/ Home & Energy

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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Ann B-J says:
2 November 2012

Cotton T shirts for me are the worst for creasing and I hate ironing. But I have discovered a trick (My sister who lives in America with 3 grown men in the family who wear T shirts +++++ told me) Machine wash but don’t tumble dry, just air dry on a hanger. When dry, smoothly fold and neatly stack in a pile. Always use the bottom shirt first and by the time the top shirt reaches the bottom of the pile it is nicely pressed. I have very little space in my apartment to air dry, but I found hangers fit very nicely on door frames and within 24hrs everything is dry.
I do a similar thing with sheets/pillow cases/tea towels etc.(I try to buy cotton/polyester mix – ?minimal ironing). I tumble dry and fold neatly. Make a pile and use the bottom ones first and by the time the top reaches the bottom of the pile, it is nicely pressed.
I have got used to buying minimal iron clothes, so I rarely have to iron. Reducing the spin cycle and lighly tumble dry, hang up to dry for an hour, does the trick. Jeans are better folded properly before you tumble dry them and they come out with nothing more than the manufacturers folds, but I do fold pile them and use the bottom one first. This trick works a dream
I have a washer/tumble dryer combination. The drum is not very big and I have found through trial and error that small loads with a low spin are essential. Tumble dry on lower heat for longer, reduces creases dramatically.

Gillian K says:
2 November 2012

Ironing and tumble drying use precious electricity, so one should try to avoid either when possible. Line drying out of doors is ideal, failing that airing racks are invaluable. I find that sheets, towels, teeshirts etc. can be adequately smoothed by hand before folding and stacking. When ironing is really necessary, e.g. for smart clothes and table linen I use a 25 year old dry iron, a spray bottle and, when needed, a press cloth, and get excellent results. Is it any longer possible to buy a dry iron?


Steam irons work fine as dry irons and are much lighter than the conventional irons they replaced.

Try ironing clothes when they are still damp, after they are washed. It saves messing around with sprays etc and the clothes will be nearly dry once they are ironed.

ChrisK says:
3 November 2012

I absolutely detest ironing, but there is no way I would walk out the door with anything other than ironed clothes.
Also I could not get into a bed that had un-ironed bed linen on.
I look at some people with creased clothes on, and think to myself, that they look like they’ve slept in their clothes. That look is definitely not for me.

There now follows a brief interlude in the ironing . . .

I think Which? Conversation will form one of the most important sociological records available to historians in decades to come, on a par with those Mass Observation diaries and other journals of everyday life from the Thirties and Forties. We are laying bare our domestic lives – at the ironing board, in the shower, doing the shopping, running the car, and so on. I hope the significance of this is registering with Which? and that it will all be suitably archived and made accessible for future generations.

Future generations could read the archives and learn that John Ward is one of the few who publicly admits to sartorial elegance. What are some of the younger contributors going to make of your reference to starch? For most people, starch is something in food.

No one has mentioned my pet hate – ironing my husband’s handkerchiefs which I consider a complete waste of time.

Fancy allowing somebody else to iron one’s handkerchieves. I hope he does something very generous in return.

Marjo. says:
4 November 2012

If you buy a cheap iron you cannot expect it to last very long. The last one I bought was about 15 years ago. It all depends what you want from your Iron. I do a lot of sewing and it’s very usefull to have one that switches itself off after a short while.

Linda M says:
5 November 2012

I bought myself a Jiffy steamer about 2 years ago and wouldn’t be without it. It is so much quicker and easier than ironing. Creases just drop out. You work in the round so don’t need to fight with sleeves. My steamer needs descaling now and again as I live in a hard water area (I think I’ve done it twice) but it is a simple operation.

at present i have 2 irons and always ironed my clothes ! as off late , i am attempting to iron much
less ,shirt cuffs and collor’s and the front only gets ironed , jeans ironed inside out to smooth out the
front off my quality jean’s legs only ! and like some other comments a lite spindry and smooth out
damp laundry to hang up works for me , its all about changing ones idea’s ,and invite change in
the way we go about daily household tasks

Elizabeth of England says:
21 December 2012

I very rarely iron anything. We dry all the washing indoors on an airer – I shake things out and smooth them first, and fold them to put away when they’re dry (which takes about 24 hours, winter or summer). This doesn’t create any consensation or dampness problem in the house. My husband’s shirts dry on hangers and he irons them himself. Smoothing and folding does for all the bedding, tea towels etc. I don’t have low standards – it just really doesn’t make much difference, so is not worth wasting time on. Try it – energy efficient in every sense.

When we were married over 40 years ago I thought it was a waste of time for my wife to rion my shirts. since then I have only bought shirts that promise not to need ironing. It is still a gamble whether a new shirt will turn out satisfacotry after drip or tumbler drying, and price is no guarantee. All of my current shirts look good and they range from an cheap, ancient Peter England to much more expensive Roccola, Aquascutum and Austen Reed. On the other hand I have had expensice shirts were disastrous. For travel I use Rohan because they dry very quickly. Wake up, ironing is a waste of time and energy.

ps we don’t iron bed linen either

Jackie says:
10 February 2015

I love ironing. I find it so soothing. At the moment I have 5 irons, ranging from a £250 one to one that cost under a fiver. I love them all, apart from the cheap one.It makes a huge difference to set the scene – decent iron, and a solid, nice sized board, and somewhere to hang or place your ironed laundry. Peace and quiet or the tv both do me fine. I love my steam gen but you don’t get the very relaxing ‘sloosh’ of water that you get in a normal steam iron. As someone else pointed out I also iron for hygiene reasons. I don’t boil wash my teatowels but feel the heat from the iron will kill any bacteria that might still be on them – also my son has really bad eczema and even though I have a steam function on the washer that I use, and I rinse his clothing 3 times, I iron his clothing and bedding to get rid of any dust mites that may still be on them. Give me your ironing and i’ll be very happy! I should maybe get a job ironing or working for Which, testing irons lol