The clothes iron has been through a great evolution to achieve the "electric" status it has today. To make their clothes smooth and straight, the ancient Chinese used pans full of hot coals. In Europe, clothes were smoothed with hot glass or wood and, finally, in the late Middle Ages, smoothing irons were first forged. But in 1881, Henry W. Seely developed the first electric power iron, which quickly became a favorite of homemakers everywhere. Today, the iron has been developed into something slightly more hi-tech and it is important to know how to handle one, so that you don't singe your clothes -- or yourself!
Pour enough water into the opening in the top of the iron to fill it completely. Be sure to not fill it too much or water will spill over onto your clothes. Consider using filtered water in your iron, especially if you live in a rural area with mineral sediments in the water, to avoid clogging your iron. This will maintain the appliance for a longer lifespan.
Read the ironing instructions on the clothing label to determine what heat setting you should adjust your iron to. The type of fabric your clothing is made of will indicate whether the iron should be set on low, medium or high heat. Remember, however, that there will always be some garments that you can neither iron nor wash on your own. Read the label before you attempt to iron.
Plug the electric iron into a wall socket. This will give power to the iron. Adjust the temperature dial to the type of fabric you will be ironing. This will preheat the iron, making it ready to use.
Set the iron on your ironing board while it warms up; if you haven't a board, place the iron on a stable surface covered with a clean cloth such as a tea towel. Make sure the cord, and your garment, is free of nearby objects to prevent getting caught up as you work.
Spray a small amount of water onto the iron with your spray bottle. If the iron makes a sizzling sound, you will know that the iron is ready to use.
Lay your clothing flat across the ironing board, carefully stretching the garment flat so that it is easy to iron. You are now ready to iron.
Spray your clothing lightly with water if the shirt or pants are very wrinkled. The steam from the water will make it easier to smooth stubborn wrinkles.
Lay the iron flat on the clothing and keep moving the iron continuously. Don't let the iron remain on one piece of the fabric for too long or it may singe the clothing. Continue ironing in this manner until the wrinkles have been completely smoothed. Turn the garment over and do all sides and seams, including sleeves, which sometimes take more effort. Avoid overstretching as you smooth out the fabric, which could leave a permanent mark.