How to iron clothes?

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Freshly ironed clothing looks pretty great: clean, crisp and tidy. In theory, ironing is great and once you get started it’s not even that bad, but it’s also cumbersome and something that a lot of people tend to put off. Plus, you may be a little scared of ruining your favorite shirt or dress.

If you have questions about ironing, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll break it down into the three simplest, most common cases: Shirts, pants and skirts. Some fabric types might need special attention, but other than that it’s all pretty much the same.

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What you’ll need:

  • A clean iron (without rust or burnt starch, because that ruins clothes!)
  • An ironing board
  • A bit of water, preferably in a spray bottle
  • Some light starch (if you like to use it)

Yes, an ironing board really is necessary. “Any old flat surface” can do in a pinch, but that’s more of an emergency measure than anything else. Ironing boards are specially made to make the job easier, but more than that, they’re wrapped in special material that’s not only flame retardant, but also breathable so that steam is able to escape from underneath the item you’re ironing.

Shirts

Ironing shirts is quicker and easier than you might think. Like T.M. Lewin says in the video above, it should only take an average of three minutes to properly iron a shirt, and that’s doing it the right way.

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  • It’s best to start with the sleeves, since they’ll be just fine hanging off the sides of the ironing board while you finish the rest of the shirt. Doing it the other way around, and leaving the sleeves for last, will end up causing wrinkles in other parts of the shirt that you’ve already ironed.
  • Open the cuffs! This is something that many ironing newcomers get wrong all the time, but it’s not just easier to open the cuffs and lay them flat, but it lets you do a better job ironing the whole sleeve, too.
  • When doing the collar of the shirt, make sure you open it up and lay it flat. Just like the cuffs, people tend to think that this is opposite of what they should do, since they’re used to seeing the collar in the down position at all times.
  • Afterwards, let the shirt hang for a few minutes to fully cool down. Ironing heats the fabric to a very high relative temperature, and the “flatness” actually sets in during the cool-down phase, so wearing it immediately could negate some of the hard work you just put into ironing it in the first place.

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Pants

There’s a reason people say “press” instead of “iron” for pants. Even though you’ll still be using an iron, it’s gentle pressure and steam that are going to do the work, not so much the motion and heat of the iron itself.

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  • If you’ve lost your main crease, finding it again is easy. Just lay the pants flat on the ironing board, and line up the seams of the leg to match. The crease is as far from those seams as the fabric goes.
  • The crease should go all the way up the leg, stopping at about six inches below the waist. If there are pleats, then the crease can go all the way to the pleat. Always set the front crease first.
  • If you’ve pressed in a crease, the pants should hang by the waistband for at least an hour or two to set. If you don’t put creases in your pants, don’t worry about it! Just give them a few minutes to cool.

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Skirts

For most skirts, it’s as simple as starting at the top and working your way down. An exception would be for skirts that flare out suddenly at the bottom, with what are called “flounces.” For flounced skirts, you’d want to start at the bottom, and iron each flounce first, then work your way up toward the waist. Basically, skirts are just plain easy—you just need to be careful about the fabric.

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Use the right heat for the right fabrics

Fabrics like silk and polyester both need special attention, because it doesn’t take much to ruin them with an iron. For either one, make sure you’re always using the lowest setting your iron has. Though it’s not required, you should also use a barrier cloth made of linen (something like baking paper also works pretty well). Linen is used instead of cotton because it doesn’t shed lint, and it’s very breathable—which allows steam to pass through it.

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Use the medium setting for wool and rayon, while keeping the iron set to high heat for cotton and linen. If you’re unsure about the fabric type you’re about to iron, go one step below just to be safe. If the wrinkles aren’t coming out, then you can try lightly ironing on a higher setting.

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Getting wrinkles out in a pinch (without an iron)

Sometimes you just don’t have time to sit and actually iron something, or you might not even have an iron readily available and just can’t find one. In those cases, there are a couple of tricks that can get you by without much of a headache.

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Use the shower: As funny as it sounds, hanging your clothes up directly outside the shower curtain or door while running hot water is actually a very easy way to get rid of most of the wrinkles in your clothing. The only problem with this method is that clothes can get soaked pretty easily with one wrong splash, and creases that were there on purpose will likely disappear soon afterwards.

Water spritzing: Using a spray bottle is already a trick used during ironing to help get steam deeper into fabric, but if you don’t have an iron around and need to get rid of some serious wrinkles, just using the water itself can help you out immensely. The best way to do something like this would be to also make use of something flat and heavy, like a phone book. Spray some water on the wrinkled area, rub it in gently, and try to flatten it by pressing the book down over it on a flat table. Don’t hold it too long, though, or you may be causing a whole new set of wrinkles near by.

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Use the dryer: If you’ve got a good half hour to spare, you can spray heavy amounts of water on the wrinkled item, and throw it in the dryer for a quick and hot tumble. The trick here is to pull it out of the dryer while it’s still hot—then either put it on or hang it up immediately. Nearly all the wrinkles can be taken out of a single item this way. You can also throw in a few ice cubes instead of spraying the clothing with water ahead of time.

This story was originally published in 2011 and was updated on 11/19/19 to provide more thorough and current information.

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How To Iron A Shirt Properly: A Man’s Guide

Few things ruins a good impression faster than a creased shirt. Bad breath, maybe. A limp handshake. Remnants of the morning’s breakfast hiding in your beard. That’s the scale we’re talking about. And once you’re out and about in the world wearing your unironed eyesore, there’s nothing you can do to hide it.

Shirts are an ever-present in any man’s wardrobe – you need them for work, play and every dress code that doesn’t involve swim shorts. So a proper ironing routine is the only way to do them justice. Because if you don’t iron your work shirts, for example, you might as well be wearing the onesie you sweated your hangover into on Sunday. No matter how good the rest of your outfit is, if your shirt is a crumpled mess, the impression you give is exactly the same.

That said, ironing isn’t quite as easy as your mum made it look. It’s a practice-makes-perfect kind of thing, and there’s a lot to consider if you want to do the job properly (and get it done in under 45 minutes). So here’s how to iron your shirt like a pro, to save yourself time, money and embarrassment.

Buying An Iron

Not as simple a task as it sounds – there’s a lot to look for when buying an iron. It all depends on what materials you’ll be ironing, how often you’ll be using it, and how big your ironing pile is.

Steam irons are the most popular type of iron. They apply steam onto a garment when ironing, to moisten and relax the fabric fibres, making it easier for the iron to remove any creases. As a general rule, better irons will have a higher steam output.

You’ll need an iron with a well built soleplate – which, in layman’s terms, is the iron’s face. Just to make things a little confusing, though, there are five different types of faces. First, there’s aluminium faces, which heat up well but can scratch quite easily. Then there’s non-stick, palladium or stainless steel, which will all glide across your clothes more smoothly. The last is ceramic, which glides and distributes heat well, and is quite hard-wearing.

It’s advisable to go for a middle-of-the-market iron, because the price tag doesn’t necessarily reflect quality beyond a certain point. It’s also best to go against the grain and get out into the real world when you buy your iron, rather than purchasing it online. By all means do your research online, first – but you’ll need to make sure the iron fits well in your hand and that you’re happy with its weight, as well as get a good idea of how easy and accessible its controls are.

And, the partner in crime for every iron – you’ll need to invest in a good, solid, well-padded ironing board.

Using The Iron

Before it even gets to the ironing stage, be sure to use fabric conditioner when you wash your shirt, because this will make it easier to iron and improve its overall appearance.

Your iron will come with different setting for different kinds of material. And there’s little doubt the shirts in your wardrobe will need different settings. The first thing you can do is check the care label on your shirt for instructions. But, as a general rule, first sort your shirts into linen, cotton and synthetics. You’ll be able to see the material your shirt is made of by looking at the label. This way – you can gradually dial up the settings in the order of what materials require more heat, without having to wait for the iron to cool down in between.

Ironing Cotton Shirts

For cotton shirts, iron your shirt slightly damp on the side you’re ironing, with a hot iron. Iron lengthwise, not in circular motions, to avoid damaging the material.

For thicker fabrics (such as an Oxford shirt), ironing both sides of the fabric will produce the best results.

Ironing Cotton-Blend Shirts

Use a low heat for cotton-blend shirts, with steam. Either iron it inside-out or place a thin cloth between the shirt and the iron to prevent scorch marks.

Ironing Polyester Shirts

Definitely use a handkerchief or something similar to avoid any iron-to-shirt contact here, because polyester is an extremely heat-sensitive material. If you’re reading this, Peter Stringfellow, the same goes for your silk and satin numbers.

Ironing Linen Shirts

Use a warm iron and spray mist on the side you’re ironing on. With linen shirts, wet the opposite side of the side you’re ironing first, then the side you’re ironing.

Make sure to iron these shirts inside out, especially if they’re a darker colour, to avoid a shine caused by the heat.

How To Iron A Shirt

Using a bottle, mister or the spray function of the iron, spray the shirt liberally. Quite how liberally depends on how soon you want to wear the shirt after ironing it – but the damper it is, the easier it’ll be to iron the creases out.

Undo all the buttons, including the cuffs, then follow this all-important order to iron the shirt quickly and thoroughly.

  1. The collar: open it flat and remember to iron both sides, starting from the outside and working inwards. Fold over, pinch the fold and run the iron over one more time to keep it crisp
  2. The cuffs: like the collar, open it out and iron the inside first to remove any creases or folds. Again, work from the outside in
  3. The yoke: this is the top of the back and shoulder section. Starting from one side, work into the middle, then turn the shirt around on the board and do the other side
  4. The back: now do the rest of the back, dampening the shirt for any stubborn creases
  5. The front: iron the placket (where the buttons and button holes sit) first, pinching and pulling the end to make the job easier. Use the pointy end of the iron to get between the buttons. Then iron the rest of the front
  6. The sleeves: making sure the fold is at the seam, iron both sides of the sleeve, pulling gently from one end to make sure they’re taut and crisp

The trick is to keep the iron moving at all times, so you don’t burn anything – while ironing out creases and avoiding adding any new ones in. Lightly pull on the shirt as you go, but not so much that you create creases. This really comes with practice.

The last, but certainly not least important, step is making sure to hang your shirt up straight away afterwards. This is especially crucial if you got a bit steam-happy and the shirt is still damp.

Ironing Tips & Tricks

For a military finish, use a starch spray to get a crisp, clean finish to your shirt. They’re easy to find in the supermarket, and will come with how-to-use instructions.

If you find the pointy end of the ironing board awkward, spin it around and use the squared-off edge at the other side. This will allow you to iron more material in one go without moving the shirt around.

Iron your shirt inside-out whenever possible. It’s a bit of extra effort, but it’ll pay off for all the times you manage to avoid ruining your clothes with a big iron mark. Never a good look.

Avoid ironing buttons, zips or any other hard material.

If you’re in a rush and you need a smooth-looking formal shirt ASAP, stick to ironing the front, collar and cuffs – just remember that you won’t be able to take your jacket off.

How to Iron a Dress Shirt

Follow These Steps

  1. Iron the collar
    Start with the underside of the collar, working from the center out to the points to avoid creasing. Flip the shirt over, and repeat on the outside of the collar.
    Tip: Always put your iron on the recommended setting for the shirt’s material (cotton, linen, poly-blend). When in doubt, use the lowest setting.
  2. Iron the shoulders
    Secure one shoulder over the narrow end of the board and iron from the yoke (the point where the collar meets the arm and the body of the shirt) to the center of the back. Repeat on the other shoulder.
    Tip: Spray hard-to-smooth wrinkles with a little water, then iron over the area again.
  3. Iron the cuffs and sleeves
    Lay one sleeve flat on the board with buttons or cuff-link holes facing up. Iron the inside of the cuff first, then flip the sleeve over to iron the outside of the cuff. Next, iron the sleeve, beginning with the front side. Repeat with the other sleeve.
  4. Iron the front and back
    Iron both front panels, then flip the shirt over and iron the back. Use a spritz of water for any stubborn wrinkles.
  5. Iron between the buttons
    Next, tackle the placket (the panel where the buttons are). Take care to iron between the buttons; ironing over them can break buttons or scratch your iron’s plate.
    Tip: Hang the shirt immediately after ironing to keep new wrinkles from forming (and don’t forget to unplug your iron).

VIEW MORE RECIPESTutorials & Tips

When it comes to ironing clothing made with cloth you aren’t used to, knowing what ironing setting you should use is really important. Knowing how to iron cotton is easy, but if you’ve been wondering how to iron wool in your favorite skirt or how to iron your silk blouse, there are specific instructions that can help make sure you are not only getting a wrinkle-free garment but are also taking extra care of your clothing so it lasts a longer. Whether you use high heat like on cotton, denim, muslin or calico or medium heat like on wool or silk, use our helpful chart to get the most out of your iron so that you are always wrinkle free.

Special Treatment of Fabrics

Becuase every fabric is different, your ironing technique may need to be adjusted to make sure you don’t damage your favorite linen pants or cashmere sweater. Make sure to check the label inside your clothing or linens to see the recommended fabric care instructions, including ironing recommendations. Follow these simple rules if you are missing a label:

  • If you are ironing a piece of clothing but don’t know what the fabric is made out of, use the lowest temperature first and test on an inside seam.
  • Use a low-temperature setting if you are ironing a fabric blend
  • If you are ironing clothing made of multiple types of fabric, start on a low setting

Natural Fibers
  • How to Iron Cotton (denim, muslin, calico, chintz): Iron on high heat while still damp. If the fabric is dry, pre-moisten it with a spray bottle or use the spray button on your iron to dampen the fabric. Use steam and spray if necessary.
  • How to Iron Silk: Use a medium heat setting and dry iron inside out. To press a silk tie, lay it on top of a pressing cloth right-side facing down, then press.
  • How to Iron Wool (cashmere, flannel): Use a pressing cloth and steam iron inside out on medium heat.

Synthetic Fibers
  • How to Iron Acetate: Using low heat, dry iron without steam on the wrong side of the fabric.
  • How to Iron Acrylic: With the iron on low heat, dry iron without steam on the wrong side of the fabric. Use spray if necessary.
  • How to Iron Nylon: Use low heat and dry iron without steam. Use spray if necessary.
  • How to Iron Polyester: Iron while still damp, pre-moisten it with a spray bottle, or use the spray button on your iron to dampen the fabric. Use low or medium heat.

Whether you are ironing linen, silk or cotton, the most important thing is to have an iron that works well and is up to making your clothing or fabric wrinkle-free. Look for an iron that not only has temperature settings but includes specific fabric types so you don’t have to guess. A steam or spray feature is also incredibly important. For more tips on ironing and iron types, explore the rest of our Iron 101 series.

My husband’s white dress shirts are always impeccably ironed. Unfortunately I can’t take credit for it. He is a little compulsive when it comes to his shirts, and he actually prefers to iron them himself. And to that I say more power to him! 🙂 Ironing has never been one of my favorite chores, but sometimes it’s simply unavoidable. So I thought I’d try to find a few ironing tips that make the process easier for me. And luckily, I found some really good ones!

So today I’ll be sharing some of the best ironing hacks that I’ve come across. These tips are sure to help make your ironing easier, faster, and more effective. (And if you have a must-know tip about ironing that isn’t listed here, share it with us in the comments if you feel so inclined!)

10 Genius Ironing Hacks You Need To Know

1. Use Your Dryer

If you need to smooth out a few items of clothing that are only lightly wrinkled, skip the iron and use your dryer! Use a spray bottle of water to dampen the items, then toss them in your dryer for a few minutes. The heat of your dryer will cause the moisture on the clothes to turn to steam, and those wrinkles will fall right out. Throw those clothes on, and you’ll be ready for anything!

2. Wash Smaller Loads

Doing smaller loads of laundry allows your clothes to tumble more freely in the dryer. The steam and heat have more room to pass evenly throughout your clothes, helping to reduce wrinkles overall. So smaller loads = less ironing! 🙂

3. Spritz Your Shirts

For super crisp dress shirts, some people swear by using a water bottle to spritz a shirt while ironing. Many steam irons have a spray function, which would work just as well! The additional moisture helps to smooth out wrinkles with less effort, and leaves shirts super smooth!

4. Hang Clothes Up ASAP

Once your clothes are done drying, hang them up as soon as possible (preferably immediately!) This simple step can really cut down on the amount of ironing you have to do. The clothes will still be warm enough that wrinkles won’t have “set in” yet, and gravity will help take care of the rest!

5. Shake It Out

When you’re transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, give each item a quick shake. A good shake helps to untwist and untangle your clothes, so they’ll have a better chance of coming out of the dryer wrinkle-free.

Ironing Tips

6. Iron In Order

Organize your items from delicate and less-wrinkled, to sturdier and more-wrinkled before ironing. Your iron will heat up more as you go, meaning your iron will be the perfect heat level for what you’re ironing at the time. No more waiting for the iron to cool down part-way through your ironing! You’d be surprised at how much time you’ll save this way!

7. Say No To Circles

I had no idea about this, but it turn out that ironing in circular motions is a no-no! Apparently it scratches the fabric and can ruin the fit of your clothes. Instead, use long parallel strokes in one direction to avoid stretching the fabric.

8. Say Yes To Steam!

If it feels like you’re ironing forever and the wrinkles are still there, crank up the steam on your iron! Steam is the natural enemy of wrinkles, and you’ll find that with more steam, those wrinkles will disappear in record time.

9. Check Your Board

Having a good ironing board is almost as important as having a good iron! A good ironing board makes the whole chore easier, and less likely that you’ll keep putting it off. 😉 If your board is in rough shape, you may just need a new cover. If that doesn’t do the trick, consider replacing it with a new ironing board.

10. Clean Your Iron

A dirty iron plate can discolor your clothes and snag fabrics, and no one wants that! So if your iron plate is looking a bit rusty or scorched, it’s time to give it a good cleaning. The easiest way I’ve found to clean an iron plate is to use a Magic Eraser!

You should also descale your iron regularly if you use tap water in the water reservoir. Check your iron’s user manual for instructions on descaling your particular model. (And once it’s clean, use distilled water in your iron to avoid limescale buildup in the future!)

I hope these tips help make this necessary chore a bit less of a drag! 🙂

I may include affiliate links to products sold by others, but only when they are relevant and helpful. I always offer my own genuine recommendation. Learn more.

Hi, I’m Jillee!

I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a man who’s wearing what would be a very dapper get-up….except it’s ruined by wrinkly clothes. I see this especially with young, single professional men who probably don’t have mom or a wife to iron their clothes for them and never learned this basic life skill for themselves.

The fact is a lot of grown men don’t know how to iron a shirt. It’s nothing to be ashamed of if you don’t know how. Growing up, dear old mom probably ironed your dress shirts whenever you needed one and now your wife does this chore. But a man needs to be self-sufficient. He shouldn’t have to rely on somebody else to ensure that he looks presentable. He’s in charge of that. If an unexpected interview or date comes up, a man knows how to get ready and out the door looking like a million bucks.

Details matter when it comes to your appearance and making a good first impression. Wrinkles draw the eye of those you meet and make you look sloppy and out-of-sorts. Having well-pressed clothing shows the world that you’re a man of discipline and order, a man who has his stuff together and understands that the details matter. And a crisp shirt really pulls together a handsome outfit. Throw on a well-ironed shirt, and you get a bit of confident pep in your step; it just feels good.

Ironing isn’t hard when you get the hang of it. You can get a shirt done in less than 5 minutes. And boom–you’re ready to take on the world.

Today we’re going to give you the ins and outs of fast, effective ironing. If you don’t really know how to iron a dress shirt, here’s your primer. And if you’re already pretty adept at this chore, you’ll probably find some great tips you never thought of before. So let’s get started by talking about the tools of the trade.

The 6 Tools of Effective Ironing

Tool #1: The Iron

How do you identify a quality iron?

A well built soleplate – To play on words, this is the soul of the iron. You want something that is solid, smooth, and clean if buying used. You’ll find soleplates made from solid steel, titanium coated, and cast iron with aluminum, to name three solid options. Avoid new irons under $20, as this is where low cost manufacturers most often skimp on the product to keeps costs low. A poor quality soleplate will not clean well and may have uneven heat distribution–which leads to shirts being damaged.

High heat capability – Most consumer irons range in power consumption from 420 watts (small travel irons) to 1800 watts (higher end models above $100). The power consumption plays into the amount of heat produced by the iron, although there isn’t always a direct relationship as the size of the soleplate needing to be heated factors in as well. But generally speaking, a 1800 watt iron is going to be hotter than a 1200 watt one, and it will heat up faster.

Why the need for heat? Certain fabrics, cotton and linen being two of them, require high heat to reform their shape. A hotter iron can cut ironing time in half, vs. one that forces you to pass and remain on the same part of the garment for 45 seconds. Also, steam production relies on the soleplate’s temperature and higher temps produce steadier steam.

Steam delivery system – You want steam as it breathes life into fabrics and the hot moisture enables the toughest wrinkles to smooth out with minimal work by more evenly distributing the heat through the garment fibers. Steam irons under $20 often have their steam component built in as an afterthought and sputter and spit out water when you don’t want it. Higher end models have 300+ holes that deliver a clean, uniform mist.

Depending on your needs you’ll want the best steam delivery system you can budget. Why? A good steam iron can be used indirectly on wools and other more delicate fabrics and save you thousands a year in pressing and dry cleaning costs in addition to what I mentioned above.

Size and Weight – Size and weight do become issues for those who deal with arthritis or are sensitive to weight differences of a few pounds. Thus expensive irons made from lightweight space-age materials are not necessarily better because they cost more–they simply are being made for a different customer. So don’t always equate price with quality.

Special Note – Travel Irons

For the sharp dressed road warrior a travel iron is a wise investment. Although hotels normally have an iron and board available for guest use, this isn’t always the case, especially at hotels that are either budget or are trying to encourage use of their expensive in-house cleaning services.

Having your own iron enables you to use a device you’re familiar with and prepare your clothing on your schedule as you see fit. No ironing board? Grab a towel and throw it on a flat surface–it will do the job.

Lightweight, small, easy to carry and dependable are the keys to a good travel iron.

Personally I recommend Steamfast’s compact travel iron. It is incredibly small, lightweight, hot, produces an decent amount of steam, and is value priced. However what impressed me most was the great customer service I recently received from this American business. I was having mechanical problems (or so I thought–turns out I didn’t know how to use it properly) and thought it was going to be a hassle to exchange it as I had waited 8 months to report the problem. Instead, I spoke with a very nice customer service rep who resolved my issue and within minutes shipped me a new one–no questions asked. You have to love that!

Tool # 2: The Ironing Board

You need something that’s sturdy and has a top that you’re comfortable ironing on. I advise you see what’s available for free as many people have an old one lying around–and then spend the money on a nice cover and pad. You can also put a piece of aluminum foil under the ironing board cover–the idea here is to reflect the iron’s heat back on itself so you’re actually ironing from both sides at once. Be careful though as it will increase the speed in which you can burn the clothing.

Tool #3: Spray Bottle

Do not re-use a container that housed a cleaning agent. You’ll use this spray bottle to disperse water evenly over your shirt before ironing in the case your iron is not equipped with a steam function or when you’re ironing in bulk (as I will show you). It’s also handy for when you’re ironing a wrinkle–give the spot a spray and then iron out the wrinkle seconds later.

Tool #4: Water

You want to use water free of small dirt and high concentrations of calcium and magnesium, both common in hard water. Long term use can lead to iron damage and leave marks on dress shirt fabrics that are hard to remove. However, you do not need to use distilled water as some mineral presence is good as it acts as a wetting agent and helps water better vaporize when it contacts the soleplate. Drinking water is perfect for most irons.

If this doesn’t motivate you to iron, I don’t know what will. Picture courtesy of artist Darel Seo.

Tool #5: A Light-Colored Cotton Towel

A towel can be used as a ironing board pad, rolled and used inside sleeves as a makeshift sleeve-board, or simply to clean up excess water sprayed on the shirt.

Tool #6: Spray Starch (Optional)

I remember in the Marines using cans of spray starch in an effort to get the perfect “crisp” look; however, just as often I would overdue it and be dealing with flakes due to over starching or not letting it set in.

To use starch, understand it is best used in moderation and with a temperature setting of 6 or below (the highest setting can cause flaking). Too much and you can make a normally breathable cotton shirt feel like a synthetic plastic bag and cause more wrinkles when worn!

FYI – a man can make his own starch spray by dissolving one tablespoon of cornstarch in two cups water. Using a spray bottle (preferably not the water one–clearly mark it “spray starch”) you can then LIGHTLY mist the fabric a minute before ironing.

How to Iron a Shirt

For these instructions I assume you are ironing a batch of five (5) 100% cotton dress shirts with an iron setting of five to six (depending on your iron). If you’re seeking a super crisp look, you’ll want to first turn the shirt inside out and iron the inside and then iron the outside of the shirt. This will add another two minutes onto the process, but will give you better results, especially on thicker cotton fabrics. If you use the aluminum foil trick though, you can skip this.

Preparation – Read the shirt’s label. Really, you need to understand what type of fabric the shirt is made from before ironing it or you could possibly destroy it. Most shirts are made from cotton or cotton blends and can withstand high temps, although polyester shirt fabrics are more fragile to heat. If you’re unsure, start with a low setting such as 3 and then move up until the shirt starts to respond to the iron’s heat. Note: Silk and wool shirts are not covered here. Although it is possible to clean them yourself, you need to know what you’re doing.

You want the shirts to be moist (not soaking wet). This will enable you to dry iron without having to worry about your iron’s steam function. Ideally you have recently pulled the shirts from the washing machine; if they are already dry, however, just take them and thoroughly mist them with the spray bottle. Once finished, place them in a plastic bag to better diffuse the moisture and prevent evaporation.

Next set up the ironing board near a power outlet that is close to the closet where you’ll be hanging everything immediately after ironing. Ensure the iron has water in it and then plug it in, set to the lowest heat setting you’ll need. Store all of your ironing equipment together, that way you’re never looking for anything when you need it quickly.

Within 5 minutes the iron should be ready and all the shirts moistened. Pull the lightest weight shirt from the bag first, making sure it is evenly wet. If not, spray on a bit more water.

1. Iron the Collar First

Always start by ironing your dress shirt collar. This is the most visible part of a shirt as it frames the face, especially when worn with a suit or sport jacket. In a pinch and when wearing a jacket, you can get away with ironing only your collar, the front area right below it, and your cuffs. Just don’t take off your jacket!

To iron the shirt collar, pop it up and start with the underside, slowly pressing the iron from one point to the other. Ensure that it is thoroughly moist before starting, and if any wrinkles appear, press them to the bottom where they’ll be less visible. Next, flip the shirt over and repeat this process on the outside of the collar.

2. Next Iron the Cuffs

As mentioned above, I iron the cuffs next as they receive a lot of attention when worn properly with a jacket.

To iron a shirt cuff, first unbutton it (to include the gauntlet button) and lay it out flat. First iron the inside of the cuff, and next the outside, moving all wrinkles from uneven fabric to the edges. Carefully iron around the buttons, and even on the backside. Never iron over buttons (unless you place them over a towel or something with give) as they can leave a mark. For French cuffs, open them fully and iron as above. I recommend you not press the edges of a French cuff–it steals the life and body from a smooth fold.

3. Ironing the Shirt Front

Start with the side that has buttons and carefully work the iron point around the button area (never over the buttons).

Then move back up to the top of the shoulder and work your way down the shirt with the iron. Repeat on the other side, and if you have a placket, press the material under it with the iron point and then over the top. It’s worth spending a bit more time on the front placket and areas near the collar as they receive a high percentage of visual attention.

4. Iron the Back of the Shirt

Laying the shirt flat on the board, I like to position one of the sleeve heads into the square edge of the ironing board. You then have half the back in prime position to be ironed, and only need to slide the shirt over to complete the other half. Start at the top with the yoke (back shoulder area) and slowly slide the iron down. If you have a center box pleat, you’ll have to spend a few seconds ironing around it–I prefer not to iron back in the pleat, as the time required for an area you don’t want to highlight isn’t worth the effort.

5. Iron the Sleeves

I choose to iron sleeves last as of all the parts of the shirt, they can be ironed in the widest variety of ways and for most men are the trickiest part of the shirt. Problems arise from the fact that unless you have a sleeve board, you’ll be ironing two layers of fabric. Thus the key to ironing sleeves is to be sure the fabric is flat and smooth BEFORE you apply the iron.

Take either sleeve by the seam and lay the whole sleeve (and most of the shirt) flat on the ironing board. If you can see the creases on the top of the sleeve from previous ironing, match it again so that you have a single crease line. Start ironing at the top where the sleeve is sewn onto the shirt and work your way down to the cuff. Turn the sleeve over and iron, then repeat the process with the other sleeve. If you don’t have a sleeve board and would rather your shirt sleeve not have a crease, insert a rolled-up towel into the sleeve. This will allow you to iron it without leaving a crease mark.

The bottom picture shows you the shirt sleeve seam – use this as a guide when laying the sleeve flat.

6. Inspect & Hang

Inspect the shirt and spot iron where necessary. Finally, place the shirt on a hanger and in your closet.

Three Warnings

  1. If you are not sure of the shirt’s fiber type, err on the side of caution and iron it with a lower setting. You can always increase the temperature…but you cannot fix heat damaged fabric.
  2. Iron around buttons, never over them. Even if there is fabric laying over the button, as in the case of a pocket with under-buttons or a dress shirt with a hidden button down collar. You can create a permanent impression that will ruin the look of the shirt. Be sure to remove shirt stays as well.
  3. Never iron a dirty shirt–you’ll set the stains, and it will be very difficult if not impossible to remove them.

If all else fails call your mother.

Clean Your Iron’s Water Reservoirs

If you use tap water in your iron, you’ll eventually have a build-up of mineral deposits. This will be most noticeable when your steam output comes to a crawl. To clean the reservoir, pour a solution of 1 part water, 1 part white vinegar into the water reservoir. Heat the iron normally and let it steam for a few minutes before unplugging and placing it soleplate down on a heat resistant dish that has room for the draining water. An hour later drain and repeat with water–repeat the process if needs be. Finally, rinse and refill with bottled drinking water or non-hard tap water.

Final Quick Ironing Tips

  • If you’re looking for supplies and want quality equipment that will last decades, shop where your tailors and dry cleaners shop. North Carolina’s B&G Lieberman is a great supplier of all things tailor or cleaner-related; I called them just the other day, and their 86 year old founder still answers the phone! You’ll find anything from quality buttons to suit brushes to industrial strength steam irons through them.
  • Iron your shirts in batches. Ironing a shirt only takes a few minutes, but half of that time is taken up with preparation–getting the ironing board set up, the iron filled and hot, etc. So use your time more effectively by ironing all your shirts in one batch instead of whenever you need one.
  • If you’re ironing a large number of shirts or other articles of clothing, start with the garments needing the lowest temperature. Then move to the garments (cotton and linens) that require the highest temperatures. The reasoning is that it takes an iron longer to cool off than heat up, and it decreases the likelihood of damage to your clothing.
  • If you dry your shirts in a clothing dryer, pull them out before they are fully dry. Better yet, don’t even place them in a dryer and instead put them on a wood hanger and iron them right out from the washing machine. No need to moisten or use any steam.
  • If you literally have no time to iron then at least throw the shirt in the dryer (assuming you’ve dried it like this before) while you throw on the rest of your clothing. Five minutes tumbling in the warm air will help to loosen some of the worst wrinkles.
  • If you’re going to pack your dress shirts for a week’s worth of travel, don’t waste your time ironing the shirts beforehand. Pack them normally and allot 15 minutes upon arrival to iron them when you arrive in your hotel room.
  • Anytime you are using a questionable iron that may leave marks, turn the shirt inside out and iron the backside only. It won’t give the shirt as crisp a look, but the difference is negligible and any marks will be invisible once the shirt is turned back out correctly.
  • Pay attention to the condition of the ironing board cover and pad – if it looks like it could leave any type of mark or you can feel metal underneath, cover it with a cotton towel or look for another board.
  • Make sure your iron has an auto-shutoff. Although most modern household irons do, some of the older models floating around do not. You want the peace of mind knowing that even if you forgot to turn off the iron this morning you’re not going to start a fire.
  • To produce steam, make sure you are using the iron at its highest setting. If you are using it at anything below the middle setting, water will often drip or trail. If you need to iron on low and need moisture, this is where the spray bottle really comes in handy. If you don’t need moisture, make sure to set the adjustable steam to “off” and don’t press the steam blast button.
  • Always empty the water from your iron while the iron is hot. This will reduce the moisture that remains in the water compartment. Doing this will also ensure you unplug the iron before leaving the house.

Watch the Video

Do you have any tips on ironing a dress shirt to add? Share them with us in the comments!

Written by
Antonio Centeno
President, A Tailored Suit Custom Clothier
Founder, Real Men Real Style

Tags: how to choose an iron, how to iron dress shirt, how to use a steam iron, ironing tips, man’s guide to ironing shirt, mens shirts how to iron, pressing a shirt, tools needed for ironing, why iron your shirt

I don’t know about you, but ironing is one of many household chores I dread. Of course, trying to de-wrinkle your clothes is tough. None of us wants to leave the house looking like we’ve had our clothes shoved in a paper bag and shipped to China and back, but the thought of having to stand there for hours perfecting every crease makes me want to pull out my hair.

If only there was a stress-free way to de-wrinkle your clothes…

We’re all about simplifying our lives here at Expert Home Tips, so in the spirit of quick fixes, I’ve compiled a list to banish wrinkles from your clothes, and all without an iron in sight, hurray!

Before you continue, don’t forget to follow us on:

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Thanks!

1. Use a pot to de-wrinkle your clothes

Simple and effective!

One of the oldest tricks in the book to de-wrinkle your clothes without an iron is to use your regular metal pot that you’d make your favourite pasta dish in. Make sure the bottom of your pot is squeaky clean, boil water in the pot, then spill it out.

From there, use the bottom of the pot as your iron to run over your clothes. The steam will give you just enough time to de-wrinkle your favourite outfit, Brilliant!

2. The damp towel approach

This is another great, reliable tip. Place your dress or any wrinkled garment on a clean floor or table surface and place a damp towel flat on top of the garment. Using your hands, press down on the towel and smooth out the wrinkled area with your hands. Job done!

3. Try a homemade wrinkle spray to banish wrinkles

I originally thought branded de-wrinkling sprays were a marketing con and that homemade wrinkle sprays were a myth. As it turns out, it is REALLY simple to make your own wrinkle release spray! Here’s my favourite DIY de-wrinkling spray from One Good Thing.

4. Hang your clothes in the shower to de-wrinkle clothes in minutes

We’ve been doing this for years!

Another oldy but a goody, this trick has been tried and tested for years and can save you a tonne of time in the morning. Close the windows and doors in your bathroom and hang wrinkled clothes from the shower rod.

Then go about your normal bathroom routine—shower, shave your legs, work on your Taylor Swift impression. Fifteen minutes later, wrinkle-free clothes, fantastic!

Just remember to try and prevent yourself from soaking your clothes in the process…

5. Roll your tops like burritos

This one is my favourite! Another effective way to get wrinkles out of your clothes is to roll your tops as if you were rolling up burritos. Once they’re all wrapped up, pop them under your mattress for an hour. This is literally like pressing your clothes.

Note: make sure you roll your clothes. Simply folding them will not work, trust me I tried, the results were very disappointing…

6. Sprinkle some vinegar magic to de-wrinkle your clothes

We love vinegar! Check out our 21 uses for vinegar, some of them might surprise you.

Did you know that standard white vinegar can eradicate wrinkles from your clothes? It’s true! Mist garments with 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, and let it air-dry.

Bonus: It’s super gentle on your threads so there’s no need to worry. White vinegar doesn’t smell like normal vinegar either.

7. Throw ice cubes in with your drying

Who would have thought?

This one may seem odd, but it definitely works; both on stubborn carpet dents and de-wrinkling clothes. Throw a wrinkled shirt in the dryer with a couple of ice cubes and run on high heat for a few minutes. The ice will melt and create de-wrinkling steam which will then iron out your clothes nicely in the dryer.

8. Steam those tiny wrinkles with a pot of tea

This method is great for those tiny wrinkles that you can never quite perfect. Boil water in your kettle, then just before you savour that first cup of morning tea (or coffee), hold the spout of the steaming kettle 12 inches away from the wrinkled problem areas. Problem solved!

9. Blow dry your dress to de-wrinkle your clothes immediately

Did you know you can actually blow dry wrinkles out of your clothes with concentrated bursts of hot air? Wow. This works particularly well on dresses with awkward creases. Slightly dampen the wrinkled area on your dress, set the hairdryer on low and blow on the dress 1-2 inches away (to avoid scorching the fabric) until the wrinkles straighten out.

10. Flat iron your shirt collar

Genius!

Hair straighteners aren’t just for hair, who knew? Women used to straighten their hair with an actual iron in the 60s, and now we are flipping it in reverse. Use your flat iron to quickly press your shirt collar or remove small wrinkles in your blouse.

Just be sure to wipe off any product build-up on the plates first and be mindful of temperature settings (cotton = high heat; silk = low heat).

Want more weird and wonderful tips? We’ve rounded up some of our favourites.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my tips! If you have any inspirational ways to de-wrinkle your clothes, please feel free to share them below.

Ugh, ironing. Why is it that it’s always after you’re showered, dressed and ready that you notice those way-too-visible-to-ignore creases in the shirt you couldn’t wait to wear? In the spirit of quick fixes, we’ve rounded up seven hassle-free ways to remove wrinkles without breaking out the ironing board.

Flat Iron Your Shirt Collar

Hair straighteners—not just for frizz removal. Use your flat iron to quickly press your shirt collar or remove small wrinkles in your blouse. Just be sure to wipe off any product build-up on the plates first and be mindful of temperature settings (cotton = high heat; silk = low heat).

Blow Dry Your Dress

Did you know you can usually zap wrinkles away with concentrated bursts of hot air? Just hold the dryer about two inches back from the garment to avoid scorching the fabric.

Steam Your Clothes In the Shower

Close the windows and doors in your bathroom and hang wrinkled clothes from the shower rod. Then go about your normal bathroom routine—shower, shave your legs, work on your Taylor Swift impression. Fifteen minutes later, wrinkle-free clothes, y’all.

Steam With a Pot of Tea

This method is best for tiny wrinkles. Boil water, then before you savor that morning cup of English Breakfast, hold the spout of the steaming kettle 12 inches from any wrinkled problem areas. You’ll get concentrated steam minus the foggy bathroom mirror.

Roll Your Top Like a Burrito

Lay your wrinkled item on a flat surface, smooth wrinkled spots, then roll it up tightly like you would a burrito. Next, place the garment under a mattress for 15 to 30 minutes. Think of it as literally pressing your clothes.

See the other tips here here.

MORE FROM PUREWOW:

  • 22 Tips For Really Pretty Nails
  • 12 Foods You Can Put In Your Hair
  • It’s Time To Start Using Gel Moisturizer
  • The Lazy Gal’s Guide to Making A Bed
  • How To Dance

This story originally appeared as 7 Ways to Iron Without an Iron on PureWow.

How to Iron (It’s Easier Than You Think)

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Even with wash-and-wear fabrics, freshly ironed clothing displays success and confidence. Using the best techniques for garment pressing makes creating a good impression easy. Proper pressing also extends the life of your garments. Before you begin, always take note of the tag on your clothing to ensure your iron is set to the correct temperature. Follow our easy step-by-step instructions for success in ironing shirts, pants, dresses, and skirts.

How to Iron Shirts

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Cuffs and collars don’t need to intimidate you. Approach pressing shirts with these easy steps and you’ll be finished in no time — with results that show!

Step 1

Iron the underside of the shirt collar, starting at the center and working out toward the edges, then back toward the center.

Step 2

Work on the back shoulder yoke, draping one side of the yoke over the narrow end of your ironing board. Work the iron from the shoulder toward the center of the back. Then iron the other shoulder using the same technique.

Step 3

Iron the inside of the cuffs of conventional shirts. For French cuffs, use a sleeve board or roll up a towel, insert it in the cuff, and iron directly on top of the cuff.

Step 4

Iron the sleeves, working from the cuff toward the shoulder. Iron the outside of the sleeve, then the inside. Repeat on the other sleeve.

Step 5

Tackle the shirt’s front panels, ironing one front panel at a time. Press the back from the center to the bottom hem.

Step 6

The final touch is to re-press the collar top.

Editor’s Tip: After you iron a shirt, place it on a hanger and set it aside to cool. A warm shirt creases when you put it on. A cool shirt is more likely to keep its fresh, crisp look.

How to Iron Pants

Pressing slacks and pants, with a crease or without, gives your outfit a boost of style. Follow these steps to get the look you want to show the world.

Step 1

Begin by turning your slacks inside out and ironing the pockets. If they are not attached to the body of the pants, lay the pocket on the ironing board to iron. If the pockets are attached to the side seam, pull the pant top over the narrow end of the ironing board and iron the pocket flat.

Step 2

Turn the pants right side out and iron carefully around the waist and top by draping the top of the slacks over the narrow end of the board and working around the waist. Iron lightly over pockets to prevent pocket lines from showing.

Step 3

Lay the pants flat on the ironing board, one leg on top of the other. Align inseams with outer seams. Fold back the top leg and iron the inside of the bottom leg. Flip and repeat to iron the other side.

Step 4

For a center crease in your slacks, simply align the inseam and outer seam, and lay the slacks on your board. Press the front side of each leg, using a burst of steam set the crease.

Editor’s Tip: Avoid a shiny look when pressing dark or wool fabrics. Use a press cloth or clean cotton dish towel to press your garments.

How to Iron Skirts & Dresses

Skirts seem simple enough to press, but the complications of pleats, ruffles, or gathers can make it more challenging than you expect. Dresses might have both the collars and cuffs of shirts and the ruffles and gathers of skirts. Both are easy to press to stylish finishes with these steps.

Step 1

For dresses with sleeves and collars, begin by following the directions for ironing a shirt: collar, yoke, cuffs, and sleeves, then the top side of collar.

Step 2

For the skirt, start at the bottom and work your way toward the waist.

For skirts with gathers and ruffles, iron the inside surface of the skirt, beginning at the hemline and moving toward the center. For pleats, start at the bottom of the inside of the pleat, then move to the outside of the pleat. A burst of steam can help set the pleat.

Step 3

If the garment has delicate buttons, iron around them or protect them with the bowl of a spoon. If the garment features embroidered designs, lay it embroidered side down on a terry cloth towel or pressing cloth and press with a burst of steam from the other side.

Editor’s Tip: Skirts and dresses made of delicate fabrics are more likely to scorch or be marred by steam. Check the label before setting the iron, and test in an inconspicuous area to ensure good results.

Have the Right Equipment

Outfit your home with the right laundry equipment. Read on to learn what you need and what to look for when buying items:

Ironing Equipment: The Basics

What to Look for When Buying an Iron

ShopBHG: Iron and Steamer Buying Guide

Most of us can iron, but are we ironing correctly?

There are so many easy mistakes to make during this tricky task. It’s easy to use the wrong temperature or adopt a bad technique when you don’t know any different.

Expert Home Tips are here to steer you the right way. Get ironing like a pro with these 20 handy tips.

Before you do, sign up to the Expert Home Tips newsletter to get all the best home hacks, living tips, competitions and more.

1. Make use of the entire ironing board

Make use of all that space.

Why faff around with clothes hanging over the sides of your iron? Be sure to make use of all of the ironing board, by placing long items landscape on the board.

The thinner end of your ironing board can also be very useful. It’s particularly good for getting to creases near armholes. Place your top over the end, being careful not to stretch the fabric, and iron into the stretched out crevices.

2. Remove iron scorch marks using vinegar

If you do make a little error when ironing, it’s not the end of the world.

A quick fix for scorch stains is white vinegar. Dip a clean cloth into the liquid, then wipe over the stain. Make sure to wipe with a clean part of the cloth each time to avoid spreading the mark.

Wipe with clean, cold water to finish.

3. Use the correct ironing technique

Yes, there really is such a thing as an ‘ironing technique’. The correct way to iron is in long, straight strokes.

Avoid wiggling the iron around too much, as this may cause the fabric to stretch. It may also create new creases in the fabric, which will be tough to remove.

4. Boil your iron water

Your iron needs caring for too.

If you’re like me and live in a hard-water area, you should really boil your water before use.

If you don’t, you run the risk of your iron getting blocked up. This leads to all sorts of problems, such as stains on clothes and reduced efficiency.

Take the time to boil your water first – why not treat yourself to a cuppa while you’re at it!

5. Remember to iron around decorative objects

Most of us know to avoid zips and buttons. The same is advised for detailing in general, be that sequins, glitter or very fine lace.

These areas often don’t even require ironing. If they do need a quick ‘once-over’, iron them inside out on a low temperature.

6. Inside garments inside out where possible

Have you ever noticed a slight sheen on dark clothes post-ironing? This is caused by the heat of the iron.

A simple way to avoid this is by ironing inside out wherever possible. This will help protect the appearance of your garments and keep them looking great.

7. Iron in the correct order

Gosh! Isn’t ironing shirts tricky?

Some items like vests are fairly easy to manage, but shirts are a different story.

If you don’t know where to start, always remember to go ‘outside in’. Start with the collar, then the cuffs and work your way in from there.

Having an order makes the ironing process much less fiddly and easier to tackle as a result.

8. Use bobby pins to secure your pleats

I just love this tip! When tackling a pleated item, such as a pleated skirt, pin the pleats into place using bobby pins.

This allows you to concentrate on your ironing technique without having to bother about moving pleats.

For more unique ways to repurpose bobby pins, check out my 19 NEW ways to use bobby pins that don’t involve hair.

9. How to correctly position your ironing board

Position your iron correctly to avoid back pain.

Don’t make life more difficult than it needs to be. Before you begin ironing, make sure your board is at the right height for you.

You don’t want to have to stoop or bend over too much if possible as this can cause back pain. Bear this in mind and adjust your ironing board as required.

If you suffer severely from back pain, other additions may help. Thick rubber shoes that support your weight, for example, will help reduce the strain.

10. Iron on one side only

Everyday items actually don’t need much ironing at all.

If your garment looks good after being ironed on only one side, don’t bother with the other.

Not only will this save you time, but ironing may cause your clothes to look tired over time. Don’t do more than you have to.

11. Hang up or fold your ironed items immediately

Freshly ironed & looking great!

You’ve spent all that time ironing, don’t make it go to waste.

Keep a selection of coat hangers nearby whilst ironing and you’ll be able to hang garments up right away. For those items you aren’t hanging, fold them on a flat surface immediately and put to one side.

This will prevent clothes from getting more creases before you put them away.

12. Banish creases with a DIY ironing spray

Some creases need a bit more than a hot iron.

For those cases, a DIY spray made from equal parts white vinegar and water can be used. Mix it up in a spray bottle, and spritz onto areas with particularly bad creases. They’ll come straight out when you go over with your hot iron.

13. Iron in a well-lit room

Spending an hour ironing in the living room only to find your clothes still looking creased when you take them to your wardrobe is not ideal.

Attempting to iron in a poorly lit room can really hamper your efforts. It’s often difficult to spot smaller creases, especially on lighter items.

Be sure to set up your ironing board in the best lit room in the house. The processes will be quicker and easier, and you’ll achieve better results.

14. Iron in order from cool to hot

Start with a cool temperature and slowly increase.

Before you begin ironing, take a few minutes to organise your items. Separate your items into different types: delicate, medium and durable.

Start with the delicates on a low temperature, and work your way up to the more durable garments and a hotter iron.

As irons take a while to cool down, this is the most reliable way to ensure no damage is caused to your clothing.

15. Line your ironing board with aluminium foil

All these tips will certainly help you to cut your ironing time down. Here’s another cracker: line your ironing board with aluminium foil.

As aluminium foil is a heat conductor, the heat from the iron will mean the foil ‘irons’ the other side of the garment when you pass over it. This removes the need for ironing on both sides and gets great results – try it!

16. Iron down the centre of blouse sleeves

A nice, crisp line down the centre of a shirt sleeve looks sharp. Do the same with a blouse, however, and the result is strange.

To avoid these stiff looking folds, iron down the centre of the sleeve as opposed to along the seam.

17. Don’t iron dirty clothes

Don’t make the mistake of ironing in stains.

When we throw clothes in the wash without removing stains, they’re unlikely to come out.

The same goes for ironing – if you iron a garment that’s unclean/spoiled, the heat will make the stain permanent.

This is easy to avoid, just make sure your clothes are all nice and clean before you start.

18. Consider ironing large items on a table

If you have a very big item to iron, such as a bedsheet or a table cloth, consider using a table. Providing you line the table with towels beforehand to prevent burns, there’s no risk.

Alternatively, place two chairs behind the iron and fold the large item carefully onto these as you go. This will prevent it from dragging on the floor and keep it looking nice and crisp.

19. Iron 100% cotton garments whilst still damp

Items made from 100& cotton are much easier than other materials. That’s not to say they are easy, however.

Cotton creases can be extremely hard to iron out. One way to help is to tackle them whilst they are still damp. The heat will create steam when it hits the water, helping creases to fall out.

20. Clean your iron regularly

These marks were caused by a blocked iron!

You’ve got your dress all ready for the party. It’s freshly washed, now it just needs an iron. You turn on your iron and begin, only to find it leaving marks everywhere – what a nightmare!

This can often happen when we fail to maintain our iron. Irons, just like washing machines and other devices, should be cleaned regularly.

You can clean your iron using bicarbonate of soda, q-tips and other household items. Check out this tutorial by Real Simple to learn how.

Learn other ways Bicarbonate of Soda can be used to clean your home in Anushka’s article.

Wow! I can’t wait to put some of these new ironing tips to the test. Which ones are you going to try?

You’ve arrived.

Interview in 5 minutes.

One last check in the bathroom:

  • Suit – nice!
  • Tie – nice!
  • Hair – looking good!

Wait…

Your shirt has LOTS of wrinkles (as if it’s never been washed or cleaned)!

Great.

There goes your confidence, credibility… and you’ll stand out for the wrong reasons.

Do NOT let this happen to you.

Wrinkled clothing = NO attention to details

If you fail at the little tasks… how can you be trusted with the BIG ones?

So this means knowing how to IRON your shirts (you can’t have them dry cleaned all the time).

Isn’t it hard and tedious?

Nope – refer the article & video below for the steps to ironing a shirt correctly

(Become a real Ironing Man in just 2 minutes!)

Ironing Your Shirt: The Benefits

If you really care about being well-dressed, you must learn how to iron your own shirts.

Ironing affects clothing the way a protein shake affects your body after hitting the gym. It targets the fibers in the wrinkly fabric – and straightens them out by loosening the chemical bonds.

That process requires both the heat of the iron and the weight of its soleplate (the underside). Soon after, the shirt returns to its original form.

Although some say this can also be achieved through steaming (which takes less effort) the truth is there’s nothing better than the crisp pressing that only a hot iron will provide.

If getting a nice, wrinkle-free shirt doesn’t convince you that ironing matters – here’s the bigger picture:

  • Your shirts will last longer. By ironing your shirt instead of having it dry cleaned – you can focus the washing/cleaning part on the areas that need it more (cuffs and collar) while you work lightly on other parts (sleeves and body). This kind of adjustment may add extra years to the shirt’s lifespan.
    .
  • You’ll get significant savings. Even if you pay a cheap rate of $1 per shirt for dry cleaning, you can expect to spend $240 a year (since 1 shirt x 20 work days = 20 shirts serviced each month). But you won’t go anywhere near that amount if you do your own ironing.
    .
  • You control the outcome. Whenever you need a crisp dress shirt right away (from a pile of washed clothes) you can make it happen without the unpredictability of a cleaner’s service.

Ironing Your Shirt: Everything You Will Need

Everything you’ll need to properly iron a shirt:

1. A Clean Iron

The base plate has to be free of rust or sediment. If you’re not sure about this, try using the iron on an old white cloth to see if it leaves any stains.

If there is some sediment buildup – run a solution of distilled water and 50% vinegar through the steamer function to clean it out.

2. A Freshly Laundered Shirt

Self-explanatory. If your clean shirt has gone through the dryer, remember to remove it once the buzzer goes off so that fewer wrinkles are formed.

Take note also of your shirt fabric type (referring to the care tag that’s often located inside the collar). That tag should also have an iron symbol. It states whether or not the shirt can be ironed (based on the number of dots) to begin with.

  • One dot – it’s a synthetic shirt. Heat should be in the low settings (175-230 degrees).
  • Two dots – it’s a silk or wool shirt. It would need medium settings (250-300 degrees).
  • Three dots – it’s a linen or cotton shirt. It requires 320-400 degrees to return to form. These materials are also the only ones that should receive any steam (unless you see an X through the steam symbol). So you’ll need some distilled water for these cases.

Note: if your shirt has removable collar stays, never forget to take them out before you start ironing.

3. A Clean Standard Ironing Board

It’s technically optional – but an ironing board does make the whole thing a lot easier than a desk or table (which has to be covered with a towel) would. You don’t need the specialty kind. Those large common boards in the department store will do just fine.

4. Distilled Water

Water is used to reset the fabric to a repressed, unwrinkled state – and reduce the risk of the hot iron burning the fabric.

Ironing Your Shirt: Step #1 – The Back Of The Collar

Begin at the edges of the back of the collar – ironing towards the middle. It’s important that you go in this direction. Starting from the middle might cause the fabric to gain visible creases near the collar points.

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Ironing Your Shirt: Step #2 – The Cuffs

First, iron the inside of the cuffs to remove the main creases – again moving from the edges towards the middle. Finish off by ironing the outside area using the same method. Iron gently around the buttons to avoid damaging them.

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Ironing Your Shirt: Step #3 – The Sleeves

Smooth out the sleeves with your hands before placing the iron over them. This helps prevent unwanted creases. Start with the tip of the iron at the cuffs – then work your way back to the shoulders. Flip the sleeve over to check if the other side needs a quick touch up.

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Ironing Your Shirt: Step #4 – The Back

When ironing the back, you’ll have to be extra careful if your shirt has pleats. So I recommend that you start under the pleats before ironing on top of them. Then proceed with ironing the rest of the back (you’ll need to reposition the shirt several times on the flat surface to reach all edges and corners).

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Ironing Your Shirt: Step #5 – The Shoulders

It’s time to work on the shoulders (also called the yoke). Place the shirt so that the narrow end of the ironing board is inside one of the sleeves. Iron the yoke, moving from the outer edge towards the middle. Then flip the shirt so as to position the other sleeve on that end of the board. Repeat the same steps.

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Ironing Your Shirt: Step #6 – The Front & Placket

The next stage covers the front. Be gentle when ironing around buttons – you don’t want to damage them or make the threads go loose. Your aim is to get the placket nice and crisp since it’s one of most essential parts of your shirt. For the shirt pocket, start from the outside moving in to prevent creases.

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Ironing Your Shirt: Step #7 – The Front Of The Collar

Finish up by ironing the front of the collar. Apply the same method you used in Step #1 – starting at the edges and working your way towards the middle.

Ironing Your Shirt: Pro Tips

1. Forget the dryer – iron your shirts while they’re moist. Take them out of the washer right after washing. This allows your shirt to get a crisp finish (while avoiding the wear and tear that a dryer might inflict).

2. Iron your shirts in batches. The set-up process almost takes as much time as ironing one shirt. So by ironing all your shirts at once, you’ll save time versus ironing each one on separate days.

3. Check for stains BEFORE ironing. Ironing a dirty shirt can cause any stains or discolorment to settle permanently on the fabric. Even a drop of coffee or a ring around the collar should NOT exist when you’re using a hot iron.

4. For “stubborn” wrinkles – spray water to dampen the affected area. Then go ahead with ironing out the crease.

5. Place aluminum foil under the ironing board cover. This will help speed up ironing time.

6. For dark-colored fabrics – always iron inside out. This is to prevent fabric sheen (or shiny iron marks) from popping out.

7. Unsure about ironing a garment? Use a steamer instead. It’s less likely to damage your clothing. Consider using a pressing cloth (a thin cotton handkerchief that blocks direct contact between the iron and the fabric) as well.

8. Starch can be used in SMALL amounts. Starch is useful in keeping your shirt crisp for a short while – which is great if you have a morning presentation to dress up nicely for. But starch may also break down cotton fibers more quickly (and damage your iron over time). So apply only a little bit of starch on the collar and cuffs.

9. Learn how to take care of your iron. It’s necessary to clean your iron from time to time to keep it functional. You can ask for an iron cleaning kit at your local hardware store. Or try running a damp cloth over the iron (when it hasn’t recently been used) to take off any residue. Then rub a beeswax candle over the soleplate and rub off any excess with a rag.

And that’s it! You’ve just learned how to iron shirts effectively, safely and quickly. I do suggest you print this out and stick it somewhere near your ironing station.

At this point, no matter what you need to dress up for – you’ve got the knowledge and skills so you can always leave the house in a sharp-looking shirt!

In the second part of our series about ironing, we discuss how to properly iron a dress shirt step-by-step so you get perfect results even if you are a beginner. If you haven’t already done so, definitely check out Part I about essential ironing tools because without those ironing will be slower, more painful and the result will be worse.

Ironing Series

This is just Part II of our four part ironing series, which you can find here

Part 1 – Essential Ironing Tools

Part II -How To Iron A Dress Shirt

Part III – How to Iron Dress Pants

Part IV – How to Iron a Suit Jacket

Of the three major garments worn for tailored clothing, a dress shirt is the easiest to iron and the best one, to begin with when learning how to iron correctly. Preparations begin in the laundry room. Though you would never throw a suit into the washing machine, cotton dress shirts will obviously find their way into the wash, and how you handle them when they come out can help with effective ironing.

To preserve the life of your shirts and eliminate any risk of shrinkage, using a dryer is not recommended at all, but whether you use or skip the dryer, promptly removing your shirts from either machine, smoothing them out, and hanging them are important steps to avoid over-wrinkling. You don’t want to let your shirts sit crumpled in the washer or dryer for any length of time. Then, iron your shirts when they are still damp or slightly wet, which enables you to shape the cloth better than ironing something that is fully dry.

Clothes wrinkle more if not taken out of the washer or dryer promptly.

0. Prep Your Shirt

The higher the spin cycle on your washing machine the dryer your shirt will be but also the more wrinkles the fabric will have. If your shirt is too wet, it takes a long time to iron, especially if you do not have a vacuum ironing board.

On the other hand, if your shirt is too dry, chances are you will not release all the wrinkles when ironing. So ideally you iron a slightly damp shirt. If it is already dry, spray it generously with water, and let it sit in a plastic bag for 10 minutes. Afterwards, you have the perfect fabric conditions for ironing.

Because ironing requires all the setup and prep work you want to iron shirts in batches, not individually, and you can pack a whole bunch of shirt in a plastic bag or even better a garbage bag if you iron a dozen in one go.

1. Layout Your Equipment & Ironing Board

When your shirts are ready for ironing, prepare your board and other equipment, such as a sleeve board, tailor’s ham, and spray bottle. Turn the ironing board with the pointed end to the left if you’re right-handed and to the right, if you’re a lefty.

2. Make Sure Everything is Clean When Ironing A Shirt

Check over your shirts closely to make sure there are no recent stains or spots. If you iron these, the heat will set them in and make them difficult to remove. Instead, ensure all stains are taken out beforehand. Likewise you want the ironing board cover to be in pristine condition.

It’s also important to make sure the sole plate or underside of your iron is clean. Hopefully, you haven’t allowed your iron to get filthy, but if something has burned onto the bottom of the iron in the past, what’s stuck there will almost certainly spread onto your clothes if you use it in an unclean state. Put some detergent on the iron and let it sit, using a scouring pad if needed to get it clean.

3. Add Water

Unless you have a water softener, or your water is soft, fill your iron’s reservoir with distilled water. In many places, tap water is “hard,” meaning it’s rich in minerals that will eventually precipitate calcium and magnesium scale inside your iron when the water in it evaporates. Scale can clog up the holes and prevent any steam from coming out of your iron. And, if you do get steam, whitish or brownish solids will come out with it onto your shirts and stain them. Usually, you’d be able to sweep the particles away with your hand, but they are a nuisance. Better to invest a dollar for a jug of distilled water when you iron.

4. Set the Proper Temperature

Set the proper temperature on the iron for cotton. Consumer irons will have fabric specific heat settings, while professional irons usually just have numbers. Most irons will have a designated heat or steam area that is best for ironing shirts, so take a closer look.

Don’t start ironing immediately, however, give the iron some time to reach the proper temperature. Ironing prematurely can cause water to sputter and spit from the underside of the iron onto your clothes; any rust inside the iron also has a tendency to spill out if the iron is put in the horizontal position too soon. You don’t want this to happen on a white shirt that is waiting to be pressed.

5. Press the Cuffs and Sleeves

Begin by laying a sleeve on the board. If you have a sleeve board, now is the time to use it. Open the cuff button and lay it flat; press it, first the inside and then the outside. Then press the length of the sleeve. If you have french cuffs, iron the underside first, and then the side of the cuffs you’ll see when you wear it. Cuffs should be also ironed from the outside in with gentle motions so you do have wrinkles. Personally, I dislike a crease on my cuff because if looks like it just came ouf of the package.

A key to success with all ironing is not to make broad sweeping motions with the iron but to apply short, controlled movements, applying consistent pressure to the cloth. Moving your arm like you’re conducting an orchestra or swinging a mug of beer to a German drinking song will pinch the fabric, adding new creases. Remember, ironing is also called “pressing” and putting weight on the material as you do it is essential for good results.

If you don’t want a crease down the middle of your bicep and elbow, avoid pressing the edges of the sleeve down against the board. Instead, concentrate on the middle of the sleeve. Repeat with the other arm. If you like the crease, I suggest you invest in a clapper which gives you razor-sharp results.

If you just have a regular ironing board, you will always iron two layers at the same time, which increase the risk of wrinkles. For better results, I suggest you invest a few bucks in a sleeve board. You’ll be able to also use it for ironing pants and jackets but as the name suggests, it is great for shirt sleeves. You’ll just iron one layer at a time, thus eliminating wrinkles.

A shirt with glued interlining in the cuffs is easier to iron than one with sewn interlining. Watch the video to see how you can ensure to get perfect results for both versions.

6. Press the Collar

Next, pop the collar and check that you’ve removed collar stays, especially plastic ones that might melt; press the inside flat. First, iron the underside of the collar with gentle motions. Now turn the shirt and iron the outside of the collar (the side you will see when you wear the shirt). Fold the collar back to the normal position and press the outside. If you want a soft roll collar, don’t press down to the points, just the portion that will sit behind your neck.

If you have a sewn interlining in your collar, make sure to iron from the outside in and use short ironing strokes. If you just iron in one motion you will get wrinkles in the shirt.

7. Iron the Yoke

Next up is the yoke, place it at the end of the ironing board or use a sleeve board if you have one and iron the yoke. If it is a split yoke do one side after another. Watch out, not to iron wrinkles in the sleeves or back

8. Finish with the Back and Body

You’ll find that the pointed part of the ironing board is perfect for curved areas like the shoulder and upper chest of shirts and jackets. So, with either the top button of your shirt closed or not, align the top area of your shirt with the narrow part of the board and press the shoulder and chest on one side of your shirt.

Ideally, you have sprayed the shirt with water beforehand but you will still want to steam generously. Then, either iron the other front half or rotate the shirt to work your way around the back. Look for any wrinkles and press those out. If you have a lot of wrinkles, iron the front part from the inside first, and then from the outside. With patterned shirts be careful about the placet and make sure it is neat. Watch the videos for details.

No matter what you iron, spreading the fabric out on the board or actively smoothing it with your hands is essential. As you press, keep pulling and moving the shirt as needed to keep it flat. Concentrate on small areas and avoid putting weight on the tip of the iron; if you drive the iron forward, the point will act like the cow-catcher on a steam train, but instead of catching livestock, it will cause ripples and creases in the fabric. The only time you need to apply force to the tip is when pressing between the buttons of your shirt. Conclude by ironing there and down the placket. If your buttons are made of plastic pay attention not to melt them with your hot iron. Mother of pearl or horn buttons should be just fine.

Typically I start with the button side first, then transition to the back, and then finish with the placket shirt front side.

When ironing the back, you might encounter different pleat arrangements, such as two middle pleats, side pleats or grinze, which are Italian style waves along the yoke seam.

When ironing your pleats, pull the shirt from the bottom, so you get the pleat where you want it, then press them with steam and heat. Of course, you can also use a clapper here. For the grinze, just use gentle motions and make sure you remove wrinkles. Do not iron in one big motion or you will likely end up with wrinkles.

9. The Shirt Pocket

If your shirt has a pocket, it pays to iron around it when you iron the front and to focus just on the pocket once you are done with the surroundings. Often a shirt pocket has excess material, in that case, it pays to use small gentle iron motions to avoid any creasing.

10. Starching A Shirt

Starching a shirt the proper way requires rice starch and it is an entirely different process. Sometime you may find cheap spray starch products that promise a military-style result but ultimately the results are mediocre and if you use too much heat you’ll end up with stains. Hence we suggest not to use them. If there is enough demand we might do another video on how to properly starch a shirt at home.

Do I Need to Iron Wrinkle Free Shirts

The truth is, there is no such thing as as Non-Iron or Wrinkle-Free Shirt. It is correct that some companies have added formaldehyd to their fabrics thus making them wrinkle resistant but after a few washes the substance comes off and you will have to iron it. However, the feel of the fabric will be stiff and uncomfortable forever.

Eton of Sweden has developed a process that is chemically free and helps to prevent wrinkles and makes ironing shirts easier but they charge north of $250 for off-the-rack shirts. While they have fewer wrinkles, you’ll still want to iron them.

Other Garments

Once you know how to iron a dress shirt, ironing a t-shirt or polo shirt will be a piece of cake for you.

In the following video you can watch me ironing a dress shirt from start to finish to finish with steam and heat:

Once you develop the proper mindset for ironing and get the basic equipment, you’ll find that ironing shirts is straightforward. You’ll quickly get the hang of making your shirts look sharp within minutes, and, before you know it, you can graduate to the slightly more challenging task of pressing pants and jackets.

Apart from acquiring an iron with enough heat and steam, I strongly suggest you consider investing in a vacuum ironing board as you will spend less time and get superior results compared to a generic consumer ironing board. Meanwhile, give us your tips for ironing shirts. What ironing gear do you own? Do you use a spray bottle? Tell us in the comments below.

Also, stay tuned for our in-depth guides on how to iron dress pants and a suit jacket of blazer at home.

Summary Article Name How To Iron A Dress Shirt – Part II Complete Guide To Ironing Description Learn these ironing tips and tricks to achieve neat and wrinkle-free dress shirts. Author Sven Raphael Schneider & Dr. Christopher Lee Publisher Gentleman’s Gazette LLC Publisher Logo