Love it or hate it, ironing is one of those chores that can be escaped for only so long—usually, until a Pisa-like leaning tower of wrinkled trousers, table linens, and window panels threatens to take over a corner of the bedroom. Luckily, ironing aficionado Annie has some tips to make the process a lot more pleasant and efficient.
Before you get started, make sure that the garment or product’s care tag says it can be ironed. Never iron—only steam—items that don’t specifically say they can be ironed, or you might wind up with a very expensive mistake. Also make sure you’ve got several free hangers or hanging spots nearby, so you’re not scrambling to find space for a freshly pressed, and rapidly re-wrinkling, bedcover. Here are a bunch of other tips to make ironing day that much easier.
Never use tap water in your iron! The minerals in tap water can cause deposits that will clog up your iron over time, and can spit ugly yellow stains onto your whites . . . which will turn Ironing Day into Ironing and Stain-Removal Day. Instead, use distilled water or even boiled water that has been allowed to cool.
Unless you need the item right away, try to wait until you have at least three items to iron. You’ll be less likely to procrastinate if you’ve got several pieces to take care of at once.
Turn the task into a fun event by setting up your gear in front of the TV and flipping on Netflix, like Annie does, or else pop in your earbuds and listen to your favorite podcast.
Start with low-temperature items first, and progress through to high-temperature items. Because we’re all about efficiency.
Some folks love to iron, but if you’re not one of them, try a garment steamer instead. These handy units can be wheeled in and out of different rooms, and you can usually steam the fabric—whether a window panel, a sheet, or a dress—wherever it’s hanging. No bulky ironing table required.
Keep a squirt bottle filled with distilled water nearby, in case you come across any extra-resistant wrinkles. Never saturate the fabric; a few sprays is usually enough to help relax the fabric.
Annie can’t do without the crisp feel of a freshly pressed sheet. That said, she knows from experience that there are times—like when you’ve got a dinner party on the way—when ironing the entire sheet set just isn’t practical. For times like these, she opts to press only the pillowcases and the part of the flat sheet that is turned back over the bedcovers.
For garments and home décor in dark colors, especially black, always iron on the wrong side of the fabric. This will prevent the metal of the iron from creating shiny streaks on the visible side of the fabric.
For any delicate details, like embroidery, or appliques, place a sheet or smooth towel over the fabric before ironing, to keep them flat.
Got pleats? Use paperclips, clipped perpendicular to the pleat and spaced out every 8 inches or so, to flatten them out while ironing, and you’ll keep those sharply pressed lines looking smart every time.
Clean your iron every fourth or fifth use to remove any colors that may have transferred to the steel or any deposits that might be forming. To do this, Annie soaks a clean rag in a bowl of lukewarm water and 1 cup baking soda, then wrings it out and wipes it over the iron several times. If you spy any pesky deposits in the holes of the iron, dip cotton swabs in the same solution and use them to target the deposits.
Once you’ve ironed something, if you’re not planning to use it right away, hang it up to prevent wrinkles from resetting. This is tricky with larger items like sheets and curtains, but you can temporarily drape them over doors and large tables. If needed to cut down on hanging real estate, fold the item in half once, then hang.