Sending clothes to a professional dry cleaner will get the job done, but this will turn into an expensive habit after a while. Before somebody begins to iron, the appliance needs to be plugged in, adjusted to the correct setting and allowed to preheat for a few minutes. Here are some tips that will make ironing clothes quicker and more effective.
The Iron and the Proper Heat Setting
Fill the water reservoir of the iron almost to the top with cool water. Some types of irons recommend distilled water, which is a good idea if the tap water is hard. Minerals will build up in the iron over time and the steam function won’t work. Eventually the iron will spit, leaving yellow rust-like stains on clothes.
If water sizzles on the surface of the iron, it’s ready. Some types of clothes have a high tolerance for heat; others shouldn’t be put under a hot iron at all. Cottons and linens will look good if ironed under high heat. Wools call for medium heat and polyester, silk and nylon are best ironed under a low setting. Always check the label beforehand to avoid damaging the fabric.
How to Iron a Shirt
Unbutton the shirt, and leave the front and sleeves hanging over the sides of the board. Work on the collar first. When it’s flat on the surface of the board, run the iron over it with a few quick strokes on the front and back. Never let the iron sit for too long anywhere on the shirt, because it could burn the garment.
Next, it’s best to iron the yoke, which joins the collar with the body of the shirt. Drape the left shoulder of the shirt over the pointed end of the board and carefully iron it from the collar to the shoulder seam. Do the same with the opposite side. Then, iron the sleeves. Place one sleeve along the length of the board and and iron the inside and outside of the cuff. Iron the whole sleeve from the cuff to the shoulder and in reverse. Repeat this step with the other sleeve.
The body is the easiest part. With short, careful strokes, start up near the collar and go down on each side and leave the spaces between the buttons until the end. Hang up the shirt immediately and button the top and middle buttons to prevent it from wrinkling again.
How to Iron a Pair of Pants
As with shirts, ironing a pair of pants is easiest when starting from the top. Turn the pants inside out, and lay them lengthwise on the ironing board. Start by ironing the waistband, then work on the pockets, fly area, seams and hems.
Turn them right side out and hold the legs by the botton hem with the inner and outer seams lined up together. This will help to get a straight crease down the front of the leg. If the pants already have a crease built in, this is the way they need to be folded. Otherwise, there will be two creases.
Lay them down on the board, with the legs together. Fold the top leg up and carefully iron the inside of the leg on the bottom. Lay the top leg back down and iron it up to the top. Turn the pants over and repeat this step on the opposite side. There should be a single crease going right down the middle. Hang them up right away, preferably with some pant hangers.
Maintaining the Iron
A good way to keep the iron in top condition is to pour white vinegar into the reservoir. When it’s a quarter of the way full, turn the iron on to the steam setting. Iron a clean towel until the tank is empty. Doing this regularly will prevent the build-up of mineral deposits. Run clean water through the iron to get rid of the vinegary odor.