Even with the rise of cotton-blend and synthetic fabrics, typical households still have ironing chores. If you or your family members wear dress shirts or uniforms to work or to school, ironing them yourself, at least some of the time, is a money saver.
The cost of an iron can range from $10 to $100 or more for top-of-the-line, handheld, cordless steam irons. European manufacturers design and market expensive specialty irons, yet their lines often include a few moderately priced models sold in discount stores.
Though rarely used anymore, the most basic iron, called a dry iron, has a flat soleplate with a heat-generating electrical element.
The most common and versatile iron, and the one you will no doubt want to buy, is a steam iron. Usually the more features your steam iron has, the easier your ironing task will be.
See page 2 for a list of steam iron features.
Choosing a good ironing board can make a big difference in the finished product when you iron. Depending on the size and location of your laundry area, a built-in version with a pull-down board may be a convenient feature. These can be easily hidden in a wall cabinet when not in use.
For free-standing ironing boards look for adjustable models that are easy to fold for setup and storage and that allow comfortable use either when sitting or standing.
Ideally, the ironing surface should be at hip level for ease of use.
Here are some additional features to look for:
- Cord holders that prevent tangles
- Iron rests that prevent scorching the cover
- Racks for hanging clothes
Ironing board pads: Although some ironing boards come with pads, they may not be as thick as you'd like. When you buy pads and covers, select thick cotton padding to reduce overheating from beneath and to reduce wrinkling. Pad covers come in many colors and patterns, in plain cotton, and with nonstick coatings to make starch or sizing cleanup easy.
If you frequently iron garments with puffed sleeves or special detailing, or if you sew, a sleeve board is a helpful tool that folds away when not in use.