Ironing is a task that some people hate, and others love. Transforming a basket of crumpled laundry into a neat, tidy pile of clothes can be very satisfying; and because the action of ironing is quietly repetitive, many people find that they can happily watch television, listen to music or just think Great Thoughts while getting through the ironing basket.

Even so, don’t iron more than you have to:

  • Many types of clothes don’t need ironing at all – socks, underwear, most sports clothes, fleeces…
  • You can get away without ironing some casual clothes if you smooth them out and fold them neatly after drying
  • Hanging clothes up in a steamy bathroom helps to remove creases

When you do need to iron, you will find that it’s quite straightforward and with a little bit of practice you will soon get the idea.

The two main ingredients for effective ironing are:

  • Using the correct iron temperature for different fabrics
  • Using the correct ironing technique for different items


  • Modern irons have different temperature settings for different fabrics, which you adjust with a dial
  • A light will normally come on when the iron is turned on, and turn off when the right temperature is reached
  • Thicker fabrics such as cotton or linen need to be ironed at a higher temperature than silks or polyester (which may need no ironing at all)
  • You will save energy and make your clothes last longer if you iron at the lowest possible effective temperature
  • Always start with a low temperature, and increase it – gradually- only if your ironing is having no effect
  • If you’re ironing a basket of clothes, start with the thinner items that require a lower heat while the iron warms up; and turn the iron off before the last one or two items, as there should still be enough heat in the iron after a long session.


  • Place the item down on the ironing board and smooth it out
  • Iron as large an area as you can, using one hand to operate the iron with steady, back and forth strokes, and the other to keep the item smooth and as taut as possible
  • When you’ve finished one area, put the iron down on its heel or in a stand, and use both hands to stretch out another area ready to iron
  • It is easier to iron clothes which are slightly damp. If you have a steam iron, you can either set it to keep a steady flow of water or spritz water occasionally
  • Either fold or hang up each item as soon as you’ve ironed it, to keep it looking its best.
  • Shirts: these are probably the most complicated things you will iron and best taken in stages.  The classic order is collar, cuffs, sleeves, yoke, main body of shirt, then in between the buttons
  • Dark trousers or skirts: are best ironed inside out, to avoid them becoming shiny

Always remember:

  • Don’t leave your iron unattended
  • Make sure you turn your iron off when you have finished

Have a look at our other laundry pages as well: