Selecting the correct temperature on an iron can make the difference between a good job and a disaster. The right temperature makes ironing quicker and gives a more professional result. The wrong temperature can make removing wrinkles or curled hem edges harder, or even worse; it can burn a hole in the fabric.
Cotton is one of the most common fabrics and requires at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile silk and polyester require less heat at 300 F. The dots on a fabric label or an iron indicate the heat level. One dot is low heat, two is medium heat, and three is high heat.
Steam is the highest heat level and can make ironing faster, requiring less effort when passing the iron over the fabric. When using steam or spraying water on the material, the water helps transfer the heat evenly on the surface.
While all irons differ slightly in heat output, use the following basic guidelines for the proper temperatures to iron different fabric types. The settings use a scale of 1 to 7; 1 is the coolest and lowest, usually called the nylon setting, while 7 is the hottest and highest, commonly called the linen setting.
Recommended Ironing Temperatures
If your iron uses a different scale or you want to know more exact temperatures for ironing different types of fabric, follow these guidelines for degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit:
|Fabric||Temperature (Fahrenheit)||Temperature (Celsius)|
|Linen||445 F||230 C|
|Triacetate||390 F||200 C|
|Cotton||400 F||204 C|
|Viscose/Rayon||375 F||190 C|
|Wool||300 F||148 C|
|Polyester||300 F||148 C|
|Silk||300 F||148 C|
|Acetate||290 F||143 C|
|Acrylic||275 F||135 C|
|Lycra/Spandex||275 F||135 C|
|Nylon||275 F||135 C|
Low Temperature, Medium Temperature, and High Temperature
- Low temperature: Usually 230 F or below; setting 1; includes acetate, lycra, nylon
- Medium temperature: Usually 230 F to 300 F; setting 2 or 3; includes acrylic, lace, polyester, wool, and silk
- High temperature: 300 F and up; setting 4 and up; includes linen, cotton, viscose/rayon, denim
Ironing Temperature Settings for Fabrics
|Fabric||Iron Setting||Ironing Tips|
|Acetate||1||Press on the wrong side of the fabric while it is still damp.|
|Beaded||1||Place the fabric on a plush white towel, and press on the wrong side using a pressing cloth to prevent damaging the beads.|
|Cashmere||3||Do not press; instead, use steam only. The iron should not even make contact with the cashmere since agitation while damp from the steam ruins the fibers. For hard, set-in wrinkles, press on the wrong side using a pressing cloth.|
|Corduroy||7||Place the fabric on a plush white towel, and press on the wrong side of the fabric. Turn the fabric over, and use steam-only on the front side of the fabric to refresh any crushed pile.|
|Cotton, lightweight||5||Press dark colors on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent shine marks.|
|Cotton, heavyweight||7||Press the fabric while still slightly damp. For dark colors, press only the wrong side to prevent shine marks.|
|Damask||5||Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron to prevent snagging long fibers.|
|Lace||3||Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron to prevent snags and pulls.|
|Linen||5||Iron on the wrong side of the dampened fabric for the best linen finish.|
|Nylon||1||Always use a pressing cloth for extra protection between the fabric and the iron because nylon burns easily.|
|Ramie||3||Iron on the wrong side of the fabric while it is still damp.|
|Rayon||3||Iron on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent leaving a shine on rayon fabric.|
|Satin||3||Press on the wrong side of the fabric with a pressing cloth between the iron and the fabric. Use no steam, which can leave watermarks on the fabric.|
|Sequined fabric||2||Do not iron because sequins can melt. Use light steam on the wrong side of the fabric to remove wrinkles.|
|Silk||3||Press on the wrong side of the fabric. Do not use steam which can leave watermarks on some silk fabrics.|
|Velvet||3||It is preferable never to iron, only steam, velvet to remove wrinkles. If the wrinkles are severe, place on a plush white towel, and press on the wrong side of the fabric with a very light touch. After ironing, use steam only on the front side of the fabric to refresh crushed pile.|
|Woven Wool||3||Use a damp pressing cloth between the iron and fabric. Iron on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent snags and shiny marks.|
How to Manage the Temperature of Your Iron
Unless you are just ironing a single garment, separate your wrinkled clothing and linens by type of fabric before you begin ironing. Start by ironing the items that require the lowest temperature, such as acetate and nylon. Then, move to silks, polyester, and other synthetic fabrics like olefin. Finally, iron cotton and linen fabrics.
If you must switch back to a lower iron temperature, give your iron at least five minutes to cool down before you use it again.
When in doubt about what temperature to use, start low and iron on the wrong side of the fabric with a pressing cloth. You can always move the temperature up gradually to remove tougher wrinkles and still prevent scorching. Scorch marks can be difficult to remove but not always impossible if caught early and treated while they are light in color.