I spent my life being told to wear ironed clothes. Be neat. Be tidy.
My mother irons everything; towels, sheets, underwear, even flannels.
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.
Step 2: Secondary Evidence & Preliminary Research
I contacted a number of steam iron manufacturers via their websites, and asked whether ironing has any material benefit beyond improving the appearance.
Unfortunately, typing weeks after designing this experiment, no replies were forthcoming*. This leads me to suspect that my hypothesis is correct...
I did find other people who questioned the need for ironing, but nobody seems to have actively examined it.
As far as I can tell, ironing was invented as, and continues to be, a purely social contrivance.
*If I ever receive any communications from steam-iron manufacturers, I will edit them into this step.
Step 3: Starting point
To do this experiment, I needed to find out what ironing does to clothing, and what happens when clothes are not ironed.
I started with a brand new, plain, white t-shirt, and examined it under a microscope, taking record shots through the eye-piece.
I also found that the "super macro" setting on my camera, set at the finest resolution, provided useful images.