The pandemic and its resultant lockdown along with social distancing have ensured that many companies adapt to their staff working from home. Official video calls have become a regular part of your day. So, if you thought that you can lounge in your T-shirts and shorts while working from home, a sudden video call may put a damper on your casual outfit of the day.
What can, however, save your face in such a scenario is a well-ironed crisp-looking outfit. To that end, ironing your clothes is a useful skill to learn.
In India, most people give out their clothes for ironing to the laundryman. However, when the pandemic hit, people had to grudgingly bring out their own iron box and get to work on their clothes. If you have never touched an iron box in your life, you might burn and destroy your clothes. Different kinds of fabrics require different levels of heat and steam for ironing. You cannot use the same heat on cotton and silk, while linen and stretch fabrics require another level of finesse in ironing. You need to research the different ways to iron different fabrics so that not only can you save yourself from accidents but also your clothes from getting destroyed.
There are a few things you need to have to get a well-ironed outfit. First and foremost, invest in a good iron. Look for one that has a high heat capacity. You get various brands which have dials on them that indicate how much heat can be used on different fabrics. Then there are those iron boxes which have a water filling system to dispense steam while ironing. These are extremely useful for delicate fabrics. More importantly, make sure the base plate of the iron is made of good quality material.
Secondly, buy an iron board. It is a cost-effective investment especially if you are going to be ironing your own clothes for some time. You can look for a sturdy padded ironing board with a good balance. If you do not want to buy an ironing board, you can always use a table and folded Turkish towels or cotton bedsheets for padding. The padding should be even and there should not be any lumps.
Finally, if your iron does not have a water filling system for steam, keep a small spraying bottle filled with water.
Now, let’s take a look at a few tips on how to iron different fabrics.
If you are using an iron with a dial set up, simply set it to cotton and use. Most such irons also have a steam dispenser, so it will use steam automatically while ironing. However, if your iron does not have an automatic dial system, cotton fabrics, denim, muslin, calico etc., need high heat and a little dampness to look their best after ironing.
Make sure that your cotton fabrics are slightly damp when you iron them. Heat up your iron to its maximum and slide it firmly across your cotton fabric. If your cloth is extra dry, use a spray bottle to spray a slight amount of water over the cloth and then use your iron. Make sure that you are ironing your clothes in the folds. Otherwise, the mix of high heat and steam can straighten them. Avoid using the iron on Velcro or elastic bits.
If you want a crisp look on your cotton fabric, wash your clothes in starch and let them dry. Iron them using high heat while they are slightly damp or spray water. A mix of steam and high heat will even out the starchy look and bring forth a crisp, clean finish to the fabric.
In India, mostly silk cotton material is used for sarees. While it is agreed that sarees are difficult to iron, mostly due to its length, once you master the technique, you can not only save a lot of money but also protect your beautiful collection.
For a silk cotton saree, you need to iron them while they are still slightly damp from the wash. Make sure that you set your iron to silk setting before using it or use moderate heat while ironing. If your saree is not damp, use a spray bottle of water before you iron it. Another tip to ensure a crisp clean finish is to iron the saree inside out. It makes sure that all the wrinkles are cleared out and the creases are well-straightened.
Ensure that you do not rest the hot iron anywhere on the saree as it can burn the fabric quickly.
Polyester or poly-blends
Generally, polyester or poly blends are the kind of fabrics which are said to be wrinkle-free. However, it is also a fact that sometimes these wrinkle-free fabrics develop creases all over which end up giving them a shabby look.
Polyester or poly blends are synthetic fabrics which are made by using a type of plastic called thermoplastics. Ironing such clothes using a high heat setting may lead to the material melting or getting scorched. You need to ensure that your iron is set to low or moderate heating when you are using it on polyester or poly-blend fabrics. Even then, do not iron your polyester or poly-blend fabric directly. Cover with another cotton cloth and use the iron on the cotton cloth to iron out the polyester or poly-blend fabric beneath it. Remember to use slow firm strokes while ironing. Do not let the iron linger over the cloth even a second longer.
The thing about linen clothing is that they need starch dip to look their best. A starchy crispness will only add shine to the linen material thereby, making your outfit stand out. However, ironing a starchy outfit is a difficult process. If you have used starch on your linen clothes, letting them dry before ironing is going to make ironing a much more difficult chore. With linen, you need to ensure that your outfit is damp before ironing.
Iron your still damp linen outfit on high heat and with firm strong strokes to get a crispy clean finish. If your outfit is already dry, then make it damp before ironing by spraying a little water using a spray bottle. If you have an iron that has a steam setting for linen, use it.
Silk sarees are one of the most common outfits found in almost all households in India. They are also arguably the most difficult fabric to take care of. Right from washing to drying to ironing and storing, silk has to be handled with the utmost care for them to last long. However, they are also one of the most beautiful fabrics that exist and last generations if well taken care of.
Most Indian women do not wash or iron their silk sarees at home. However, if at all you are required to iron your silk fabric at home, you need to know how to do it without ruining your beautiful outfit. Firstly, do not use the iron on dry silk. The fabric has to be slightly damp. So, if you have washed your silk saree, let it dry for a bit and then put it down for ironing when there is slight dampness left. The iron should be set at low to medium heat. Make sure that you limit direct contact of the iron with the silk as much as possible. So, one way to go about it is to iron the cloth inside out. It will remove the creases and wrinkles and save your outfit from getting burnt.
You can also cover your outfit with a cotton cloth and iron over it to protect your silk fabric.
Stretch fabrics are very comfortable to wear, however, it also makes them prone to severe wrinkles and creases. Most stretch fabrics used to make leggings or T-shirts use a thin Lycra or Spandex threading in-between which makes them stretchable. Generally, if washed and dried properly, stretch fabrics do not require ironing. But in case of severe wrinkles, you need to ensure that your iron is set at the lowest heat possible to iron this material.
Spandex or Lycra is very quick to either burn or sag due to heat, thereby ruining the purpose of stretch material. This is why the heat applied while ironing stretch fabric should be at the minimum. You can also simply use steaming instead of direct iron to sort out the creases in stretch fabrics.
Ironing is not just a chore. It is also a useful skill to learn. Keep in mind these tips and techniques while you iron your outfits. If you know what you are doing, this is a stress-free activity.