Use Your Steam Iron Properly
Steam irons are essential items in every home. Almost everything we do with clothing seems to cause a crease, whether you’ve just bought a new item of clothing, unpacked after a trip, or taking down the laundry. Having a steam iron and a few additional items ready to use in your house will prevent unsightly creases and can help you feel more confident and comfortable in your clothes.
Ironing clothes is often seen as a grown up or even daunting aspect of housework to many people who haven’t done it before, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Ironing clothes using your clothes steamer is just another way of looking after the items you wear and can give them extra longevity.
Before using a steam iron, you’ll need an ironing board complete with a cushioned cover or padded insert. This allows you to iron clothing items without worrying about an imprint coming through from the surface below. Iron covers are also designed to withstand heat more than other materials and therefore help to reduce the risk of fire.
If you wish to iron suits or delicate materials, you’ll want to get yourself a protective mesh ironing cloth. The mesh fabric is placed over the material to protect it from tearing or burning and to prevent the item (particularly suits) from developing a glossy finish.
Using a Steam Iron
A steam iron heats water to produce steam from the soleplate which can then be used on fabric to remove wrinkles. Some irons come with a removable water tank while others require water to be poured in using a container with a small spout. When filling your iron with cold water, ensure the device is switched off and unplugged.
After filling the water tank (and placing it back in the iron), the device can then be plugged into the mains and switched on. Set the iron to the correct heat based on the material you’re about to iron. If you’re unsure exactly, look at the clothing label before setting the temperature. Most irons have heat presets so you don’t have to worry about specific temperatures. A light will then turn on to indicate the iron is heating up and will then turn off when the iron is ready to be used.
As the iron heats up on the heel of the board, you should have time to spread the item of clothing flat across the ironing board. Start by ironing gently in straight strokes, avoiding awkward ridges like button plackets, zips or waistbands. Move the fabric as required to reach other areas of the clothing, each time ensuring the fabric is flat against the board to prevent ironing creases into clothes. If you accidentally make a crease appear, simply move the fabric so it lays flat then iron it again. If your iron has the option to release a jet of steam from the soleplate, use this to combat tough wrinkles.
When you’re finished ironing, switch the device off and unplug it from the mains as it cools on the heel of the ironing board. You should only store the iron when it has completely cooled down.
- Unfold shirt collars and iron them when flat to remove creases. If the collar doesn’t fold back easily, iron it again, this time leaving it folded and gently following the curve of the fabric.
- Fold suit/smart trousers so the seams are touching then iron to create a straight line down the front and back of the trouser leg to keep their formal shape.
- Use the water spray found on most irons to steam particularly stubborn creases.
- Avoid ironing over buttons, this can damage the button or snap the thread underneath.
- Avoid ironing zips or metal buttons, this can damage the iron’s soleplate.
Can I leave water in a steam iron?
There isn’t much reason against removing water from a steam iron after it’s been used. As the water is heated to produce steam, it is sterilized and safe for its intended use. However, if you have a steam iron with a removable tank and wish to replace the water after each use, there’s no harm in that either. Just ensure your iron is only ever filled with cold clean water to prevent any damage to the device itself and your clothes.
How long should a steam iron last?
The life expectancy of a steam iron depends on the build quality and is therefore often associated with price. A low range iron may only last a year or so with regular use. However, if you consider a steam iron as an investment into your clothes (as you should), a higher quality iron should last up to 5 to 10 years. If you’re comfortable and able to pay a little extra, you can easily find yourself a high-quality iron with a warranty and all the features you need.
Using a steam iron is an easy and essential skill to make you feel more confident in your clothes while giving your clothing a new lease of life.