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How to Iron Without an Ironing Board

How to iron without an ironing board

Plagued by wrinkled clothes but don’t have access to an ironing board? Maybe you live in a small space where storing an ironing board is not worth the storage real estate. Or maybe your roommate who had the ironing board recently moved out. No matter your situation, I am here to teach you how to iron without an ironing board. 

I have personally ironed clothes on all manner of hard surfaces. Ironing boards, dining tables, kitchen counters, bathroom counters, the floor… it may require adopting some different techniques but it can be done!

Step 1: Choose a Heat Reflective Covering

Before you choose a surface to use as an iron alternative, it is essential that you select a heat reflective covering of some sort. This will protect whatever work surface you choose to use underneath. 

The right covering can also provide a flat, consistent surface to iron over. Imperfections like divots or grooves in the hard surface below can be smoothed out with a good covering and render a nice, crisp finish to your ironed fabrics. Below are a handful of great heat reflective covering options to consider.

Ironing Blanket

Portable Ironing Mat Blanket (Iron Anywhere) Ironing Board Replacement, Iron Board Alternative Cover
  • Transforms any metallic or flat surface into an instant ironing board.
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  • Perfect for use on top of washers, dryers or table tops and even beds

Ironing blankets are a popular option when ironing without an ironing board. You can lay them over almost any hard surface, rest your hot iron on top, and use it for ironing any wrinkled fabric. Some ironing blankets include magnets so they can be placed securely on top of magnetic surfaces (such as front load washers and dryers). This makes your ironing job a bit easier and safer!

Ironing Mat

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Ironing mats come in a very wide variety of shapes and sizes. Many of them are made from thick wool felt and can be laid on nearly any hard, flat surface for use. Smaller sizes are popular for quilting projects where users are ironing smaller sections of fabric at a time. Larger sizes can be unrolled over a large table and used to iron larger items like bed sheets or drapery.

Thick Towel 

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Not ready to invest in a dedicated ironing blanket or ironing mat? Grab a thick, white towel. Make sure whatever towel you use has been washed and dried a few times beforehand. The last thing you want is for lint to transfer to your clothes while you’re ironing! 

Fold the towel over itself once or twice or stack it on top of another 1-2 additional towels. Lay them over a stable, flat hard surface and you’re ready to iron.

Wool Blanket

Ritzy 100% Wool Blanket, Large, Warm, Machine Washable – 60×80 Inches, 5lbs, 650GSM – 28 Microns…
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Thick, 100% wool blankets are a great covering to iron over. Wool is naturally heat reflective, meaning it will reflect the heat from your iron back into whatever fabric you’re ironing. This is why wool is such a great fabric to wear in cold climates – it reflects your body heat back towards your body. 

Fold the blanket once or twice then lay it over a stable, flat surface. You can iron directly over top or lay a thin, light colored towel on top to completely eliminate the unlikely chance of dye transfer to your fabric.

Step 2: Choose a Hard Surface

Once you have a heat reflective covering in hand, it’s time to select a hard surface for ironing. It is important to choose a surface that is heat resistant. When I say heat resistant, I mean a surface that is not likely to melt, misshapen, or discolor when exposed to heat. Below are a handful of options to consider.

Table 

Wooden tables or desktops can be a perfect option for an ironing board alternative. Simply clear the surface of clutter, wipe it clean, place your covering over the top, and you’re ready to start ironing. 

Countertop

Most countertops are made from heat resistant stone or tile. This is a perfect surface to lay a heat reflective covering over for ironing. Make sure to remove any clutter from the countertop – especially anything that could be damaged if accidentally exposed to high heat.

Dryer or Front Load Washing Machine

The top of a dryer or front load washing machine is a perfect place for ironing clothes. One of my favorite time-saving ironing hacks is to iron clothes while still damp from the washing machine. What could be more seamless than pulling dress shirts from the washer, immediately ironing them on an ironing blanket, then hanging them to cool and finish drying on a clothes drying rack nearby. Use a magnetic covering to prevent the dangerous possibility of the covering slipping while using a hot iron.

Floor

If all else fails, try your floor. Make sure to vacuum and mop the area before ironing. Use extra caution if you’re working on a synthetic flooring material like synthetic carpet or vinyl. These materials can (and will) melt if exposed to high heat. No matter what, designate a secure, heat-resistant place to set your hot iron while you’re not using it to avoid unwanted floor damage.

Step 3: Designate a Safe Place to Rest the Hot Iron

While ironing you are going to need a safe place to set your iron in between garments. This silicone iron resting mat is heat resistant, slip resistant, and works as a safe place to rest your hot iron in the moments you aren’t using it. 

It’s Sew Emma Sew Hot Iron Rest, None
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  • It’S Sew Emma Notions Sew Hot Iron Rest- A Heavy Duty Silicone Iron Rest In A Minty Fresh Hue Allows You To Place Your Iron Plate Directly On The Surface.
  • The Generous 7”X 10.88″ Size Fits Most Home Irons And It Can Withstand Up To 500° F, 260° C.

Step 4: Master the Technique

There is one major difference between ironing on an ironing board vs. ironing on a large, flat surface. When ironing on a large, flat surface, you forgo the option to drape clothing over the nose of the ironing board and iron one layer of fabric at a time. 

Because of this, you have to make sure that the bottom layer of fabric (e.g. the back side of a skirt or pant leg) is laid perfectly flat without any wrinkles. Even the smallest wrinkle can become a big eyesore after you run over it with a hot iron, so be mindful!

Iron Alternatives

Don’t have an ironing board OR an iron? Don’t fret, there are still creative ways to release wrinkles from your clothes without either tool.

Steamer

Of course, this is the most obvious alternative. I love steaming my clothes. In fact, once I invested in a great hand held steamer, I nearly stopped ironing altogether. Steaming clothes is easy, effective, and feels less cumbersome than laying out ironing supplies. 

Hair straightener

On more than one business trip, I have used my hair straightener as a makeshift iron to release wrinkles from work skirts and blouses (a la Lauren Conrad from The Hills). This actually works pretty well so long as you’re working with clean straightener plates.

Dryer

If you have a few minutes to spare, toss your wrinkled clothes into a dryer with a damp towel. Make sure you choose a towel in a light color that has been washed and dried a few times before. The last thing you want is for lint to transfer from the towel to your outfit!

Dry on medium for 5-10 minutes then pull out your clothes and immediately shape and hang them to cool before wearing.

Wrinkle release spray

I love traveling with a wrinkle release spray. These can be shockingly effective at releasing wrinkles from lightweight fabrics like thin blouses, linen, and light cotton. I used to keep a travel sized bottle of my DIY wrinkle release spray in my work bag so I could give my work clothes a light spritz and tug before heading into the office after sitting under a seatbelt.

Bathroom steam

The classic bathroom steam trick. If you don’t have access to any option listed above, but you’re getting ready somewhere with a bathroom and hot shower then not all is lost! Hang your wrinkled clothes somewhere in the bathroom while the hot shower is running (ideally, while you’re taking a shower so as not to waste water).

Close the bathroom door and let the steam build up in the bathroom. The steam will gently loosen wrinkles from the fabric of your clothes. After getting out of the shower, give the fabric a gentle tug to help the process along. Let the clothes cool and dry in the bathroom as the steam dissipates and by the time you’re ready to go, your clothes will be ready too!