Easy Fixes for Clothes Irons

Few people enjoy ironing, but follow these simple ironing tips and techniques and you will work through the clothes pile in short order.

Easy Fixes for Clothes Irons

My clothes iron is dirty

Clean the base for a smoother press

Over time, the base of your iron will become coated with heat-fused dirt and grime. This will tend to make the iron drag, rather than glide, across your clothes and may even deposit gunk on your clean garments.

  • Give the base a routine clean with a soft cloth moistened with white vinegar. If you need more cleaning power, dab a little baking soda onto the cloth. Never use a scouring pad on the base — you'll ruin the iron.
  • For an even quicker clean, sprinkle coarse salt onto a cotton towel laid over your ironing board. Set your iron to its hottest setting, with the steam turned off, and run it over the salt.
  • If the base is covered in waxy or oily deposits, set it to its maximum temperature and iron over some newspaper until the mess disappears.
  • If the base has burnt-on marks, switch the iron off and allow it to cool. Use masking tape and newspaper to cover every part of the iron except the base. Wearing rubber gloves, take it outdoors and spray oven cleaner onto the base; wait a few minutes before wiping it away with a moist cloth.

My iron won’t produce steam

Unclog the lime from its steam ports

Fill your iron with a 1:1 mixture of water and white vinegar. Turn on the iron and place it on a wire rack in a well-ventilated room. Allow the iron to steam for 15 minutes or until it runs dry. Refill it with water and repeat to clear the iron of vinegar.

Always use boiled or distilled water to fill your steam iron — you'll reduce the deposits that can clog up the vents.

My ironing takes forever

Boost your ironing speed and efficiency

  • Take the cover off your ironing board and roll a layer of aluminum foil — shiny side up — over the surface of the board. Fold the foil neatly round the edges of the board, then replace the cover. The foil will reflect heat back up from the board, making ironing more efficient.
  • Stop waiting for your iron to heat up and cool down to match the temperatures recommended for different fabrics. Start your ironing session with clothes that need a cool iron, and work up to those that need the highest setting.
  • Iron shirts when they are still slightly damp — if they are too dry you'll work much harder to get rid of creases.
  • When ironing trousers, turn them inside out and lay them flat, one leg on top of the other, with the seams aligned. Fold the top leg back and iron the bottom leg. Repeat on the other leg.
  • When ironing shirts, start with the collar and cuffs. Follow the shirt's existing creases, and always hang up the shirt properly in your wardrobe as soon as you're finished.
  • Always iron black or dark fabrics inside out to avoid putting an unwanted sheen on the garment.
  • Iron to and fro, not in circular movements, which can scratch fabrics unpredictably.
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