So you want to do less ironing. Well, if you and I didn’t iron any clothes, what’s the worst that could happen? Okay so ironing gets creases out of things, but how bad are the creases, really?
Do you perhaps iron things to finish them off drying instead of using an airing cupboard? Maybe you don’t have an airing cupboard thanks to the prevalence of 1990s combi boilers, which can be installed without a hot-water tank. Maybe you’d rather iron than fold damp clothes to perfection. Maybe you want to be like your Mum, and that’s how she did the laundry.
I wanted to be like my Mum and she doesn’t iron shirts. We didn’t go around wrinkly and crinkly, however. We were as neatly turned out as the next family. I still don’t iron shirts. My husband doesn’t iron his shirts. My siblings will back me up on this. We don’t spend time or money on getting out of the ironing. So what’s the family secret? Well, I confess I rarely wear shirts, so in my house this is menswear or schoolwear advice, but here goes:
1. Buy the right shirts.
You really do have to purchase easy-to-iron polyester and cotton mix for this to succeed. Marks and Spencer multi-pack easy care white shirts are great value and perfect for this.
2. Never EVER iron them.
Never! Ironing them even once or twice will cause the heat from the iron to change the movement and behaviour of the fabric permanently and you will have to carry on ironing them forever.
3. Never wash them above 40 degrees Celsius.
Any hotter than this and the fabric will be permanently weakened by heat. For the same reason, never put them in the dryer.
4. Use fabric conditioner in your wash with the shirts.
Fabric conditioner is not recommended for use on materials with permanent creases (like suit trousers), stain resistant coatings (school skirts) or waterproof coatings, so make sure that those clothes go in a different wash.
5. Use a slow spin speed.
In the washing machine, don’t spin your shirts fast, I would say don’t go above about 900 rpm. 1200 rpm is too much.
6.Take the shirts out of the washing machine quickly.
Take them out within 20 minutes of the end of the cycle. Set yourself an alarm if necessary. If you leave them piled longer than half an hour there’s a good chance you’ll need to wash them again to get the right results.
7. Shake firmly and hang it right.
Now I turn to my Brownie Guide handbook! “All washing needs two good shakes”. Take hold of each shirt by the shoulders and shake hard. Try to get a good snapping motion, go on, whip it! Then hang each shirt neatly on a hanger to dry, not upside-down on a line because it works best if they dry in the shape you want to wear them. If it’s a hot day, dry the shirts more slowly indoors so they have time to hang out.
8. Wear it well.
When the shirts are dry there will still be some creases but don’t give up! When you want to wear the shirt, simply put it on and within 20 or 30 minutes (say, while you’re eating breakfast or driving to work) your body heat will have loosened out the last few creases. This works because you’re wearing an easy-iron shirt and have cared for it meticulously. So steel yourself to set off to work in your not-quite-perfect shirt. Go on! Victory is in your grasp!
If despite following all these steps you still have a creased shirt you have two options.
- The simplest solution is to put it back in the wash and start again, don’t give up and iron it.
- If the creases are significant then put the shirt on, put a sweater on top and go for a long brisk walk. Your body heat and moisture will gently relax the fibres and revive the shirt.
Maybe my outlook on ironing was influenced by one of my school friends who, at age 16, developed a bit of thing about not being creased. She would have a meltdown after a twenty minute car-ride because a wrinkle would have appeared in the back of her Benetton blouse. She would stand in front of a mirror shrieking “creased!” She became a fashion designer, so make of that what you will. Of course there are still some things I iron, but in general if you remove laundry from the machine promptly, give it some good shakes and smooth it out before you hang it, you will be amazed at how many things dry out smoothly.
I hope this works for you!