Friday, April 19

ADVICE: The science of wrinkled clothing

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Sure-fire ways to remove creases but make sure the item is heat-resistant

EXPERT: Natsuko Fukuchi, a manager at Kao Corp’s Lifestyle Research Centre in TokyoIroning may not be everyone’s favourite chore, but there is a magic and science to it.

Ironing may not be everyone’s favourite chore, but there is a magic and science to it. Learning how an iron works may change your outlook about the chore.

Q We can remove wrinkles in the fabric of our clothes by ironing them. We usually take this process for granted, but why do we get wrinkles in our clothes and why do they disappear?

A Wrinkles occur at the molecular level in the fabric of our clothing. Molecules are connected to one another because of forces of attraction called hydrogen bonds. If hydrogen bonds come into contact with water, they loosen. Once the moisture disappears, they form again. The reason why wrinkles form when laundry is hung out to dry is that hydrogen bonds form again after molecules loosen and become misaligned.

Q How does ironing work?

A Ironing reverses this process and realigns the molecules. A steam iron dampens the fabric and loosens the hydrogen bonds. Then pressure is applied to align the molecules. Finally, the heat causes the water to evaporate and the hydrogen bonds to reconnect. Using a steam iron, the above three steps occur almost simultaneously.

The hotter the iron is, the easier it is for the moisture inside the fabric to evaporate, and the faster the hydrogen bonds recover. In short, wrinkles disappear faster when ironing at higher temperatures. However, if your clothes are made from material that is not heat-resistant, they might get damaged, shrink or become shiny. Checking the care instructions on your clothing tags is essential.

Q What is the key to ironing one’s clothing?

A The key is to loosen the hydrogen bonds effectively. You can add moisture either by using a spray or steam functions.

Q Steam irons or spray?

A Given the ease of steam irons, many people use them to iron 100% cotton shirts. However, the water droplets from a sprayer are larger and adhere well to the cloth. The moisture remains on the fabric and makes it easier for the hydrogen bonds to loosen.

Since cotton is highly resistant to heat, the temperature of the iron should be used on a high setting, according to the directions on clothing tags. Also, the iron should be used on a dry setting, pressed onto the clothing and smoothed along it in one direction.

On the other hand, the advantage to using steam is that the droplets are small, so they can penetrate deeper into the fabric. Steam is ideal for giving woollen knit products a soft finish. For such garments, use a medium temperature, hold the iron slightly above the fabric, and apply the steam to the clothing.

To make a crease in trousers, use your iron’s steam mode, put another piece of cloth in between the iron and the garment and press the iron onto it firmly.

Share.

About Author