Iron heat: Select the Right Setting for Ironing Any Fabric

Select the Right Setting for Ironing Any Fabric

Prevent Burnt Clothes While Tackling Wrinkles Safely


Mary Marlowe Leverette

Mary Marlowe Leverette

Mary Marlowe Leverette is one of the industry’s most highly-regarded housekeeping and fabric care experts, sharing her knowledge on efficient housekeeping, laundry, and textile conservation. She is also a Master Gardener with over 40+ years of experience and 20+ years of writing experience. Mary is also a member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board.

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Updated on 11/05/22

Reviewed by

Katie Berry

Reviewed by
Katie Berry

Katie Berry is a cleaning expert with 30 years of household management experience and 12 years of writing about cleaning methods and routines for Housewife How-Tos. She is the author of several books about homemaking.

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The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija 

Selecting the correct temperature on an iron can make the difference between a good job and a disaster. The right temperature makes ironing quicker and gives a more professional result. The wrong temperature can make removing wrinkles or curled hem edges harder, or even worse; it can burn a hole in the fabric.

Cotton is one of the most common fabrics and requires at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile silk and polyester require less heat at 300 F. The dots on a fabric label or an iron indicate the heat level. One dot is low heat, two is medium heat, and three is high heat.

Steam is the highest heat level and can make ironing faster, requiring less effort when passing the iron over the fabric. When using steam or spraying water on the material, the water helps transfer the heat evenly on the surface.

While all irons differ slightly in heat output, use the following basic guidelines for the proper temperatures to iron different fabric types. The settings use a scale of 1 to 7; 1 is the coolest and lowest, usually called the nylon setting, while 7 is the hottest and highest, commonly called the linen setting.  


Whether it’s malfunctioning or your iron is running a little hot, know the symptoms when it is too hot. Lower the heat if the iron leaves scorch marks, burning holes, sticking to the fabric, or making the fabric singe or curl up.

Recommended Ironing Temperatures

If your iron uses a different scale or you want to know more exact temperatures for ironing different types of fabric, follow these guidelines for degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit:

 Fabric  Temperature (Fahrenheit)  Temperature (Celsius)
Linen 445 F 230 C
Triacetate  390 F 200 C
Cotton 400 F 204 C
Viscose/Rayon 375 F 190 C
Wool 300 F 148 C
Polyester 300 F 148 C
Silk 300 F 148 C
Acetate 290 F 143 C
Acrylic 275 F 135 C
Lycra/Spandex 275 F 135 C
Nylon 275 F 135 C

Low Temperature, Medium Temperature, and High Temperature

  • Low temperature: Usually 230 F or below; setting 1; includes acetate, lycra, nylon
  • Medium temperature: Usually 230 F to 300 F; setting 2 or 3; includes acrylic, lace, polyester, wool, and silk
  • High temperature: 300 F and up; setting 4 and up; includes linen, cotton, viscose/rayon, denim

Ironing Temperature Settings for Fabrics

Fabric Iron Setting Ironing Tips
Acetate 1 Press on the wrong side of the fabric while it is still damp.
Acrylic 3  
Beaded 1 Place the fabric on a plush white towel, and press on the wrong side using a pressing cloth to prevent damaging the beads.
Cashmere 3 Do not press; instead, use steam only. The iron should not even make contact with the cashmere since agitation while damp from the steam ruins the fibers. For hard, set-in wrinkles, press on the wrong side using a pressing cloth.
Corduroy 7 Place the fabric on a plush white towel, and press on the wrong side of the fabric. Turn the fabric over, and use steam-only on the front side of the fabric to refresh any crushed pile.
Cotton, lightweight 5 Press dark colors on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent shine marks.
Cotton, heavyweight 7 Press the fabric while still slightly damp. For dark colors, press only the wrong side to prevent shine marks.
Damask 5 Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron to prevent snagging long fibers.
Lace 3 Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron to prevent snags and pulls.
Linen 5 Iron on the wrong side of the dampened fabric for the best linen finish.
Nylon 1 Always use a pressing cloth for extra protection between the fabric and the iron because nylon burns easily.
Olefin 3  
Polyester 3  
Ramie 3 Iron on the wrong side of the fabric while it is still damp.
Rayon 3 Iron on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent leaving a shine on rayon fabric.
Satin 3 Press on the wrong side of the fabric with a pressing cloth between the iron and the fabric. Use no steam, which can leave watermarks on the fabric.
Sequined fabric 2 Do not iron because sequins can melt. Use light steam on the wrong side of the fabric to remove wrinkles.
Silk 3 Press on the wrong side of the fabric. Do not use steam which can leave watermarks on some silk fabrics.
Synthetic Blends 3  
Velvet 3 It is preferable never to iron, only steam, velvet to remove wrinkles. If the wrinkles are severe, place on a plush white towel, and press on the wrong side of the fabric with a very light touch. After ironing, use steam only on the front side of the fabric to refresh crushed pile.
Woven Wool 3 Use a damp pressing cloth between the iron and fabric. Iron on the wrong side of the fabric to prevent snags and shiny marks.

The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija  

How to Manage the Temperature of Your Iron

Unless you are just ironing a single garment, separate your wrinkled clothing and linens by type of fabric before you begin ironing. Start by ironing the items that require the lowest temperature, such as acetate and nylon. Then, move to silks, polyester, and other synthetic fabrics like olefin. Finally, iron cotton and linen fabrics.

If you must switch back to a lower iron temperature, give your iron at least five minutes to cool down before you use it again.

When in doubt about what temperature to use, start low and iron on the wrong side of the fabric with a pressing cloth. You can always move the temperature up gradually to remove tougher wrinkles and still prevent scorching. Scorch marks can be difficult to remove but not always impossible if caught early and treated while they are light in color.

The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija 

Iron Settings and Temperatures Explained

Ironing is one of those tasks that we all try to put off, or avoid entirely, until we really have to iron something!

It should be quite a simple task in theory, but when you’ve not popped the iron on for a while, you almost always get taken aback by all the settings and temperatures that greet you.

What does this setting or that feature do? What temperature should I iron my skirt on? Will I burn my lace top if I iron it at the wrong temperature?

Sound familiar? Lucky for you I’ve scorched and ruined enough clothes by miss-ironing them to last a lifetime, so you can learn from my mistakes! Here’s a guide to an iron’s settings and temperatures.

If you’ve just bought your very first iron, or if you’ve recently upgraded to an ultra-modern iron, it can sometimes be a tad confusing figuring out what all the various settings and temperatures really mean.

After all, nobody wants to ruin their favourite clothes on their first shot at ironing. 

So, here’s a guide to an iron’s settings and temperatures!

Note: There may be some slight variation from one iron model to another, as well as, from a modern iron to an older one when it comes to settings and temperatures.

If it’s possible, you should read your user manual to make sure you understand each setting and temperature that appears on your particular iron. If you can’t find your user manual, you can usually download a copy off the manufacturer’s website.  

On most irons there is a little wheel that you can spin and it allows you to change the temperature of the iron. An iron’s temperature gauge usually ranges from 110 to 230 in most cases, and the temperature may also appear in Fahrenheit (230 to 446).

In some cases, the actual temperature will show on the wheel, sometimes numbers appear and other times a list of materials will be presented.

If your iron shows temperatures on the wheel, all you need to do is turn the dial to the desired temperature and wait for the iron to heat up.

On the other hand, if you have numbers, you’ll typically see numbers going from one to seven listed on the dial. The numbers represent a temperature, for example, one = low heat and seven = high heat. You just have to pick a suitable number to iron your clothes.  

Similarly, if your iron states the names of materials, you usually start off with a material that requires a low heat setting and you work your way around the wheel towards a material that needs a high heat, acrylic 110℃ to denim 230℃, for example.

This set-up is quite useful because you can check what you’re going to iron next and match it to the appropriate name, you might even be able to save some time by using an iron with this kind of wheel.

You should always assess the material you’re about to iron and amend the temperature on the iron accordingly. Not doing so may result in you burning the material you’re working with.

Avoid Ironing the Following Materials

Any type of ironing will likely damage and burn these garments, regardless of temperature:

  • Sequins
  • Velvet
  • Cashmere – although you may not cause extensive damage to garments made from this material, you don’t actually need to iron this material really. A good shake and laying the item out on a flat surface usually does the trick!


Low Temperature (110 or Below)

A low temperature is 110℃ (230℉) or below. This is Setting 1 or the Nylon setting.

Use this setting for the items listed below. Scorching may occur if you iron these materials on a high temperature.

You should also iron these types of clothes inside out, and you should use an ironing cloth to cover these items as you iron them to limit how much heat is transferred to the fabric (a tea towel is an alternative).

  • Acrylic
  • Acetate
  • Lycra
  • Lace
  • Nylon
  • Corduroy


Medium Temperature (110 to 150)

A medium temperature is in the 110℃ (230℉) to 150℃ (302℉) range. This is from Setting 1 to Setting 2-3, or the Nylon or Wool setting.

It is possible to use a medium temperature to iron items made from the materials listed below, but the iron’s temperature should never exceed 150℃. In addition to this, an ironing cloth should be used, and turning the clothes inside-out is useful.

  • Polyester
  • Wool
  • Silk


High Temperature (150 to 230℃)

A high temperature is from 150℃ (302℉) to 230℃ (446℉). This could be Setting 1 to Setting 4 or above.

The hardy materials listed below often get creased fairly quickly, and they also love to hold onto their creases too. In order to iron these items you will need a high heat setting, and in most cases spraying the clothes with some water to dampen them a little is essential.

  • Linen
  • Cotton
  • Denim
  • Viscose/Rayon


The Steam Setting

A lot of irons today come with a steam setting. This additional feature allows iron users to steam their clothes to get rid of harder creases.

This is a useful feature that can be activated by pressing the steam button on the iron. Although, before using the steam feature you must make sure that there is water in the iron, without water there will be no steam.

However, not all materials should be used with steam, so always check your clothing care labels before you do this.


The Water Sprayer

In addition to a steamer, most irons come with a water sprayer that shoots out water. This water sprayer is used to dampen down clothes that have difficult creases in them.

All you need to do to activate this feature is fill the iron’s tank with water and press the water sprayer button.

Of course, it is always worth making sure that the material you’re ironing can be sprayed with water beforehand. 


A Few Tips to Help Your Ironing Sessions Run a Little Smoother

Here are a few ideas that you might like to think about before and when you’re ironing:

  • Try not to overfill your washing machine when you’re washing the clothes to start off with. An overloaded washing machine means that the clothes can’t move around as freely, and as a result, items usually come out looking more creased than ever!
  • Clothes that are slightly damp are usually easier to iron, but you should check what material you’re working with before trying this out.
  • Put your clothes away when you’re done ironing them as this will prevent/limit further creasing from occurring.
  • Don’t overfill your tumble dryer! Clothes need space to move around, and packing garments into machines as tight as you can is just wrong! Make your ironing session easier by limiting the number of creases you’ve got to handle to begin with.
  • Consider what clothes you plan on ironing and try and purchase an iron that works well with that particular material.
  • Try to iron clothes of the same material in one session. If you chop and change between various materials, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time changing back and forth between the different settings on your iron. Further to this, starting an ironing session with low iron temperature clothes and working up through the heat settings is also worth trying out. 
  • Keep in mind that not all clothes can be ironed anyway. So, before you jump right into an ironing session check the tags on your clothes to make sure you should be ironing your items. You may actually be able to save yourself a lot of time and grief by doing this. Not sure what all the different symbols mean? Check out our article that explains clothing care labels right now!
  • If you’re going to be a serial setting’s changer you’ve got to allow your iron to cool down/warm up according to the setting you’ve picked. If you don’t do this you may ruin your top by using too hot a temperature, or take ages ironing some trousers that need a hot temperature.
  • Pick a good ironing board that can be adjusted to suit you. Nobody wants to stand over an ironing board that is too small for them, this results in one thing… a bad back. And an ironing board that’s too high is just as bad, and may even be more dangerous. If you’re not sure what ironing board you should buy, check out our guide to ironing board sizes now!
  • Iron in straight lines. Although it’s fun to iron around in funny patterns this isn’t actually the best way to iron. It might even be more time consuming.
  • Ironing cloths should be used when ironing delicate materials.
  • Ironing clothes inside out is also worth considering, particularly when the material your ironing is of a delicate nature.
  • After completing an ironing session, and your iron has cooled down, you should clean your iron. You should do this to prevent the build-up of limescale, particularly if you live in a hard water area. 
  •  Always drain your iron of any water. Stale and stagnant water can promote limescale development, this in turn can impact how the iron works. In some cases, not cleaning out the excess water may lead to your iron failing completely.



Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!

Why are metal objects always cool to the touch, even if they are in a warm room?

  • batteries
    11. 05.2011 09:02


    That is, heat transfer is carried out by free electrons? Can you provide a link to more detailed information about the participation of electrons in conducting heat? And how, in this case, to explain the high thermal conductivity and low electrical conductivity of diamond?


    • Vladimir_V
      Batteries 19.07.2012 17:26


      This question is somewhat off topic. The key point is thermal conductivity, and its genesis is secondary.
      By the way, a new material has recently appeared – foamed nickel with microcapsules. Thermal conductivity – like foam. But it’s metal!
      But such a metal will be much warmer to the touch than any wood.


  • taras
    Batteries 10.10.2017 12:31


    The fact that electrons are not the only carrier. Conduction electrons are the best carrier available in solids. But even better heat is transferred by liquid or gas molecules. Or atoms in the case of a monatomic gas, or a metallic melt. But not always, but only with effective convection. If you heat from above, then the heat is transferred by atoms and molecules of liquids and gases very poorly. Therefore, wool is a good heat insulator: convection is very difficult there. And somewhat worse than electrons, but sometimes heat is also not badly transferred by crystal atoms. If you remove one carrier, then the next one gets the determining value. In a diamond crystal, the atoms of the crystal itself transfer heat well, in a metal they would do it no worse, but the trouble is that the conduction electrons already transfer too much thermal power and crumbs remain for the crystal itself.


  • aif
    05/18/2011 14:44


    It’s simple. In metals, heat is transferred mainly by electrons (see the Wiedemann-Franz law). There are no free electrons in diamond, and thermal conductivity is carried out due to vibrations of atoms in the lattice (phonons).


    07/01/2011 01:40


    Not everything is correct in the answer, although the very reference to the thermal conductivity of objects as the reason is correct. The main “trick” is that the nerve cells that serve as temperature sensors are located not in the object, of course, but in your skin and, in fact, measure not the temperature of the object, but the temperature of the skin touching the object. And then, as it was explained: if the thermal conductivity of the object is high, then the surface part of the skin, where the nerve cells are located, changes temperature towards the temperature of the object, and, of course, the higher the thermal conductivity of the object, the higher this change. Therefore, at room temperature, which is lower than body temperature, when the skin comes into contact only with air, the temperature of that layer of human skin where nerve cells are located is quite far from the air temperature, since the thermal conductivity of air is very small, but we perceive the “readings” of nerve cells as air temperature. But here we touched the surface of a metal that has the same room temperature, and due to the increase in thermal conductivity, the temperature of the skin decreases, and we feel this, but we perceive it as that the metal is colder.


  • silly_sad
    16.09.2011 11:52


    in general rubric brilliant.
    but I categorically did not like this answer – only those who already know about thermal conductivity (think up something (which the author bashfully keeps silent) (like this will become more understandable for children. yeah!)))

    but in general a typical attitude towards children . ..
    and they haven’t grown any pictures yet!

    although thermal conductivity is quite understandable on the fingers


  • Neznayka
    29.03.2012 15:18


    Sorry, but the last comment is useless, and’s answer doesn’t answer the first question.

    I agree with silly_sad, a lot of things are very incomprehensible, not to mention children.


  • belyvil
    09.09.2012 22:27


    very excellent explanations, in general it is not clear what the children are commenting on here. before you say you need to think


  • balexei
    19.10.2012 22:45


    Where can I read about the properties of “foamed nickel with microcapsules”?


  • Q33NY
    03/03/2013 17:31


    I would also like to clarify that the temperature receptors of the skin feel not so much the temperature as its change. That is, the sensation of heat is an increase in the temperature of the receptors, the sensation of cold is a decrease. It is proved simply:
    We take a container with cold water, a container with warm water and some object of intermediate temperature. If you hold your hand in cold water and then touch an object, it will seem warm. If you hold your hand in warm water and then touch an object, it will seem cold.


    • rotkiv
      Q33NY 06/21/2014 22:16


      tritely simple, and most importantly does not explain anything. dig deeper comrade.


    • taras
      Q33NY 10.10.2017 13:09


      In humans, they feel exactly the temperature. It is proved simply: try to climb into cool water and gradually heat it up to 40 degrees. No matter how slowly the water heats up, you will feel the warmth. In frogs, thermal receptors sense the derivative of temperature with respect to time. It is proved simply: we take two frogs, throw one into boiling water, it jumps out, throw the second into cold water and cook over low heat, it is calm. Another thing is that the more contrast the difference in temperature, the easier it is to feel it. But at the same time between two points separated in space, and a person is not able to feel the derivative of temperature with respect to time at all. It is also proved simply: try to grab onto the heated tip of the soldering iron, it will only hurt after 5 seconds. And metallurgists even managed to stick their hands into the melt and not feel anything at all. And the trick is simple: the thermal inertia is greater than the nervous one. That is, for even the skin to warm up, you need at least a few seconds, and the comparison takes place on a scale of fractions of a second, a maximum of about a couple of thirds.


  • T_Im
    12. 05.2017 23:56


    IMHO, the main key point is missing in the explanation: a warm room (hence, the metal objects in it), as a rule, is _obviously_ colder than the human body (20 + C and 30 + C, why this happened is another childish question) . And already from this fact and the high thermal conductivity of the metal, a feeling of cold follows.


    • taras
      T_Im 10.10.2017 13:16


      In order to feel the drop of a miserable 6 degrees, you need a weight somewhere under a centner. And the difference between the skin of the hands and the snow, for example, I feel when it exceeds 60 degrees. Between the same skin and air – starting from 80 degrees. And either as a rule, which means usually, that is, all the same, not always, or obviously. A green crocodile cannot be blue like a carrot.


  • taras
    10. 10.2017 12:19


    Most of the time they are warm. And sometimes even hot.


  • f_const
    20.11.2017 09:32


    Not only thermal conductivity is important, but also heat capacity, they are equal in this process. Just in case, I will give the exact result here, and how to explain it to children is a separate issue. Let two bodies with different heat capacity, thermal conductivity and temperature come into contact on a flat surface. At the point of contact, the temperature takes on a value equal to the weighted average of the temperatures of the bodies, and the weights are equal to the roots of the products of heat capacity and thermal conductivity. That is, if we have a body with high thermal conductivity, but low heat capacity, it can also be warm to the touch. The temperature of the contact point does not change further (if the thermal conductivities and heat capacities are constant, they do not depend either on temperature or on the coordinate). This can be deduced in a qualitative way: a kind of common thermal reservoir is formed at the boundary of the bodies, in which the temperature is close to uniform, and this reservoir extends deep into the bodies to depths of the order of the root of the thermal diffusivity (this is heat conduction divided by heat capacity) multiplied by the contact time. Adding up the internal energies of the parts of the reservoir belonging to different bodies, and dividing by their total heat capacity, we will get exactly what is written above.

    Interestingly, the temperature of the contact point does not change with time.
    The fact that we, when touching a cold object, stop feeling cold over time is a consequence of additional factors: the finite size of the object (part of the thermal reservoir on the side of the object will eventually not be able to expand further, i.e. the object, roughly speaking, already all warmed up), heat transfer by the blood (the heat reservoir on the part of our body has reached an area where heat transfer is no longer purely thermal conduction) or simply a decrease in the nervous response.
    Variants with variable depth thermal conductivity are interesting. The same line of reasoning will lead us to the fact that the temperature of the point of contact will change depending on which areas are included in the thermal reservoir over time. Here are some illustrative examples. If we pick up a piece of foil insulation at room temperature and below, we first feel cold – for a very short time, a fraction of a second, and then – heat. You can do the opposite – for example, cover a metal object with a thin cloth in the cold. At first we will feel a slight coolness, with time – a stronger cold.


  • icWasya
    05/06/2019 20:19


    There is another class of substances that conduct electric current well, but poorly conduct heat – superconductors. Heat is first transferred to the crystal lattice, and only then to electrons, which carry it throughout the volume. There are plenty of free (almost) electrons, but they do not interact with atoms in any way. It’s a pity that you can’t check this by touch 🙁


  • Write a comment

    Crimean railway decommissions rented heat and electric locomotives – South and North Caucasus |


    January 10, 2017 12:36 pm

    Simferopol. January 10th. Interfax – The Crimean Railway (KZD, Simferopol) is decommissioning the leased traction rolling stock and switching to work at the expense of its own fleet after the repair of diesel and electric locomotives, the press service of KZD reported.

    “At present, the Crimean Railway has already abandoned the lease of three electric locomotives of the VL-10 series and four diesel locomotives of the TEP-70 series, significantly reducing operating costs. The leased locomotives are being prepared for shipment to their permanent locations,” the press release says.

    KZD in 2016 created its own base for the repair of locomotives in the volumes of TR-2 and TR-3, and also began to repair diesel locomotives at locomotive repair plants in Russia.

    On the basis of the Simferopol and Dzhankoy locomotive depots, 2 electric locomotives of the VL-8 series in the amount of TR-3 and 4 diesel locomotives of the ChME-3 series in the amount of TR-2 were repaired during the year. Specialized equipment was also purchased, technological processes for repairs were drawn up, workshops were certified and employees were trained.

    “The overhaul of 21 CHME-3 series diesel locomotives and 10 2TE116 series diesel locomotives was carried out at locomotive repair plants to extend their service life. 6 ChME-3 diesel locomotives are equipped with an electro-pneumatic brake,” the press service of the Crimean Railway notes.

    KZhD was founded after the annexation of Crimea to Russia in 2014 on the basis of subdivisions of the Crimean Directorate of the Prydniprovska Railway “Ukrzaliznytsia”, located on the peninsula. In December 2015, the enterprise was transferred to the ownership of the Russian Federation, under the jurisdiction of the Federal Agency for Railway Transport (Roszheldor). In January 2016, it was reorganized into FSUE “Crimean Railway”.

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