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A History of Iron on Labels

And a Brief History of the Iron!

These days with many people wearing jeans, t.shirts and casual clothes coupled with the number of ‘crease resistant’ and ‘non-iron’ materials on the market – not that many people iron any more.

Unless you’re a high-flying business man or woman, or off to a wedding, the likelihood of having properly pressed and starched shirts is slim.

There are still people who iron and who iron everything – even socks, pants, sheets and towels – but not many.  It’s usually the older generation who do this – and many of the younger generation have never even used an iron!

The first example of ironing was recorded in China in the 1st century BC.  Back then they just used metal pans filled with hot water to press creases out of fabric and clothes. 

Fast forward several hundreds of years and by the 18th century irons in Europe were widespread and in the UK called flat-irons or sad-irons. Sad actually meant solid.  These irons were solid pieces of cast iron. People would put the iron on a hearth for it to heat in front of the fire to heat. It took a lot of skill to make sure that soot and cinders didn’t get onto the iron – and then from the iron on to the clothes!  It took so long to heat an iron in this way that two irons were often used – one to use and one to be heated.  See picture of sad-irons below.

Genteel families or those whose who owned big Stately Homes would employ a laundress lady.  The laundress would be carefully chosen according to her skill with irons.  As well as making sure soot wasn’t transferred onto the clothes or bedding, she would need to be able to judge the temperature.  Often the way to do this was to spit on the iron's heated face to see how fast the saliva would sizzle away. Scorching or burning a hole in a costly garment was often punished by dismissal so exercising caution was paramount.

Other irons were called box-irons.  These were wedge-shaped boxes with a compartment in which a heated piece of iron called a ‘slug’ was inserted.

This made ironing easier as the face of the iron would stay clean, the heat was more evenly distributed and the iron wasn’t so heavy to use. 

Larger box-irons could hold red hot live coals inside and were called charcoal-irons.

Fast forward again to the electric iron which most of us these days are familiar with (even if we don’t use them!).  This made ironing so much simpler – almost instant heat and a much lighter iron on the table or ironing board

Then came the electric steam iron - supposed to take all the stress out of ironing.  Water is poured either into the iron itself or into a container on which the iron can rest.  Just press the steam button and out comes the hot spray making pressing garments so much easier.  Yet many people still don’t like it ironing!  Others tolerate it and do it in front of the TV.  Some find it very therapeutic.  Some just love it !


So where do iron on labels come in and how popular are they?  We love them – but for a long time they had a bad reputation.  The first ones were made of a woven material similar to the old sew on labels but with glue on the back – and yes, they did fall off! 

Since those there have been many new iron on labels on the market with better glue and made of more suitable material to stay put on clothes.  The heat of the iron melts the glue on the back of the iron on label and if properly melted and pressed for long enough this is what keeps the label stuck to the garment. 

Woven iron on labels changed into printed iron on labels and now the newest iron on labels are made of an even better material and glue which allows them to ‘fuse’ into garments, a bit like a transfer.  If they are properly applied they will never come off. 

Some people who still don’t want to use an iron but want to use iron on labels for naming their children’s school uniform will use hair straighteners to apply the labels instead!

We guarantee our Iron on Labels will stay on for years, in fact forever! 


Original Blog


Iron on Name Labels

Our Iron on labels are perfect for your children’s uniforms. You can be sure that your chosen colour will stand out against the fabric, and as the labels are infused into the garment, there’s no worry of them coming off! In fact one customer told us our Iron on labels are almost too good – “I donated all their old uniform to the school last year and I keep getting in back because people can’t get the tags out!” [J. Smitherman]

(we do have a way around that if you are wanting to hand your used uniform on to another home – you can get a set of blank labels to cover up the old ones for a discounted price, but that’s not for now!!)

We send out your labels with a sheet of silicone paper designed to help you transfer the label to the garment, as well as with instructions on how to get the best result. There’s virtually nothing that can get these labels out of clothing (apart from maybe some scissors!) so once they’re in you’ve nothing to worry about!



More Information about Iron on Labels

Our Iron on Labels are Excellent - well we would say that wouldn't we ?

But they really are!


However…… although we have been selling millions of these labels for several years and have a huge number of repeat orders, we do get the occasional complaint and if this happens it is always the same thing….  The customer will say that they followed the instructions ‘to the letter’ but that the labels then fell off or started to peel off after a wash or two.

We would therefore like to address this issue:

Yes, it can happen – but we know that it doesn’t happen when the labels are applied properly (and indeed we get far more customers asking how to remove the labels when they want to pass the clothes on!).   However it can be difficult to tell whether the label has been applied properly and this is where the problem lies. 

If the labels do come off after washing then it is because the temperature on the iron wasn’t hot enough when they were pressed on.

It can be tricky to tell however because…. It is possible to press the labels on and they appear to be nicely stuck on.  However, if the heat on the iron isn’t hot enough then the adhesive on the back of the label (which is what makes it stay on) won’t have melted properly and once in the washing machine it will start to come off.

If this happens, the labels can be pressed on again with a hotter iron.

Too hot an iron will cause the label to discolour or crinkle so it is important to get it right.  This all sounds very complicated but it really isn’t !

Another couple of tips:

  • Steam must NOT be used
  • It's vital that you use the silicone paper that is provided and place this over the label before ironing.
  • You need to apply the labels on a hard surface, not on anything spongy or soft.
  • Once you think the label is well stuck on it is worth trying to pull it off with a fingernail.  If it’s really impossible it should be ok. 

Some customers have told us that the labels are not good on Teflon material (sometimes used for school uniform trousers)

Some customers have told us that the labels don’t stick well on the care instruction labels. 

We haven’t found either of the above to be a problem but we do like to pass on any comments that are made to us – and we always welcome any feedback.

We test the labels regularly and use them on all sorts of fabrics and materials that are washed over and over again.

There is no doubt that they will stay on for years and years on all types of material – towels, school clothing, underwear, even tights and swimming trunks. 

More Info

  • The labels should withstand a washing temperature of up to 90 degrees.
  • They are fine for use in tumble dryers

When buying Iron On Labels you will receive full instructions on how to apply them.

Below are the basic instructions

  • Set iron to Dry mode – do not use Steam
  • Place the label on the garment and place the silicone paper over the label
  • Hold the iron over it for about 10 seconds, press hard as you press.

It’s that simple !

When ironing on iron on labels always remember to use the special silicone paper that will be provided.


More Interesting Facts about Iron

Iron is combined with carbon to make a metal called steel, which humans have now been producing for over 5000 years. Steel is used to make cars, ships, buildings, tools, pots and pans, and even more.

Iron is also an important nutrient that humans, plants, and animals need to survive. For humans and other animals, iron is part of hemoglobin, a protein in our blood that helps carry oxygen from the lungs to other areas of the body. If you don’t have enough iron in your body, you start to feel tired and weak. For plants, iron is used to make chlorophyll, which helps plants absorb the light they need for energy and is used in photosynthesis.