A pressing cloth can be the difference between a well-pressed piece of clothing and a scorched one, therefore it’s important to always have one handy. But you don’t need to break the bank or run to the store to get special fabric for ironing. We guarantee you have something suitable in your closet or around the house. If you’re in a pinch looking for the right alternative material to use for a pressing cloth, this article has you covered with tested materials that will keep your clothes safe.
What makes a good alternative for a pressing cloth when ironing? It depends on the fabric you are ironing, but some of the best and most readily available fabrics include:
Tea cloth or kitchen towel
Old cotton shirt
Silk-organza is a very thin, sheer, plain weave fabric that is usually made from silk. This sheer fabric is made with fine silk filament yarn and has a high melting point.
It sounds fancy, but you likely have some laying around your house. It’s used for evening wear, veils, tutus, and scarves. Don’t be fooled by its delicate look, though, as it can hold up to high heat.
This fabric is extremely strong and yet very flexible and fluid. It can stand very high temperatures and translucent enough to be draped nicely to whatever fabric or clothing you are ironing.
Almost everyone has a spare bed sheet laying around and it makes for a good pressing cloth for most fabrics and is see-through enough to see what you are ironing.
Old bed sheets that are cotton, not poly-cotton or any polyester substitute, are a good alternative for pressing cloths. Only 100% cotton will do, though.
Bedsheet covers are one of the best fabrics for a DIY pressing cloth. Not only are they typically readily available -- I bet you have one tucked in a back closet -- but also the cotton material holds heat well and doesn’t burn, meaning your fabric stay safe. They are also usually thin enough that you can see through them.
When choosing a pressing cloth, try to find a fabric that is preferably white and not color-dyed or patterned. You don’t want to risk anything transferring to what you are ironing. Using an old fabric that has been washed a few times is best.
These are a safe choice in a pinch, though thicker tea towels or kitchen towels can leave marks on finer fabrics.
A tea cloth or kitchen cloth works just fine as a pressing cloth, and it makes a great barrier for delicate fabrics because kitchen towels tend to be thicker. You can even dampen the cloth before ironing to add a little steam.
Plain woven cotton canvas similar to tea cloths also make for a good pressing cloths. They are perfect for very delicate fabrics that can’t withstand high temperatures. Using them damp can help to iron tricky fabrics like chiffon or lace.
This plain weave cotton fabric has many uses around the home, and it makes for a good pressing cloth for general pressing and less delicate fabrics.
Unbleached cotton muslin is a great option for a pressing cloth. Note that you should not use a poly-blend fabric. Muslin holds up well to heat and is a good option for general pressing.
However, it’s not the best option for delicate fabrics because it can leave a pattern behind. Muslin cloth is great for applying fusible interfacing, which adds stiffness to fabric. It’s adhesive, so it’s important to use a pressing cloth to catch any stray adhesive from sticking to your iron.
An old shirt will help absorb the heat of the iron and is especially great for tougher fabrics like corduroy.
If you have an old cotton shirt gathering dust, you can put it to use as a pressing cloth. Cotton shirts are smooth, have a high heat tolerance and keep the fabric underneath smooth. It’s great for virtually any fabric. You can also use it for flannel, wool or odd fabrics like camel hair.
A pressing cloth offers a line of defense between your hot iron (did you know they get up to 400 degrees?) and your delicate fabrics. There is nothing worse than scorching one of your favorite shirts. The right pressing cloth also protects your iron if you are pressing something that may melt and is necessary for applying adhesive iron-ons or fusible interfacing. No one wants to be plucking glue off their iron.
There are many fabrics you can use as a pressing cloth, but some are more suited to certain fabrics. For example, if you are ironing delicate fabric, silk organza is a great option because it can sustain high heats. It’s also sheer so you can see what is happening underneath, and it has a fine texture which means no marks left behind on your garment.
Of course, you can buy pressing cloths from department stores or online. They even have different types from see-through ones made of an interfacing-type material to thick ones with special finishes for tailoring. But, you likely have something perfectly suited for your needs around the house. It’s also a good way to save money and be sustainable, putting old fabrics to new use.
Not all fabrics require using a press cloth. But for certain fabrics and projects, it’s a must for the following reasons:
Prevents scorching - The pressing cloth is a barrier between the hot iron and your delicate fabrics. It serves as somewhat of insulation especially if the iron gets too hot.
Protects the iron - Scorching of certain fabrics may damage the plate of the iron, making it either hard to clean or lose its non-stick coating.
It helps smooth ironing - Using a pressing cloth will help you have smoother and more seamless ironing. The pressing cloth will help the iron glide over the fabrics you are ironing.
Prevents shrinkage - One of the problems with washing clothes is that it makes the fabric contract hence, the shrinking. Ironing fabrics with a pressing cloth, especially the ones that need to use damp pressing clothes may help with this issue as it straightens the fabric back to its original shape.
Increases the overall lifespan of clothes - Proper ironing using pressing clothes will increase the life span of clothes aside from keeping them scorched. It will also protect and properly organize the threads to keep it from both shrinking and stretching too much.
A pressing cloth is simply a cloth used between an iron and a garment. Pressing cloths have been used as a pressing tool for as long as irons have been around, so for centuries. They were useful to keep garments safe from the high heat, and they were used to help steam clothes.
A pressing cloth keeps your iron from having direct contact with your fabrics. It protects your clothes from being scorched and prevents unwanted shiny spots or stains. It is also a good idea to use a pressing cloth to protect your iron from damage. It does this by preventing melted fabric from sticking to the iron plate, especially from low-quality fabrics and rubber or plastic prints on the fabric.
There are a variety of materials that can be used as a pressing cloth. If you don’t happen to have the specific types of fabric we mention above around the house, below are a few tips to help you choose an alternative pressing cloth fabric that will keep your garments safe.
It’s important to be able to see what you are pressing, which is why we recommend silk organza or thin bed sheets. So if you have something that’s thin cotton (make sure it’s 100% cotton), you can use that. Choosing something sheer makes it easier for you to see if you are removing the creases.
If your pressing cloth is too small, it will be tedious to press a large garment, and may add unwanted creases. Something between 15 - 18 inches for its width and 20 - 25 inches in length should be sufficient. Of course, the size should be to your liking. This is merely a good guideline to start with.
One of the main purposes of a pressing cloth is to protect both the fabric and the iron from melted cloth, so it would be best to use a fabric that has a high melting point. That’s why we recommend 100% cotton. It’s less likely to melt or burn even with prolonged ironing.
When choosing a pressing cloth, you want a fabric that transfers the right amount of heat. If the fabric doesn’t let enough heat through, your iron won’t get the job done. But if it lets too much, you could damage your fabric or leave unwanted marks. Test out a few pressing fabrics on a corner of your garment to make sure it has the effect you want.
For finer fabrics, you want a pressing cloth that is equally smooth. That’s why silk organza or fine, smooth cotton is a great choice. It will be easier for your iron to glide, and it won’t leave any marks from the fabric. A thick, loosely woven pressing cloth may be OK for a thick or tough fabric, but it is not suitable for lace, silk, or other finely woven materials.
Using an alternative DIY pressing has their own advantages over store-bought ones. One, fabrics in your house such as the ones I mentioned above like Silk-organza, bedsheet made from 100% cotton and tea cloths are already readily available.
Buying would simply be impractical. Also, having your own pressing cloth can help you choose which kind of pressing cloth is best for a particular garment. A store-bought is more or less a general-purpose pressing cloth. Lastly, most store-bought pressing cloth is made of mesh and these are usually raised and do not provide close contact between the iron and the garment which may cause somewhat of an inconvenience in your ironing experience.
Though it’s always a good idea, not every fabric or project requires a pressing cloth. However, there are some situations in which you absolutely need a pressing cloth to prevent a catastrophe in your ironing board.
Fusible interfacing. ALWAYS use a pressing cloth when ironing anything with fusible interfacing. I cannot stress this enough. If you’re not familiar with this, this is the extra layer that gives garments shape in support of other detailed areas. It has a resin that easily melts even when steamed. Using a pressing cloth will prevent a molten mess and resin stuck on your iron.
Dyed clothing. Most pressing clothes are made of 100% cotton or any fabric that can withstand high temperatures. Clothing that was dyed is usually sensitive to high-temperature changes. When heated, the dye can transfer to either the ironing board or the iron itself.
Overheating dyed fabrics can also fade the fabric and make it look less appealing. Using a pressing cloth can prevent dye transfer and save you a ton of money on new clothes.
Silk and delicate fine fabrics. Fragile fabric such as these are prone to scorching and melting. Silk and delicate fabrics should always have a barrier pressing cloth to prevent markings.
Fabrics made of PVC, leather or oilcloth. These fabrics are already difficult to iron, so using a pressing cloth helps make the seams crisper and guarantees a good finish.
Scuba. No, I am not talking about the diving apparatus. Scuba is the fashion fabric version of a neoprene. This fabric is prone to melting at high temperatures, so a pressing cloth is necessary to iron this fabric safely.
I will share some final tips and tricks to ensure your ironing experience is a breeze, especially whenever you are using a pressing cloth.
Dampen your pressing cloth a little bit. Believe or not, using a pressing cloth is a pretty old technology. As mentioned it has been in use for hundreds of years. Even without a steam iron, many people would dampen their pressing cloth with which produce steam, protect their garments and make their ironing better and a whole lot easier.
Use the right kind of pressing cloth material for your garments. This one is for those of you who want a better ironing experience for a specific garment for that very special occasion. Of course, a 100% cotton pressing cloth works best for most garments. However, for some specific fabric, other materials work better. Using a muslin pressing cloth is best used when ironing clothing with fusible interfacing. Its tolerance for high temperature and smooth surface makes it ideal for this.
Why buy when you have DIY pressing cloths. There are a lot of places and websites to purchase pressing cloths. But materials and fabrics around your house may even be better than what’s available out there, and it’s always good to reuse fabrics and reduce waste. Again a 100% cotton fabric like a bed sheet is an ideal general-purpose pressing cloth.
Don’t forget to check the settings on your iron. Pressing cloths do a good job of protecting your garments from scorching, but never forget to apply the right temperature for each of the fabric you iron. Always check the tags on your clothing for the recommended setting.
A pressing cloth makes your ironing job a whole lot easier and protects your clothes, iron and the board from damages. Hopefully, for future ironing projects, these practical tips will help make ironing a breeze —not a chore!