Without a doubt, ironing is one of the most dreaded, time-consuming household chores going – according to a YouGov study*, 50 per cent of us dislike it.
And while we can’t wave a magic wand and shrink your ironing mountain into a molehill, our ironing tips and clever laundry hacks are sure to help you get the job done that bit quicker.
13 essential ironing tips
1. Invest in a good ironing board
Decent tools are half the battle. Make sure to use a well-padded board with a smooth, tight-fitting, scorch-resistant cover.
Some boards now come in non-stick finishes (which prevent clothes from clinging to the board) or even have reflective surfaces that allow you to create more heat and make the job easier. Make sure it’s at a comfortable height before getting started too.
And while you’re getting your tools in order, it might be worth learning how to clean your iron so it’s in tip top shape.
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2. Make friends with steam As well as being ergonomically designed and comfortable to hold, a good iron should have a high steam output (over 50g/minute) to maximise its crease-removing capabilities.
If you tend to have a lot of laundry or regularly have to iron large items, it might be worth considering a steam generator iron. These come with separate water tanks and are able to put out more steam at a higher pressure, which will make the job much less arduous.
3. Try the tinfoil hack to double your ironing power
This is hands down one of our favourite ironing tips: for hardy, wrinkled fabrics such as cotton and linen, put a strip of tinfoil (shiny side up) under the ironing board cover.
This can double the returns on your ironing efforts by applying heat from two directions at once. Genius.
4. Reduce creases before you even start ironing
Fewer creases = less ironing. Simple things like using a fabric conditioner (which helps smooth out fibres) and making sure to remove your clothes from the washing machine right away will go a long way to reducing the number of wrinkles in your laundry. Try to hang your laundry out to dry as soon as it’s done too, as gravity will work its magic best on damp clothing.
5. Use iron-friendly dryer settings
Read up on what your washing machine symbols mean and check to see if your dryer offers an iron setting, which will minimise creases. Don’t worry if it doesn’t, just find a setting that leaves them ever-so-slightly damp before hanging them out to help creases fall out naturally.
6. Dried in creases? Don’t panic, just spritz
If you didn’t get a chance to hang or iron your clothing right away, don’t fret. Instead of starting all over again, simply spray some water over the wrinkled areas to dampen them and pop them into the dryer for five minutes or so, which will loosen out any kinks and make them easier to iron.
7. Give your iron time to warm up (and cool down)
Start too soon and your iron won’t be at the optimum heat level, leading to sore arms and frustration.
Use the warm up time to sort your laundry into piles by fabric type – e.g. all delicates together, all cotton shirts in a pile, bedding in another – so you’re not constantly switching between settings. Start with the lowest temperature items (so you have the least time to wait) and then increase as you go. If you happen to start on a high heat setting, make sure you give your iron time to cool down before moving on to more delicate items.
8. Choose the right temperature for the material
Most irons explain which setting to use for which type of material and this is key for getting through the job as quickly as possible. As a general rule of thumb, cotton and linen can take a hot setting, while silk, nylon, polyester, other synthetics and delicates need a cooler temperature. Do check the care label just to be on the safe side.
9. Use an ironing spray
Almost all fabrics are easier to iron while slightly damp, so give them a light spritz of water before you start.
For even better results, DIY your very own ironing spray: simply mix one part white vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle. You can even add a few drops of your favourite essential oil for sweet-smelling linens.
10. Master your ironing technique
Lay clothes along the length of the ironing board and use long, straight strokes while ironing for best results.
Try not to jiggle the iron from side to side as it might introduce new creases that will be even trickier to remove.
11. Remove scorch marks with white vinegar
Accidentally scorched a beloved shirt? Wipe the mark with a clean cloth dipped in white vinegar.
A few wipes should do it (just be sure to use a clean piece of cloth each time so you don’t spread the mark), then simply rinse with cold water.
12. Prevent that just-ironed sheen
Using too high a heat setting on synthetics fabrics like polyester can leave your clothing sporting a not-so-stylish shine.
To prevent this, simply turn synthetic clothing inside out before ironing.
13. Steer clear of buttons, zips and other decorative bits
To avoid unsightly marks, don’t iron over zips and buttons. Sequins, decorative stones, fine lace and beading should also all be spared.
For super smooth pants, turn your pockets inside out before ironing over the area.
How to iron tricky items
How to iron a shirt Whether it’s dress shirt, work shirt, school shirt or blouse, the method is pretty much the same:
Unbutton the cuffs, lay them flat and iron them.
Place one arm of the sleeve on the ironing board and smooth it as flat as possible before ironing from the middle into the armpit. Then iron from the middle down to the cuff. Don’t iron across the edge unless you want a crease.
Flip it over to do the other side and then repeat with the other sleeve. (sleeves are a lot easier to iron with a sleeve board so if you iron a lot of shirts, you might want to invest in one.)
Flip up the collar and iron from one side to the middle, and then the other side to the middle. Fold it down and iron again if you like it to have that sharp crease.
Pull the shirt over the end of the board, so you can iron the yoke (the piece of fabric around the neck and shoulders).
Lay the shirt on the board so the buttons are facing up. Smooth it flat before ironing. Work the point of your iron between the buttons rather than ironing over the top of them.
Repeat with the other front section of your shirt.
Lay the shirt over the board so that the back of it is facing you and iron it in sections.
Hang your shirt up as soon as you’ve finished to preserve your handiwork.
How to iron a duvet cover
One of the hardest things to handle with duvet covers is all the material. To stop it all spilling out on the floor, move the ironing board so it’s next to your dining table, lengthways.
Fold your duvet cover in half and half again, lengthways, so it’s long, but thin enough to fit on your board.
Start ironing at one end, with the rest of the material hanging down towards your feet.
Smooth the folded duvet across the board as you iron it in sections, laying the ironed part on the dining table in front of you so it doesn’t get re-creased.
You may need to then iron the other side, or even open it up, refold the other way and iron it again, depending on how thick the material is. Make sure you don’t iron over the edges unless you want a line running down your cover.
How to iron a fitted sheet
The easiest way to iron a fitted sheet is to do the corners first. First off, fold your sheet in half so that you have two pairs of corners.
Stretch one pair over the end of your ironing board and smooth out the wrinkles before ironing. You’ll need to keep pulling at the material so it’s lying flat on the board.
When you’ve done both sets of corners, it’s time to move to the rest of the sheet. Keep it folded to do this and iron it in sections.
Depending on the heat you’re using and the thickness of the sheet, you might need to flip it over to do the other side.
Now that you’ve got a crease-free finish, you’ll no doubt want to figure out how to fold a fitted sheet too.
How to get creases out of delicate clothing
Silk, lace or cashmere can require special treatment and may need hand washing. Streamline the process by:
Reducing drying time and giving small garments a quick whirl in a salad spinner.
Putting clothes on hangers so the creases drop out.
Smoothing out delicates or wool jumpers that must be dried flat, arranging and gently shaping them on a towel or a flat mesh rack.
Gently stroking wrinkles in really delicate fabrics with an ice cube wrapped in a wash cloth, then using the iron at its lowest heat setting.
Answers to your top ironing questions
Is it better to iron clothes inside out?
Ironing clothes inside out helps you to avoid marks and that just-ironed sheen, especially on synthetic fabrics. It’s also a good idea if you’re not sure what heat setting the garment can take: turn it inside out, start with the lowest temperature and then work your way up.
What is the easiest way to iron clothes?
The easiest way to iron clothes is to start with as few wrinkles as possible: this means taking them out of the washing machine as soon as they are done, shaking them well before hanging them out to dry and giving them a little spritz with some ironing water before ironing them using the correct temperature setting. For small, hard-to-access areas, using hair straighteners might make things easier, but don’t let them get too hot.
What should you do to have smooth and easy ironing?
It’s all in the prep: a decent iron, a sturdy, well-padded ironing board, a spray bottle filled with ironing water and a well organised pile of laundry will go a long way to easing your load. Having Netflix or a favourite podcast on while you work can’t hurt either.
How can I spend less time ironing?
Want to avoid ironing altogether? Don’t miss these clever tricks for getting wrinkles out of clothes.
* Source: YouGov ironing report