Task Master: How to Make Ironing Easier


Photo by Kate Mathis

Photo by Kate Mathis

First Things First

Read the label on the item to be ironed. Don’t skip this part—seriously. It’s how you’ll know whether it can be ironed or not, and which setting to use. 

Start with the coolest recommended temperature for any fabric. If you’re concerned about how a garment will take to ironing, do a test run on an inner seam. Iron fabrics that require lower temps, like silk, first, followed by those that need higher temps, like linen and cotton. Heating up an iron is easy—cooling it down quickly, not so much.

Don’t iron dirty clothes, no matter how tempting this may seem. Heat traps in dirt and odors. 

Check your iron’s directions to make sure you are using the correct water—manufacturers generally recommend against distilled water. 

No-Iron Ironing 

Whether you’re traveling, your iron is on the fritz or you just don’t feel like breaking out the ironing board, try one of these alternatives.

If clothes are minimally wrinkled, hang them up in the bathroom while you take a hot shower—this will release the creases. 

Spritz wrinkly clothes with water, then apply heat with a blow-dryer. Just as you would with an iron, use the lowest possible setting. 

Use a wrinkle spray, like Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus. Bonus points: It leaves your clothes smelling fresh. amazon.com, $11 

Steam Clean

Irons get gunky—that’s the unfortunate reality. Here’s how to fix it:  Mix a paste of 1 part water to 2 parts baking soda and spread it on the iron plate.  Remove paste and immediately clean steam holes with a cotton swab dipped in water.  Replace water in reservoir, then steam-iron a cloth for a few minutes until all water has been expelled.

Tip: If you need extra power, add 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water. 

Quick Fabric Cheat Sheet

Nylon Low heat, no steam

Polyester Medium to low heat while damp, no steam 

Silk, wool, cashmere, flannel Medium heat, no steam, turned inside out

Cotton, denim, muslin, linen High heat while damp with steam 

Wrinkle Hacks

Remove clothes from the dryer while slightly damp and iron them right away. Wrinkles release more easily when there’s some leftover moisture. 

To loosen up wrinkles, shake your clothes as you take them out of the wash. If you do wind up ironing them later, you’ll find it takes a lot less effort.

Use your iron as a steamer: Just hover over clothes while pressing the steam button. Magic. 

Turn T-shirts with appliqués inside out and iron the opposite side to prevent the design from melting. 

Don’t stress about cumbersome tablecloth ironing. Just spread a clean sheet around the base of your ironing board to keep the tablecloth from hitting the floor, then iron in a back-and-forth motion. (Ironing in circular patterns can lead to stretching.) 

To create an extra-soft smooth surface, place a terry cloth towel on the ironing board. This will be particularly helpful when ironing all those cloth napkins for the holidays. 

The Best Around 

Melissa Maker, host of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube, can’t say enough good things about the Reliable brand, which she says is well...reliable. Maker swears by its Velocity Iron 200IR, The Board 200IB and Dash 100GH Portable Steamer. reliablecorporation.com, from $49.

We also love the Rowenta Everlast Anticalc DW7180, which does wonders with hard water. It has a calc collection system that removes minerals from water to stop them from leaving white spots on your shirts.
amazon.com, $100.