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  • ITV Network Centre did not want to broadcast the first series of Cold Feet at 9 p.m. because that was a timeslot traditionally reserved for programmes that viewers could do their ironing to?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Woman ironing a shirt (Köln, Germany 1953). Source: German Federal Archive

Ironing is the work of using a heated tool, or tools, (an iron) to remove wrinkles from fabric. The heating is commonly done to a temperature of 100°Celsius.[1] Ironing works by loosening the bonds between the long-chain polymer molecules in the fibers of the material. While the molecules are hot, the fibers are straightened by the weight of the iron, and they hold their new shape as they cool. Some fabrics, such as cotton, require the addition of water to loosen the intermolecular bonds. Many modern fabrics (developed in or after the mid-twentieth century) are advertised as needing little or no ironing. Permanent press clothing was developed to reduce the ironing necessary by combining wrinkle-resistant polyester with cotton.

Ironing may also be used as a germ/parasite killing hygienic operation, such as in areas where the Tumbu fly is prevalent.[2]

While nobody knows precisely when the practice began, people have been smoothing clothes with a variety of items, including glass, wood, and stones, since before recorded history. The first known use of metal to "iron" clothes, however, is known to have occurred in China. [3]

The electric iron was invented in 1882, by Howard Seeley. Seeley patented his "electric flatiron" on June 6, 1882 (U.S. Patent no. 259,054). [4]



Some people consider ironed clothes to be more aesthetically appealing than wrinkled clothes. After stitching or sewing new clothes, especially pants and suits, tailors iron them to give the clothes the appropriate shape. Fabrics such as linen are considered to be more comfortable following ironing. Ironing will also kill vermin such as body lice, scabies mites and Tumbu fly.


Charcoal irons, used by eestri wala's, which are still in use commercially in India.


American woman ironing.

The iron is the small appliance used to remove wrinkles from fabric. It is also known as a clothes iron, flat iron, or smoothing iron.

The piece at the bottom is called a sole plate

Ironing board

Most ironing is done on an ironing board, a small, portable, foldable table with a heat resistant top. Some commercial-grade ironing boards incorporate a heating element and a pedal-operated vacuum to pull air through the board and dry the garment.

On 16 February 1858 W. Vandenburg and J. Harvey patented an ironing table that made pressing sleeves and pant legs easier.[5] A truly portable folding ironing board was first patented in Canada in 1875 by John B. Porter of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The invention also included a removable press board used for sleeves.[6]

Tailor's ham

A tailor's ham or dressmakers ham is a tightly stuffed pillow in the shape of a ham used as a mold when pressing curves such as sleeves or collars.

Commercial equipment

Commercial dry cleaning and full-service laundry providers usually use a large appliance called a steam press to do most of the work of ironing clothes. Alternately, a rotary iron may be used.

Historically, larger tailor's shops including tailor's stove, a stove used by tailors to quickly and efficiently heat multiple irons.

Recommended ironing temperatures

Textile Temperature Dot mark
Toile 240 °C
Triacetate 200 °C
Cotton 204 °C * * * [7]
Linen * * * [7]
Viscose/Rayon 190 °C * * [7]
Wool 148 °C * * [8]
Polyester 148 °C * [7]
Silk 148 °C * [8]
Sympatex * [7]
Acetate 143 °C * [8]
Acrylic 135 °C
Lycra/Spandex 135 °C
Nylon 135 °C
Dot mark Temperature
* < 110 °C
* * < 150 °C
* * * < 200 °C

Lower temperature than above may be advised in some cases where the color might be sensitive.


Miniature irons used for ties, collars etc.

The physics behind ironing is the liquid-glass transition. When the fabric is heated above this transition, the fibers become mobile so that the weight of the iron can impose onto them a preferred orientation.


Continuous manual ironing can be a cause of repetitive strain injury to the user's wrist[citation needed].


Extreme ironing is a tongue-in-cheek extreme sport.

See also


External links

Simple English

Ironing means getting the creases out of clothes after they have been washed and dried. Ironing is done with a tool called an "iron". It is called an iron because the bottom part is traditionally made of iron, a type of metal. The iron is heated before it is used. This used to be done by putting the iron on a fire. Nowadays electricity is used to warm the iron. The water inside becomes steam.

Ironing clothes is usually easiest when the clothes are still very slightly damp, but it depends on the material of the clothes. There is normally a label on the clothes which shows whether it can be ironed, and at what temperature. The clothes to be ironed are put on an ironing board and the iron is pushed carefully along the clothes to get all the wrinkles out. Ironing is usually done with an ironing board.


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