What is a Pressing Cloth for Ironing?

Both beginners and pro ironers experience accidental scorches at one time or another, but with an ironing cloth, you can avoid these potential disasters. If you’ve not yet scorched a garment or two, you’re one of the lucky ones. It’s not a difficult mistake to make considering you’re working with an appliance that reaches temperatures of up to 445 °F. This is where a pressing cloth has saved many a day!

What is a pressing cloth? A pressing cloth is a piece of cotton fabric or synthetic mesh used as a protective layer between your clothing and the hot soleplate of the iron. It is mainly used while ironing delicate fabrics to prevent scorching or shine.

Are Pressing and Ironing Cloths the Same?

Yes. A pressing cloth and an ironing cloth are the same thing.

I guess, the only difference is the ironing technique for which they are used. Ironing is moving the iron back and forth and pressing is holding the steam iron still over a single spot. Both techniques use the same protective barrier to avoid potential burns when using a steam iron for clothes or sewing.

When Should You Use an Ironing Cloth?

An ironing cloth should be used when working with delicate fabrics, such as silk, wool and mixed fabrics containing synthetic, man-made fibers that are more prone to scorching, shine or melting.

Benefits of Using a Pressing Cloth

  • Pressing cloths avoid scorch marks or shine on garments
  • They protect the iron from scratches caused by metal buttons and zippers
  • They prevent residue buildup on the iron’s soleplate when using starch
  • They protect the iron from sticky deposits when sewing and crafting
  • Cost savings by avoiding accidental damage to clothing

Types of Pressing or Ironing Cloths

Cotton is the ideal fabric to use as an ironing cloth but there are also synthetic polyester mesh options that are cheap, effective and let you see the garment through the mesh. Ironing cloths are also used in sewing and crafting to protect the iron from sticky residues.

1. Muslin Cloth

Muslin cloth is another name for a simple cotton cloth. It is a plain weave cotton fabric that is ideal for use as an ironing or pressing cloth as it can handle high temperatures. It can be purchased at most fabric and sewing supply stores.

2. Old Sheets or Pillow Cases

The benefit of using what you have around the house is, of course, the cost-saving, plus you can also cut the ironing cloth to the size you want. You can also get several pressing cloths out of a single old bed sheet.

Sewing in an edge is not necessary. This can sometimes get in the way and cause a ridge or dent in the garment if you iron over it.

Pillowcases are already a convenient size, as are clean cotton dishcloths or tea towels. All you need is a barrier to take the brunt of the heat when ironing more sensitive fabrics. I like that you can moisten a cotton pressing cloth to help iron out wrinkles although, with most modern irons, a burst of steam should be all you need.

3. Mesh Ironing Cloths

What I love about using a mesh ironing cloth is that it’s transparent. You can see exactly where you are ironing and can ensure the garment is neatly flattened. It also allows the steam to penetrate the garment which makes faster progress getting through an ironing heap.

A mesh ironing cloth is a relatively cheap option and super easy to care for. It can be cleaning by simply throwing it in the washing machine, and it can be folded away so it takes up no extra space.

4. Parchment Paper for Sewing and Pressing

If you are applying an appliqué that you iron onto the fabric, you can use store-bought parchment paper, but a thin piece of cloth will work just as well.

Don’t make the mistake of using wax paper. Wax paper and parchment paper are not interchangeable. Parchment can withstand temperatures up to 450°F (origin) but wax paper melts when exposed to heat.

5. Teflon Pressing Cloths for Crafting

Non-stick Teflon pressing cloths are most commonly used for sewing and craftwork where you want to protect the soleplate of the iron from residue caused by fusibles, starches, and other sticky products.

What Happens if you Don’t Use an Ironing Cloth?

If you don’t use an ironing cloth, you run the risk of damaging delicate fabrics by exposing them to the direct heat of the ironing plate. There are ways to stop shine when ironing clothes. In natural fabrics, an over-heated iron can compress the fibers which will create uneven or shiny patches on the garment. In some cases, this can be reversed.

If you don’t have an ironing cloth handy and are unsure what heat is needed to remove creases from a garment, turn the heat down low, iron the garment inside out or use steam alone while pulling on the garment until wrinkles fade away.

In Conclusion

If you iron frequently, an ironing cloth is super handy to have around. If you’re even unsure if a garment can take the direct heat of the iron, turn the heat down and use the ironing cloth as an extra safety measure.

Word of warning, the ironing cloth is not an invincible layer that you can leave the iron lying face down on. Be sure to still apply basic ironing care and safety to avoid any fire hazards.