Updated: Jul 24, 2021
Perhaps the most critical thing you should learn before ironing clothes or linens is the correct temperature setting for the type of fabric. Selecting the correct setting on an iron can make the difference between a good job and a disaster. The right temperature selection makes ironing easier, quicker and gives a more professional result.
If you choose the wrong temperature, you may have to do extra work to remove creases or curled hem edges, or you may even burn a hole in the garment that cannot be mended.
Ironing is a fairly simple process, although it can be somewhat tricky if you've never done it before. Moreover, fabrics are fickle and each one requires a different kind of care and ironing technique. So, here’s a handy guide to ironing all your belongings like a pro!
The process of ironing is linked to the loosening of the polymer molecules in the fabric fibers. These fibers become loose under the heat of the iron and are straightened by the weight of the iron. When the item cools down it keeps its new straightened shape. Some fabrics like cotton need water or steam to loosen the molecules.
Selecting iron settings and ironing clothes has scientific methodology behind the process. Ironing is an important part of wearing clothes and the end result of dressmaking depends on being able to iron at each construction step for a perfect finish.
Important facts about fabrics while ironing:
SATIN: Iron on the wrong side of the item and don’t forget your pressing cloth. Satin marks easily with water and steam so keep it all dry.
COTTON : For thicker cotton fabrics, you can iron while the item is still slightly damp.
BEADED ITEMS : As well as using a pressing cloth, put a thick towel on the ironing board. Place the fabric beads face down on the towel and then place the pressing cloth on top. Iron on a very low setting while being careful not to press too hard.
LACE : Always use a pressing cloth as the tip of the iron may snag the delicate lace or get caught in one of the holes.
SEQUINS : You should not iron sequins. They are often metal or plastic and don’t like heat. You could try applying steam without touching the iron to the surface but these items often have a dry clean only label so check carefully. Never iron clothes with sequins as ironing on the opposite side with a pressing cloth can also cause the sequins or glue to melt. If you need to remove wrinkles or creases, carefully use a clothes steamer and keep the steam wand at least twelve inches away from the clothing material.
SILK : Silk is delicate and must be treated with care. Press on the wrong side and use a pressing cloth. Do not use water or steam as it will leave marks.
SYNTHETICS/POLYESTER : Man-made fabrics have low melting points and extra care must be taken when ironing. Ensure the iron is on a low setting and use a pressing cloth so you do not melt the fabric. Consider if there is a better method of removing the wrinkles such as putting the item in the bathroom when you have a hot shower and letting the steam in the air do all the hard work for you.
VELVET : Velvet has a nap on the outside and is usually smooth on the back. Turn the item to the wrong side and simply apply some steam without touching the plate of the iron to the fabric. Because this is a delicate fabric that can be made from cotton, polyester or even silk, make sure you check the laundry symbol label very carefully first.
WOOL : Be aware that wool can shrink when heat is applied so proceed carefully. Use a pressing cloth and make sure the iron is on a low setting. It is best to iron on the wrong side in case any shiny marks are created.
After washing, hang the item on a hanger to dry. This will result in a minimal amount of wrinkles.
If your item can be tumble dried, remove it from the dryer while still slightly damp then hang on a hanger immediately to finish drying.
Have a lovely hot shower to relax and put your wrinkled item on a hanger in the bathroom. The steam in the air will relax many fabrics without you having to iron.
Ironing has revolutionized the clothing industry. Providing the right iron settings, symbols and guidelines is a really helpful feature. There is nothing worse than spoiling a beautiful piece of fabric or a brand new item of clothing with a scorching iron at the wrong temperature. Knowing your ironing symbols, and remembering to iron with care, can avoid some accidents with the iron and preserve your clothing.