How to iron – top tips for the laundry

November 23rd, 2012

Appliance Talk Ironing Centres Laundry

Every so often, you find yourself attending some variety of VIP event.  In such a case, you need to make an effort to look VI.

It’s one thing to dig the glad rags out of the cupboard, but if you’re not a regular attendee of events with a dress code, it can take a bit of work to get your best duds into wearable shape.

Unfortunately, that means ironing.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that no-one really likes ironing.  Some folks may receive some zen-like meditative benefits from doing this simple chore, but turning it into something that’s actually fun may be beyond even the most dedicated appliance blogger.

She looks happy, but she’s crying on the inside.

Still, there are a few tips and techniques out there to make your ironing a bit less of a hassle, so you can look your very best without tearing your hair out (unless that’s a part of the look you’re going for).

The Science of Ironing

The iron’s mysterious inner workings

Understanding has long been promoted as an antidote for hatred, so hopefully by learning a bit about how ironing works, you can grow to appreciate it a little better and develop a degree of grudging respect.

Fabric is made up of polymers.  By running a hot iron over your clothes, the heat and pressure helps to break apart the bonds holding these polymers in place, letting the fabric reshape itself.  As the fabric cools, new bonds form, allowing the polymers to “reset” into a new shape.

Steam and water spritzing can assist this process, as water molecules can further loosen the makeup of your fabrics, making them more malleable and easier to bend to your every whim.

Proper ironing technique

Getting great results from your iron can often simply come down to a matter of technique.  Check out the following video from Tefal for a demonstration of the best way to eliminate creases:

It’s pretty simple, really – steam up, then dry down.  No worries!

Ironing Tips

There is no wrong way to iron, but some methods are more right than others.

Only iron clean clothes

This should be a no-brainer, but it’s worth repeating.

Ironing a dirty shirt may freshen it up and make it presentable for a second outing, but you may “lock in” any stains, making them that much harder to wash out later.

On water

May have used a bit too much water there, mate.

If your iron generates a decent amount of steam, you should be able to get most wrinkles out of your clothes using the iron alone, but if you’re ironing something that’s very wrinkled, or made from tough and stubborn fabric, giving it a quick spritz of water from a spray bottle before you start can often make it easier to manage.

When it comes to filling your iron with water, contrary to popular mythology, you can use ordinary tap water instead of distilled water.  In fact, some modern irons have been specifically designed to only use tap water, for more convenient home use (though it does in part depend on how “hard” the water content of your area is).

It’s also wise to empty your iron of water in between uses – leaving the water in the tank has been known to lead to rusting, which can come blasting out of the iron’s holes along with steam, messing up your clean clothes.

Let’em hang

If you’re not going to be wearing your ironed clothes straight away, be sure to hang them up correctly so you won’t undo all of your good work.

When hanging shirts, be sure to do up the top and centre buttons so the garment hangs properly and avoids further creasing.

Use the right settings

There’s a reason they include that dial on the back of your iron.

Not just there for decoration.

Cranking the heat all the way up is a great way to destroy your nice silk shirt – turn it down when dealing with delicates.

When in doubt, keep the temperature low, and if it’s not working, slowly turn up the heat.

Iron both sides

To get your clothes looking extra-crisp, it’s sometimes worth ironing both sides.  Turn a garment inside out before ironing, and you should still be able to eliminate most of the larger wrinkles and major creases, even those on the other side.

Then you can just reverse the garment back to normal and quickly touch up any remaining imperfections, leaving you with a garment looking its very best.  This works especially well with thicker, heavier fabrics.

How to iron collars and cuffs

Shirt collars should be stretched out flat before ironing – do not try to iron them while they’re folded over.  Double or French cuffs should also be unfolded for ironing, and regular cuffs should be unbuttoned and opened up.

Collars and cuffs often include a bit of extra material to compensate for having to encircle the neck or wrist, which can make them tricky to iron completely flat and crinkle-free.  If you find that wrinkles are unavoidable, try to push them to the base of the collar or cuff, where they’re less likely to be visible during wear.

When ironing a shirt, do the collars and cuffs first, followed by the sleeves, which can dangle as you iron the rest of the shirt without much risk of getting fresh wrinkles.

Ironing, buttons and you

Iron around buttons, and not over the top of them – heating up buttons can damage both your garment and your iron.

Some irons are designed with “button grooves” between the iron and the soleplate, so you can more easily manoeuvre them around those tricky spots.

Vertical steaming

You know all of those clothes you have with the labels that say “dryclean only”?  You can use the iron on them, but not in the way you may expect.

Simply hang up your suit jacket or nice dress, grab an iron that can produce a good head of steam (steam generators are good for this, thanks to their extra reservoir), and wave the iron over the garment, puffing it with steam as you go.  The steam will freshen up and de-crinkle your garment, just like at the dry cleaner.

This technique can also be used on other household textiles such as doona covers and curtains, plus fiddly items such as pleated skirts (though these can be ironed with some patience and care – just circle them around the end of the ironing board, line up a couple of pleats at a time and iron each section in turn).

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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