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How to Use the Steam Function on Your Iron

Wrinkles, be gone. 

steam iron
Photography by: Getty Images

You know it’s there, but do you know how to use it properly? We’re talking about that little steam icon on your iron, your best friend when it comes to de-wrinkling even the most crumpled shirts. To finally set things straight (pun intended), we chatted with Sharon Barodawala, iron expert and associate product manager at Rowenta, to help break things down. 

 

What the steam function is really for

“The purpose of the steam function is to continuously produce steam when the iron is on,” Barodawala tells us. “Steam is the key to ironing because it helps get rid of wrinkles quickly. Steam permeates the fibers of the fabric, and the heat from the iron makes them stay in place.” In other words, without steam, don’t count on those pants being pressed as well. The most common mistake people make with the steam function? “Not using it!” 

 

[SEE: Martha's Tips for Choosing the Best Steamer]

 

How to use the steam function

After filling your iron’s water compartment, be sure to give the iron enough time to heat up. “Once the red light is off, the iron should be ready to use,” Barodawala says. To prevent water from dribbling out of the soleplate and all over your button-up shirt, avoid rushing the heating-up process. “Let the iron be ready [before using]. At low temperatures, water will drip out.” As for when you push the steam burst button, which emits a shot of steam, she suggests this for smoothing out an extremely creased area. “This will help iron it out faster.”

 

[LEARN: How to Get Wrinkles Out of Silk Clothing] 

 

Using the steam function on various fabrics

To avoid ruining your favorite blouse (with too much heat, or not enough moisture before steaming), be sure to double check your clothing labels for best ironing practices. “Most irons [also] have settings for different types of fabrics so be sure to read your labels before you begin ironing.” It can also be helpful to begin ironing your load with the most delicate fabrics first and gradually working your way to heavier sweaters and pants; this will allow your iron ample time to adjust to increased heat settings. 

 

Next, watch Martha clean out an iron here: