How to Iron Polyester: No Melting, Scorching or Staining

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Categories Ironing
See you later, wrinkles!

When it comes to ironing, there are quite a lot of rules. Each garment and material requires a different heat and steam setting.

We’ll teach you how to iron polyester curtains, dresses, shirts and pants. Keep in mind our top tips and unbreakable rules when it comes to ironing polyester. With this ultimate guide, you’ll never ruin another polyester garment again.

How to Iron Polyester

When ironing polyester, always check the care label. It will tell you which heat setting to use. Turn the polyester garment inside out and keep a damp cloth in between the fabric and iron soleplate at all times. Using a low to medium heat, iron the garment in vertical motions until all wrinkles are removed. Hang the garment up immediately.


What Is Polyester?

Polyester is a man-made, synthetic material derived from petroleum (1). Most polyester fibers are made from ethylene, a hydrocarbon. The ethylene glycol is mixed with an acid to create polyester (2). This all sounds complicated, but basically, polyester is a type of plastic.

Polyester is one of the most popular and commonly used materials in the world. It can be used for all types of things such as clothing, home furniture, industrial use, technology, insulation and much more. It has many advantages, including (3):

  • It doesn’t absorb moisture (which makes it great for workout gear).
  • It is great for water, soil and fire-resistant finishes.
  • Some polyester is stain resistant.
  • Fabrics don’t shrink or go out of shape.
  • It’s easy to dye.
  • It acts as a hypoallergenic insulator.
  • It’s affordable.
  • Some polyester garments are naturally wrinkle resistant.

Although polyester has many advantages, there are two big drawbacks. One is that polyester is heat-sensitive, so it can melt when exposed to high temperatures during the washing, drying or ironing routine (4).

The second drawback is that polyester is contributing to greenhouse gases. In 2014, polyester was responsible for 40 percent of the fashion industry’s emissions (5).

Can You Iron 100% Polyester?

Yes, you can iron 100% polyester. However, it is vital that you look at the garment’s care label first to see if this is recommended. If not, we don’t advise ironing the item. Instead, you could try steaming it with a handheld steamer.

How to Iron Polyester

We’ll provide a step by step tutorial for ironing different polyester items. For each section, we recommend a steam iron. Steam is gentler on polyester and can eliminate wrinkles without the need to apply heat directly to the fabric.

How to Iron Polyester Curtains

  1. Lay the curtains flat on an ironing board or blanket.
  2. Check the garment care label to see the recommended iron settings. It will likely be “warm.”
  3. Plug your iron in, turn it on and set it to the warm setting. Allow it to heat up.
  4. Place a thin cloth or towel over the curtains to protect the polyester from direct heat. Iron over this cloth rather directly onto the curtains.
  5. Iron the curtains until the wrinkles are gone. Start from the top of the curtains and work your way down, going width ways.
  6. Once you’ve finished ironing a section, let it cool and then move the curtains along the board to iron the next section.
  7. If the wrinkles are stubborn, use steam or spray the fabric with water before ironing over it again.
  8. Hang the curtains up immediately to let gravity pull out extra wrinkles.

Use the Steam

If your iron can steam vertically, you can also use that setting to iron out wrinkles on curtains. This saves you from taking them down to iron. Just steam from the bottom to the top, eliminating wrinkles as you go.

How to Iron a Polyester Dress

  1. Read the garment care label to check the best temperature and steam settings for the dress.
  2. Take away removable features from the dress such as a belt or tie wrap.
  3. Turn the dress inside out.
  4. Lay the dress flat onto the ironing board.
  5. Put a damp thin cloth or towel over the dress. This helps get out stubborn wrinkles without damaging the polyester fabric.
  6. Plug in your iron, turn it on and set it the appropriate temperature.
  7. Start at the collar and sleeves of the dress, ironing upwards.
  8. Make your way down the dress, keeping the iron pointing upwards. Continue in vertical movements, so that you’re ironing in one direction.
  9. Turn the dress over and iron the back.
  10. Hang the dress up as soon as you’re finished.

If the dress is larger, you can pull the skirt around the board, so the board is between the front and back of the dress. This is especially useful for floaty dresses or dresses that don’t fit on the board.

Caution

Don’t use steam directly on a polyester dress. You could scorch or melt the fabric. If using steam, make sure to put a cloth or towel over the dress first.

How to Iron Polyester Dress Pants

  1. Check the garment care label. Many dress pants may be a polyester blend, so look at the advice on the care label for temperature and steam settings.
  2. Lay the dress pants on the ironing board, with the board inside one leg at a time.
  3. Plug the iron in, turn it to the correct setting and allow it to heat up.
  4. First, iron the pocket linings.
  5. Next, place a damp cloth or towel over the trousers. You’ll be ironing over this instead of applying direct heat to the fabric.
  6. Iron the waistband and top of the trousers. Press and lift as you go, instead of smoothing the iron over the fabric.
  7. Move to the leg of the trousers. Fold it at the crease for a professional finish. Press and lift the iron all the way down the leg.
  8. Press and lift the iron at the cuff of the dress pants.
  9. Repeat on the other side of the dress pants, starting with the waistband and top. Then move to the leg.
  10. If the seat and front of the trousers have new wrinkles, eliminate them while still ironing over the damp cloth.
  11. Once complete, hang the trousers immediately.

How to Iron a Polyester Shirt

  1. Check the garment care label for temperature and steam setting advice.
  2. Dampen a cloth or thin towel, too — for extra help getting out wrinkles without ruining the fabric.
  3. Undo all the buttons and lay the shirt on the ironing board face down, with the collar on the board.
  4. Plug in the iron, turn it on and let it heat up.
  5. Put the cloth over the collar so that the soleplate of the iron never comes in direct contact with the fabric.
  6. Open the collar flat and iron the back of it, from the edges working your way into the middle.
  7. Next, open the cuffs and iron them working from the outside in. Repeat on the other cuff. Avoid ironing over the buttons.
  8. Next, lie out the sleeves and smooth with your hand before ironing the shirt. Start at the cuff and work up to the shoulders, keeping your cloth over the garment to avoid direct heat to the fabric.
  9. Next, iron the back of the shirt. If the shirt has pleats, iron carefully around them. Move your shirt around the board to make sure you iron every inch of the garment.
  10. Next, iron the shoulders of the shirt. Repeat on each side.
  11. Now, it’s time to iron the front — also known as the placket — of the shirt. Go in lengthways movements up the front of the shirt. Repeat on the other side. Be careful around the buttons.
  12. Iron the front of the collar. Use the same technique as you did for the back, working from the outside in.
  13. When you’re done ironing, hang the shirt immediately instead of folding. While the garment is still warm, any wrinkles can set while it’s cooling. So it’s important to hang it up so gravity pulls out remaining wrinkles.

Bonus Tip

You can also turn the shirt inside out as well as using a damp cloth. If you find the shirt isn’t de-wrinkling, as long as you’re using a cloth, you can turn the heat a little higher to help remove wrinkles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Iron Setting Do I Use for Polyester?

Always check the care label. You’ll notice symbols.

  • One dot: Iron at a cool setting.
  • Two dots: Iron at a warm setting.
  • Three dots: Iron at a hot setting.
  • Cross through iron symbol: Do not iron.

Usually, polyester garments will have two dots, but different blends require different temperatures. Some irons have a “polyester” setting, so you can always use that if in doubt.

How Can You Prevent Polyester From Wrinkling?

Polyester is naturally pretty wrinkle resistant. But if you find your garments are wrinkling, and you’re not a huge fan of ironing, there are a few ways to prevent wrinkling in the first place.

The best way to prevent it is to take it out of the tumble dryer as soon as the cycle has finished. Wrinkles form when a garment cools in a folded or wrinkled position. So when the clothes are all bundled together in the dryer as they cool, wrinkles set. If you take your garments out immediately and fold or hang them, wrinkles won’t be as big of an issue!

Can You Steam Polyester?

Yes. In fact, steaming polyester can actually be safer than ironing it. Since the hot soleplate never comes in direct contact with the garment, it can protect the fibers.

To steam polyester, we still recommend turning the garment inside out. Hang the garment. Hold your steamer a few inches away from the item and move vertically along the garment. Watch as the wrinkles disappear!

How to Get Wrinkles Out of Polyester Without Ironing

If you don’t have an iron or don’t want to use it on polyester, there are three great ways to remove wrinkles.

  • Using a garment steamer: As mentioned, you can use a garment steamer to de-wrinkle polyester fabrics. Turn the clothing inside out, hang it up, and hold the steamer a few inches away from the garment. Vertically steam over it, eliminating wrinkles as you go. If the item is a little damp, it will be easier to remove the wrinkles.
  • Using a dryer: If you have a garment that’s wrinkled, toss it in the tumble dryer on a low heat for five minutes. Take it out as soon as the cycle is finished, give it a few snaps and hang it up. If you dampen the clothes a little before tossing them into the dryer, this can help remove wrinkles.
  • With the shower: While you’re showering, hang up the wrinkled garment in the bathroom. Close the door and let the steam work wrinkles out of the garment. This isn’t the most effective method but it’s a good way to bust out some wrinkles while you’re in a hurry or at a hotel without an iron.

How to Remove Shine From Polyester

Shiny iron stains on polyester are caused by a hot soleplate melting the fabric. For this reason, it can be impossible to remove these shiny stains. However, we do have a method you can try.

  1. Dampen a white cloth with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide or a scorch removal product.
  2. Test in an inconspicuous area of the garment like inside the shoulder or under the hem.
  3. Gently rub the shiny stain with your dampened cloth.
  4. Launder as normal.
  5. Repeat if necessary.

If the stain cannot be removed, unfortunately, it might be permanent.

How Do You Remove Melted Polyester From Your Iron?

If polyester has melted onto your iron, it’s important that you remove it immediately. Otherwise, it can transfer onto other garments, ruining them as well.

  1. Plug in the iron and turn it onto the lowest heat setting. Allow it to heat up.
  2. Scrape the melted polyester off with a wooden utensil, such as a spatula or spoon.
  3. Use tweezers to remove stubborn or small bits of polyester. Throw the removed polyester into the trash.
  4. Unplug the iron and let it cool.
  5. Mix together equal parts baking soda and water.
  6. Dip a clean cloth into the mix and scrub the soleplate to remove polyester residue.
  7. Next, dampen a clean cloth in acetone nail polish remover and remove any traces of the polyester stain. Repeat this until the stain is completely removed.

Strike While the Iron Is Warm

With polyester, you want to strike while the iron is warm — not hot. It’s important to keep the temperature and steam settings controlled when ironing polyester garments. That way, you don’t melt, scorch or stain them.

Whether you’re ironing a polyester dress, curtains, pants or a shirt, our tips have you covered. Now you can go into any situation — an interview, party or date — with a wrinkle-free and impressive outfit!

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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