Keeping up with the ironing is a major challenge in most households. No sooner do you finish one pile than another seems to magically appear … it’s a never-ending cycle … wash, dry, iron, repeat! It’s repetitive, tedious and certainly not my idea of a good time. I’ve spent years trying to simplify my life, creating new habits and implementing practical routines to save my time and finding ways to reduce the amount of time I spend ironing has always been a priority.
So, if you feel like you spend half of your life chained to the ironing board, here are some simple tips that will help you cut that time dramatically:
TRY TO BUY CLOTHES MADE FROM FABRICS THAT REQUIRE NO IRONING AT ALL
Any clothes I buy, I scrunch the fabric firmly when trying them on. I don’t buy anything that doesn’t pass my “scrunch test” and crushes significantly. I especially avoid anything that is linen, silk or 100% cotton and try to buy clothes with a blend of synthetic fibres. I also avoid buying anything that will be “fussy” to iron with things like pleats, multiple layers, gathering or fabrics that are overly delicate.
NOT ALL CLOTHES NEED TO BE WASHED EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY ARE WORN
Pants, jeans, coats and skirts, to name a few can often be worn several times before needing to be washed. Wash clothes less and you’ll need to do less ironing.
DON’T OVERLOAD YOUR WASHING MACHINE
Not only won’t your clothes wash properly but if your clothes are tightly packed, they will have less space to spin and will probably be squashed, tangled and creased when you finally take them out of the machine. Same principle applies to the dryer as well … if it’s overloaded there won’t be enough room for your cloths to fluff up and move around.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WASH TOGETHER & ORGANISE YOUR WASHING BY WEIGHT (NOT JUST COLOUR)
Heavy bulky items are likely to squash and crease anything that’s light-weight or dainty. For example, avoid washing heavy denim items or towels with light-weight shirts or other delicate items. The goal is to wash lighter items separately from heavier items.
ADD A CUP OF WHITE VINEGAR TO YOUR WASHING TO SOFTEN CREASES
It will also work as a fabric softener, help to deodorize clothes and get rid of any soap build up. I have a front loader and I add a cup of vinegar at the start of the cycle in the fabric softener compartment. By adding the vinegar at the start of the cycle, there will be no strong vinegar smell once your load has finished.
DON’T OVER-DRY YOUR CLOTHING WITH A HIGH SPIN CYCLE
It’s tempting to set the spin cycle high to remove as much moisture as possible and cut drying time. This, however, tends to overly crease clothes so it’s worth considering a slower spin cycle … one that will remove the bulk of the water but not over-dry the clothes. A higher spin cycle is preferable if you’re putting the clothes straight into the dryer. In that instance, you’ll want to remove as much water as possible to reduce the length of time you need to run the dryer.
DON’T IRON KIDS CLOTHES
After 5 minutes of playing or rolling around on the floor, their clothes are likely to be crumpled and stained anyway … save yourself some work and frustration! Save ironing their clothes for special occasions only.
FIRMLY SHAKE OUT EVERY SINGLE ITEM BEFORE PEGGING ON THE LINE
Shaking out and unravelling anything in this way will reduce wrinkling as the clothes dry. Items like shirts or dresses can be hung straight away on plastic hangers to dry and this will help creases drop out.
BE CAREFUL HOW YOU PEG THINGS ON THE CLOTHESLINE
If you peg your clothes in a spot that isn’t obvious, it could be the difference between ironing or not. For example, peg t-shirts under the arms where the peg mark won’t be seen, button up shirts hang upside down and peg on the bottom of the side seams and peg pants and skirts on the waist band. Peg clothes in an area that won’t be seen when it’s worn … then you won’t need to iron out the peg marks.
DON’T IRON GARMENTS THAT DON’T NEED TO BE IRONED
Items like pyjamas, jeans, exercise gear or clothes that are just worn around the house will survive without being ironed. The same goes for pillow cases, tea towels and the like.
TEACH THE KIDS HOW TO IRON (AS SOON AS PRACTICALLY POSSIBLE) AND MAKE THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR IRONING THEIR OWN CLOTHES
It’s an important life skill that they should learn. It might also encourage them to be less casual about what needs to be washed if they know they’ll have to iron it themselves. Same goes for husbands or partners. If you both work, it won’t hurt them to learn to iron and look after their own clothes.
KEEP YOUR WARDROBE TIDY AND DECLUTTERED AND ENSURE IT ISN’T OVERCROWDED
If you hang freshly-ironed clothes in a jam-packed wardrobe, there’s a good chance your clothes will be badly creased and need to be re-ironed before you can wear them.
USE LAVENDER SPRAY TO HELP RELEASE CREASES IN YOUR CLOTHING
And, the good news is, you can easily make your own. Mix one teaspoon of lavender oil and one litre of water in a spray bottle. Shake to combine and then lightly mist or spray your clothes before hanging or wearing them. Lavender oil is a fibre relaxant, so it will help creases simply drop out. If you don’t have any lavender oil you could make a spray using 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup fabric softener and 1/3 cup white vinegar. Use a spray bottle with a fine mist spray and lightly spray your clothes. Pull them into shape, smooth them out and hang to dry.
A HOT, STEAMY SHOWER CAN HELP REMOVE CREASES
Hang your clothes in the bathroom and the steam will loosen the fibres and help the creases drop out. This works well for a couple of items but probably not the best idea for a whole load of washing.
A HAIRDRYER CAN HELP GET RID OF CREASES
If you’re in a hurry, getting ready to go out and you notice your clothes are creased, use your hair dryer to remove some creasing. Be careful not to use this method on anything too delicate. Another sneaky trick is to use a hair straightener. Just be careful that there are no hair products or gels on the straightener or this could stain your clothes.
FOLD OR HANG CLOTHES STRAIGHT AWAY WHEN REMOVING THEM FROM THE CLOTHESLINE
Not only can a lot of these things then go straight into drawers, cupboards or wardrobes it also means they don’t get extra creases or wrinkles by sitting scrunched up in a clothes basket.
IF YOU USE A CLOTHES DRYER, TRY TO REMOVE YOUR CLOTHES WHILE STILL WARM, AS SOON AS THE DRYER BEEPS
Then either fold your clothes or get them straight on to hangers and they will be virtually crease free thanks to the heat from the dryer. Unfortunately, if clothes are left in the dryer in a jumbled bundle to completely cool down they will most likely crease and need ironing.
USE A DAMP WASHER TO REMOVE CREASES FROM YOUR CLOTHES IN THE DRYER
If you don’t manage to retrieve your clothes from the dryer straight away and they do crease, throw a damp washer into the dryer and turn it on for another 10 or so minutes. Alternatively, lightly spray your clothes with water from a spray bottle. The heat from the dryer and the dampness from the washer or water spray will combine to get rid of the creases.
USE THE DRYER TO FINISH OFF YOUR CLOTHES
Even if you don’t use your dryer to completely dry your clothes, placing your almost dry clothes in the dryer for the final 10 minutes will get rid of any creases using the heat. Just remember to hang or fold them as soon as the dryer is finished.
A GARMENT STEAMER CAN BE A GREAT ALTERNATIVE IF YOU HATE IRONING
These are now fairly cheap and you can even buy them from Kmart. Once you get the hang of using one, they are generally quicker than ironing, you can “iron” clothes as they hang and you also eliminate the risk of burning your clothes if the iron was too hot.
PAY SOMEONE ELSE TO DO YOUR IRONING (IF YOU CAN SQUEEZE IT INTO YOUR BUDGET)
For working Mum’s, getting someone to help with either cleaning or ironing is not a luxury. There’s no point trying to do everything and work full time as well. Most ironing services will collect the ironing from your home and return it fully ironed on hangers. If the help is there and you can afford it … go for it!
HOW TO AVOID CREASED CLOTHING WHEN YOU TRAVEL
Don’t leave your clothes in your suitcase and instead hang them in the wardrobe as soon as you arrive at your destination. This will hopefully allow time for any wrinkles to drop or hang out before you need to wear your clothes, therefore, eliminating the need to iron. Rolling your clothes, rather than folding them in the suitcase can also reduce creases.
And for everything else that you do decide needs ironing here are a couple of tips that will make the task more bearable and still save you some time:
- Iron while you’re watching TV … either put on a movie or a couple of episodes of your favourite TV series. Gather your supplies like a hanging rack and coat hangers before you start and the ironing pile will vanish in no time at all, with very little noticeable effort.
- Only iron one side of the garment … I’ve been doing this forever. If you have a good quality iron and use the steam feature, by only ironing the front or top of a garment you can effectively iron both sides at the same time. The backs of t-shirts or shirts will naturally crease when you sit down and lean against a chair. Pants, dresses and skirts are the same and will crease the second you sit down either in a car, at work or a restaurant. Only iron the front of the garment and you will effectively cut your ironing time in half. Another trick here is to lay a sheet of aluminium foil underneath your ironing board cover with the shiny side facing up. As the heat from your iron penetrates the garment and the ironing board cover, the aluminium foil will reflect the heat back effectively ironing the reverse side of your garment.
- Before you commence ironing, sort your clothes according to the temperature settings needed. For example, any clothes that need to be ironed on a low temperature setting, iron them all together. All clothes that need a hot, high temperature, iron those together. This will save time from constantly adjusting the heat setting on your iron and waiting for it to continually heat up and cool down.
- Ironing clothes when they are slightly damp will make the job quicker and easier.
- Try to set your ironing board and iron up in a space where they can be left up permanently, although this may be difficult with small children and pets. If it’s accessible, it will feel like less of a chore if you don’t have to drag everything out of a cupboard and set it up each and every time you need to use it. It will be especially frustrating if you need to do this in a hurry to iron a single item.
- Make sure your iron is up to the job. If you’re struggling with a heavy, inefficient iron that isn’t functioning properly, it could be worth investing in a newer, lighter, steam iron.
- And finally, although this has nothing to do with saving time, always be safe when ironing and keep small children and pets away. Try to ensure your ironing board is sturdy and not prone to tipping over.
Initially, I felt guilty when I started ironing less and stopped ironing certain things altogether but I learned to get over it. The trade-off was worth it with more time to spend with the kids, family and friends doing things I enjoyed … and who wouldn’t want that! No-one will judge you if your clothes are a little less than perfect … I promise!
So tell me, do you enjoy ironing? Do you have any other tips or strategies for getting on top of your ironing pile?