Some people like ironing, stopping at nothing but pressing their underwear. These individuals usually love their Sunday ritual of tackling four piles of laundry with a cup of tea and a midday movie for company.
There’s even a group of extreme ironing enthusiasts, who’ve combined their love for action sports with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt. They swear by its meditative qualities: the repetitive movement; the hiss of the steam; the elimination of creases, one by one.
Then there’s the rest of the population, who’ll do everything they can to avoid it: from only buying wrinkle-free fabrics to hanging garments in the bathroom for the shower steam to work its magic. They don’t call it a “chore” for nothing, people.
Unfortunately, life thrusts at us many occasions that require whatever we’re wearing to receive a good press. Whichever camp you fall in – seasoned or sporadic – you’re poised to benefit from these practical tips.
1. Over-drying your clothes
Having them hang for too long, frying in the sun or on the heater, can over-dry clothes, leaving them stiff as cardboard and crispy in texture. They become difficult to reshape and harder to iron. Also, be wary of how long they’re in the dryer, especially if you don’t have one of the more advanced “moisture-sensing” models.
2. Not shaking clothes out
As you’re taking your clothes off the line and out of the dryer, don’t forget to shake them out. This smooths seams and pleats, making them easier to iron later down the line.
3. Not protecting delicates
Placing a hot iron directly on sensitive fabrics can ruin garments, branding them with an unsightly singed and shiny mark. Protect them by ironing fabrics inside-out and with a pressing cloth as a buffer. A handkerchief or napkin will do.
4. Not misting clothes
This makes creases easier to eliminate. Many irons have an in-built spray function so you can lightly mist your clothes at the touch of a button. Alternatively, keep a water spray bottle handy.
5. Not using a starch spray
Starch sprays can speed up ironing and leave your clothes looking extra pristine – if you use them correctly. Spray the area right before you iron and leave it to penetrate for a few seconds. This will also save your iron’s base plate from a build-up of product residue. (You can make your own starch spray by dissolving one tablespoon of corn-flour in two cups of water.)
6. Not adjusting the temperature
If you have a large pile to tackle, start with your lightest silk, synthetic and delicate fabrics, as these need to be ironed on lower temperatures. Then, as your iron begins to heat up, iron your woollens on medium heat, and then cottons and linens that require a higher heat. Always let the iron sit for a few minutes after you adjust the temperature setting. Want to cut your ironing time in half? Place a sheet of aluminium foil underneath the ironing board cover. The reflected heat from the foil means you don’t have to flip over the garment and iron the other side.
7. Not paying attention to the form of the garment
For shirts, start with the sleeves (cuffs always open) and lay the collar flat (even though that’s not how you usually wear it), then let the shirt hang for a few minutes before putting it on. For trousers, iron along the main crease, stopping six inches below the waist, then hang by the waistband. And always iron skirts from the top down, unless there’s a flounce or flare, in which case, start from the bottom and work up. If you’re having to iron pleats, start from the bottom, working from the inside of the pleat to the outside. Then set it with a shot of steam.
8. Using circular strokes
Ironing in circles stretches the fabric. Always iron lengthwise.
9. Making a mess of sheets
Is there anything more annoying than ironing sheets, tablecloths and curtains? The trick is to set up two chairs next to the ironing board. Fold the piece onto the chairs as you work on it. You could also iron them on a tabletop you’re not too precious about, provided you protect the surface with a bath towel.
10. Not hanging up or folding as soon as you’re done
But make sure you wait five minutes before putting them on. You need to let the press set, otherwise you’ll be undoing all your hard work.
Do you have any ironing secrets to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.
This article was written in partnership with Over60.