Ironing 101: How to Properly Iron Your Shirt

Perhaps you’ve seen someone wearing what could have been a really nice outfit, except the look is ruined by the clothes being wrinkly.

Yup, unfortunately, there are men with great outfits who are chased not by women but by a flat iron. Are you one of these men? Not to worry. You’re definitely not alone. In fact, there are millions of men on the planet who have no clue how to iron their own shirts.

wife giving husband ironing work

If you’re embarrassed every time you go out because you just can’t seem to get that shirt crisp and wrinkle-free, we’ve put together some easy tips to iron out the kinks in your ironing abilities so you can confidently face (and impress) everyone with your well-pressed clothes.

Get the Right Iron

The first key to ironing your clothes properly is getting a good-quality iron. But how do you know it’s a good one? Check the soleplate, the hard surface which irons, and try to find what it’s made of. You know you got a good one if the soleplate is made from either solid steel or titanium-coated. A poor-quality soleplate may not give out even heat distribution and will therefore not do the job well (not to mention the fact that it could also damage your shirt).

iron sole plate

Another thing to consider when choosing an iron is its heat capability. There are certain fabrics (like linen and cotton) that require high heat to press them flat. With such fabrics, you literally have to turn the heat on to reform their shape. If the iron doesn’t deliver enough heat, it would take you longer to do the job.

Steam delivery is yet another factor you have to keep in mind when choosing an iron. The hot moisture that comes out of the iron comes in really handy in getting those tough wrinkles smoothed out (without you having to break a sweat). Anything that’s cheap will not get the ironing task done right and quick and will make you end up blowing off some steam.

using steam for suit

Chairman of the Board

Yes, the ironing board choice is important, too. Get a sturdy one (for obvious reasons). A board that moves as you iron is not exactly something you would be on board with. What about an ironing mat? In the absence of an ironing board, you can use an ironing mat to cover any flat surface you wish to use to press your clothes.

Let’s Press On

Now that we’ve ironed things out in terms of the tools, it’s time to jump right into the ironing proper.

man ironing his shirt the proper way

The first order of business is to prepare. Sounds easy enough? This is actually crucial. Before you even plug your iron, make sure you read the label of the shirt you’ll be ironing. Know what type of fabric it’s made of before putting that hot metal on it, lest you damage it. Shirts made from cotton or linen can withstand high heat, but those made from silk or satin can be damaged if you set the temperature high.

Need we tell you the ironing board should be set up near a power outlet? No need to elaborate on this.

  • Collar first - When ironing a dress shirt, always start with the collar. Spread it out and start with the underside. Press the iron from one end to another. After that, turn the shirt over then do the other side.

ironing collar

  • Cuffs next - Once done with the collar, the next section to iron is the cuff. Of course, you need to unbutton it first and lay it out flat. Start with the inside of the cuff then proceed to the outside. Be careful when ironing around the button (and make sure you don’t iron over the button).
  • Shirt front - At this stage of the ironing, you can either do the shirt front or back first or do the sleeves. If you’re starting with the front, start with the section where the buttons are. This is where some dexterity is needed, as you need to be careful in working the iron plate around the button area but, again, never over the buttons. You can then go to the other side, the one with the placket (if your shirt has one), slowly pressing the fabric but with some good pressure put on as you iron. If it has a pocket, be sure that the direction of your ironing is perpendicular (not parallel) to the sides of the pocket.

ironing front shirt

  • Shirt back - Lay the back side flat on the board (this is when an ironing mat wouldn’t be a good choice), making sure you have as much section of the back laid flat. Start ironing at the top with the yoke area, then slowly slide your iron down to the bottom. After this, slide the shirt to the other sections to iron them.
  • Sleeves - Again, you can do the sleeves before doing the shirt’s front and back sides. It’s really just a matter of preference. You want to make sure the sleeve is really flat because you’re effectively ironing two layers of fabric (unless you have a sleeve board). The key then is to ensure that the fabric is really flat and smooth before you start ironing. Lay the whole sleeve on the board then start ironing from the top (where the seam of the sleeve joins with the shirt) then work your way down to the cuff. Iron parallel to the sides of the sleeve (or slightly diagonally, but not perpendicularly).

You don’t have to get it right the first time. As with any other challenging tasks, a lot of practice will go a long way. You don’t have to be Iron Man to get that ironing task right.  

Fur further information on shirt care check this blog here for all you need.

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