Select the Right Setting for Ironing Any Fabric

Learn Not to Burn

Chart depicting iron temperatures for different fabrics
Illustration: Ashley Nicole DeLeon. © The Spruce, 2018 

Perhaps the most critical thing you should learn before ironing clothes or linens is the correct temperature setting for the type of fabric. Selecting the correct setting on an iron can make the difference between a good job and a disaster. The right temperature selection makes ironing easier, quicker and gives a more professional result. The wrong temperature can mean that you have to do more work to remove wrinkles or, even worse, burn a hole in the garment that can not be repaired.

Fortunately, one of the features on most irons is a sliding scale that indicates the correct temperature setting for different types of fabric. While all irons differ slightly in temperature settings depending on the manufacturer, follow the recommendations on this chart as a basic guideline of proper temperatures for ironing different types of fabric using a scale of one to seven; one being cool, seven being very hot. 

Ironing Temperature Settings for Fabrics

FabricIron Setting Ironing Tips
Acetate    1Press on the wrong side of the fabric while it is still damp.
Acrylic    3 
Beaded    1Place the fabric on a plush white towel, press on the wrong side using a pressing cloth to prevent damaging the beads.
Cashmere    3Do not press, instead, use steam only. For hard, set-in wrinkles, press on the wrong side using a pressing cloth.
Corduroy    7Place the fabric on a plush white towel, 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    5Press dark colors on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent shine marks.
Cotton, heavyweight    7Press the fabric while still slightly damp. For dark colors, press only the wrong side to prevent shine marks.
Damask    5Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron to prevent snagging long fibers.
Lace    3Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron to prevent snags and pulls.
Linen    5Iron on the wrong side of the dampened fabric for the best linen finish.
Nylon    1Always use a pressing cloth for extra protection between the fabric and the iron because nylon burns easily.
Olefin    3 
Polyester    3 
Ramie    3Iron on the wrong side of the fabric while it is still damp.
Rayon    3Iron on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent leaving a shine on rayon fabric.
Satin    3Press 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    2Do not iron because sequins can melt. Use light steam on the wrong side of the fabric to remove wrinkles.
Silk    3Press on the wrong side of the fabric. Do not use steam which can leave watermarks on some silk fabrics.
Synthetic Blends    3 
Velvet    3It is preferable to never iron, only steam, velvet to remove wrinkles. If the wrinkles are severe, place on a plush white towel, 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    3Use a damp pressing cloth between the iron and fabric. Iron on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent snags and shiny marks.

 

Iron Setting Temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit 

If your iron uses a different scale or you want to know more exacting temperatures for ironing different types of fabric, follow these guidelines:

  • Linen: 230 °C (445 °F)
  • Triacetate: 200 °C (390 °F)
  • Cotton: 204 °C (400 °F)
  • Viscose/Rayon: 190 °C (375 °F)
  • Wool: 148 °C (300 °F)
  • Polyester: 148 °C (300 °F)
  • Silk: 148 °C (300 °F)
  • Acetate: 143 °C (290 °F)
  • Acrylic: 135 °C (275 °F)
  • Lycra/Spandex: 135 °C (275 °F)
  • Nylon: 135 °C (275 °F)

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 like acetate and nylon. Then move to silks, polyester, and other synthetic fabrics. 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. You'll be glad you did!

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.