Ironing like death and taxes is inevitable. Even us singletons from time to time face this seemingly daunting and irrelevant task. If you aren’t blessed with a set of treasury printing plates and a press or have intimate relations with your local dry cleaner, then I’m afraid you have to face checking in to hotel reality and try and tackle the task that polarizes the nation between being therapeutic and reviled.
It may sound blatantly obvious, but if you are going to face up to the problem, you need to purchase a good iron and the heavier the better so that you can glide through wrinkled fabrics like a knife through butter and keep difficult fabrics under control. There is nothing worse than a slept-in looking cotton shirt at a business meeting.
Neither Sackcloth Nor Ashes
Even if you buy an iron with a hotplate with the mass of the sun, what it boils down to (sorry about the pun) is temperature versus fabric. You need to not only read the instruction pamphlet but also ensure you don’t overcompensate with too high a temperature especially with man-made fabrics such as polyester. Always test a small non-visible area of the garment first to ensure heat or pressure doesn’t cause the garment to suffer sheen or melting as the fibres bond together.
Follow dear old grans method and if in doubt use a clean cloth over the garment to absorb the initial heat and pressure. There is an internationally approved label schematic on most garments showing what cleaning procedures can be safely followed. Make sure you use it! But remember raised pile, napped, velvet or embroidered garments should never be ironed and like wool and silk should be steam treated.
Avoid Being a Drip
Many modern irons can use standard tap water and there are descaling functions on most good quality, modern irons and many anti-scaling products to stop your precious pieces becoming water stained by mineral deposits in the water. Most purists still use de-ionized water, that’s the type that used to top up car batteries but now can be found in most stores as an add on to the iron purchase if you’re not sure.
Failing that visit your friendly local garage. You can use a spray bottle to lightly dampen the fabric before ironing, but if you crease the wrong area you can revisit the area by using either a slightly damp clean cloth over the affected fabric area or re-blitz tougher creases with the spray bottled water again. Always test a non-visible area if not sure. The spray bottle can be revitalized with a touch of rose water, not in the iron.
Don’t be Board with Results
The narrow end of the ironing board is most useful for flattening out seams and borders while the main flat surface is for the main body of the garment and sleeves. Some boards are provided with a narrow mini-board that is for sleeves only and its narrow length is self-explanatory. Pleated items can be easily managed by pulling the pleat tight before ironing.
Let Off Some Steam
An old trick of travelling salesmen used to be leaving garments hung up in a bathroom full of steam, but now thankfully less messy and more reliable technology is out there with dedicated steamers. By hanging the garment on the back of a door say, and being gentle with applications even delicate items such as velvet can be tackled safely, but never touch the garment directly with the steamer and always ensure sufficient protection behind the garment to protect doors and walls. Never point a steamer at yourself or anyone else as sometimes they can have a tendency to spit like a cat and hot water in the face can ruin your day.
Hang and Be Damned
Keep freshly steamed or ironed garments hanging on decent clothing hangers in an open area and viola you’re ready to go and brag to your friends about your newfound prowess and you’ll have the evidence to hand.