How to Iron Clean Clothes - dummies

By Gill Chilton

Once you have removed your stains and cleaned your clothes, you need to make them presentable for that job interview or long day of meetings. Most people are busy with all these tasks and don’t have time for ironing. So to avoid or minimise ironing:

  • Shop for clothes made from no-iron fabrics. Previously, this used to mean synthetics. But today, you can buy natural fibres, too.

  • Stop line-drying. Along with fresh air, you can’t help but blow in creases.

  • Tumble dry on the low setting if possible. Remove garments promptly, whilst still just damp.

  • Put just-damp clothes onto non-wire hangers. Use the laundry basket only for undies and bedding.

  • Remove light creasing by hanging your work clothes in the bathroom whilst you shower. The steamy heat loosens minor folds.

  1. Get your equipment sorted.

    The equipment you need includes:

    • Ironing board: An ironing board with a large surface lets you work more quickly and easily.

      Most people keep the board down too low. Adjust it so that your arm is at a comfortable right-angle as it holds the iron over the board.

    • *Iron: It’s the smooth, metal sole plate of an iron that, once heated, presses clothes flat. The steam function improves on this by adding fine sprays of steam onto your clothes. This dampens the fabric, making folds and scrunched material easier to press flat.

      Tap water eventually causes scale to form on the inside of the iron. You may want to buy distilled water. There’s no need for this if you have a condenser tumble drier: the water that collects in the drier reservoir is already distilled. So pour it into your iron and go.

      Traditional irons have an onboard reservoir for water. But if you iron large loads regularly, buy a steam generator iron. These have a large separate water-tank. This makes the iron light and easy to move and also means no waiting for re-heating.

    • Water or distilled water: For steam ironing.

    • Wooden or fabric-covered hangers: For just-pressed clothes.

    • An old cloth: For protecting delicate items.

  2. Sort the laundry into ironing order:

    • First iron silk, polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetics that need the low heat setting. Start with small, fiddly items whilst you’re freshest.

    • Next come cotton and wool blends and polycottons that need medium heat.

    • Lastly are linen and 100 per cent cotton, which you iron on the high setting.

  3. Make sure the laundry is in prime ironing condition.

    Ideally, the laundry is just damp. If the washing is dry or very creased, you may need to dampen it with a fine mist spray before ironing.

  4. Make sure the iron is ready.

    Don’t begin to press until the iron indicator shows it’s at the right temperature and the water for steam has heated. Going too soon may make the soleplate leak water over your clothes.

  5. Start ironing.

    Use the whole board as you iron, arranging clothes so that you need to move them around as little as possible.

    As you work, move the iron gently across the board. It’s tempting to dig down, but don’t. Irons don’t need pressure to work at their best.

    An iron that’s too hot can pucker or discolour fabric in seconds. So never leave your iron stationary on fabric.

    When in doubt, go inside out. Ironing on the wrong side protects the right side of the garment from the full heat.

    To prevent wool from developing a flattened shine, lay a damp cloth on top of the wool, then press gently.

  6. Hang ironed items.

    Have hangers ready and waiting for your clothes. The back of a chair doesn’t just lead to creases, but wood stain could come off onto any still-damp clothes!