Ironing Tips

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Home Improvement

If your iron’s steam action starts to decrease, it’s time to clean mineral deposits from the water reservoir. Mix 1/3 cup white vinegar and 1/3 cup water and pour the solution into the reservoir. Heat the iron and let it steam for about three minutes. Unplug the iron and place it, soleplate down, on a small glass dish in a larger shallow pan. Wait for about an hour for the water to drain from the vents. Drain any remaining solution and flush the reservoir with clear water before using the iron.

­Do you find that your clothes look even more wrinkled after you iron them? These tips and guidelines should help make your ironing go more smoothly.

Ironing Time-Savers

  • Do your ironing in the bedroom so you can use the bed to sort your laundry and have hangers close by in the closet.
  • Place a piece of aluminum foil under the ironing board cover to reflect heat and cut your ironing time.
  • Start with articles or garments needing the lowest temperature and work up to those requiring the highest.
  • For a perfect fit, place your ironing board cover on the board while it’s still damp, and let it dry in place.

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    To avoid creases, place a rolled up towel in a sleeve before ironing. To prevent wrinkles, keep moving freshly ironed surfaces away from you.

  • To prevent collars, cuffs, and hems from puckering, iron them on the wrong side first.
  • Iron double-thickness fabric on the inside first, then on the outside.
  • When ironing acrylic knits, press each section dry and let them cool completely before moving them on the ironing board to avoid stretching them out of shape.
  • To press badly wrinkled corduroy, hold the iron just above the garment and steam the fabric thoroughly. While the corduroy is still damp, smooth it along the ribs with your palm.

  • Revive the nap of velvet or corduroy by pressing it right side down on a piece of the same fabric.
  • If you don’t have a sleeve board, insert a rolled-up towel in sleeves so they can be pressed without leaving creases. Alternatively, make your own sleeve board from a cardboard tube covered with soft fabric.


  • You can make quick spray starch at home by slowly adding 1 tablespoon cornstarch to 2 cups water. Stir until the starch is dissolved, and pour the blend into a clean spray bottle. Spray fabrics lightly when ironing.

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    Use paper clips to hold pleats in place.

    ­­To restore a shiny look to chintz, iron the fabric right side down on waxed paper.

  • If you want to prevent your wash-and-wear clothes from becoming shiny during touch-up ironing, turn them inside out and iron the wrong side.
  • To remove wrinkles from a tie, place a piece of cardboard cut to size inside the tie. Cover it with cheesecloth and lightly press it with a steam iron.
  • To avoid flattening embroidery or eyelets while ironing, place them face down on a thick towel.
  • Keep pleats in place with paper clips when ironing, but be careful not to snag the fabric, especially if it has a loose weave.


Electric Irons

Ironing clothes can be counterproductive if not done correctly. Follow these useful tips and guidelines for ironing.

­A clogged steam iron is not only a problem because it does not produce enough steam, but it can also suddenly become unclogged, spewing white mineral globs all over your best black suit. A clean iron will speed up your pressing and protect your clothes.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to keep steam vents from getting clogged. Some irons use tap water, while others require distilled water.
  • When cleaning the soleplate of your iron, use a cotton swab or pipe cleaner to remove residue from the vents. Avoid using a sharp knife or other tool that can scratch the soleplate.


  • For cleaning the soleplate of a slightly warm iron, use a cloth dipped in baking soda. Scrub off any starch buildup or soil and rinse well, making sure to clear the vents.
  • If your iron has become sticky due to pressing starched clothes, clean it by running it over a piece of aluminum foil, fine sandpaper, or salt sprinkled on paper. Avoid using salt or other abrasives on plastic-coated irons.

More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

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1. How can I prevent clothes from getting wrinkled?

To prevent clothes from getting wrinkled, it’s best to hang them up as soon as they are dry. If you are unable to hang them up immediately, fold them neatly and place them in a drawer or on a shelf. It’s also a good idea to avoid overloading your washing machine and dryer, as this can lead to excessive wrinkling.

2. How can I remove stubborn wrinkles?

If you have stubborn wrinkles in your clothes, try using a fabric steamer. Simply hold the steamer about an inch away from the fabric and move it back and forth until the wrinkles disappear. You can also try using a spray bottle filled with water to mist the fabric and then iron it on a low setting.

3. Can I iron clothes that have embellishments?

If your clothes have embellishments such as beads or sequins, it’s best to avoid ironing them directly. Instead, turn the garment inside out and iron it on a low setting over a towel.

4. How do I iron shirts?

To iron a shirt, start by ironing the collar and cuffs. Next, iron the sleeves by laying them flat on the ironing board and smoothing out any wrinkles. Finally, iron the body of the shirt by starting at the shoulders and working your way down to the bottom.

5. What temperature should I use when ironing?

The temperature you use when ironing depends on the type of fabric you are working with. Most irons have a temperature dial that allows you to adjust the heat. As a general rule, use a low temperature for delicate fabrics such as silk and a high temperature for sturdy fabrics such as cotton.

6. Can I iron clothes that are still damp?

No, it’s not safe to iron clothes that are still damp as this can lead to scorching and damage to the fabric. Always make sure your clothes are completely dry before ironing them.

7. How do I clean my iron?

To clean your iron, start by unplugging it and allowing it to cool down completely. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar and pour the solution into the water reservoir. Turn the iron on and let it heat up, then press the steam button a few times to get rid of any mineral deposits. Finally, empty the water reservoir and rinse it out with clean water.

8. How do I prevent my iron from sticking to my clothes?

To prevent your iron from sticking to your clothes, make sure the iron isn’t too hot. You can also try using a pressing cloth, which is a thin piece of fabric that you place between the iron and the garment. Another option is to use a non-stick ironing board cover.

9. Can I iron dry-clean only clothes?

If your clothes are labeled as dry-clean only, it’s best to avoid ironing them yourself. Instead, take them to a professional dry cleaner who can safely press them for you.

10. How often should I clean my iron?

You should clean your iron regularly to prevent mineral buildup and ensure it works properly. How often you clean it depends on how often you use it and the hardness of your water. As a general rule, try to clean your iron at least once every three months.

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