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The joy of ironing – your tips


How do you feel about ironing? Is it a source of joy or pain? The Which? Conversation community have shared their tips to get the best ironing results and avoid mishaps.

For some it’s a massive chore, for others it’s a moment of peace in a busy world, while for the hardcore enthusiasts, ironing is a mix of an art form and a competitive sport.

We noticed that a few members of the Which? Conversation community have been sharing some neat ironing tips on a story from 2013 about cordless irons, so we thought we’d gather the pearls of wisdom here.

Choose your weapon

Being faced with a large pile of ironing can be disheartening, but don’t despair! Beryl has some advice about how to come up with an ironing system that works for you:

‘Once upon a time I was encumbered with 14 shirts a week to iron, plus an assortment of other things, so I welcomed the introduction of the steam iron and bought one. I soon got fed up with it running out of steam half way through the ironing and it never seemed to provide enough moisture to get rid of all of the crinkles before I finished the load, so I ditched it and went out and bought a small corded dry iron (do they still make them?), which I still use today. I fill an ordinary fine hand spray container (the type they sell at your local garden centre) with water and spray the clothes with as much water as is needed to iron out the creases. Result, a crinkle free garment without all the hissing and spitting that emanates from a steam iron.’

And what’s the best way to iron dark clothing? Beryl to the rescue!

‘Here’s a tip, always iron dark and strong colours, black, navy blue, brown, red, etc. on the inside, as this will avoid the sheen you sometimes get on the outside after ironing. This will give a nice matte finish, adding depth to the colour of the garment, avoiding the washed out look occasionally visible on well worn clothes.’

Take a scientific approach

Wavechange has a novel approach to tackling creases:

‘I have lived in a very hard water area most of my life and steam irons quickly block up with limescale, so I have a different approach to ironing. I do the ironing straight from the washing machine, so there is no need for a steam iron. I do have a steam iron, but I don’t need to put water in it. It might seem ridiculous to anyone who always uses a steam iron, but do try this approach.’

And it turns out that it pays to be patient, according to Wavechange:

‘My top tip is not to try and use an iron until the heating light comes on for a second time. This is because the temperature can go well above the required temperature when first switched on, which can burn fabrics and cause synthetics to stick to the hottest part of the sole plate. Some designs are better than others but this is a fairly common problem with temperature controls using simple thermostats.’

Give crinkles a chance

Of course there is a radical solution to cutting down on the time you spend ironing – do you agree with Edward Crooks?

‘My problem with cordless irons is the same one as I have with corded irons – they are unnecessary! Ironing is just a waste of electricity and should be eliminated. It is not beyond the wit of man to provide non-iron material for any use, in fact such material already exists and is in use. In the meantime, while we wait for widespread use of non-iron material, I would suggest that everyone should renounce the use of the iron and be proud to be crinkly, for the sake of the environment!’

Could you become a crinkly? Or are your crisp cotton shirts a source of pride? Have you any tips to add, or stories of ironing disasters? No-one will judge you here if you’ve scorched a few tops or melted a t-shirt, honest. Ironing is clearly a complicated business, and something of a fine art.


I am Borg, ironing is not an efficient use of my time. I also concur with Edward Crooks, ironing is not an efficient use of energy.

However, serious questions and perhaps another topic, is the manufacturing of non-iron material environmentally friendlier than using natural substances, or can material be made non-iron thanks to a special kind of weaving?

I stay in Scotland and if I must iron at all (yawn), the water is soft enough for me to use my steam iron, a Which best buy I’ve had for 26 years. (It may have survived this long because I don’t use it very often!)

Small, nay – minute point, Sophie: you should say “We are Borg”, as the Borg were a collective entity with no sense of self. You could also have added ‘Crinkling is futile’ or ‘Your shirts will be assimilated’. Especially the red ones…

Sorry, Ian, I was relating to the 7 of 9 character in my mind, when she’s been severed from the collective and she’s starting to think as an individual. Ironing is futile. Crinkles will be left well alone.

Beryl, I have back problems too and I think you are already doing what you can to take the backache out of ironing: adjusting the height of the ironing board correctly, raising one foot a bit, changing the leg you stand on, and keeping the ironing sessions nice and short.

I would change leg frequently though, not just every so often (put your foot on a ball you can shift into a new position easily), watch your posture, and if your spare room has a hard floor, maybe you can try and stand on a rug or something soft like that. Some folks iron while sitting, but sitting for too long is bad for the back too.

Maybe there are some things you don’t need to iron after all? Unless ironing as a form of meditation brings you more mental relief than it does physical pain. I have a friend who loves ironing because it makes her feel peaceful. Vive la difference.

(Another thing about back pain is to spread the chores throughout the week as much as possible. Changing the bed linen, ironing, hoovering, loading and emptying the washing machine and so on all put a strain on the back. For example, I’ve been told to sit on the floor to load and empty the washing machine (it’s a front loader :O). )

Seven of Nine, eh? Remember her well. But, like Hugh, once severed from the collective she was no longer Borg. Often think the Borg creation was actually a metaphor…

I would appreciate if someone could come up with a tip on how to take the backache out of ironing. I have tried standing on one leg with the other foot raised on a small footstall or books, at the same time ensuring the ironing board is at waist level as recommended, to no avail as I end up with legache as well as backache! Changing legs and footstools every so often gets a little tiresome after a while, so now that the load is much lighter, the family having flown the nest, I leave the ironing board permanently up in the spare room and iron a bit at a time and stop before the backache starts.

Hi Beryl.
I honestly swear that you can get used to ironing sitting down. It’s not quite the same I will admit, but with perseverance you will wonder why you haven’t tried it before?
Give it a go Beryl, I’m 83 yrs. and now I have to sit for the most ridiculous things when my legs decide to di possess me!
I’m afraid you have to adapt when you’re getting old or have some back injury.
All the best Beryl.


Many thanks Monique, I have tried sitting down to iron in the past but couldn’t get used to it, but as you rightly say
there comes a time when ones legs start to let you down and sitting becomes the best option. I wish you many more ironing days ahead Monique and thanks for the sticky iron advice 🙂

I do a fair amount of my ironing sitting down (I have trouble, not only with my back but these days also my hip). I can’t iron a shirt easily while sitting down, but all flat things are a doddle. You quite quickly get used to it; I’m with Monique in this.

My great discovery is the bliss of a cordless iron. The one I have (Philips Easiglide) is not only cordless, but also wonderfully light.

Thanks for the advice Sophie. I used to suffer agonising lower back pain which would render me crippled for a few days until I was referred to a chiropractor who literally gave me my life back (pardon the pun.) Ironing affects my upper back but thank goodness it soon goes away when I stop.
I don’t iron everything only things I wear outdoors. I like the idea of the meditation, will give that a try next time, you never know it might work!
Will keep you posted.

I have a friend who lives nearby who hails from North of the Border who claims she doesn’t even possess an iron, which frees up precious time for her during the day to continue with her charity work.

Instead of buying expensive chemical to clean your “Sticky” iron. Warm the iron on “Low” then pass a candle over the base.
Make sure of: 1) to have an unwanted cloth at the bottom of the iron to catch the excess candle drips.
2) with the unwanted cloth clean the iron surface, making sure that you protect your hand with an oven glove so that you don’t get burnt.

i hate ironing. i would wear crushed or crumpled clothes.. at least just a little than using an iron. if you hang your clothes rather than folding you really do not have to iron. i do that. may be it could be fun if there is a proper ironing board and mine is broken.

I’m sorry to hear that ironing can be a painful experience for some. I suggest using a lower spin speed and removing clothes as soon as the machine stops. My old machine could be set to stop before the final spin, so I could finish what I was doing before restarting to drain and spin. I must see if the new one lets me do this.

My advice, marry a service man. First time they you aren’t doing it right, agree, and pass that chore over to him/her.

Since my husband retired, he’s done all his own ironing. Shirts and pyjamas – even seersucker shirts which really shouldn’t be ironed. And I can’t see the point of ironing nightwear; I never do it. Nor sheets or duvet covers, but I do do pillowcases.

I’ve come across women who ironed their underwear. Can’t think why; they must have had too little to do.

But as mentioned in a reply above: I do recommend a cordless iron.

A tip: if you have linen napkins/tablecloths: iron them on the reverse first, then on the right side. That is, if a really smooth appearance is important to you. It does make a difference, though you’ll never get them to look the way they do when new.

I find ironing bed-linen quite satisfying and I certainly think it makes the bed nicer. I also think nightwear and underwear should be ironed. I use spray starch where appropriate to give things a better appearance. I aim for twelve shirts an hour and other garments pro rata so it does not take a huge amount of time. My wife usually does her own underwear and blouses but sometimes I help out to clear a backlog.

mike says:
30 June 2018

My wife always does the ironing- it makes it so much easier ……

🙂 I think you had better get the vacuuming done and be on your best behaviour for the best of the day, Mike.