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How to properly use a steam iron

Updated February 21, 2017

When you steam iron your clothes, you keep them looking their best. Besides removing wrinkles, steam ironing helps clothing keep its shape and fit. When steam ironing several items, sort them according to the different heat and steam settings required for the fabric. Generally, use low settings without steam for fabrics like polyester, rayon, silk, nylon, suede and permanent press. Use medium steam settings for velvet and wool fabric. High steam settings work best on linen and cotton. You may need to sprinkle water on thick, wrinkled cotton in addition to steam ironing to remove the wrinkles.

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  1. Unplug your steam iron. Pour 120 ml (1/2 cup) of tap water into the opening of the water tank. Plug your iron in.

  2. Turn the temperature dial to the setting you desire for your fabric. If your iron has a separate steam dial, adjust the steam dial to the steam setting you prefer. Wait about two minutes for the iron to reach this temperature.

  3. Iron by moving the iron evenly back and forth across the piece of clothing or fabric. Steam will release as you move the iron.

  4. Press the spray button if your steam iron has one to spray cotton or linen fabric containing many wrinkles.

  5. Turn the temperature control off when you have finished ironing. Unplug the iron, and allow it to cool.

  6. Empty the water from your iron by tilting the iron over a sink. Always empty the water out after ironing. Use caution when pouring the hot water out to avoid burning yourself.

  7. Store the iron sitting upright with the cord wrapped loosely around it after it has cooled.

  8. Tip

    Iron over an old piece of cloth for a few minutes as the iron steams before using your iron the first time to clear the steam vents.

    Switch between distilled water and tap water if you have exceptionally hard water; otherwise, always use regular tap water in your steam iron.

    Dry iron your clothing by not adding water and setting the temperature control to the temperature for your fabric and turning the steam control off if your iron has one. Give your iron two minutes to reach the temperature you set it for.


    Never immerse the iron in water or in any liquid, which will cause an electric shock.

    Keep the steam iron away from children or supervise children using the iron.

    Never leave the iron unattended while turned on.

    Use caution while ironing to avoid burning yourself from touching the iron.

    Never run the iron over zippers, snaps or any metal parts on the clothing. The metal can scratch the soleplate, located on the bottom of the iron.

    Do not use abrasive cleaners on the soleplate to prevent scratching.

    If you notice residue on the soleplate, remove it by heating the iron and ironing over an old piece of cotton cloth.

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Things You'll Need

  • Steam iron
  • Wrinkled clothing or fabric
  • Tap water

About the Author

Chyrene Pendleton

Chyrene Pendleton has been a business owner and newsletter editor for more than seven years. She is a freelance writer with over 25 years experience and teaches a variety of topics, including alternative health, hair care and metaphysics. Pendleton is a certified television show producer, radio talk-show host and producer, and a computer programmer with a bachelor's degree in computer science.

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