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Iron Laundry

How to Iron Laundry

This article on how to iron laundry is broken down into 2 parts:

  • How to iron clothes and other ironing tips.
  • How to choose the best iron for your laundry needs.

Always check the clothing care labels on your garments when you iron laundry. Using a setting that’s too high won’t just ruin your clothes, the garment may stick to the sole plate of your iron and ruin that too.

Using Starch.

When you iron with starch, make sure you iron quickly. Otherwise, the starch may stick to the sole plate of the iron and burn. When using spray starch, spray the entire garment, then roll it up and allow it to sit for one minute to let the starch penetrate the fabric. This will prevent starch from building on the sole plate of your iron.

Go with the grain.

Always press with the grain of the fabric to prevent it from stretching.

Avoid shine marks.

Iron laundry on the wrong side, or use a pressing cloth on the right side to avoid shine marks.


The ironing board should be at hip level to prevent back strain. Choose an ironing board with adjustable height options so you won’t have to bend over.

Keep the iron moving to prevent scorching or overheating. Pressing too hard can damage a fabric’s finish. However, pressing the iron’s tip into the middle of a seam helps to open and flatten it out.

Testing Fabrics First

The surface of many dark-colored garments can take on a shine after being ironed, particularly on seams or hems. To check how the garment will react, turn it inside out and press one of these thicker areas where it’s not likely to be seen. If the iron feels like it is sticking to the fabric, or a shine is apparent, be careful in proceeding. You may have to use a very low heat setting and a very light touch to remove wrinkles. Also try pressing the garment from the inside to avoid leaving marks on the fabric.

Wools, tweeds, and corduroys, on the other hand, take nicely to a dampened pressing cloth, which adds moisture and protects the fabric finish

Wrinkling begins in the washer and dryer.

Wash bright colors and lightly soiled fabrics in cold water to minimize washer wrinkling. Don’t overload the dryer, as it prevents clothes from tumbling properly and causes more wrinkles. Don’t overdry clothes, as excessive heat can set wrinkles.

After ironing.

After ironing, let garments hang until they are cool and dry before wearing. This sets the press, keeping clothing smooth and crisp much longer.

Ironing tips for Silk:

Iron silk inside-out on a low heat setting.

Ironing wool, mohair, cashmere, camel, alpaca.

Use steam and a medium heat setting.


Iron inside-out on low heat.


Iron on a low or medium heat setting.


Iron on a low heat setting.

Choosing an Iron

One of the most important considerations is what type of clothes iron to use. When looking for the best clothes iron, the most important thing is to consider your ironing needs. This page contains a great deal of information on how to iron clothes and certain ironing features,  which should help you determine what is available and what you need. Most clothes iron manufacturers use different terminology for the same features, so this article should also help you better understand what their names mean.

  • Automatic safety shut off feature. Most clothes irons have this feature, but not all do. There are also variances in how long the irons shut off when not in use. Most people will want this feature, but if you are a crafter or do a lot of sewing enthusiast, nothing is more annoying than having your iron shut off every 10 minutes.
  • How long does the iron take to warm up? How long does it take to re-heat?
  • Does it have adjustable heat settings, from delicate fabrics to cotton/wool?
  • Is the iron cordless or not? If it has a cord, how long is it? Reversible or pivoting cords allow right and left handed ironers to work comfortably.
  • Does the iron offer a steam setting, or not? Does it offer a burst of steam? A burst of steam is particularly helpful for eliminating tough wrinkles.
  • Does it have a non-stick sole plate? Non-stick soleplates are usually the same type of coating material used on cookware. A soleplate that cleans easily is a plus.
  • Does it have a self-clean feature? Some types of clothes iron use a burst of steam to clear the holes in the sole plate.
  • What is the size of the water tank? The bigger the water tank, the less frequently you will need to refill it. Also, some irons have removable water tanks, so you don’t have to unplug the iron when refilling. A clear gauge on the water tank allows you to visually monitor the water level.
  • Vertical steam allows you to use the iron like a steamer, to steam out wrinkles on things like curtains and hanging garments.
  • An anti-calcium filter helps prevent mineral buildup, which can clog steam vents. Most higher end models have this features, but other types of clothes iron may too.
  • Most irons these days do not require you to use distilled water. In fact, distilled water may even harm your clothes iron, as may softened water. As a result, you will definitely want to check the instructions before putting any water into the clothes iron.
  • Feel. The best clothes iron for you will have a contoured handle and built-in thumb rest that feels comfortable in your hand when you iron laundry, and isn’t too heavy to lift or move.
  • Variable steam. Variable steam automatically adjusts the amount of steam for the heat setting, ensuring you don’t get high steam on more delicate fabrics.
  • Weight. A full size iron weighs about 3 lbs, whereas a lightweight one weighs about 1.5 lbs.