I spent my life being told to wear ironed clothes. Be neat. Be tidy.

My mother irons everything; towels, sheets, underwear, even flannels.

But, why?

I wanted to know whether ironing did any good, and this is how I tried to find out.

Step 1: Hypothesis

Despite my mother's obsessive application of the iron, I suspect that ironing shortens the life of a garment, with the heat, moisture and friction of ironing damaging the fibres.

This should result in changes in the fibres, visible at high magnification.

Image source

<p>I love this experiment and the contextual ads that Google serves alongside it.</p>
<p>Hehe, I had to log out and switch off adblock, but that *is* funny!</p>
<p>This is great :-D... BUT if you're going to look at it from a global perspective... The reason you *should* iron, in tropical countries, is to kill bot fly eggs and larvae. The flies lay their eggs on clothes that are out to dry, and when you wear them, the heat and humidity encourage the eggs to hatch, and the larvae borrow into the skin. I haven't had the misfortune to personally experience this, but a couple of my friends have, and it wasn't pretty!</p>
<p>My grandmother has the same &quot;compulsive ironing&quot; disease. For years I lived in a part of the world with naturally soft, sweet water and didn't understand. I now live in a part of the US (New Mexico) where the water is almost universally hard (saturated or super-saturated with minerals). Before the days of water softeners, reverse-osmosis units, and modern washers and dryers, you washed your clothes in this hard water and hung it to dry (extremely quickly, in the dry and heat or dry and cold). This resulted in clothes which _all_ had the texture of burlap and might be so stiff you have to &quot;break&quot; them to get them in the laundry basket. The only remedy was to iron--at _least_ the sheets, underwear and towels. This would make the fabric supple and soft again. I also hate ironing and I never iron, because I use a home-made detergent that combats hard water, and I use a modern dryer and hang up any clothes I don't want to wear wrinkled. I really like your experiment and your instructable.</p>
<p>Great experiment! personally I just stick wrinkled clothes in the dryer with a moist washcloth for 15 minutes... i guess is is kinda steaming the clothes...</p>
<p>Good job. On a related note, if you take t shirts, blue jeans, and some other types of clothes out of the dryer (on a heated cycle) as soon as they're done, and put them on a hanger immediately, they're pretty wrinkle free without any need to iron since they've been steamed from the dryer heat. It might help to take them out before the dryer goes through the cool down part of the cycle.</p>
<p>Iron is a four letter word! ;-)</p>
<p>I read the comments on this and it seems to angered the dry cleaners cult( beware of their stiff collars ) </p>
<p>Hey dude,</p><p>for tailoring an iron with steam is essential to make things even, to reinforce fabrics with fusible interfacing or to distort planar fabric parts into round ones (for example the shoulder seams of sleaves).</p><p>I'd suggest you to get a book for taylorship apprentices. I dunno, if they provide information about how ironing changes fibres, but i once had a look into such a book and i can remember that there was pretty much information about about fibres themselves.</p>
<p>I was investigating day-to-day ironing, not the manufacture of garments.</p>
<p>&quot;&quot;As far as I can tell, ironing was invented as, and continues to be, a purely social contrivance. &quot;&quot; </p><p>i dont fold clothes or roll socks any more </p><p>i hang tee shirts and shirts and long pants promptly on hangers-everything else gose into 10 gallon tubs(shorts get folded in have and piled up-when i get around to them) towels store easiest when folded so they win !! glad you took this on and shared it .</p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>I love this 'ible :) ! </p><p>I've seen many critiques about this experiment's conclusion and I think it all comes from the fact that the experiment should be conducted on a tee-shirt's lifespan (which is too long to fit into the contest, must be the reason why the experiment's conclusion is prematured) and that we can't really answer anything before. I think we should carry it on =D !</p><p><strong>Btw I'd like to submit a complementary question :</strong></p><p><strong>&quot;What is the point of shaving ?&quot; ;)</strong></p>
<p>Thanks - I think I might have gotten better results if I'd thought of this a year earlier (nine months before the contest was announced...).</p><p>If anybody wants to take this further, I'll happily add extra steps to include their results.</p>
<p>ironing kill bacteria and insect's eggs</p>
<p>That's what the washing stage is for, surely?</p>
it's complementary
<p>That is one great Information. Thank you so much Kiteman :)</p>
<p>You're welcome.</p>
<p>Since you have been so obtuse that you have contacted me 3 times about your effort and my comment, I will preface this with the following: You received many critical responses. I know that INSTRUCTABLES has a &quot;be nice&quot; policy and I truly enjoy all the intelligent and creative people. The best I can do to be nice is to say, your time consuming efforts would make a WONDERFUL 8th grade science project.</p>
<p>Sorry, but I have never contacted you, and, as far as I remember, this is only the second time I have ever replied to one of your comments.</p><p>Perhaps you are getting confused by other replies in the same thread?</p>
<p>ummm, I'm not really sure I follow the logic of your conclusion &quot;there is no actual point to ironing&quot;. Your original hypothesis was that ironing causes damage. If that proved true, ironing should be discouraged. After the experiments (kudos on sound scientific method, btw) failed to reveal damage, you seem to change to &quot;ironing doesn't improve anything&quot; and you therefore also discourage it. If the resulting conclusion is the same regardless of the test results, then it seems the experiment itself was pointless.</p>
<p>I agree. Trying to find a scientific reason to look like a lazy wrinkled mess is pointless and I'm sorry I wasted my time reading this INSTRUCTABLE.</p>
<p>I am puzzled by this very negative attitude - an experiment with a result is useful, even if that result is not headline making.</p><p>I had a hypothesis, I tested it, the hypothesis was found wanting, I suggested ways of moving forward. That's how<em> real</em> science works.</p>
<p>Meaning no disrespect, but the negative response you're getting is not for the Instructable itself, but for the blatant disregard of the scientific method.</p><p>Poll 1000 people and ask &quot;What is the point (aka the intended result) of ironing clothes?&quot; Unless they're off their meds, I suggest at least 99% would say &quot;The point of ironing is to remove wrinkles.&quot; Your hypothesis proposes that ironing is pointless, in other words, ironing doesn't remove wrinkles. Your experiment does absolutely nothing to prove or disprove that proposition, instead veering of on some vaguely related but ultimately irrelevant examination of fabric damage. The experiment itself and your methodology are sound, but ultimately a waste of time with respect to the original hypothesis. And yet at the end, you claim that your hypothesis has been supported!? Balderdash! The only way your exercise as a whole holds any merit is if you're claiming that the point of ironing is to damage fabric, to which I again say, Balderdash!</p><p>Either A) change your Hypothesis to match the test (eg, ironing clothes damages the fabric), B) change the experiment to actually test the hypothesis (ironing does or does not remove wrinkles), or C) demonstrate that most reasonable people iron their clothes with the intent to damage them.</p>
<p>Ah, I see the issue.</p><p>You are mistaking the populist title for the hypothesis, without actually reading the step entitled &quot;Hypothesis&quot;.</p>
<p>No, it proved that ironing has no effects. Any activity with no effect is pointless.</p>
<p>It certainly DOES have the intended effect, that of removing wrinkles. If your experiment had shown that is doesn't remove wrinkle, then yes it would be pointless. But you didn't test for the efficacy of wrinkle removal, you tested for damage to the fabric. <br><br>Your hypothesis in Step 1 states that you expect there to be damage to the fibers, therefore making ironing is a bad thing (ie, pointless). Your experiment shows *no* damage, so the logical conclusion should be that ironing is *not* a bad thing). Yet you still come to the conclusion that it's pointless.<br><br>This is a simple IF-THEN-ELSE condition: IF ironing damages fabric THEN it is pointless ELSE it is not pointless. But your conclusion follows IF ironing damages fabric THEN removing wrinkle is pointless ELSE ironing is still pointless anyway. That makes no sense. It sounds to me like you just have a deeply ingrained aversion to ironing, and on that point good Sir, I am 100% with you! :) </p>
<p>My theory has always been that if it doesn't show, it doesn't need ironing! If you're wearing a jacket over your shirt, you only need to iron the front of your shirt, and maybe the collar. But you don't need to iron the back and the sleeves. Of course, you have to remember to NOT remove your jacket....lol. 8-) (This from a harried mother of 7, who had to use every shortcut available)</p>
<p>Very interesting experiment. I've never heard of any reason to iron clothing other than appearance, so I'm not surprised by your results. Though I've never considered the wear-and-tear that might come from ironing, I do know that tumble drying them (high or low heat) shortens the life of pretty-much everything. It's too bad, because tumble drying can very often make ironing unnecessary except for the compulsive. But the big wad of lint that needs to be removed from the filter every time is good evidence that something is lost in the process.</p><p>On the other hand, air-drying the clothing, either to save energy or the clothing, usually leaves a garment that needs at least a little iron touch-up to be presentable. If the clothing is cotton, it's almost a certainty. It's true that the cloths iron uses some energy, and an interesting experiment would be to carefully measure how much per garment compared to an electric or gas dryer. </p><p>Some kinds of fabrics are more prone to the &quot;short wrinkle&quot; that comes from air drying, and some are also better in terms of the &quot;long wrinkle&quot; that results from wearing clothing for more than a hour or so. Esthetically, it's the short wrinkle I often want to iron out, though my standards in that regard have lowered over the decades. </p>
<p>There's a very good reason to iron your clothes if you live in Africa:</p><p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordylobia_anthropophaga" rel="nofollow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordylobia_anthropoph...</a></p><p>Jump down to the Public Health and Prevention Strategies section.</p><p>All those jungle explorers wear nice crisp khakis.</p>
<p>Wow, i never think on some like this, but is true we are slaves of ironing all the shirts for the entire week, to look &quot;cool&quot;</p><p>great experiment :D</p>
<p>i dont iron my closes i just wear them for a bit then the wrikles just come out</p>
I don't iron my clothes. As soon as I fasten my seat belt, they are creased, so why bother?
<p>So the takeaway of this experiment is: Nope! You still don't have a legitimate reason to disobey mom. ;)<br>For the record, I HATE ironing and was hoping I could have a scientific reason not to. :P</p>
<p>There *IS* a reason to iron if you sew your own clothing or alter your ready-made your clothing - it sets in any stitching you make. Seams, hems, what have you. It's almost a requirement when stitching seams. And if you alter your clothing it establishes the modification and makes it permenant.</p>
<p>I think the whole point of ironing is to actually to smoothen out creases. </p><p>Maybe the hypothesis should have been 'Ironing damages fabric used for White Cotton Undershirts' with the conclusion that it doesn't </p>
<p>Yip, that's what I got out of it. The iron does JUST what it was invented to do. This &quot;experiment&quot; proved that no shirt was harmed in the making of this instructable.</p>
<p>Yip, that's what I got out of it. The iron does JUST what it was invented to do. This &quot;experiment&quot; proved that no shirt was harmed in the making of this instructable.</p>
<p>Yip, that's what I got out of it. The iron does JUST what it was invented to do. This &quot;experiment&quot; proved that no shirt was harmed in the making of this instructable.</p>
<p>Yip, that's what I got out of it. The iron does JUST what it was invented to do. This &quot;experiment&quot; proved that no shirt was harmed in the making of this instructable.</p>
<p>I love my iron, so I guess I'm oversimplifying if I think ironing was invented to get the wrinkles out!? It does harm the fabric, so does wearing them. I iron hubby's shirts and can see it, so I must be missing something. Is this illustrating the scientific method? insinuating Mom went a bit overboard? or justifying not doing something we dislike? Clothes look better (hang better and fit better) without wrinkles. I don't like ironing my tablecloth, but it doesn't look very nice otherwise, and if I use spray starch, it protects. Maybe that would be a good experiment, does making the fibers brittle do more harm than ironing without? This IS entertaining, but the very fact that everyone has ideas on how to remove wrinkles shows that there IS a point to the invention of the iron.</p><p>I wonder if it's pointless to mow the lawn? Won't the grass reach a certain height and stop anyway? Do dishes get just as clean without hot water? Kiteman, you have your work cut out for you! I look forward to your testing the validity of many more common household chores. Let me know when you run out, I'll start my list. ;)</p><p>We do many, many things every day for no better reason than aesthetics, some even stretch and create &quot;art&quot;.... pointless too? </p>
<p>I'm not sure where you get the idea that every fabric or article needs to be ironed, or that most people habitually iron everything.</p><p>Its why man-made fibers were invented; to eliminate ironing. I would bet most people go their entire lives without ironing anything.</p><p>Ironing a knitted tee shirt or underwear is certainly pointless, but ironing a 100% cotton or linen dress, or shirt, or tablecloth is pretty much essential unless you enjoy seeing wrinkles in everything.</p><p>Starch has the added benefit of imparting a smooth gloss to the fabric as well as acting as a stain-resistant surface.</p><p>I understand that for some reason related to your mother you dislike ironing, but its an activity that has its place with natural fabrics.</p><p>If you don't like it, why not just stick to wearing knitted fabrics like tee shirts and wash-and-wear poly/cotton blends? In other words, wear what people &quot;who don't like&quot; to iron wear.</p>
<p><em>Its why man-made fibers were invented; to eliminate ironing.</em></p><p>Except that synthetic fibres tend to give me hideous flashbacks to the 1970s...</p>
<p>I think you're all nuts.</p>
<p>Cashews, preferably...</p>

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