I is for Ironing: Iron Your Clothes

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Most people don’t like ironing clothes. In fact some people will go to great lengths to avoid ironing.  Some will but only crease-free non-iron shirts and trousers, some will wear a jacket over their crumpled shirt to disguise the fact that it hasn’t been ironed, and some will pay other people to do the ironing.


Call me a bit odd, but I don’t actually mind ironing.  Just as some people say that painting a door or window can be relaxing, so I can get into an almost Zen-like state of mind when ironing. For me it’s a question of positioning the ironing board in the centre of my 5.1 surround-sound system, and then playing something suitable to iron to. Creating an ambience and being wrapped in sounds as I iron, helps me no end!

But it occurs to me that there are some rules to follow in ironing, and that anyone new to the world of ironing, such as a student away from home for the first time, might benefit from some tips. So here goes:

  • Don’t begin ironing until the iron reached the desired temperature. A Panasonic steam iron will usually begin to “sizzle” as it heats up, and most irons have a thermostat light that goes out when it reaches the correct temperature. Ironing before the right temperature has been reached is just a waste of time and effort, and the iron will not glide over the fabric or material.
  • Check the garment you are about to iron to see whether it is suitable for ironing and what temperature is recommended. For example you can usually use a high heat for pure cotton and linen. Cotton mixes and wool are normally ironed on a medium heat. Use a low temperature setting for silk, nylon, polyester, and similar fabrics. If you are using a steam iron, always empty out the water after use, and fill with fresh water when you are about to iron. Don’t over-fill the iron or you’ll have water splashing out on your clothes!


  • Stretch the garment to be ironed across the ironing board, and iron it in stages, making sure that no wrinkles occur and that you make smooth regular strokes of the iron- not too fast (which will either make creases or fail to iron properly because the heat isn’t acting on the material), and not too slow (because you may burn or mark the material).


  • For shirts, I always use the steam of a steam iron in order to get maximum creases and avoid wrinkles. Stretch the back of the shirt across the board and iron the collar, and as much of the back as you can without having to move the position of the shirt.  Next, the sleeves. One side of one arm first then the other side of that arm. Then onto the remaining arm sides. Note where the seams are on the shirt and use that as a guide. Then reposition the shirt so that you will be ironing the right-hand side of the body of the shirt. As you complete it, move the shirt along so that you’ll encounter more of the side and some of the back. Move the shirt again, past the back (which you’ve already ironed) and onto the other side of the shirt. Make sure you iron in-between the buttons, using the narrower pointed edge of the iron. Then hang your shirt on a hanger, but don’t put it away in the wardrobe just yet. Let the shirt “breathe” and cool down before you wear it or store it. This is particularly true if using a steam iron with a steam setting.


  • For trousers, it’s best to turn them inside out. Begin with the top and Iron the circumference of the waistband. Then move on to the pockets. Be sure to iron both sides of the pockets and a little inside the pockets (using the leading edge of the iron) Iron the front of the trousers, around the fly and front pockets, then the seams of the trousers and down to the hems, one leg at a time. Turn the trousers out the right way, and if necessary iron any wrinkles that occurred in that process.


Finally, practice makes perfect! After your first few ironings you’ll be ironing like a pro. Before you know it you’ll be exploring the world of spray-on starch and easy-iron sprays!


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