The stylish person's guide to ironing and pressing

Ironing and pressing is essential to looking stylish, but it can also damage your favourite clothes. But with these tips, you can look good and protect your clothes at the same time.

The stylish person's guide to ironing and pressing

Know your fabrics

  • Most synthetic fabrics iron best when dry.
  • Natural fabrics wrinkle more easily. They often need a steam-spray iron or gentle misting  from a spray bottle.
  • Wools, tweeds and corduroys take nicely to a dampened pressing cloth, which adds moisture and protects the fabric's finish.
  • Leather, vinyl, rubber and elastic are not meant to be ironed.

Become an iron master

  • To avoid spraying or steaming altogether, set the dryer for a shorter drying time so garments come out slightly damp — the ideal condition for ironing.
  • You can sidestep most ironing damage by using low heat settings whenever possible and ironing gently, especially with synthetic fabrics.
  • When garments are pushed and pulled by a heated iron, their fit and finish will suffer, This is especially true with knitted fabrics or those with a loose weave.
  • An iron can harm and even melt buttons and zippers.
  • Never iron delicate trims like lace or sequins.
  • Don't iron clothes when they're dirty. Heat from the iron can set stains permanently.

Ironing or pressing?

  • Ironing involves sliding the iron across the surface of a garment and works best for tightly woven fabrics.
  • Pressing requires lifting the iron and setting it down gently on a garment without moving it over the surface. Pressing works better on knits or fabrics that have a nap, such as corduroy or velvet, since it helps keep the garment's shape.

Make your own pressing cloths

  • Prepackaged, chemically treated pressing cloths are easy to find, but you can make your own.
  • Choose a pressing cloth based on the type of fabric you're ironing — cotton for cottons, wool for woolens, for example.
  • Make sure the pressing cloth is freshly laundered before using.
  • When you're ready to use the cloth, dampen it first by running a wet sponge over it. Then, lay the cloth on the fabric and briefly press the heated iron on it.

Ironing and pressing is absolutely essential, but doing it wrong can damage your clothes. Know your fabrics and whether to iron or press, and you can look good and help your clothes last longer.

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