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Crease-free style – are irons required or redundant?

Man holding iron and shirt

How much would you be prepared to pay for crease-free clothes and quick, easy ironing? £50? That’s around the right amount to get a great iron, but are any of us ironing that much any more?

I can think of many uses for £50, and none of them involve forking out on what I consider to be a non-essential household chore. But then, I happily avoid ironing at all costs with hardly any impact on my day-to-day life.

And that’s because I can. I don’t have to be suited and booted for work, and I’m prepared to sacrifice crease-free style when I buy clothes. And while I can appreciate there’s nothing quite like slipping between crisply-ironed sheets, if it’s at the cost of man-handling the duvet cover around the ironing board I’ll choose to line-dry bedding every time.

But if I had to iron 232 shirts a year – roughly the number a five-shirts-a-week suit wearer transitions through their ironing pile every 12 months – I suspect I would have to face up to my ironing aversion.

Ironing avoidance tactics

When I think about it, I’ve evolved a trick or two to make my iron-free life possible. I select a lower spin speed on my washing machine so clothes are left a little wetter. Then time spent shaking out creases in damp washing and pulling fabrics taut on the airer works wonders for smooth (ish) dry clothes.

Adrian Porter, our laundry researcher, has given up on the pressed shirt. He too reduces the spin-speed, gives shirts a 10 minute tumble-dry, then puts them straight on the hanger. A quick once-over the areas that are prone to creasing (like the collar) with an iron and the finished article is perfectly acceptable.

Cheap vs pricey irons

Still, I must admit that I do own an iron, and in some ways I wouldn’t be without one. It’s essential for those unavoidable occasions when I have to dress smartly, for example. But I know that when it finally gives up the ghost, I’ll want to spend as little as possible on its replacement.

Cheap irons do exist – we test a lot of them at Which?. But they’re not always up to scratch. Common failings are they just don’t generate enough steam to tackle stubborn creases. Or they start off OK, but steam levels soon tail off as they clog up with limescale.

On the flip side, more expensive irons (in the £60 – £100 price bracket) generally do noticeably better in our tests. The best of them steam powerfully and glide smoothly across fabrics, making it quicker and easier to blitz through the laundry pile.

It looks like I’ll face the eternal price vs quality dilemma when I’m next shopping for an iron. The outcome will be heavily influenced by my aversion to ironing. But that’s just me – how much would you be prepared to spend on a new iron? And if you have any tips and tricks to avoid or minimise ironing, I’m all ears.

How much would you pay for a new iron?

£25-49 (51%, 522 Votes)

Less than £25  (23%, 235 Votes)

£50-99 (18%, 184 Votes)

More than £100 (9%, 89 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,030

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Comments
Member

I do iron shirts, even those that claim to be non-iron.

I iron shirts while they are still damp, straight out of the washing machine. That means that they are nearly dry when they have been ironed. I have never understood why most people wash and dry clothes and then mess about with a steam iron.

Member

This is why I bought my steam mop – It came with a de-creasing mop head – useful for de-creasing shirts curtains and trousers – so much easier than using an iron.- even a steam iron. Just hang the item up and run the mop down the cloth – a couple of minutes and allow to dry – a freshly ironed shirt at half the trouble. It isn’t quite as good for collars – but usually gives an acceptable result – Haven’t used the iron for over a year. Oh a plus – during the dog moulting season – the loose fur ‘sticks’ to the mop head rather than the shirt – so no need to a painstaking removal of fur with Static brush as well.

Member
Lesley Bennett says:
2 November 2012

Sounds amazing. I am using Which to research which steam mop to buy. Which one can do this?

Member

I’m not trusted to operate the washing machine so I get to do the ironing. If it’s made of cotton or similar then I iron it and I press trousers. I don’t like doing some of my wife’s blouses with their darts and pleats but she admits I do a pretty good job. I do like doing duvet covers, pillow cases and table cloths, and getting fitted sheets to look correctly folded. Sometimes I also starch shirts. Like Wavechange, I iron while things are damp and turn the steam off. I also have a water spray bottle which helps with any crumples. Since one never gets a second chance to make a first impression, I think an iron and a good ironing board are essential. I couldn’t wear a tie if the shirt wasn’t crisp and smooth and I never go out without a tie. Ironing time is a great opportunity to put on some pleasant music and do some private thinking.

Member

I never ironed a shirt during the winter as the jacket would cover it or else the jumper over the top would 🙂 During the summer I’d try and hand dry to avoid large creases. And now I don’t wear shirts so win win for me.

Member

Nice point about spin speed, I’ll take that on board.

I don’t have to be suited and booted for work, but I do wear a shirt, I just never iron it. I haven’t ironed any clothes for years actually. Maybe I do a shirt when the occasion calls for it but generally, no. The last time we used an iron was when my girlfriend plugged it in, dropped it on the floor and then wondered what the bubbling sound was coming from the carpet!

I like removing pointless chores from my day wherever possible. Another one to mention is sock matching.

Member

It is a chore that I do in batches, although some people get their cleaner to do it. I find that a misting bottle, the kind you use for plants, is essential as you can get the shirt damp on the board before you iron.

Member

Summer only unless I’ve got to wear a suit. Linen stuff is the worst: It doesn’t do to look too crumpled, even on holiday. Fortunately the dry cleaners near us does just ironing.

Member

Wow – have to say I’m impressed with all of the people who iron clothes – I try to only buy clothes that won’t need ironing, as I find the task so time consuming. I do have an iron somewhere in the back of a cupboard for special occasions, but I don’t think I spent a lot on it.