In this economy, it’s just good common sense to try to save pennies wherever you can. One place you may be able to accomplish some decent savings is in your laundry room. Believe it or not, if you get familiar enough with your iron, you can get good results with your work or dress clothes, without shelling out your hard-earned cash every week at the dry cleaners.
Here are some tips on cleaning and ironing your clothes to perfection.
1. Invest in a quality iron and ironing board.
These items will pay for themselves over time. A quality iron doesn’t need a whole bunch of bells and whistles. It just needs to be sturdy and well-made, and to meet your specific ironing needs. Look for an iron that feels heavy and features multiple settings for a number of different fabrics, a quality nonstick surface and an automatic shut-off feature. Many irons will shut off automatically within seconds if they are left unattended horizontally, and within minutes if they are left unattended upright. This feature will save your clothes, and potentially your house, from an untimely scorch-related demise. Your ironing board should be sturdy and made of quality metal. The padding should be smooth and firm, and the cover should be smooth and have a slick surface. It should also be tall enough for you to use without stooping over.
2. Before you launder anything, read its label.
Those tags that scratch at the back of your neck or sewn into the side seam serve a purpose, and it isn't to give you a rash. Each tag tells you what materials have gone into the garment and how to appropriately care for it. If you want to get the most life out of your clothes, follow the directions carefully. In some cases, ignoring a label can permanently ruin a clothing item. Pay special attention to labels that say “dry clean only,” “wash with like colors,” “lay flat to dry,” “no dryer,” “hand wash only,” and “cool iron only.” Ignore these, and you run the risk of shrinking, staining, shredding or scorching your clothes.
3. Pretreat stains before laundering.
Drying and ironing clothes can set tough stains in permanently. Oxy Clean works wonders on organic stains like red wine, chocolate, tomato sauce or grass. Resolve Stain Stick laundry sticks are amazing on stubborn grease stains.
4. Iron clothes as soon as you can after drying them to minimize wrinkles and the time you need to remove them.
5. Adjust your iron’s heat setting to the material your garment is made from. Unless the garment tag or the iron setting says otherwise, turn on the steam option.
6. Some irons spike in heat when they’re plugged in, and can scorch your clothes if you use them too soon. Wait a few minutes for your iron to adjust to the right temperature.
7. Turn the ironing board so that the wide end faces toward the hand you use to iron. The rectangular shape is designed to fit shirts, and lets you iron your shirts in large, neat sections.
8. Press the steam button as needed over large or stubborn wrinkles.
9. To create creases in sleeves or pant legs, fold them at the seam on one side, and smooth them neatly on the other side. To make the crease as crisp as possible, wet the crease area with the spray button first, and use the steam button generously as you pass the iron over. Make sure the shoulder creases line up with the sleeve creases.
10. Use spray starch on clothes that require a very crisp, starched appearance.
To keep the starch from flaking on your clothes, blend it in to the fabric with a paper towel before you iron. Use the auto clean setting on your iron periodically to clean excess starch out of the iron’s holes.
Start with a few of your most basic, and least expensive, shirts when you’re starting out with this technique. And if you’re still intimidated by self-ironing but like the idea of saving some cash – look for an ironing-only service. These establishments take the clothes you laundered yourself and simply iron them, often for a fraction of what the dry cleaners charges for the full service.