This Is How Ironing Clothes Removes Wrinkles

This Is How Ironing Clothes Removes Wrinkles

Are you curious about the little details of life? Then get ready for the interesting explanation about how ironing removes creases from clothes!

Wrinkles in clothing appear when water and heat weaken the chemical bonds of cellulose-based fabrics. When the clothing is not flattened at the same time, wrinkles are the result. Ironing uses the same process of water and heat (plus flattening) to smooth the creases out again.

Step closer curious person. We explain the exact process of how ironing magically works on a molecular level to smooth out those silly lines!

The Way Ironing Removes Wrinkles From Clothing

A lot of fabrics are plant-based. When this is the case, they contain cellulose. The latter’s molecules form hydrogen bonds. Together, these bonds make a fabric strong but they are vulnerable to moisture and warmth. 

When a fabric is subjected to water and heat, the hydrogen bonds weaken and fail to keep the fabric straight. As soon as the clothing dries out again, the bonds regain their original strength but “freeze” the fabric as it is. In other words, if your shirt is crumpled on the ground or not hung properly on the washing line, the bonds will settle along with every crinkle and line – and that is how wrinkles are born!

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What Exactly Is Cellulose?

This Is How Ironing Clothes Removes Wrinkles

Cellulose fibres are highly popular in the clothing industry. The product is versatile and can create materials like denim, cotton, and linen. But where does cellulose come from and what exactly is it?

Cellulose is a fibrous substance that is extracted from plants. Some cellulose fibres that are used to create fabrics like Rayon, viscose, and Lyocell are made of wood pulp. 

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What Does Cellulose Consists Of?

Knowing the structural make-up of cellulose will help you to grasp the reason why wrinkles form and how ironing gets rid of them. Let’s elaborate on what we said earlier about the molecule and hydrogen bits. We will take it step by step.

  • You already know that cellulose is a fibrous substance removed from wood or plants! Let’s continue and gaze a bit deeper into its innards. 
  • Cellulose consists of countless glucose molecules which line up to form short chains. 
  • The short stretches of molecule chains stick to each other to form bigger groups. 
  • Hydrogen bonds are the “glue” that helps the chains to stick together. 

How Can Water And Heat Cause Wrinkles?

Under normal circumstances, the network formed by the molecule chains and hydrogen bonds is very strong. It literally gives fabrics their strength and appearance. But this is why wrinkles happen – hydrogen bonds themselves are not very durable. In fact, they constantly snap and break away. The good news is that they also constantly reform. However, when they reform under moist and warm conditions, that is when they line up in wacky ways and your outfit ends up wrinkled. 

Hydrogen bonds are particularly susceptible to water and heat. Both mess with the bonds, weakening and even snapping them during the washing process. This can also happen when you are wearing an outfit on a warm and humid day. The latter can cause wrinkles to form when you sit in a certain way or put your item down somewhere for a few hours.

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How Does Ironing Manage To Remove Wrinkles?

This Is How Ironing Clothes Removes Wrinkles

Ironing highjacks the entire wrinkling process – to get rid of creases. Talk about irony! But it is indeed true. But why does this not cause more wrinkles then? Good question. 

Ironing brings a little extra to the deal. It does not allow the fibres to set willy-nilly but forces them flat. Here’s how things might go down when you wash and iron a shirt.

  1. You wash your shirt. Oh happy day, it is now clean.
  2. But while you were not looking, the heat messed with the hydrogen bonds and the water molecules acted like a lubricant, allowing the glucose chains to slip over or under each other. 
  3. The shirt is a bit crumpled due to the way it was left in the laundry or on the washing line.
  4. Oh no, now the dry fabric has wrinkles!
  5. The iron releases heat and moisture into the fabric.
  6. This breaks the hydrogen bonds and lubricates the glucose chains once again, making them easy to move.
  7. The flat underside of the iron assures that the position the cellulose now moves into is nothing but straight and orderly.
  8. The fabric is now free of wrinkles.

How Do I Avoid Ironing My Clothes So Much?

When people hate something, they come up with a lot of ideas to reduce the time that they have to spend on it. The good news is that ironing is not the most favourite chore on the planet. A lot of clever tips and tricks are floating around just waiting to make your time in front of the ironing board shorter. 

Here are the best suggestions. Try them out and stick to the ones that work best for you!

  • Invest in anti-wrinkle products. The most commonly used is a liquid that you can spray on clothing to prevent wrinkles. They are especially useful if you have to wear an outfit that tends to crease when you sit. Simply spray the fabric before you put on the clothes.
  • Never let the clothing sit in a heap for an extended period of time. If something hibernates in the laundry basket for weeks, the creases will be so bad that even ironing might not get it out the first time. 
  • Do not wear clothes that are not completely dry. It will crinkle while you wear it, making it appear as if you just climbed out of the laundry basket yourself. 
  • Think about phasing out the outfits in your closet that tend to crease and are high-maintenance as far as ironing is concerned. There is a lot of fantastic clothing being made with materials that are either “low-wrinkle” or “wrinkle-resistant.”
  • Arrange your wet clothing on the washing line by pulling sides apart so that they do not stick together and pull the fabric lightly to remove ridges (which could turn into crinkles). This will reduce the number of wrinkles enormously.

A Quick Overview On How Ironing Removes Wrinkles

Wrinkles in clothing occur when the molecule chains in the fibres are disrupted and allowed to dry in disarray. This disruption is caused by the heat and water involved in the washing process. Ironing uses the same principle. The heat and steam disrupt the fabric’s molecules once again before flattening them neatly back into the correct position (which then removes the creases).

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.