Doing the ironing is surprisingly easy if you have the right conditions – lots of steam, gently washing and air-dried laundry. Here two experts explain the best methods for ironing out wrinkles more easily.
There are people, it is said, who like to iron.
Yes, you read that correctly.
This tribe irons to unwind after a busy day, for instance. But most of us, it’s safe to say, look at a pile of freshly washed laundry that needs ironing with only slightly more anticipation than going to the dentist’s. Are there ways to make the job quicker and easier?
Yes! Here are four helpful tips for smoother clothing:
Tip 1: Wash clothes more gently
Your washing machine’s spin cycle whirls the heck out of – and creases and wrinkles into – your clothes as they’re forced against the drum. So, to save yourself some work at the ironing board, “reduce the spin speed,” says fashion consultant Stephanie Grupe.
And don’t overload the drum – leave about a handbreadth of space under the top of the drum so that the clothes aren’t squeezed against it during the wash cycle and can tumble properly.
“A teaspoon of washing soda, three tablespoons of vinegar, or fabric softener help prevent wrinkling as well, says Grupe, since the softer the fabrics become, the less they’ll need ironing.
It’s also important to remove the clothes immediately from the drum after washing and “then shake them out well and smooth them out,” Grupe says. Wrinkles in wet laundry will set as it dries.
Tip 2: Flowing air during drying
Fabrics become softer and stretchier – and less wrinkly – when they’re exposed to plenty of air during drying, whether in a dryer or outdoors in the fresh air.
Tip 3: Iron with steam
Laundry is easier to iron when it’s damp. If it isn’t, you can sprinkle it with water beforehand or, even better, use a steam iron.
“A steam iron that produces 90 grams of steam per minute is all you need to only have to iron just one side of clothing,” says Martina Schäfer from the German Society for Home Economics (DGH). You should start at the front of the garment, and delicate fabrics should be ironed inside out.
Grupe advises unbuttoning shirts and blouses before ironing. “Iron the small sections first: the collar, yoke, cuffs, and – inside out – button placket,” she says. “Then do the larger areas: sleeves, back, and finally the front.”
Speaking of steam, the bathroom is a good place to hang up some laundry items: “Rising steam from a hot shower can smooth out a blouse,” points out Schäfer.
Tip 4: Iron only what’s exposed
Although you may have been taught otherwise, you don’t have to iron socks or underwear – they smooth out when worn. The same goes for close-fitting T-shirts and other undergarments.
What’s more, Grupe says, “If you know you’re going to be wearing a blazer all day, you only have to iron the parts of the shirt or blouse underneath that will be showing: the collar, cuffs and button placket.”
But to look your best, she adds, you should always make sure that your outer clothing is wrinkle- and crease-free.
If you want to quickly get rid of a few creases, you can also use a garment steamer, Grupe says: “Instead of washing garments you’ve worn only briefly, spray them with fine, hot steam.”
This, she notes, can be very helpful in smoothing out viscose tops with draping or pleats.
And after you iron clothes with a steam iron, Schäfer says you should allow a little time for residual moisture in them to evaporate before putting them in the wardrobe.