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Can I iron this? Find out which fabrics can be ironed

Published 16th January 2023
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We all want our clothes to look fresh and smart, and that means giving them a good smoothing over with an iron! But it can be difficult to know what kind of fabrics you can and cannot iron, particularly if you've bought second-hand clothes with missing labels. While some materials are too delicate to handle the heat, there are plenty of other fabrics that can be safely ironed with the right temperature settings. In this article, we will discuss which types of clothes you can iron and why.

Fabrics you can iron

Canvas

Canvas is a strong and durable fabric that can withstand high temperatures without becoming damaged. It's often used in outdoor clothing such as jackets and trousers, so it’s important to make sure that these items are properly pressed before wearing them out in public. To ensure that your canvas garments look their best, use a medium-hot setting on your iron and press lightly over the fabric.

Cotton

Cotton is one of the most common fabrics used in clothing today, partly because it's fairly easy to iron. You do have to be a little careful with your iron's temperature, since cotton is sensitive to heat. When using an iron on cotton fabric, make sure to set the temperature according to the care label instructions or use a low-medium setting if no specific temperature is given.

Wool

Yes, although wool is considered a delicate fabric, you can still iron it with the help of a pressing cloth. Most ordinary irons or steam generator irons have a 'wool' setting which is suitable for most clothes. If yours does not, set it to medium heat, or around 140°C. Then turn the clothing inside out if you can. Wool can scorch quite easily, so be sure to always use the steam setting. Avoid leaving the iron in one spot for more than 10 seconds at a time.

Chenille

Chenille is a soft velvet-like material that's normally made from cotton, so you should be able to iron it. But before you do, check that yours is not made from Rayon. Rayon is a more sensitive fabric than cotton; it can't be ironed directly, or it'll get damaged or become shiny.

To be safe, Additionally, lay down a pressing cloth (an ironing accessory that sits between your iron and delicate clothes so you can iron them) your garment and the hot plate of your iron for extra protection against any scorching or burning marks. You can also use a low heat setting on your appliance and press lightly over the surface with short strokes rather than long ones.

Tweed

Tweed is another type of fabric that can be safely pressed with an iron if done correctly. This material should always be placed face down on an ironing board before being pressed with a low-medium heat setting on your appliance; never try to press tweed while it’s still folded up as this could cause creasing or other damage to occur. Additionally, use a pressing cloth between your garment and the hot plate of your iron for extra protection against any scorching or burning marks.

Denim

Denim is a tough, hard wearing material woven from cotton. You can definitely iron it, but you'll want to turn any denim clothes inside out before you start. This is because you'll need to use the highest steam and temperature settings, and those can fade the fabric.

Polyester

Another fabric that finds its way into all sorts of clothing is polyester. Sometimes you don't need to iron polyester at all because of its natural anti-wrinkle properties. But if you have a very wrinkled piece of polyester clothing, you can lay it on the ironing board, although you'll have to be careful because it may melt on a high temperature. Use the lowest temperature you can, and add a pressing cloth for extra safety.

Fabrics you can't iron

Velvet

You should never iron velvet because the heat from the iron can burn this delicate fabric, ruining it completely. Even if you manage to avoid burning your velvet, the iron's heat can affect its soft texture and make it brittle. Finally, it can create a shiny appearance on the fabric that will be difficult to remove. For these reasons, it's best to avoid ironing velvet altogether.

Suede

Ironing suede is not recommended because of its delicate nap (the weave of this fabric's tiny, hair-like fuzz). The heat and pressure from an iron can easily crush this nap, leaving your suede looking dull and lifeless. The iron's steam may also cause water spots on suede that are difficult to remove without damaging the material further.

Spandex & lyrca

Spandex and lycra are even easier to melt than polyester, so you shouldn't iron materials made from these fabrics. The good news is that they almost never need ironing in the first place. Spandex and lycra are so stretchy and form-fitting that no wrinkles will show when you wear clothes made from them.

Leather

We don't recommend that you try to iron leather. That's because leather does not respond well to intense heat. Try to iron them and your leather clothes can warp or fade, and water spots can be very difficult to remove. Instead of ironing them, we recommend using dedicated leather care products.

In conclusion, the most common (and easily wrinkled) fabrics can be ironed safely, so long as you take care with the temperature and steam settings, and you make sure to use the right ironing accessories. For fabrics that can't be ironed, there's usually an alternative method to removing those nasty creases. Of course, you can't iron anything if you don't have one! For advice on which is the best for you, you can read our iron buyer's guide.

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