How to Iron Without an Ironing Board

Ironing without an ironing board can be tricky but with a little creativity, you can have that shirt or pair of pants pressed to perfection.

If you’re looking for a quick temporary solution or something more permanent, we have a few options that will have your problem ironed out in no time at all.

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These boardless ironing solutions are also perfect if you prefer to keep your available space uncluttered. Ironing boards are one of those clunky, prehistoric inventions that you can do without… and here’s exactly how.

Iron Clothes While Hanging

Clothes can be ironed while still on their hanger. Hook the hanger over the back of a door and simply run the iron over the garment. It’s that easy!

Most modern steam irons have a vertical steaming function so you can even steam the piece of clothing in its hanging position. This will make the ironing process a lot faster and more effective as steam relaxes the fabric fibers, causing wrinkles to release in record time.

steam iron

Steam generator irons are especially efficient steam producers, read more here. The steam output of your iron will determine how successful the wrinkle removal process is. This is a key feature to look out for when buying a new steam iron.

Use a Table or Countertop

Ironing on an available surface like a kitchen counter or dining room table is a simple solution to boardless ironing, but the obvious concern is, will you damage the surface with the heat or moisture from your steam iron.

Different surfaces like wood, laminate countertops, plastic furniture, glass or stone will all react differently to exposure from a hot iron. The best way to avoid any damage is to protect the surface using a basic bath towel.

Wood Surfaces

To avoid watermarks on wood, you can layer a few towels over the surface, this will help absorb the moisture and stop it from penetrating the wood.

If moisture gets into the wood, you will notice white cloudy marks on the surface. This can be fixed by placing a dry towel over the area and running the iron over the spot with the steam setting off. The heat will dry the area and lift the mark.

Laminate or Plastic Surfaces

On plastic or laminate countertops, the heat from the iron can cause adhesives to soften and plastic can distort or even melt. Small bursts of ironing shouldn’t affect these surfaces, but for regular ironing, it would be best to invest in the right tool for the job.

Stone and Glass

Glass and stone can tolerate much higher temperatures and therefore make safer ironing board alternatives. You may find they get a little damp from the steam, but they can simply be wiped down when you’re done.

Looking for a more permanent counter-top solution? If limited space or a tight budget is one of the reasons you’re avoiding buying an ironing board, you’ll love this mini tabletop ironing board.

Counter Top Ironing Board

It calls itself a board… because technically it is, but its small, lightweight and costs a fraction of the real thing. It’s so compact that it can easily be stored in a cupboard or under a bed.

When you need to iron the occasional item, pull it out and pop out its little legs. You can place it on any work surface to get the ironing job done fast.

Use an Ironing Mat

An ironing mat, or ironing blanket, is a heat resistant surface that can be used to iron on, while at the same time protecting the surface below. It can be placed on any flat table or countertop, converting it into a makeshift ironing board.

There are some ironing mats that come with magnetic attachments and can be fitted to the surface of your washer or dryer. This is a clever solution for maximizing limited space and converts an already available work area into a functional ironing and folding station.

Counter Top Ironing Mat

The magnets also prevent the mat from slipping. Additionally, it looks good, so it can be left in place without making the laundry area look untidy.

Ironing mats are also a great portable solution for RV’s, travel and sewing classes.

Iron on the Bed or Floor

Ironing on the bed or floor is perfectly workable, but scorching the bedding or carpet it a risk. Take special care when placing your iron down. Again a towel or two should be placed over the surface you plan to work on.

When ironing on the bed, you want to avoid letting moisture penetrate into the mattress. Mattresses can be a breeding ground for dust mites. They thrive in warm and humid conditions so when you’re done ironing, ensure the mattress gets to dry out completely.

For those who travel regularly with a travel iron, the bed is often the best place to iron with the easiest reach to a power source.

Travel Iron

The same consideration should be given when ironing on a carpet. In homes with pets, dust mites can be even more of a problem, so check that the carpet doesn’t stay damp for long. If ironing on the carpet, a towel will also prevent dirt, fluff or lint from sticking to your clean clothing.

Use a Plank of Wood

This technique was used by our forefathers and is no less effective today. Wrap a towel around a piece of wood and you have a near-perfect ironing board alternative.

The plank can be placed over the back of two chairs which will allow you better reach and improved comfort while you work. Having the garment hanging loosely off the side will prevent wrinkles from being worked back into the fabric and make the process a lot faster and less frustrating.

How to iron shirts without an ironing board

Time needed: 10 minutes.

Shirts can be a bit challenging to iron on a makeshift ironing surface. Because shirts need to be ironing in sections, some areas bunch and this can re-wrinkle spots you’ve already ironed out. For this reason, avoid ironing shirts on the floor or on a low bed. Instead use a counter top, ideally with an ironing mat. Where possible, let sections of the garment you’ve already ironed hang freely over the edge to avoid creasing.

Here are the steps:

  1. Iron the cuffs and collar first.

    Iron the collar flat and iron from the back of the collar, rather than on the surface that is seen when folded down. This will reduce the likelihood of any ‘iron shine’ on your collar, of which polyester mixes are more susceptible. For this reason you must always check the temperature guide for the type of fabric you are ironing. Cuffs should be done the same way, ironing them flat and from the back of the cuff.

  2. Iron front of shirt

    Next, iron the two chest panels separately, working on the edge of the surface and allowing the rest of the shirt to hang.

  3. Iron the back panel

    When ironing the back panel, place the front panels neatly aside or fold them flat under the back panel. Ensure both layers are smoothed out to avoid ironing in new creases.

  4. Iron Sleeves

    Lastly, lay the sleeves out flat, seams matching, and iron them flat up to the cuffs.

  5. Touch up any remaining wrinkles

    With the shirt buttoned up all the way to the collar, use the iron to make any last touchups. This is best done while the shirt is handing on the back of a door.

How to iron trouser pants without an ironing board

Time needed: 10 minutes.

When ironing trousers, make sure you press seams, pockets, pleats and the front zipper area while they are turned inside out.

These areas scorch or shine easily because of the additional layers of fabric. For this reason, a softer, more padded surface is better when ironing pants.

Steps to iron your trousers without an ironing board:

  • Iron the seams inside out
    First, press/iron the waistband, pockets, pleats and around the zipper. Turn the pants right side out and lay one leg flat on the surface.
  • Iron the legs in sections
    Iron in sections from the bottom of the leg, all the way up. Repeat on both sides. Reposition the trousers carefully to avoid bunching.
  • Press your creases
    With both legs ironed, place the pants as flat as possible laying out the creases as you want them pressed. Lift and press the iron to set your creases in the trousers.

In Conclusion

If you only iron the occasional clothing item for work or a date, a large ironing board is over-kill, plus setup time can be a serious time waster. For most touchups, you can get away with a towel on almost any surface.

If you do a fair amount of ironing on a regular basis, using an ironing board will help the process and its worth getting the right fit for your needs to make it a painless exercise. Even a magnetic ironing mat over your washer or dryer will make a good permanent solution and gives you the peace of mind that you won’t accidentally scorch or damage anything with a hot steaming appliance.

Pro Tip: For those of looking to iron without an ironing board, or better yet, not iron at all… the way you wash your clothes could mean you avoid the process completely.

Yes, that’s correct. Not overloading your washer and using a gentle spin cycle will mean clothes come out the wash less creased. When the wash cycle is done, shake them out and hang them as straight as possible on a hanger to dry.

If you have a dryer, only dry a few items at a time and hang the clothing as soon as they’re done. You may not have that crisp ironed finish, but you’ll get away with it.

Failing that, find a laundry service in your areas and your life will be truly ironing and ironing board free.

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