Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All about ironing...

Finally, I'm back with the long promised post about ironing. I have managed to get through my ironing that piled up over Christmas, but after the past week, I have another load already (although not quite as big). There's no denying it... ironing is time consuming. But it really is worth doing a pile of ironing freshly laundered, rather than ironing what you need when you need it. It takes more time to set up the ironing board than ironing one garment, so get them all done while you are at it.

Before I get stuck into the actual act of ironing, I have to mention that by hanging up washing well and removing items from the tumble dryer before they are bone dry will mean you can avoid having to iron all your garments. But work-shirts, smart trousers, 100% cotton and linen items are the exception, they will almost always need ironing. Cotton and linen items are best ironed when still damp. These items will also turn out better if you avoid the spin cycle on your washing machine and allow them to drip-dry.
If you would like a reminder of how to hang washing up, take a look at my previous post about Drying Clothes.

But back to ironing. It is important to have the right equipment, so let's start with that...

  • Do yourself a favour and buy a sturdy ironing board that has many heights to adjust to. That way, if you have allot of ironing to get through you can sit and iron whilst watching a movie (I find Jane Austen dramas particularly good for this!).
  • Next, buy the best quality iron you can afford, and one with a steam function. The more water it holds, the less you will have to refill the water reservoir. Of course, if you have the space a continuous steam iron is even better (sadly for me my linen cupboard is already filled to the brim and I don't have a laundry room)
  • Use an empty spray bottle to fill with water and a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil. The spray allows stubborn creases to iron out easier.
  • Have some hangers, pegs or paperclips (to keep pleats in place), and spray starch at hand.

  • Set yourself up near a table or a bed so that you can use the flat surfaces for folding and stacking. Also, make sure there is somewhere nearby to hang items onto hangers to avoid walking back and forth. It's best if all these are within arms reach.
  • Put on some music, a radio show, even a movie. I love watching old movies while I iron.
  • Organise your pile of ironing so that you start off with the items that need ironing on a cooler setting (usually this tends to be synthetics and silks) ending with items such as linen and cotton that need the hottest setting. This way you can avoid waiting for the iron to cool down and re-heat.
  • Use the steam setting and a spray bottle on stubborn creases.
  • Always immediately hang up or fold items neatly. This is very important, because if you don't do this correctly, you will only need to re-iron items. To see how to fold a t-shirt, go to my my post on Folding t-shirts and Neatly stacked towels (this method can be used for sheets and tablecloths too). Folding items is my favourite part of the laundry process. Make sure shirts are hung up with at least the two top buttons done up.

I really feel that the most important thing about ironing more efficiently is getting to know the correct order and way of ironing. Most people despise ironing shirts, but once you've learn the correct method and practiced it a few times you will be able to do it quickly without even thinking. Randomly pulling at this end, and tugging it over that end takes more effort and means you will need to check which bits have been ironed. Because I iron a shirt in a particular order ending with the collar, I know that by the time the collar is done the whole shirt has been ironed without having to look. Take a look at this post here where I explain how to iron a shirt.

Improve your ironing skills...

  • Don't use lots of pressure via your arm when ironing. If you are standing and ironing (sitting is acceptable too), stand up straight and move the iron over the garment in a relaxed manner. Most people tend to think they have to put their weight onto the iron, but really the iron itself, and the heat is enough to get rid of creases. Don't put your back into it, it's unnecessary. Just relax and let the iron do the work for you.
  • Always move items away from you to avoid creasing ironed areas. For large items, place the ironing board in front of a table and move the item onto the table as yo iron to prevent it from draping on the floor.
  • Items of a double thickness will need ironing on both sides, starting on the underside.
  • I don't bother meticulously ironing duvet covers and large sheets, instead I fold it in half and iron it through the layers. Then I open it out, give it a good shake and fold it very neatly. The warmth from the iron and being folded makes for a very smooth duvet cover or sheet by the time you unfold it.
  • Iron trousers by placing seams and legs together. Pull the top trouser leg away to iron the bottom trouser leg.

Tips to ease the amount of time you spend ironing:
  • Don't put items that are hard to iron on a spin cycle in the washing machine.
  • Take garments and sheets out of the tumble dryer before they are completely dry.
  • T-shirts can be given the quick once over with the iron and folded while still warm.
  • Always flatten out the garment on the ironing board first to avoid the garment distorting and the iron creating extra creases.
  • Shake all items as you take them out of the washing machine, give them another good shake and a tug at each corner as you are hanging them up.
  • Fold your items before putting them on the ironing pile. The neater you fold them before you iron, the less time you will spend ironing them.

And that's it for this post. I hope you have found the ironing tips useful. I know that sometimes ironing unexpectedly piles up... but take that time to watch a movie you haven't seen in a long time or use it as an excuse to watch that trashy daytime show you are too shy to admit you like. However, don't let the urge to do everything all the time make you too proud, if it's just been too hectic or you have been ill (this time of year there's allot of sneezing going on) hand your ironing over and pay someone to do it. I don't suggest you do this all the time (unless you have the cash of course). But as a treat once or twice a year, it certainly wont do any harm.

The rest of the time, I still say 'practice makes perfect'. ironing might seem much of a muchness, but really it takes a bit of skill to do it right (ask any man who has been in the army). So learn the right way, practice it that way and treat yourself to a hot chocolate when it's all done.

Thanks for stopping by!


Vintage Tea said...

You almost make ironing sound pleasurable!!!

Victoria xx

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

Hi sweetie,
Just stoping by, to say night! Night!
Sleep tight!
I will come tomorrow to read this useful post!
And maybe than, I will be more enthusiastic about doing my lots and lots of ironning that I`ve got to do!

Debbie Moss

Lorilee said...

Great tips! I don't mind ironing if I have the time! Yesterday, I ironed 2 dustruffles for my bed. It takes two because my bed is to high off the ground. I first put on a king size dust ruffle (some of the part that should be under the mattress hangs out) Then I put on the queen size dust ruffle.

thriftymrs said...

Great post. I used to love ironing but it fell out of favour a few months back. I'll have to try and get back into it now.

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

I`m backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!
Great post and very useful tips, as usual!
I must confess that I`m terrible at leaving my clothes inside the drum, once they are dried... and to just taking them out when its time to iron them.
Sometimes they will stay there for two days!
Or even longer, oops!
By the way, I have an award for you!
And I will email you tomorrow, regarding our Kitchen swap!
Debbie Moss

MaryPoppins said...

I really dont enjoy Ironing, DH does it though now reading your wonderful tips, i shall get back to it and bring on the iron :)

Thank you for your lovely comment, yes I am glad Mr. P and I are now talking, I found i did so much more housework, as of course I couldn't ask him to do a thing :)


Judy said...

I really hate ironing. I put it off and off and off. You make it sound a lot more fun. Maybe I should print this post and post it by my ironing board. Think it would help?

varun said...

nice stuff!!Shawls and Scarves

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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