Metal plate holding the leg of the ironing board
These are some common tools used to work on this device. You might not need every tool for every procedure.
A clothing iron, also called a flatiron, is a heated surface used to remove wrinkles from fabric. Irons typically used in the home can be heated between 250 degrees Fahrenheit and 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Clothes irons are named for the metal of which the device is commonly made.
Polymer-fiber materials like fabrics include long chains of molecules. Ironing loosens the connections between the long molecule chains. The iron applies both weight and heat to the fabric, stretching the fibers. When cool, the fabric maintains its new, unwrinkled shape.
Prior to the introduction of electricity, irons were heated using a fire or with an internal combustion arrangement. The first electric flatiron was invented by Henry W. Seely in 1882.
When ironing some fabrics, such as cotton, it is necessary to use steam to loosen the molecular chains. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, many fabrics are marketed as never needing to be ironed.
1300 historical examples of irons are housed in Karlsruhe, Germany, in one of the world’s largest collections of irons.
Types of Clothes Irons Through History:
- Flatiron or smoothing iron
- Sad iron or sadiron
- Box iron, ironing box, charcoal iron, ox-tongue iron, or slug iron
- Goose, tailor's goose or, in Scottish, gusing iron
Modern irons include many features, but some are typically found in most irons today. One common feature is a design that allows the user to set the iron down standing on its end. Other features include a thermostat that maintains a set temperature, a temperature control dial for various fabrics, and a heat-resistant electrical cord with silicone rubber insulation. Many contain steam injectors with water reservoirs and a retractable cord too.
There are advanced features that are less common such as non-stick coating along the sole plate, energy-saving auto shut-off, a vertical steam feature, anti-scale to help remove limescale, and a self-cleaning feature.
Generally, traditional clothing irons are triangular and have a flat surface on one side (sole plate) and a handle. The form allows the user to press the iron onto the fabric or clothing and distribute the heated surface evenly to remove wrinkles.