs low heat, then medium heat and then finally high heat. This will reduce the risk of a garment being burned.
Hang Your Clothes Properly
There’s no point making the effort to iron your clothes properly only to throw them in the wardrobe or into a drawer where they will only get creased again.
Instead, once you have finished ironing a garment, put it straight onto a hanger, making sure it is hanging straight and that the sleeves are flat and folded slightly towards the front.
Buttoning up the collar as well as the cuffs will also ensure that a shirt keeps its shape, and you should ensure that all items are hung up in the wardrobe with plenty of space surrounding them so that they don’t get crushed and wrinkled.
- Get further tips on ironing techniques here.
- Ironing is now an extreme sport. Find more details in our guide to extreme sports festivals.
- Some advice on buying an iron.