Iron Settings

A Handy Checklist of Ironing Tips

It’s probably safe to say we are no longer the generation of clothes ironers like our mothers or grandmothers. (Who remembers ironed sheets or—gasp—blue jeans?) With no-iron shirts on the market and a general acceptance of wearing relaxed, or perhaps even slightly wrinkled, clothing, many irons sit idle.

But, there are those times when clothes sport wrinkles that just won’t make the cut when you want to look your best. For those times, we’ve developed a handy checklist of ironing tips—along with an iron temperature guide—to ensure your next ironing project goes off without a … scorch.

Set yourself up for success

If you plan to iron more than one piece of clothing, and especially if you have a pile of wrinkled clothing, start by sorting the clothes. You’ll want to sort by fabric because various fabrics require different iron settings. The iron temperature for polyester, for example, is lower than linen or cotton but higher than nylon.

If you’re unsure of your fabric type, check the label. There, you may even find instructions on whether the garment can be ironed and, if so, at what temperature. If your label has iron symbols, here’s a quick guide to what they mean:

  • An iron with an X means the garment should not be ironed because it may cause damage.
  • An iron with one dot requires the garment be pressed at a low temperature. Avoid steam.
  • An iron with two dots signals a medium temperature use. Do not apply heavy pressure.
  • An iron with three dots signifies a high temperature use with steam, if desired.

Matching iron temperature with your fabrics

Start by setting your iron to the lowest temperature needed. Iron garments in order from lowest to highest temperature using this guide:

Acetate, acrylic, nylon and beaded fabrics: Because these fabrics are most susceptible to scorching, and beads can be damaged, use the lowest setting at below 110 degrees and iron the “wrong” side of the fabric. You may also want to protect the fabric by placing a cotton cloth between the garment and iron. A flour sack kitchen towel works great as a barrier. Do not use steam.

Polyester, silk, satin and wool: These fabrics can withstand a medium iron temperature between 110 and 150 degrees. Silk, satin and wool should be ironed on the wrong side of the fabric or with a cloth barrier. Also, avoid steam or wetting these fabrics. For polyester, however, it’s best to dampen the fabric with a spray bottle or your iron’s spray button, if it has one.

Linen, cotton and denim: These fabrics hold wrinkles well, so they require the highest heat, from 150 to 200 degrees. If needed, you may also use steam or spray water from a bottle or your iron. Steam loosens fibers, helping to quickly get out all the kinks.

What you shouldn’t iron—sequins and velvet: An iron shouldn’t touch these items, even if you press inside out. Instead, try steaming with your iron (but don’t touch!) or, better yet, a steamer. In a pinch, you could try hanging the garments in your shower with hot water running. The cons of this method: You must be cautious not to get water on your clothes, and it could take as long as 15 minutes for the wrinkles to release.

Final tips

If you accidentally miss a more delicate item once you’ve boosted your iron temperature, adjust the temp to the appropriate level and wait five minutes before ironing. And, when you’ve finished the job, unplug the iron and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before storing it.

We hope this guide leaves you wrinkle free!