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Electric steam iron

An iron , flat iron or straightener is a home appliance for smoothing (ironing, ndd .: flattening ) and in-mold bringing textiles, especially clothing pieces, table and bed linen . For this process, heat , pressure and, if it is a steam iron, moisture is used.


Irons consist of a handle (bracket) and a heated plate that comes into contact with the fabric to be ironed through the so-called soleplate. The soleplate is made of aluminum or stainless steel.

The iron is usually heated by an electrical heating element . The temperature is regulated by a thermostat switch. To avoid overheating if the thermostat fails, there is also a temperature fuse in the sole.

The desired temperature can be set using a selector switch or rotary knob. Instead of a temperature scale, for example, three levels are marked for orientation, which correspond to the textile care symbols for the ironing temperature. The temperature of the soleplate is up to 105 ° C when set to “ ” (synthetic, including acetate, polyacrylic, polyamide), up to 165 ° C for “ ” (silk, wool, viscose) and up to “ ” (cotton) , Linen) up to 220 ° C.

Another variant used to be direct information about the type of fabric: for example linen, cotton, silk, wool, synthetics.

Steam irons have a water tank. The steam emanating from the soleplate of the iron makes ironing easier. With steam ironing stations, steam from a separate steam generator (on the table or under the ironing board) is fed through a hose to the iron.

Large textiles such as bed linen and tablecloths can also be smoothed with ironing machines . The commercial large ironing machines, so-called hot ironers with a pass the width of bed covers, were often made available in own companies for self-service in the past.


Ironing ship washer

An iron takes a few tens of seconds to a few minutes to reach operating temperature. Then the flat-laid textiles are painted over several times with the hot iron to smooth them out. The device can be set to different temperatures for different materials. See also textile care symbols .

Ironing is made easier if the laundry is (still) slightly damp or has been sprayed. The moisture evaporates and transports thermal energy inside. Furthermore, the fiber bonds are temporarily broken and the fibers soften, making the textiles more malleable.

Laundry starch stiffens the laundry after drying and leaves a smoother surface.

steam iron

An alternative to dampening the laundry is a steam iron. The heat transfer in thick textiles is improved by steam. For this purpose, a steam iron releases steam into the laundry through openings in the soleplate.

Steam ironing stations

In the case of steam ironing stations, the water tank and steam generator are separate from the iron - the steam is fed through a hose to the iron. There are steam ironing stations whose water tank is placed on an ironing table. Larger models that can generate more steam and more pressure are integrated into the ironing board. Such ironing tables are often also equipped with a fan, which makes it easier to spread out the laundry items before ironing. Commercial ironing stations are designed for continuous operation, often have a height-adjustable work surface and facilities for draining off condensation so that it does not dampen the ironed laundry.


Collection of irons

The word “iron”, first attested in the 17th century, is probably named after its bow-shaped handle; also in the 17th century the word “ironing” was used for the smoothing of laundry or clothing for the first time.

Already at the time of the Han dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) in ancient China, so-called pan irons were used to smooth silk garments. Glowing coals were mixed with sand and poured into a metal pan. The first irons are known from the 15th century. They consisted of a solid metal plate with a handle that had to be heated on a hot oven plate. Hollow flat irons (also box irons, in Austria stagle irons), which were mostly made of brass, have survived from the late 17th and 18th centuries. From the back, which was closed by a flap, an iron plate (or stagl ) heated in the fire was inserted into the cavity in order to heat the sole. Such irons were used well into the 19th century.

The ox tongue was a further development in the later 19th century : Here a piece of iron - often referred to as an "ox tongue" because of its shape - is pushed into the iron from behind and closed with a flap.

In the late 19th century, the charcoal iron appeared, in whose enlarged cavity glowing coals or briquettes were filled.

In the case of interchangeable irons, the handle of the cold iron was removed and latched onto a second iron that was heated on the oven, and the cold iron was placed on the hot oven. See picture tailor furnace

Gas irons were in the 19./20. Century in use. Some were connected directly to the gas line via hoses and were mainly used in ironing rooms; However, they brought with them the risk that the supply hose could leak due to the mechanical movement of the bracket. Others were heated by an external gas burner.

There were also irons that could be fired by small alcohol burners.

With the electrification of the household, the iron was also heated electrically. The first electric irons did not have a thermostat. They had an output of around 500 W and had to be B. be tested on a wet cloth or with water splashes to the required temperature. Later models had a thermostat with a dial. The housing of the electric iron was initially made of metal. There was an ergonomically shaped wooden handle on a metal strap. A hot device plug was installed at the rear .

Later until the 1960s, the upper part of the housing was made of Bakelite , after which thermoplastic was also used.

The handle of the device used to be free at the front, but the back of the Acosta version from the 1970s was free for the first time.

The steam iron is a further development, the water compartment usually has a window for the fill level.

Cordless irons have a storage device with power contacts and are reheated in this. An aluminum block is used for heat storage. The devices show z. B. also during ironing when they have to be thermally recharged and report when they - parked on the station - have finished heating.

See also

Sound recording of a steam iron


  • Marianne Strobel: Old ironing equipment: a cultural history of ironing . 2nd, revised and greatly expanded edition. Strobel, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-9800848-1-7 .

Web links

Commons : Iron  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Flat iron  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Straightening irons on , accessed on April 15, 2014.
  2. ^ Fa. Creative Dive / Martin Jost : Information on ironing temperature
  3. ^ Company M15 Internet OHG : Information on symbols and ironing temperatures
  4. ^ Article steam ironing station , visited on October 23, 2012
  5. The article Ironing Flatware, Smoothing a Tea Towel. Retrieved March 13, 2013
  6. General information on ironing
  7. a b https: //bü Why steam ironing? , accessed on Oct. 19, 2018
  8. Article Commercial ironing area , link checked on January 19, 2013
  9. Duden Volume 7, Etymology - Dictionary of Origin of the German Language . Bibliographisches Institut Mannheim et al., Dudenverlag, 1963, search word “temple”.
  10. The history of ironing ( Memento of the original from December 22, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. Wolfgang König: History of the consumer society , VSWG supplements, Franz Steiner Verlag Stuttgart, 2000, ISBN 3-515-07650-6 , p. 225
  12. Operating instructions for the wireless device "Tefal freemove"