Guest Post by Bianca Burgit Ironing kids’ clothing may very well be the last thing on your list of priorities, but there are actually some surprising benefits that might just make you reconsider it. From family health to parent mindfulness, we'll explore five compelling reasons to iron your child’s clothes. Ironing kills germs and bacteria Let’s face it: kids love to play, and keeping clean is just not a priority. A lot of germs are accumulated at school, from playgrounds, and even from their own busy bodies. Most parents know this instinctively and will wash clothes regularly to fight off any kind of bugs. But it turns out that washing and drying clothes alone does not eliminate all germs! Many of the more common organisms have a higher tolerance and can persist even during a regular wash. Microorganisms can also accumulate on fabrics while hanging them out to dry. This is where ironing comes in. To make steam, the iron has to heat the water temperature to 212°F, which is enough to kill 99.9 percent of all germs. The fabric will be as sterilized as it can possibly be, every time you iron. And we all know there are significant benefits to living a healthier, germ-free life. Ironed fabrics are softer The fibers inside a piece of fabric are made up of fine strands, which in turn are constructed by a chain-like structure of molecules. A scientific process called hydrogen bonding causes these molecules to stick together and create tension and creases in the clothing. Heat and steam from a clothing iron breaks this hydrogen bond, releasing creases and softening the fabric. Your child’s clothing will feel softer and less scratchy, as well as last longer due to the “resetting” of the fibers. This is also a great way to avoid using fabric softeners if your child has sensitive skin or allergies. Ironing helps combat shrinking During manufacturing, the fibers of fabrics are stretched out as a result of the production process. That’s why, after a first wash, many fabrics will compress from the heat and washing the item. This is effectively the main cause for shrinkage in clothing. You can’t always avoid shrinking but you might be able to re-stretch the fibers and “pull” them back into an elongated state through the mechanical process of ironing the garment. The heat and steam, along with the “flattening-out” of the fibers, can reproduce a “stretched-out” state in the fabric. Ironed clothes can elevate first impressions First impressions are a critical aspect of social behavior and we often forget that the same holds true even for children. It’s a natural human survival technique and it helps us decide whether we should trust someone or be wary of them. On their first day in a new grade, a child that looks neat and well-groomed can immediately establish a picture in their teacher’s mind that they are organized, disciplined, and even smart. As they get older, the friends that gravitate toward them will also be seeking those same qualities of trustworthiness, integrity, and sophistication. You can very subtly guide your child along a better path by occasionally helping them look the part. Ironing can create opportunities for connection Many parents struggle to find enough time to just sit and listen to their kids with absolute mindfulness and interest in what they’re saying. Even when we do make the time, our minds are often preoccupied with other, more urgent thoughts. Ironing can in and of itself be a pretty brain-numbing task. So if you iron with your child in the room you may find you appreciate asking about and hearing the labyrinth of thoughts your child has to offer. Next time you’re ironing, ask them some deep and meaningful questions and really listen to their answers as you observe how their little minds are working. It’s a beautiful process.Most people don’t love ironing and we understand why. On the surface, it seems like a lot of work for very little reward, especially when ironing children’s clothing. It’s not like they’re heading into a big meeting or fighting for a promotion! But softer, germ-free clothing that looks great is worth a little extra effort. Bianca Burgit is the owner and editor of IroningLab where she passionately helps people make ironing faster, easier and more fun. You can check out the Ironing Lab YouTube channel.