How to Iron Without an Ironing Board Alternatives

Ironing is undoubtedly easier if you have an ironing surface to work on, but just how do you iron clothing without the convenience of an ironing board?

We’ve looked into several options that serve as ironing board alternatives. From makeshift ironing boards to more permanent space-saving solutions, we have several workable solutions so you can iron your clothes almost anywhere.

Ps: If the time has come to get the right tool for the job, check out our ironing board reviews for some great options.
Or visit our best sewing machine tables and cabinets, some of which even include their own ironing board.

1. Iron on a Table or Countertop

This is one of the best makeshift ironing board solutions that you can create almost anywhere. In all cases, you will first need to lay down a towel, or even two to make the process easier.

A towel will not only help to avoid any heat damage, but it creates a non-slip surface to work on. Additionally, it will help absorb the excess moisture from the steam iron.

Wooden Table Surfaces

Wooden tables are the least ideal surface to iron on and should be avoided. That being said, if you have not other option, read on…

Cover the wooden surface with a protective layer of like a folded towel or natural fiber blanket. This may help prevent any steam or heat damage. The more layers, the better the protection. A waterproof layer of plastic under at least 2 towels seems to be the safest option.

When wood absorbs too much moisture, you will notice a cloudy white mark on the surface. Also, be careful with thinly veneered wood (eg. Ikea tables) or wood which has been covered in thick varnish. Both of these run the risk of showing marks when the temperature is too hot.

Laminate or Vinyl Countertops

Although laminate and vinyl are pretty durable, heat resistant and moisture-proof, the heat and moisture from a steam iron could soften the glue on the edges of the counter, causing them to lift. This is where the towel acts as an ideal protective barrier, absorbing any excess steam and taking the brunt of the heat.

Marble, Stone or Granite Counter Tops

Can you iron on a marble countertop? Granite or Marble countertops have excellent heat resistance so you can absolutely iron on these surfaces. However, you will still need to place a towel between the countertop and the garment.

2. Iron Clothes on an Ironing Mat

An ironing mat (aka ironing blanket) is an ingenious, space-saving option specially designed for ironing anywhere. You can use it at home, when you travel, for sewing classes or even when camping and RV’ing. They’re lightweight as well as heat resistant so will protect the surface from any moisture or heat damage.

3. Iron on Top of Your Washer/Dryer

Your washer or dryer is the perfect surface to use as an impromptu ironing board, plus its ideally located where clothing can be ironed and folded as soon as they come out the dryer.

Ironing blankets, mentioned above, are also available with magnets that neatly secure the blanket to the sides of your machine. Using an ironing blanket on the top of the machine makes it a more convenient and affordable permanent solution.

4. Use the Floor

This might seem a little back-breaking but it still works. Be aware of heat-sensitive floors like vinyl or varnished wood. Always lay down a towel (or two)!

5. Use a Bed

This works well and it’s many people’s go-to solution. You must protect your mattress from the moisture accumulated as you steam the clothing. Try to keep it out of the mattress by placing a plastic sheet, then a towel, and then iron over it. That being said, steam cleaners are used to clean mattresses anyway, so you’re pretty safe here. Just make sure to air out the mattress if any moisture got inside.

6. Hang and Steam Clothing

You’re basically using your iron vertically, like a steam cleaner. Although not its primary function, most steam irons have a vertical steaming option. Place the item you want to iron on a hanger. Switch your iron on and set it to its maximum temperature setting. This will ensure the steam output is at its most powerful.

You can then run the steam iron over the hanging garment. If the hanger is hooked on the back of a door, you could press against the surface of the fabric. Just be sure that it can tolerate the heat. For thinner fabrics, let the steam do the work and don’t let the soleplate touch the garment to ensure it doesn’t scorch or burn.

7. Use a Plank of Wood

This technique was widely used in the early 18th century before the invention of the ironing board. It’s an option for anyone looking for a cheap, flexible and semi-permanent ironing board alternative. If your only available surfaces are flimsy or you don’t want to risk damaging them or creating water stains on a wooden table, then a plain plank of wood is a great option.

  • Wrap the wood panel up in a towel and place it down on a surface, your lap, or over the back of two chairs.
  • A breadboard wrapped in a towel can even be used while balanced across your knees.
  • The wider the plank, the larger the surface area you’ll cover while ironing. This will speed up the process.

8. Buy a Mini Ironing Board

If space is an issue and you’re looking for an ironing board alternative because you don’t want to deal with the cost and weight of an oversized board, we have the perfect mini solution for you.

These small boards technically qualify as ironing boards, except they’re ultra-light (as little as 12 ounces) and super compact. They can be stored in a cupboard, under a bed and set up on any surface in seconds. Tabletop ironing boards are also super affordable and cut out the effort of having to create a makeshift ironing board.

How to Iron a Shirt or Pants Without an Ironing Board

A shirt is a bit more complicated to iron on a wide surface such as a table or countertop because it needs to be done in sections.

It takes some practice to reposition the shirt on a table without putting wrinkles back into the areas you’ve already ironed.

Working on an elevated surface will work better than the floor. When ironing the body of the shirt, it will help if you let the rest of the shirt hang off the surface edge to prevent it bunching and creating new wrinkles.