How to Select the Correct Ironing Temperature for All Fabrics

Learn Not to Burn

Man ironing a shirt
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One of the essential things to learn before ironing clothes is the correct temperature setting for the type of fabric. Selecting the correct temperature on an iron can make the difference between ease and disaster. The right temperature selection will make ironing easier, quicker and give more professional results. The wrong temperature can mean more work or, at worst, a burn hole that can not be repaired.

During college, I watched a friend do the final pressing on a beautiful gown she had made only to burn a huge hole right on the front of the gown. She had the iron setting too high. Total. Disaster.

Fortunately, one of the features on most irons is a sliding scale that indicates the correct temperature setting for different types of fabric. As a reference, I am using a scale of 1 to 7 - 1 being cool, 7 being very hot.

While all irons differ in temperature by manufacturer, here is a basic guideline of proper temperatures for ironing different types of fabric along with some helpful tips:

Ironing Temperature Guidelines for Fabrics

FabricIron Setting Ironing Tips
Acetate1Press on the wrong side of the fabric while still damp.
Acrylic3 
Beaded1Place on a plush white towel, press on the wrong side of the fabric.
Cashmere-Do not press, steam only.
Corduroy7Place on a plush white towel, press on the wrong side of the fabric then use steam on the front side of the fabric to refresh any crushed pile.
Cotton, lightweight5 
Cotton, heavyweight7Press the fabric while still damp.
Damask5Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron.
Lace3Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron.
Linen5Iron on the wrong side of the fabric while still damp.
Nylon1Use a pressing cloth for extra protection because nylon burns easily.
Olefin3 
Polyester3 
Ramie3Iron on the wrong side of the fabric while still damp.
Rayon3Iron on the wrong side of the fabric.
Satin3Press on the wrong side of the fabric with a pressing cloth between the iron and the fabric. Use no steam.
Sequined fabric-Do not iron, use light steam on the wrong side of the fabric.
Silk3Press on the wrong side of the fabric. Use no steam.
Synthetic Blends3 
Velvet3It is preferable to never iron, only steam 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 on the front side of the fabric to refresh crushed pile.
Woven wool3Use a damp pressing cloth between iron and fabric. Iron on the wrong side of the fabric.

 

Ironing Temperatures in Fahrenheit and Celsius

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 only ironing a single garment, before you begin ironing separate your clothing by type of fabric. Start by ironing the items that require the lowest temperature - acetate, 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 using. 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 prevent scorching. Scorch marks can be difficult to remove but not always impossible if caught when they are mild.