6 mistakes you're making while ironing your clothes - what experts say you should be doing instead

Streamline the process by steering clear of these no-nos

Steam iron placed on top of ironing board with tea towels
(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Whether we like it or not, ironing is a chore that we'll never be rid of. While a lot of people are admittedly ironing their clothes less and less, there are certain garments of clothing that you simply cannot get away with wearing without at least a once-over with an iron. So, for those of us who still have the will to iron our clothes regularly, it pays to ensure you do it properly to avoid falling foul of common clothes ironing mistakes.

While investing in one of the best steam irons will already take the load off this dreadfully monotonous task, being aware of the things to not do while ironing will also be a saviour in speeding up the process.

Irrespective of whether you consider yourself an ironing pro or are more partial to using the best clothes steamer and only ironing when you're left with no other option, these are the clothes ironing mistakes to steer clear of.

Country kitchen detail vintage style ironing board laundry basket iron bottle linen water wire basket wooden pegs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Clothes ironing mistakes you should avoid

1. Not checking the care label

'Different fabrics require different temperatures, so make sure to check the care label for each individual item,' explains Thomas Bird, materials expert at Fabric Online. 'Always use the lowest heat for materials like silk and medium heat for materials like wool and finally, use high heat for materials like cotton.'

In the case that you struggle to decipher laundry care labels, we discovered a clever iPhone camera hack that helps you to easily identify all the symbols and their meanings.

A laundry room with a Hotpoint washing machine, open shelving with washing powder in the vintage tin, linen water, washing caddy, sewing kit, clothes rail with clean shirts hanging, a traditional airer hanging from the ceiling, spotted ironing board, iron attached to the wall and a laundry basket with dirty towels

(Image credit: Future PLC)

2. Ironing in circular motions

Another common mistake that is often made by people is ironing in circular motions. While it may seem natural to go ahead with this motion, Thomas warns that doing this can actually cause the fabric of your garments to distort.

Instead, he explains that 'you should be ironing in back and forth motion in straight lines.'

3. Neglecting your iron's cleanliness

As with any appliance, ensuring you're keeping on top of maintenance and cleanliness is the sure way to extend its lifespan. With an iron being constantly under steam (quite literally), it can get pretty banged up, inevitably affecting your clothes too.

That's why it's so important to ensure you're properly cleaning an iron regularly to keep it in tip-top shape for far longer.

4. Ironing over stains

If you're working hard to remove a stain from one of your favourite clothing items, then you should be aware that ironing over a stain is quite possibly the worst thing you can do for it.

'Ironing over stains will cause it to permanently stay in the fabric. To stop this from happening, treat stains before ironing,' advises Thomas.

To assist you in the task, we've got a bunch of stain removal tips to aid you in tackling whatever kind of stain it is you're dealing with.

Steam iron placed on top of ironing board with tea towels

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

5. Not utilising hacks

Although we've seen the rise of #CleanTok and cleanfluencers on Instagram be met with some criticisms on their methods, with experts warning against a handful of viral TikTok cleaning hacks, some of them really are game-changers.

One of the effective cleaning hacks we've spotted involves placing tin foil underneath the cover of your ironing board, which in turn maximises the effectiveness of your iron, speeding up the process.

If you find ironing a laborious task, we don't think there's any harm in trying out a couple of hacks to help make the job not so strenuous during an already busy Sunday reset.

Neutral utility room, grey storage cupboard, storing vintage retro ironing board and cleaning accessories, hooks with various brushes, feather duster, dustpan and brush

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day)

6. Ironing too quickly

As we've acknowledged plenty of times, ironing is a very monotonous task for many. As such, it can be tempting to just try and bang it out as quickly as possible to get it over and done with; however, you'll just be doing yourself and your clothes more harm than good.

'Ironing too quickly can leave wrinkles and make clothes uneven,' warns Thomas. 'To avoid this, take your time and iron with caution and care.'

Though it doesn't seem like it, ironing more considerately will actually speed up the process compared to if you were completing the task haphazardly, as you'll have to redo parts less.

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What is the trick to ironing?

The trick to effectively ironing is to avoid ironing clothes that are too dry. As such, you should be utilising the steam features that come with your iron, as these will help creases to fall out far more easily.

Alternatively, you can spray your clothes with some linen water – which you can make yourself by adding 3 tablespoons of vodka, 30 drops of lavender essential oil, and 2 cups of distilled water – as per our explainer on how to iron like a pro.

Are steamers better than irons?

Generally speaking, it's difficult to say if steamers are better than irons because they both have their pros and cons.

If you're looking for an easy and quick fix to removing creases from your clothes without the hard labour, then there's a chance that a steamer will take the crown for you in the toss-up of steaming vs ironing. However, if you're after that crisp, pressed finish that an iron offers to tackle deep and stubborn wrinkles, a steam iron is your best bet.

If the portability and ease of use of a clothes steamer is what's got you leaning towards it, it's also worth noting that there are a handful of great cordless irons available on the market to free you from the faff of a corded appliance.

Steering clear of these common clothes ironing mistakes will ensure that you protect the lifespan of not only your appliance but your clothes too. Plus, being aware of the above will also allow you a speedier and easier process the next time the need to iron comes around, which should hopefully not be half as bad now.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.