You may have heard of a sport known as “Extreme Ironing”. It’s where intrepid explorers take an ironing board, an iron and a shirt, and trek to far-flung places such as mountain tops, jungles and even underwater, to iron in an extreme environment. Less intrepid people like me are quite content to do the ironing in the comfort of my own home, either listening to music or with one eye on the television. But many people see ironing as a chore and put off ironing until they have a huge pile of washed clothes awaiting ironing, or must iron trousers or a dress for going out.

As someone who has ironed his own clothes since Boarding School, I’ve been through no less than 4 steam irons, 3 ironing boards, ruined a pair of flared crushed velvet loon pants and a dress shirt but have picked up a few tips along the way. I’ll share these:

v  The water in a steam iron should be first boiled and then allowed to cool before adding it to the iron. I know that most irons say that you can use tap water, but doing so will reduce the life of your steam iron and at some point down the line, deposits of lime-scale and other impurities will begin to appear on your ironing. While we are on the subject of caring for your iron, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and clean out the iron regularly. It will keep its effectiveness and improve its longevity.

v  Use thin pieces of different sized cardboard to separate the front and back of clothes wear you want to avoid the heat and pressure being transmitted all the way through.

v  Many T-shirts and other garments have designs, motifs, words and illustrations that are very susceptible to too much heat. At worse, they can be lifted off from the material, and at best, become cracked. To avoid this, iron the T-shirt avoiding the area in question. Then turn the T-shirt inside out and slip a towel between the front and back. Then iron the reverse side.

v  Blackshirts and dresses (and very dark colored ones too) should be ironed inside out. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting an unwanted sheen/shine on the garment.

v  Your ironing board is as important as your Panasonic iron. Many people buy a top of the range “whizzy” steam iron with many settings, gadgets, etc and then skimp on the board. A good quality ironing board can transform your ironing. Not only are some ironing boards too small, so that you constantly have to re-arrange your clothing, others do not have good quality reflective materials. An aluminum-based or another type of reflective ironing board cover can safely increase the heat generated by your iron, the smoothness of the strokes, and the effectiveness of the final result. Look at reviews of ironing boards online, or go ask your Mum!

v  Finally, hang your clothes up after ironing to let the air get to them and dry them completely. This is because a steam iron can leave moisture on a garment and if you put it on straight away, or shove it in a wardrobe, it can get creased, ruining the whole purpose of your ironing it!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pack my travel iron, my T-Shirt and my mini-ironing board and head for Mount Kilimanjaro to have a go at this extreme ironing lark. Or….  Not!