How To Iron A Shirt

Using the correct ironing technique is a sure-fire way to keep your shirts looking fresh and crisp, essential for a well-polished appearance.

We have put together this quick guide to take you through how to properly iron your shirts for the best results.

How to Iron a Shirt

Basic Step-By-Step Guide

  • Firstly, you need to make sure that you are ironing a clean shirt. Any stains or dirt that is ironed on are likely to become permanent fixtures in your wardrobe.
  • If need be, you can use some fabric stain removal products, just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You also need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your shirt. Washing on too hot a cycle can cause the shirt to shrink.
  • Now you need to set your ironing board to the correct height. This is not very important for single-item ironing but the wrong height of the board can cause back strain and muscle pain if you are ironing for a while.
  • To avoid injury, the top of your ironing board should be just about level with your belly button. This will allow you to iron without bending your back or hunching forward.
  • Once the ironing board is sorted, move on to the iron. You need to select the correct settings so check the care instructions on your shirt – this information will be available on the label.
  • Ironing a shirt with an iron that is too hot will burn your clothes or cause any synthetic fibers to melt and create a flat, shiny surface on the fabric. If your iron is too low in temperature then the creases will not come out of your laundry.
  • Once all this is done, you can begin actually ironing your shirt. Start at the middle of the collar and work outwards. This creates a smooth finish and will not trap creases in the center that makes a streak in the collar.
  • Move down to the sleeves which is often the most challenging part of ironing a shirt. Begin by ironing the cuffs flat on the ironing board then place the sleeve across the board. Make sure the seam is flat across the board by smoothing it over with your hand.
  • Iron the sleeve from the cuff up the arm to the shoulder of the shirt. Remember to keep the point of the iron in the direction that you are ironing for the smoothest finish.
  • Once both arms are ironed you can do the back of the shirt, being careful not to iron over any pleats but carefully around them.
  • Flatten and gently stretch the fabric to get the shirt as flat as possible to go around the pleats – this will mean you can iron very close to them without leaving creases. 
  • Finally, turn the shirt over and finish off ironing by doing the front of the shirt. First, do the button row by pushing the point of the iron between each button but be careful not to get too close to the buttons as plastic ones will melt.
  • Do each side of the front of the shirt in turn, beginning with the side and working towards the middle. You may find it easier to keep the shirt flat by opening up the shirt so just the front is on the board, rather than ironing with the back of the shirt underneath if it were closed.
  • Take care of any pockets as not all can be ironed over and some will need to be avoided.
  • You need to hang up the shirt immediately after you have finished ironing it. This will stop any creases developing as the fabric cools and is a good opportunity to let a damp shirt dry or to check over your work to make sure you have not missed anything.
  • Congratulations! You have successfully ironed a shirt. Pair this skill with good fabric care practices to keep your shirts looking crisp and lasting longer.

Things To Remember

Cotton and Polyester shirts

Some types of shirt fabric require their own set of care instructions. Cotton shirts, for example, need to be damp when ironed and push the iron in lines rather than circles as the fabric can be easily damaged.

If your cotton shirt is thick – think Oxford shirts – then you may need to iron both sides of the fabric for it to look as good as possible.

A cotton-blend shirt needs to be ironed on a lowish heat setting to avoid melting the synthetic fibers. You can also iron it inside out or iron the shirt with another cloth in between to guarantee no scorch marks.

Similarly, a polyester shirt needs to be ironed low with a fabric in between the shirt and iron as it is very heat-sensitive. This will apply to all satin and some silk numbers.

Linen is a little easier to work with and can be ironed when just damp or with water spritzed over. You can avoid heat-shine by ironing these shirts inside out.

If you like a really crisp finish to your shirt, you can use some starch spray to get military-level precision to your laundry.

Make sure the application of the spray is uniform for an even finish and make sure you hang it immediately after you have finished to keep the lines clean. Any laundry starching product will come with its own instructions.

In a rush? Don’t worry! If you don’t have time to iron all of your shirts you can always iron the important bits.

Stick to the cuffs, front, and collar of the shirt, meaning any part of the shirt that will be seen with the jacket on. Remember that you will not be able to take your jacket off as your back will be creased!

If you are in a pickle and don’t have access to an iron, you can create a similar finish by tumble drying your shirt with a few ice cubes.

The additional humidity in the dryer will help get rid of some of the worst wrinkles but be sure to hang up the shirt while it is warm and damp as any residual creases will ‘drop’ off.

If you are lacking an ironing board and need a quick fix you can always use any firm surface that has been protected from the heat and steam of the iron.

This can be done by placing some towels or thick fabric on the floor, table, counter, or whatever surface you are using. You can even use a bed if you aren’t looking for a sharp ironing job.

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