I grew up with a mum who loved ironing. It was strange I’ll admit but it gave me a chance to see the better side of a chore and mum always had little tricks to make it easy and effective.
I was thinking recently that I may as well write some posts about the tips and tricks my mum has taught me over time, as well as share some helpful things I’ve stumbled across myself.
So today, I’ve put together 10 tips to help you love ironing… or at least make it easier so you don’t hate it quite so much!
1. Save yourself some de-wrinkling.
when you hang clothes on the line, try hanging business shirts and structured pieces on clothes hangers to keep the shape. Smooth out any creases you can while the garment is still wet – it’ll save you effort later. I always button up the top button on business shirts to help them dry in the right shape.
If you’ve set aside an ‘ironing pile’ or similar, always be sure to store the items flat as possible. You’ll notice how much easier it is to get the wrinkles out when you’re ironing.
2. Think ahead about your setup.
I know ironing takes a while so I like to do it while I watch a show or a movie. Think about where you’d like to iron and setup there. You might like to look out to the backyard or listen to an ebook or the radio. Setup your board close to the things you want to be near while you work. I set my ironing board up in my loungeroom so I can see the TV. I would also suggest being near a coffee table or a surface like that where you can sit some water or starch for the iron and a cuppa or drink for yourself. I never sit anything on the ironing board besides the iron so this is a must for me.
3. Create a mini ‘production line’.
It sounds very involved but it’s not. Just think through the steps of ironing and set up your space accordingly. I keep my ironing basket behind me so it’s within arm’s reach. I keep hangers on the right ride of the board where I can easily grab them and a surface beside them where I can place folded items.
Once something is ironed and on a hanger, I pop it on my handy moveable rack I bought from Ikea. Using a rack or door frame or the back of a chair means you can build up a few items before you walk them to the wardrobe.
Setting it up this way helps establish a bit of a rhythm while you’re working and I think it helps pass the time quicker. Being able to run the ironing through in batches also helps it go quicker as you’re not walking to and from the bedroom between garments.
4. Use both your hands.
This sounds logical but stay with me. What I mean is that when you’re using the iron, be sure not to just push it over the surface of the clothes, but use your other hand to help the iron out. As I slide the iron across, I stretch the fabric out with my other hand to help smooth the surface so the iron doesn’t leave creases. It makes such a difference.
I also lay the clothes out before I press them, smoothing out as many creases as I can with my hands before I use the iron.
If you’re ironing something very wrinkly, be sure to push the iron across with the pointy end going through the wrinkles first. Ironing sideways or using the flat edges of the iron will just create more creases.
5. Smooth and steady is best.
I’ve often seen people iron in quick, short strokes or wiggle the iron side to side as they press the clothes. This doesn’t work! It may feel like you’re doing a much better job if you’re ironing quickly or really getting your muscles into it BUT it’s probably making things much harder. Smooth, long strokes are the way to go. Move the iron in steady lines and take your time.
6. Get a good iron and use all its features.
Irons are worth investing in. I can’t say this enough. A nice heavy, sturdy iron with a few good features is best.
I choose to buy irons with an auto-off feature. I’m quite forgetful so this is helpful if you ever accidentally leave it on – it just turns itself off… magic!
I also think an iron should have a great steaming feature. Most everyday clothes can handle steam and it makes the iron so much more effective. You can even steam delicate garments that are hanging up by pressing the steam button as you glide the warm iron up and down.
Make sure your iron has a non-stick/low-resistance surface. This will prevent sticking and means less cleaning. Also remember to keep the iron at the right temp so you don’t melt your clothes!
It’s not essential, but I would also recommend an iron with an easy-fill feature. The bigger opening prevents spills and makes filling up quicker. I also use a small plastic watering can with a thin spout – it’s a great way to fill my iron without spilling.
The water jet feature is one that a lot of people don’t use but it’s so helpful! If you have a particularly stubborn crease or you’ve ironed a crease in where you don’t want it, just squirt some water on the area and run the iron back over it. The crease will come out no problems.
7. Use tricks.
When ironing business shirts or blouses, turn them over and iron the back of the button panel so you get a nice smooth result without the ‘pinched’ look that comes with dipping the iron in and out between the buttons.
If a shirt has a print on it, turn it over and iron the back of the print. This should ensure you don’t damage it.
Don’t use starch on dark items. Be careful to avoid the white residue that can sometimes come with using a starch spray. I always practise on the inside of the garment in case there’s a problem.
Start ironing business shirts by ironing the underneath of the collar. I find that, depending on the material the shirt’s made of, each shirt needs a different temperature from the iron. Some polyester blends can catch on a hot iron or become shiny. Starting on the underneath of the collar means you can test out the heat without leaving marks where you can see them.
8. Take care of your body.
It’s easy to get very sore if ironing for a long time.
Help your back by wearing a supportive pair of runners and standing on a soft mat if you have floorboards or tiles.
Keep your board at a comfortable height. Too low and you’ll be sore from bending over, too high and your arms will suffer from lifting the heavy iron above where it’s comfortable.
9. Make it fun.
Ironing doesn’t have to be a chore. I love ironing because it’s the perfect time to watch some Gossip Girl or Agatha Christie. In summer, you could even set up your ironing board outside if you have a covered area. Audiobooks and podcasts are great too.
10. Keep on top of it.
Don’t leave things till there are a million items waiting to be pressed. It can feel overwhelming to look at a huge ironing pile. There’s a saying that goes “you can eat an elephant if you eat it one bite at a time” so maybe, divide your ironing into seasons or occasions and do one chunk at a time. I always keep summer dresses packed away while it’s cold and vice versa.
And that’s it!
Do you have any tips for ironing? People are often surprised that I enjoy ironing. Do you like something that most people don’t?
Thanks for reading along and I’ll see you in my next post!