How to Use a Steam Iron Properly

man using a steam iron

Ironing is rated as one of the most boring household tasks, although, there are people out there who enjoy it. Regardless, wrinkled laundry doesn’t look too good and needs attention, whether you feel like it or not.

This is especially true for work or formal clothing, such as shirts, trousers, and blouses. But with the right ironing tips, removing wrinkles from fabric can be easier, quicker, and dare I say – funner (is that even a word?).

We’ve got lots of tips, tricks, and guidance, to get you using your steam iron properly.

Ironing With or Without Steam

First of all, you should know that there are basically two different types of irons. The classic dry irons have a hot sole, the temperature of which can be adjusted via a thermostat.

Steam irons have a similar soleplate, which, however, is equipped with numerous steam holes. This allows water vapor in the form of hot steam to escape, which helps to straighten clothes.

The volume of steam can be adjusted, depending on how heavily creased your clothes are. Steam irons are generally considered to be more effective than dry irons, but are usually also a bit more expensive.

The big brother to the steam iron is the steam generator iron. This more powerful steam iron is particularly useful if you often iron large quantities of clothing. The station has a significantly larger water tank than a normal steam iron.

In addition, handling is a little easier thanks to the cable, which is often suspended in a bracket and there being no water tank attached to the soleplate.

The point here is, use a steam iron over dry, and utilise the steam features properly for better ironing results.

Check Labels for Ironing Symbols

Before you heat up your iron and press it against any fabrics, you should check the laundry guidance labels. You can find them mostly on a small label stitched into the garment.

In the case of shirts, blouses and T-shirts, for example, the information can often be found in the waist area on one of the side seams. You will find correct directions for washing, drying, and ironing for that specific fabric, in the form of text and symbols.

Look out for the following symbols:

On clothing:

  • Iron without a point: clothes can be ironed
  • Iron crossed out: Do not iron

On the iron:

  • Iron with one point: iron at a low temperature. Suitable for textiles made of man-made fibers.
  • Iron with two points: iron at medium temperature. Suitable for silk and wool.
  • Iron with three points: iron at high temperature. Suitable for cotton and linen.

Preparation Before You Steam Iron

You can save yourself some work by drying and hanging wet laundry properly. The following tips can help make things easier, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to skip ironing entirely.

The laundry you need to irons starts at the washing machine, so set things up properly from the beginning by not overloading your machine, otherwise laundry can get crushed, developing stubborn wrinkles, so with the tumble dryer.

Use a fabric softener if possible. This makes for slightly softer, easier to iron, less wrinkled, fibres.

If you have a tumble dryer, use the correct settings, not just high heat on a timer. Some tumble dryers have a setting for enhanced ironing, which leaves clothes with a slight dampness to them, which makes them easier to iron.

Hang laundry on a hanger directly after the dryer to cool. This helps especially with shirts and blouses. T-shirts should be folded up straight away so that they don’t crease afterwards.
Hang clothes up in the bathroom after washing. The steam that is generated when showering or bathing can smooth the laundry a bit, similar to a steam brush.

Use Dryer Balls

You’ve probably heard of these and passed them up, thinking they were some useless gadget. But tumble dryer balls work by helping fabrics move around while drying, and work to beat out wrinkles. Give them a try!

Using Your Iron Safely

An iron reaches an average temperature of 150°C. At the highest level it can even be 220°C or more. This corresponds roughly to the middle setting on a stove top. The human skin suffers first degree burns at 45°C. Therefore, never touch the bottom of the iron. Even freshly ironed fabrics need a few seconds to cool down.

Other sources of danger are metal applications, rivets, buttons or zippers. If these are heated by the iron, they can also cause burns if they come into contact with them.

Also, be sure not t leave an iron resting on fabric for too long, for obvious reasons. Even robust textiles such as jeans and cotton can be damaged by the high temperatures after just a few minutes.

Sort your laundry in advance. You sometimes have to iron items of clothing at different temperatures, that’s why it’s so important to check the label.

If you want to iron something out of the wardrobe, dampen the fabric a little with the water spray nozzle at the front of the iron. Or, use an empty spray bottle and fill with clean water, as you’ll have better spray coverage this way.

Use a flat surface for ironing. An ironing board is of course ideal. If you don’t have this, find a suitable surface, such as a table or hardwood floor, and line it with some fabric. You can then iron your clothes on it.

Lay your clothes as flat as possible. Always straighten it a little with your free hand, otherwise you will iron creases into the fabric yourself, instead of out.

When ironing, always start with the protruding parts. These are sleeves, the collar and the like.
You should iron delicate textiles inside out. This way the colors stay a little fresher and the prints are not damaged.

Use special ironing water for ironing instead of plain tap water. This will prevent your device from calcifying too quickly.

Take Some Stress Out of Ironing

Aluminium foil: The thin metal foil reflects the heat. If you put the film under the ironing, you usually only need to iron it from one side. Because aluminum foil works like a second iron. You can either place the film under an item of clothing each time, or you stretch it over the entire length of the ironing board and pull the cover over it. So you can use the foil several times.

Spray bottle: If you are not working with a steam iron, or your steam iron spray feature is weak, you can moisten already dried laundry with a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with warm water, this will penetrate the fibres of the fabrics faster. Usually it is enough to just spray the liquid on the stubborn wrinkles.

Starch: In most supermarkets, or online retailers like Amazon, you can buy starch to spray on and put it on the laundry before ironing. The starch prevents ironed clothing from creasing again when worn and gives shirts and blouses more support.

In addition, the laundry can be ironed more easily and quickly. As an alternative to spray starch, you can also use liquid starch or pure starch in dry form. Liquid starch can be put directly into the washing machine with the laundry. Some machines also have a “Starch” program. Use this when you’ve added starch to the wash.

Navigating Your Steam Iron

Of course, ironing is not just flattening out fabrics like towels and pillow cases, there are tricky parts to work around, such as…

Button strips: These are first ironed from the left, i.e. on the back, and then from the right.

Imprints: Some plastic, rubber, inked transfers do not tolerate heat. This includes a lot of imprints found on t-shirts. You can simply iron the corresponding garments inside out. If you want to iron on right side out, you can place a damp cotton cloth between the iron and the printed design.

Embroidery: you should iron inside out here too, or cover with a light protective layer of cloth. To prevent the patches from being flattened later, try a tea-towel as an ironing pad.

Black fabrics: Ironing dark clothes like black denim and cotton can be marked by a hot iron. To avoid this, you should either iron inside out or place a damp cotton cloth between the iron soleplate and the fabric.

Protruding parts such as sleeves, ribbons, collars or inside pockets: Always iron these sections first. It is best to work on large areas of fabric last so that they do not crumple again.

Ironing Fun

Like everything else, ironing is much easier when you set the groundwork. Make the time as pleasant as possible: It can be with good music, an exciting audio book or a nice chat. It doesn’t necessarily get the job done faster, but it feels like it.

And the fact that time is relative is also shown in the morning: in the extra quarter of an hour that you no longer have to spend ironing, it is especially comfortable in bed.

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