Ironing is a common household chore that requires the use of an iron, and usually takes place at home. It can be done by hand or with the help of mechanical devices like irons. There are several different types of ironing: "wet" laundry, clothes, linens, bedding and tablecloths. These items need to be dried first before they can be properly ironed.
Ironing is not only for clothing; it also applies to non-fabric items like paper and plastic. In this article we will explore all these varieties of ironing in detail so you'll know what type best suits your needs!
Types Of Irons
Basic Clothes Irons
The first type of ironing, we will talk about is basic clothes irons. This form of ironing is commonly used for everyday clothing and household linens like pillow cases, sheets, tablecloths etc. The material that should be dried before you can use the standard irons are cotton-based fabrics.
You should not attempt to use the standard iron for anything that is made from synthetic, wool or linen fabric. It will damage the material and could lead to fires if you use it on any flammable fabrics.
The majority of household irons are electric but there are still some that run on gas cylinders that have an element built in. The more modern ones can be used for different types of clothes and fabrics. A separate fabric setting is usually located on the dial with corresponding symbols for all fabrics including silk, wool, cotton etc.
To iron most clothing you will need a flat iron that has a long arm (the part used to hold the material in place) and a clamp to grasp hard to reach places like collars and pockets. Some may even have an adjustable head to be able to reach all the awkward places like around a button.
A pointed tool called a point presser is usually included with the iron. It can help you reduce wrinkles in material when only one part of it needs attention, for example on collars or cuffs.
The type of iron that requires steam is called a steam iron. These are very common and come in different shapes and sizes to suit all needs. Steam irons are specifically used for fabrics that require a transparent or an all natural look, like silk, linen or wool. Woolen items should never be dried first before being properly ironed because it can weaken the fabric and cause it to break over time.
The main difference between normal clothes irons and a steam iron is the way heat is applied. In regular irons heat can only be added through contact with a hot metal surface, but in steam irons the heat comes from water mixed with air that is forced out of vents in the iron. This type of iron is usually more expensive but it's the most effective in producing a high level of heat and steam when working with all natural fabrics.
Steam irons should only be used on fabrics that are made from 100% natural materials like silk, wool or linen. They can cause irreparable damage to synthetic fibers that contain plastic because they are not water proof and can melt when exposed to steam. They also have a tendency to leave ugly white marks on clothes which fades away after repeated washing.
Vertical Steam Irons
Vertical steam irons are designed for special purposes and can be used to iron both vertical and horizontal items. One of their main uses is for steaming out wrinkles in curtains, bedding or table cloths that need to hang perfectly from the ceiling during use.
The steam ironing method works best on thick material like silk, velvet or linen. The best part of the vertical steam iron is that you can use it to reach high places like shelves, cupboards or attics which regular steam irons cannot get access too.
The negative part about this type of ironing system is that they are very bulky and heavy so they may not be easy to maneuver when being used. You will also need to be standing the whole time you iron.
Another method of clothes ironing is press irons which are mainly used when cleaning dirty fabrics that require high pressure and heat to remove stains or creases. Heavier materials like cotton, linen or wool can benefit from this type of iron but it should not be used on delicate materials like silk.
Press irons are not easy to handle and you need to do some training if you have never used one before. You can get burned just by touching the iron or by getting your fingers caught in it while moving between items.
They usually come with a tool called a thimble which is used as an extra hand to push the fabric tight against the metal surface while leaving a safe distance between your hands and the hot tool.
Press ironing works best if you will have time to allow the material to cool down before folding or hanging it up. It is not suitable for use on garments that need frequent ironing because of its high heat levels and powerful steam production.
You can only use press irons on fabrics made from cotton or linen, but never wool.
Deluxe Clothes Irons
Deluxe clothes irons are ideal for home use. They are usually lightweight, have a longer cord than normal irons and they have safety features that stop you from getting injured while ironing.
The steam time is also adjustable to give you more convenience when using it in different temperatures. These irons come with accessories like a fabric brush or creaser which has a built in thermostat to keep the heat at set levels.
The drip tray on some machines can be pulled out so you do not have to tip the iron over when emptying water from it and thus risking getting burned because of hot steam. Some even come with storage compartments for extra accessories or clothing while they are being ironed.
Travel irons are compact versions of regular clothes irons. They usually have a small grip handle so you can carry them in suitcases or purses without taking too much space, and their heat settings are adjusted to give uniform heating on all fabrics with just a few presses of the toe.
The only problem is that travel irons do not get as hot as regular ones but they are useful to have on longer trips or while camping because you can iron in hotel rooms, cars and boats.
Travel irons are not really suitable for heavy fabrics like cotton, linen or wool so if that is what you intend to use it with then a normal clothes iron will be better suited.
They take longer to heat up than a regular iron but they are small and easy to store.
How To Buy The Right Iron
How to buy the right clothes iron is really a personal decision. You have to think about what type of work you do and how often you are going to be using your clothes iron. Do you need it to reach high spaces, or just something lightweight?
It is helpful to think about what type of fabric you would like to use it on and then match the type of clothes iron that has the features that will suit your needs.
If you are unsure, look at a variety of irons and compare the features that they have. Always remember to consider safety first when shopping for an iron, because it is better to be safe than sorry!
The cord is on the iron
You should check how long the cord is on the clothes iron before purchasing it. It will make a difference if you plan to iron while standing on a ladder or high chair. You may also need a longer cord if you wish to carry it around the house when you are doing other chores. If this is important, make sure that you check how long the cord is before buying a clothes iron.
The temperature settings
The temperature settings on an iron should be easy to change and control. The iron should also heat up quickly and evenly throughout the surface. If you are not sure about the temperature settings or levels, check some specialty stores to examine different irons and find out which ones have temperature controls that will suit your needs best.
Fabric guides should be present on all clothes irons so you can ensure even heating on all fabrics. Some may have an additional steam function and others will offer a variety of features that come with the iron in order to adjust to your needs.
Clothes irons should be medium weight, but not too heavy in comparison to their size. Consider this if you would like it for travel purposes or your own home use. If you want to buy a travel iron, make sure that it is easy to carry around before purchasing it.
A clothes iron should be lightweight and easy to handle in order to reduce hand fatigue. There is nothing worse than finding an iron that is easy to use but gives you blisters and aching hands after extended use.
The surface iron
The surface area on a clothes iron will have an effect on how well it can reach the high spaces of garments. The larger the surface area, the better it will be able to reach higher areas or shirt collars that are hard to iron with other irons.
The steam holes
The steam holes on the iron should be small enough so the force of the steam does not cause burns or accidents. You can always choose an iron if it has larger or smaller holes for the amount of controlled steam that you need to get wrinkles out of a garment.
Here are some other answers to frequently asked questions about ironing:
How do you iron a tie?
A tie is much like the shirt that it is attached to. It should be smooth and wrinkle free for professional outings or formal occasions. You can use your normal clothing iron on a low setting (or steam button, which some irons come with this feature), and gently run the iron over your tie.
How do you hand iron a shirt?
Hand ironing a shirt is almost like hand ironing anything else, except that it takes longer to make sure that all sections are properly pressed. Use your hands to smooth out wrinkles on collars, sleeves and each section of the shirt. If you have a lot of time, this is an ideal method for those who want to save money on dry cleaning bills or do not have access to an ironing board in their residence hall room or dorm.
How safe are steam irons?
As with anything that contains water, safety precautions should be taken when using a steam iron. Make sure that the cord is in a safe place, and if you are using it for an extended amount of time, make certain that there is nothing that will cause you to trip on it or get caught up in the fast moving steam. Make sure that the iron does not fall into water when filling it with water (if needed) or when dumping out leftover water when completing your ironing task.
How far in advance should you press a dress shirt?
If you are planning to wear a shirt in the next day or so, then it is not necessary to get out your iron and start pressing immediately. Dress shirts can be wrinkled from simply being packed away, so keep this in mind when trying to determine what clothing items can be stored with others without having to worry about wrinkles.
How do you iron lace?
Lace is very delicate and should only be hand-ironed if it is not possible or has been determined unnecessary to use an iron on higher settings. To ensure the safety of your piece of lace, use a handkerchief or parchment paper to cover the lace. Tuck in edges of the material and begin running your hands over it carefully and slowly until all wrinkles are gone.
Keep wrinkle free clothing in its own separate storage area if possible. Do not place it next to clothing that is bulky or thick, because this will cause wrinkles to form on your clothing.
How do you clean a steam iron?
On average, it is best to clean out the steamer once per month or as often as necessary. If there are hard water deposits inside of it, this can be more often than monthly and should be checked more frequently for buildup that needs attention.
The easiest way is to turn your iron off and let it cool down. Once it has cooled all the way, take out a rag or cloth that is lint free and use this to wipe any residue or hard water deposits away from the inside of the appliance. The outside should be wiped clean as well with an appropriate cleaning agent if there are any stains present on the iron.
You will want to let the steam iron dry overnight before using it again if you have cleaned out any water deposits with vinegar or lemon juice, because these liquids can cause rusting in your appliance if they are not allowed to air out properly
As you can see, the art of ironing is an important aspect of looking professional in today’s world. Whether you are at work, or just need a clean shirt for that next big wedding or date, having your clothing wrinkle free can make all the difference on how someone perceives you when meeting them in person for the first time.
As with anything, practice makes perfect, so if you are new to ironing your clothing or need a refresher on the best techniques for getting the wrinkles out of delicate pieces like lace and satin fabric, be sure to put these tips into action and watch as your wardrobe comes together beautifully in no time at all!