Hot irons and your clothes | Sunday Observer

Hot irons and your clothes

23 January, 2022

We all like to dress well. Ironing is a major part in dressing well. But, were you aware of the fact that irons have a considerable impact on your electricity bill? Well, in fact they do. But if you can iron you’re clothes efficiently and save electricity at the same time, not only will your clothes look hot, but even your iron will be hot!

Irons as of today have become better and better at looking after clothes. New features like automatic switch off have made ironing safer, while smart technology detects fabrics and will automatically adjust the temperature accordingly. This is ideal for those who lack confidence in their ironing ability.

Types of irons vary, but in the current market, the most popular iron seems to be the steam iron. Steam irons will suit you best at household level. The soleplate of a steam iron has vent holes that release steam onto the surface of the fabric.

These irons, while being used, release steam to moisten and relax the fabric, removing the creases as you iron. The steam helps remove wrinkles and makes ironing easier for most fabrics. These irons often have additional features and are, typically, more expensive.


When you want to purchase an iron, look for the following features. Some irons release steam constantly, whereas, some other types of irons release a steam shot when the user pushes the steam button. You can choose an iron of your preference. There are also ant-scale irons, which stops lime scale from building up.

Lime scales could damage your iron and your clothes as well. Also, this feature makes your iron last longer and is particularly useful for people who live in a hard water area. Be mindful of the safety features as well. For instance, a steam iron can automatically turn off, when not in use. So this will reduce incidences of panic, such as “did I turn off the iron?”

As you are already aware, less costly, basic irons have simply low, medium, and high heat settings. But the higher-priced models offer more temperature settings to match different types of fabric.

The ideal iron should have adjustable settings for delicate to cotton fabrics or the ability to set a specific numerical temperature. You can complement this with your ironing pattern. You can sort out the laundry, separate the denims, the cotton blouses, shorts, skirts, T-shirts, before plugging in the iron. Also, sprinkle a little water on clothes that are hard to straighten out. This will reduce the time for ironing it, and saves electric consumption in the process.

Iron the denims first because you may have to set the knob to the highest level of heat. Next, you can proceed to the cotton garments, and last to clothes made of fabrics that need less heat, such as those made of synthetic materials like rayon, and silk.


Set the iron knob to low heat when ironing these materials. You can also unplug the iron and use the balance heat to iron small items like handkerchiefs or even serviettes.

Another important feature is an automatic shut off that will turn off the iron if it remains horizontal for a specified period of time. This safety feature can prevent overheating if you forget to turn off the iron that can lead to fires.

Steam is one of the best wrinkle removers and there are several things to look for in a steam iron. Fetch an iron that has adjustable levels of steam.

The iron should have a clear gauge on the water tank, with the ease in filling it and a spray nozzle to pre-moisten fabrics. There should also be an option for no steam at all. A self-cleaning feature will be ideal because it uses a burst of steam to clear clogs in the soleplate.

There are two types of soleplates, the non-stick soleplates and stainless steel soleplate. The non-stick soleplates are most often coated with the same non-stick surface as in cookware. They are very easy to clean. The stainless steel transfers heat well but may need to be scrubbed to remove built-up starch or sizing. In clean condition, both these soleplates work equally well.


Other than that, there are irons with cords, as well as cordless ones. Cordless irons work by heating the iron on a heated base, which in turn should be plugged to an electrical source. These irons will retain their heat for about five minutes and then must be returned to the heated base for reheating. A cordless iron is easier to use thanks to freedom of movement and no cord helps prevent the rewrinkling of fabrics.

Corded, irons however, are usually less expensive than cordless irons. Fetch an iron with an extra long cord for convenience. It also allows left- and right-handers to use it comfortably.

Typically, irons can weigh between one and a half to three pounds. A heavier iron will cover a greater pressing area but a light-weight iron performs well enough for light or infrequent sessions.

Tips for good ironing habits

Start at the very beginning. Opt to purchase clothes that need little or no ironing.

Iron in the bedroom. You can use your bed to sort out laundry. Have hangers close at hand.

Lay a piece of thin aluminum foil under the ironing board cover. The foil will reflect heat, so you will actually iron from both sides at once. Progress from garments needing the lowest temperature to the highest.

Iron double thickness fabric on the inside first and then the outside.


To avoid flattening embroidery/ eyelets, iron them face down on a thick towel.

Use distilled water in steam irons.

Clogged steam irons don’t deliver enough steam. Prevent the steam vents from being clogged. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Iron a fresh banana leaf to clean the soleplate. Remove residues from vents with cotton swabs or pipe cleaners. Do not use sharp objects.

Rest the iron surface vertically, while ironing is in progress.

(The writer is a member of the Sri Lanka Energy Managers’ Association )