Your trusty iron leads a lonely existence—gathering dust in the closet waiting for a special occasion when a wrinkled shirt might come its way. But the classic appliance has a lot more to offer, if we only realized its true potential. When used on the steam setting, the iron has much more up its very crisp sleeve than the ability to press wrinkles out of a button-up. No ironing board needed!
Refresh Upholstery for Guests
If you don’t have time to run couch covers or pillow cases through the washing machine, you can always turn to the great refresher - your steam iron. Simply lay them down on a flat surface, adjust the thermostat on the iron to the correct fabric setting and turn the steam button on top to on. Hold the iron about six inches away and press the button to blast the items with steam from the soleplate (make sure your hand is out of the way!). Do gentle passes back and forth to ensure it’s penetrating the fabric. With just a few bursts, they’ll look like new.
Spruce Up Rugs
Steam will breath new life into any fabric that’s feeling a little past its prime, thicker items like throw rugs included. The most obvious difference between an iron and a handheld steamer, is the iron has a thermostat where you can adjust the temperature depending on the fabric, but it also has more power.
Purify Your Pet Beds
Steam irons are not only great for getting rid of wrinkles and refreshing fabrics, they can also help kill bacteria. After a bit of time, a pet bed can get a little funky, but may not be in need of a full wash. A high-powered pass of your steam iron will do the trick!
Get Rid of Germs on Toys
Kids toys are another place where bacteria can accumulate—you can’t think about it too much without getting a case of the icks—but a steam iron can help. It should never replace washing, but a few bursts on teddy bears and other soft toys between laundering, will keep things fresh and as germ-free as possible.
Prep for Dinner Parties
Most of us have some nice linens and decorations stashed away for holidays and special occasions. And, when we break them out, they usually look the part—like they’ve been stashed away since the last festive gathering. With creases, crinkles and maybe even a faint musty aroma, your table cloths, runners and napkins deserve a pick-me-up before they make their debut.
Getting anything new is a treat, but some items look better after they’ve received a little love. Straight out of the package, curtains are often stiff and full of creases, but running over them a few times with a steam iron will give them a soft worn-in look that’s easier on the eyes. Also, if you’re obsessive about germs, we suggest blasting them with the steam iron every few weeks to get rid of dust, odors or any other bacteria that may have accumulated. Be sure to hold the iron vertical for hanging curtains, and horizontal for anything that’s laying flat.
Get One More Wear
Irons are not only for getting wrinkles out of your clothes, but can also be used to stretch the lifespan of your favorite items between washes. Did you sport a dress to a party during the week and want to wear it again for a date over the weekend (and maybe next week, too)? If it’s seeming a little dodgy, but you don’t feel like or have the time to wash it, just hit it with the steam iron.
Freshen Up Wool and Cashmere
Steam is also great when you don’t want to put the high temperature of a on delicate items like wool and cashmere sweaters. Hitting them with steam will also prolong the time before you need to go to the cleaner or hand wash. It will also take out any creases from sitting folded up in your closet. Just hang the sweater and burst it evenly with steam, then very gently pull the bottom of the fabric. The steam will loosen the fabric and penetrate through the wool or cashmere to get rid of any creases and refresh odors.
Article originally posted by Megan Cahn on marthastewart.com. Images used property of Shanna Sullivan, Janelle Jones, Lucy Schaeffer.