A clothing iron
, also called a flatiron
or simply an iron
, is a small appliance
: a handheld piece of equipment with a flat, roughly triangular surface that, when heated, is used to press clothes to remove creases
. It is named for the metal of which the device is commonly made, and the use of it is generally called ironing
. Ironing works by loosening the ties between the long chains of molecules that exist in polymer
fiber materials. With the heat and the weight of the ironing plate, the
fibers are stretched and the fabric maintains its new shape when cool.
Some materials, such as cotton, require the use of water to loosen the
intermolecular bonds. Many materials developed in the twentieth century
are advertised as needing little or no ironing.