The irony about ironing is that most people don’t do it much these days. Permanent press fabrics have made it less and less necessary. But if you really like 100% cotton clothes, or if you can’t manage to get your clothes out of the dryer right away, here’s how to go about it.
- Explore the parts of the iron before plugging it in. Practice on a cold iron.
- Mark the controls if necessary.
- Try to get the owner’s manual in your accessible format, and read it. If you know the make and model, you can often find the manual on the manufacturer’s website.
- Many irons turn off automatically if left standing for a while. Look for this safety feature if you’re buying an iron.
- Check the care instructions on your clothes and other items before ironing. Different fabrics require different heat settings. Some fabrics shouldn’t be ironed at all.
- Use a stable, good-quality ironing board. Avoid ironing on a table. Tables can’t be adjusted to the correct height for safety and the heat from the iron can damage the surface. Using an ironing board also makes it easy to keep track of the iron and to position yourself correctly.
- Set the ironing board up as close as possible to an electrical outlet. The cord should have lots of slack when the iron is at the end of the ironing board. It’s easy to trip on a tightly stretched cord and cause serious injury.
- Use a cold iron to practice putting the iron down, reaching to pick it up, etc. Imagine the iron is hot so you don’t get careless when it’s actually on.
- Place the ironing board with the wide end on your dominant side and the narrow end on your non-dominant side.
- Mark off a “hot zone” at the wide end of the board if the board doesn’t have an iron tray. This is where you will place the hot iron every time you set it down. Mark the area by wrapping a short bungee cord around the board. The marked space should be equal to two widths of the iron.
- Always place the iron in its hot zone when you need to pause. The handle should always be toward you and the flat ironing surface facing away from you.
- Stand at the board with your non-dominant hip slightly toward the board where it starts to narrow. This means you’re facing slightly toward the end of the board where the iron is, rather than straight-ahead.
- Put a towel on the board to practice with. Use both hands to smooth out any bunched areas until it is flat on the board.
- Your dominant hand then goes along below the board to locate the hanging iron cord, while the non-dominant hand holds the smoothed fabric in place.
- Trail your hand up the cord to the handle of the iron.
- Before picking up the iron, remember to move your other hand off the board and rest it on the side edge. This avoids accidentally touching the hot iron.
- Move the iron across the fabric, always leading with the pointed end. Use grid or circular patterns to cover the fabric on the board.
- Start by placing the edge of the garment along the board toward you. This means you can pull the garment toward you as you move on to iron the next area. Always put the iron back in the hot zone before you rearrange the fabric on the board.
- When putting the iron down in the hot zone, make sure it is upright and positioned beyond the bungee cord. It will feel unstable if you try to put it down on the bungee cord. This is your cue to move the iron over a little before letting go of the handle.
- Always find the iron again by trailing up the cord from below the board until you reach the handle. Reaching out in space for an iron is very dangerous. Even if you don’t get burned, you risk knocking the iron down.
- When ironing large items, let the fabric cool for a few seconds before moving it.
- Unplug the iron as soon as you’ve finished ironing and leave it to cool for at least ten minutes before putting it away.