The Cheat’s Guide to Ironing
If you’re like me and loathe ironing but don’t want your family to look a wrinkly mess, what the heck do you do? For starters, try reading these tips below. Even just following a few of them will save you slaving over a hot ironing board for hours.
Choose clothes that don’t need so much ironing. Cut down on crisp looking cotton shirts and linens as, in my opinion, these are the only items that really need to be ironed. Don’t overload your washing machine and spin your clothes at a slower speed. This way the creases won’t be so embedded when you take the items out of your washing machine.
Use fabric conditioner in your final rinse. Or for a green alternative, add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar. You could also try iron-reduction fabric conditioner to your wash. It may help an extra bit but don’t expect miracles.
Take your items out of your washing machine as soon as the cycle finishes. This way clothes won’t sit in a heap in the machine and develop more creases. Shake item, reshape them and smooth out the worst creases while they’re still damp. When you’ve done this, hang them on a washing line, rotary dryer or clothes horse. Be careful how you hang them so that peg marks and fold lines (where the item is looped over the line) are kept to a minimum. Try using soft pegs which leave less of a mark and put items such as shirts on hangers, then peg the hanger onto the line.
If you use a tumble dryer, don’t overload it and remove clothes as soon as they’re dry. When you’ve removed the clothes, give them a good shake then hang or fold them immediately.
Try this great wrinkle-remover tip: Fill a spray bottle with water and add three tablespoons of ordinary fabric conditioner. Spray the creases and smooth them out with your hands. I can’t pretend this will eliminate the need to iron smart cotton shirts, but it should eliminate having to iron t-shirts, polo shirts and even everyday pure cotton items.
Try hanging creased items on hangers in the bathroom while you have a hot bath or shower. The hot steam should remove at least most of the wrinkles.
Iron clothes while they are still damp or dampen them before you iron. It’s much easier to iron clothes when they’re slightly damp. If they’re already dry, spray your them with water from a spray bottle (add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you want them to smell nice – lavender works particularly well). To make sure the dampness spreads through all the fibers, roll them up and leave them in a plastic bag for a while before you begin ironing. Or do what my mum does and roll them up in a clean, damp tea towel.
Choose your iron carefully. Go for a good quality lightweight, pointed steam iron. Check that the water reservoir looks easy to use and that you’re happy with the feel of the iron in your hand. If you can, buy an iron that you can fill with tap water rather than expensive de-ionised water. Keep your iron clean. To clean the iron plate, sprinkle some ordinary table salt onto a sheet of paper and run the hot iron over it. Then use a shot of steam to clean the jets. Once the iron has cooled a bit, wipe down the plate with a damp cloth and any sticky residue should come away easily. Alternatively rub your warm iron with a damp cloth dipped in bicarbonate of soda then wipe any residue away with a soft rag.
You can descale some irons’ reservoirs with a 50-50 mix of white vinegar and water. Put the mixture in the reservoir, heat the iron up then switch it off and leave for a couple of hours before rinsing. Remember to check your handbook first as vinegar can damage some self-cleaning irons. Choose the right ironing board. Experts recommend that you select a broad ironing board with a mesh base and thick padding. Choose a metallic cover which will help reflect the heat and make your ironing more efficient. For a low-cost alternative, put a layer of aluminium foil under your standard ironing board cover. Make sure the cover is a really good fit. If it’s a bit baggy, invest in some elastic straps – short straps with clips at both ends that you fix to the underside of your ironing board to pull it taut.
Iron at the right temperature. Don’t be tempted to iron things at a higher temperature than recommended or press down too hard. This can damage the fabric and also make it look shiny. Your garment label should have a symbol to tell you the right temperature for your iron. An iron symbol with one spot means cool and is suitable for nylon or most synthetic fabrics. An iron symbol with two spots means warm and is suitable for woollens, silk, and fabrics made from a mix of natural and synthetic fibers (eg, polycotton). An iron symbol with three spots means hot and is suitable for fabrics that are 100% cotton or linen. For delicate items, I recommend ironing on the reverse or ironing under a slightly damp, clean pressing cloth (a clean white handkerchief should be fine).
Begin by ironing items that only need a cool item. If you have a several different types of items to iron, start with the ones that need a lower temperature iron first – then do the ones needing a higher temperature. This way you’ll avoid using an over-hot iron and delicate fabrics.